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Clause 2—(Hydrocarbon Oils—Excise)

Volume 476: debated on Wednesday 14 June 1950

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

2.30 a.m.

I beg to move, in page 2, line 44, to leave out "other" and to insert "greater."

This is an extremely reasonable Amendment, and I hope hon. Members opposite will follow up their anticipatory support in the Lobby. Subsection (1, a) provides that the rate of Excise duty on home-produced hydrocarbon oils shall equal the rate of Customs duty on imported oils, that is to say, 1s. 6d.—
"less 9d. a gallon or such other amount per gallon as may from lime to time be directed by order of the Treasury."
I do not know what I should call this 9d., whether it is a differential preference, rebate, drawback, or simply a deduction, and I propose to call it simply a deduction. But subsection (7) says that
"The power of the Treasury to make orders under subsection (I) of this section shall be exercisable by statutory instrument …"
The point is this: that it will lay within the power of the Treasury by this procedure of statutory instrument to alter the amount of the deduction either upwards or downwards. The purpose of the Amendment is to give the Treasury power to use this procedure only to increase the amount of the deduction. If they are given power to diminish the amount of the deduction that, in effect, gives power to levy additional taxation on home-produced oils by this system.

There are two points that arise upon that. The first is one of considerable constitutional importance. It is wholly wrong that we should part with its right to impose additional taxation. The answer will be that the House is not parting with its right, because there is the procedure Whereby such an order can only be annulled by resolution. But we have had recent experience of how highly unsatisfactory a way of dealing with taxation is the method of Prayer against an order. I need only remind the Committee of what took place with regard to the Purchase Tax on Greeting Cards Order for hon. Members to realise how unsatisfactory is the situation. There was a bad Order, which was replaced by a less bad Order, and that, in turn, by a slightly less bad Order. When we sought to amend the final Order, which was the least objectionable of them, it was pointed out to us that we could not amend it, and that if we were to seek to annul it a ridiculous state of affairs would be produced because the third Order had been in operation three weeks, the second Order three or four weeks before that, and we would have to wait for a new Order to be put into force.

I suggest that it is a very difficult and clumsy method of seeking to deal with the weapon of taxation. It is quite impossible to make an amendment, or to propose an exception. In fact, the only discussion that is possible is that which takes place behind closed doors between the industry concerned and the Treasury, which is not a very satisfactory way to deal with the matter. The Government would lose nothing by accepting this Amendment, the consequences of which would be that deductions could only be made subsequent to a Clause in a Finance Bill.

There is also a practical point. The Chancellor, in dealing with this matter in his Budget speech, referred to the provisions in the Finance Act, 1938, under which the present margin has, in part at least, been guaranteed for the past 12 years, but which now is shortly to expire. He said:
"I do not think that it would be right to ask the House to undertake, by legislation, that this margin should remain unchanged for a further period of years. But there would, of course, be no question of modifying it, without very careful consideration of the circumstances prevailing at the time and then only after giving the interests concerned an opportunity to put forward their case."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th April, 1950; Vol. 474, c. 76.]
If there is to be this careful consideration, nothing would be lost by the Chancellor accepting the principle that no diminution should take place except by the machinery of the Finance Bill.

There is another aspect too, that the guarantee of 12 months was of substantial assistance to those interested. One if the objectionable features of the Clause is that the industry feels that it is at the mercy of the Treasury introducing an Order at any time. I agree that the Amendment will only protect them to the extent that no amendment will be made except in a Finance Bill.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) has put the constitutional case, which I want to buttress with one or two considerations of a rather different character. I wish to make it clear that this Clause affects the carbonising industry. That is the industry which extracts by-products from coke ovens, no matter whether they are in steel works or gas works.

The Clause is open to two objections. The first has been referred to by my hon. and learned Friend, which is that it exposes this industry to the most extreme form of instability. But, secondly, which is much more important, the powers of the Clause may be prejudicial to a large number of industries and to the country's ability to meet its needs for defence. I suggest that the consequences would be so serious that it would be quite wrong for the Treasury, merely by Order, to have power to bring them about.

May I first take the point about stability? Members opposite often pay lipservice to planning. To plan, even to plan in the rudimentary form which was practised before 1945, the industry must have some idea of where it stands. Before this proposal the carbonisation industry knew exactly where it stood. It enjoyed a preference which, it is true, according to the 1938 Act could be reduced, but there was a guarantee of a minimum. Now, under this Clause, the minimum disappears and the Treasury from one week to another, from one day to another, can eliminate the whole preference. I suggest that that is the worst possible form of instability. One of the purposes of this Amendment is to mitigate that instability.

More important is the objection relating to the consequences which would follow if the Treasury acted in accordance with these powers. May I explain something of the economic background of this industry? First of all, its raw material is coal and, therefore, its economics are determined, in the main, by the price of coal. The 1938 Act, in laying down the differential or preference of 9d. between the Customs and Excise duty on hydrocarbon oils, based that figure on the relationship which then obtained between the price of imported petrol and the price of home coal. The Act laid it down that as the price of imported petrol rose relatively to the price of home coal, the preference could be decreased, the implication being that the price of home coal would remain relatively steady. That is not, in fact, how the relationship has worked out. It has worked out precisely in the opposite way. It is not the price of petrol that has risen relatively to the price of coal. It is the price of coal that has risen relatively to the price of petrol.

Therefore, the differential established under the 1938 Act has fallen completely out of date. This has been recognised by the Government. In May, 1945, there was a rise in the price of coal and the then Minister of Fuel and Power was concerned that that increase should not transmit itself to the price of coke. He therefore authorised an arrangement by which, in effect, the home production of hydrocarbon oils was subsidised to the exent of 4d. a gallon. That was a purely temporary arrangement and it is due to end in about 18 month's time. Let us suppose that in accordance with the powers conferred on them by this Clause the Treasury diminishes or cancels out completely the differential, or preference, given to the carbonisation industry.

I would suggest that these consequences would follow. First of all, the home production of benzol would be made completely uneconomic and instead of benzol being extracted from gas it would be burned as fuel. Distillation and recovery plants would be closed. That would mean that to make up for the loss in home benzol production we would have to import more oil. Further, we lose a dollar export. Further still, and this, I think, is the crucial point, if these plants are not working we cannot produce the chemicals we need for the manufacture of explosives needed in war. That would be a tragic blow to the ability of our country to defend itself. The second consequence of the Treasury acting in this way would be that the profitability of coke oven plant would decline. That is a consideration to which the National Coal Board cannot remain impervious. The Minister of Fuel and Power will know perfectly well that the National Coal Board are lagging in their coke oven modernisation programme.

2.45 a.m.

If the profitability of a coke oven is reduced by this kind of action the programme would be further retarded. Lastly, I wish to suggest that if the differential is decreased a loss of revenue ensues from coke oven by-products and producers have to recover that loss. There is only one way to recover it, and that is by adding to the price of coke. If the price of coke is increased the cost of steel production is increased, and if this occurs the costs of 50 per cent. of our exports are increased. These are the consequences that would follow if the Treasury acted in accordance with these powers. I suggest that these are consequences with considerable significance for the balance of payments, and that if we are to bring them about at all it should be only after full and ample discussion.

It is my belief that this Amendment could have been much more strongly worded. As it stands I think it is a moderate Amendment, and I hope for that reason that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will accept it, in accepting it, I hope he will recognise two things—first, that it is the right of every industry to enjoy some expectation of continuity, and, second, that this carbonising industry should not have its difficulties aggravated without full and ample discussion.

The purpose of this Amendment, as I understand it, is a fairly narrow one. It is concerned with preventing the Treasury, by Order, from reducing the size of the preference which may be accorded to the indigenous hydrocarbon oil industry of this country. There is no objection taken by the Opposition if the Treasury saw fit to increase the preference. The objection is to any decrease. I will confine my remarks to that narrow point, and why we have to do it in this form. It is normal practice to have power to alter protective margins of this kind by Order. It is true in the case of the indigenous hydro-carbon oil industry there has been a preference guaranteed by legislation which it has been decided to bring to an end now. It means that oil is now in the same position as other industries enjoying legislative preference.

Normal practice is shown through changes in the Customs duty rather than through Excise duty, and the reason why in this case it is operating through the Excise duty is because this industry has the smaller part of the oil involved. If the preference is altered by altering the Customs duty there would be serious consequences to the Revenue. However, we have listened to the arguments put forward and agree that there is something to the point that there ought to be an absolute guarantee of adequate discussion, which, I think, was the main burden of the Opposition speeches, and will put down an Amendment on Report providing that the Treasury Orders which have the effect of increasing taxation should be subject to an affirmative Resolution.

That, I think, is a reasonable proposal, because it enables the Treasury, if it becomes necessary between the two Finance Bills to make a change in the preference which has the effect of increasing taxation, to do so; but only after discussion by Parliament. That gives us the necessary flexibility which the hon. Member who last spoke is anxious to secure, but, at the same time it enables Parliament to discuss the matter. On that assurance, I hope the hon. and learned Member will be willing to withdraw the Amendment.

I have listened with care and attention to what the right hon. Gentleman has said, but I would like, for my own part, an explanation of how the substitution of an affirmative for a negative Resolution meets any of the points which have been made by my hon. Friends. So far as I know, the only difference between an affirmative and a negative Resolution is that an affirmative Resolution has to be taken in time found by the Government. Does the right hon. Gentleman disagree? I will give way if he wishes to say something.

I pointed out that it had to be by affirmative Resolution of the House.

The right hon. Gentleman must try to understand what the practice of the House is.

The right hon. Gentleman must deal firmly with the point. He says to me that there is another difference than the one I suggested between an affirmative and a negative Resolution. I am asking him to point out what that difference is. The only difference which I have understood in the past is that if you have an affirmative Resolution it has to be taken in Government time. Of course, the answer to that is to move the suspension of the Rule and have the matter taken in the same physical period of the day as if a Prayer were put down. The last thing I want to do is to be unjust to the right hon. Gentleman. If he means a Resolution which would be subject to amendment in the House, and if he will give us that assurance, that alters the position. I did not understand that that was what the right hon. Gentleman was offering. Perhaps he will explain. If it is what he is offering, it will make a difference to our point of view.

I am not suggesting that the Resolution should be subject to amendment; but I am astonished that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should say that there is no difference between an affirmative and a negative Resolution. Time and time again the Opposition have demanded that Orders should be made subject to an affirmative Resolution. Actually, the alternative procedure which would be provided, if that course which I suggested were carried, would be on the lines of the Import Duties Act of 1932, so that an Order would cease to have effect if within 28 days it had not had the approval of the House.

I am sorry, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not believe that I am trying to be offensive, because I am not; but I still cannot see this and would like to take up the point which he has made. He is not going to allow this Resolution to be amendable. I understood him correctly on that point. Then the only difference that lies in his last words is that the Resolution ceases to have effect if it is not confirmed by a Resolution of the House. On the present position the House has the right to put down a Prayer, which produces exactly the same vote, in a period which is usually 40 days. Therefore, we have come to the position, and the right hon. Gentleman, although he became heated with me when I took up the first shake of his head, has really demonstrated to the Committee that there is no difference in the point which I made.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) said that if one is to have an increase in taxation, that increase should be done by means of a Finance Bill. We can allow the flexibility the other way by means of subsidiary legislation, but why the House should give up its powers to deal with increases of taxation, and in that way abdicate from its essential power of not having increased taxation imposed without its consent, is something which I do not understand. The answer which we get from the Treasury Bench is that we have to have a resolution of the House; but a resolution of the House, which must be accepted or refused, offers no chance of alteration to meet the problem.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggesting that the House should pass a Resolution without giving its consent? He says that we should not take away the right of the House to agree to any increase in taxation. The affirmative Resolution procedure means that it must consent.

I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman could have listened to what I said. If one cannot amend a resolution in that way, one cannot give proper discussion to the subject, or give effect to the circumstances which form the background to the matter. Would he not face this on its merits? Can he tell us why he objects to the House being entitled to amend this? If he wants to give the House the right to deal with this matter, then the way to do it is to allow the House to fix what it believes is the proper figure by means of Amendments moved and discussed.

If he is not prepared to do that, then the position is really as my hon. and learned Friend put it in his opening remarks on this Amendment—that we are to have increases put to the House on a "take it or leave it" basis. Then there would be the difficulty which my hon. and learned Friend put, of the House being in the position that if it refuses the whole of the Government's demand, then it will worsen the position because it may prejudice the very existence of the differential being dealt with. But if the Minister is not prepared to consider that position, then I regret that he does not see the position in which his action is putting the Committee. He has also entirely failed even to discuss the points put by my hon. Friend the Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) who dealt with the well developed argument on the economic and strategic effects which may ensue.

I understood from the Minister's reply that he appreciated that my hon. Friend was putting, with real concern, a problem with which the Minister, from his past experience, understands in its gravity and importance. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is anxious, when the mists and shadows of sleep are beginning to steal upon him—that we should not fall apart if there is a possibility of some via media in the matter. Therefore, I ask him to go so far as to say that he will consider not only the constitutional question which my hon. and learned Friend has developed but the bigger question behind that as to the importance of this matter. If he will say that that will be considered between now and the Report stage I am sure that my hon. and learned Friend will not press the Amendment.

I am trying to be conciliatory. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will take it that he misunderstood me in thinking that I had a different intention earlier. We ask that he should not only go as far as the substitution of the affirmative for the negative Resolution but should also give consideration to the points which have been raised before the form of his Amendment on the Report stage is decided. Will the right hon. Gentleman go as far as that? If he will consider the point we shall be pleased to reconsider the pressing of the Amendment today.

3.0 a.m.

I accept, of course, what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said about his earlier remarks. I think he is always regarded by us as one of the most courteous Members of the Opposition Front Bench. However, I find it very difficult to understand his argument tonight. I never thought that I should listen to the outstanding lawyer on the Opposition Front Bench arguing that there was really no difference of importance between positive and negative Resolutions. My right hon. and hon. Friends will take note with great interest of that statement because we have so frequently in the past been pressed to substitute the affirmative procedure. Many Amendments have been moved on many Bills. Now we are told that it does not matter whether we have affirmative or negative procedure.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows that it is no new thing for this procedure to be adopted in the case of Treasury orders. I have just quoted from the Import Duties Act, 1932—passed, incidentally, by a Conservative Government —in which precisely this procedure was used. Surely he will not tell me that where a duty was increased as a result of that Act it was not imposed by Order. Of course it was. I have made an offer, but if the Opposition are not prepared to accept that, all I can say is that we withdraw the offer and we can take the matter to a Division.

I was very sorry that the "right hon. Gentleman proved so testy with my right hon. and learned Friend. Honestly, I think that the right hon. Gentleman has only himself to blame. Some of us are not particularly impressed with his airy attempt at this hour of the morning to pass the whole question off with a silly debating point. His last remark about withdrawing an offer seems to me to introduce a novel element into these discussions. Either he thinks that the affirmative Resolution is right or he does not think that it is right. If he thinks that it is right he has no business to withdraw an offer in a fit of pique because everybody does not agree with him. If, on the other hand, he thinks it is wrong he ought never to have made the offer. This is trifling with the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman is being less than his usual intelligent self in dealing with a constitutional point in this manner.

It is now conceded that this is a Clause which, however inadvertently, enables the Government to increase taxation by order, and the right hon. Gentleman has already conceded that that is a legitimate point of criticism to make. Very well, then, prima facie the increase of taxation ought to be a matter for legislation and pass elementary constitutional procedure. The right hon. Gentleman has been asked by us, I think, in plain and courteous language, to justify his proposed departure from the ordinary constitutional practice in this matter. Where is the need for the Treasury in this matter to increase taxation by order rather than by legislation?

If only the right hon. Gentleman would give us some answer to that simple question, he would, I think, find us very ready to listen to him. But he has given us none. He seeks to justify what he does by precedent, but he gives us no grounds for the basis on which it is sought to be justified. Precedents are intended, to quote a phrase of one more eloquent than I, to act as lamp-posts to sober men, not as lamp-posts for drunkards, to guide our way and not to support our instability.

This appeal to precedent in a matter of this kind when the right hon. Gentleman is quite unable to find a reply to justify his attitude, is one which will hardly commend itself to this side of the Committee. If he finds us rather slow to yield to his blandishments, even at this particular hour of the night, he will, not I hope, withdraw his offer in a fit of pique but learn instead a little better manners to deal with his opponents.

The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) is unnecessarily heated when he talks about a constitutional point. As a constitutional point, it should have been argued at least as early as the 1935 Parliament. This is only a device by which a home industry is given a preference. It may be a right or a wrong thing to do, but that has happened to many industries before. I think it is surely a procedural difference rather than a point of substance that in this case the preference is given by making the drawback from a Customs duty which is expected to remain constant, whereas in the 1935 Parliament what we perpetually had was industry having a preference given to them by Customs duties which it was assumed would be varied from time to time.

In that Parliament the amount of preference industry was given altered upwards, downwards, backwards, sideways, and round and round by Orders which we could not amend. I have honestly forgotten whether they were passed by affirmative Resolution or not, or that we had to pray against them. There was no question of amending them and I remember, in steel in one particular year, we had three, four, or five alterations in the terms of preference in a period of 12 months. This was done by all. When we are now introducing or dealing with something of exactly the same kind, it is not for us to give reasons why we should not continue exactly the same process for it as was done in the 1935 Parliament. It is for the Opposition to say why the procedure adopted in their day was all wrong, because it was supported time and time again.

None of us remembers very clearly, except those who have spent the last few days or weeks on this point, all the relevant considerations. Therefore, I shall not be excessively ashamed of myself or apologise to the Committee if what I am going to say is wrong. Does not the fallacy of the argument just put, and of the same argument when put from the Treasury Bench lie in the existence of the Import Duties Advisory Committee and in the fact that the setting-up of that system was done by all the elaboration of legislation, and that that Committee was set up to act in what is perhaps not technically but fairly described as a quasi-judicial capacity? That surely knocks that argument to pieces.

Secondly, I would respectfully incline to dissent from some speakers on this side who seemed to minimise the distinction between positive and negative procedure. Whoever is right about that it is clear that the positive procedure does not meet either of the two main points which have been put. I say that the Government should meet these points either in argument here or by trying to put the thing right and not to treat the thing as if it were a sort of Dutch auction between infantile but slightly intoxicated persons where, if the other side use a word you do not like, you say, "Very well, take back your pencil-box!" That is not the way to deal with it here.

The two substantial points really ought to be met from the other side. I will tell the Committee about those two points so that I can indicate the duty now lying on the Treasury Bench. The first is the constitutional point and there the duty on the Treasury Bench is to produce something which is slightly less objectionable than the Bill as drafted. The duty of the Treasury Bench is either to show that our objection is mistaken or to produce something which removes the objection. Our objection is to the taxing capacity of this House being exercised, as I think, in an unprecedented manner [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members may speak after me if they so choose, but I do not think anybody stopped me in the first part of my speech where I indicated the duty in that regard. Will the Government show us why this particular kind of taxation should be carried through without the whole machinery?

The second point is the practical one put by my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg). I have no doubt that his technical details are right and, if they are, then it must follow that this-is a thing that could happen very, very seldom. I suppose that will be agreed. Does the Treasury like to have it three times a year, like the steel case referred to from the other side in the last speech? It will happen, if at all, with extreme rarity and surely the duty upon the Treasury Bench is to explain the sort of circumstances in which they think it might be necessary to do what we are objecting to and why, in that set of hypothetical circumstances, it would be necessary to act with great urgency and it would not be possible to take a Parliamentary day to do it.

These are the propositions, the weight of proving which lies on the Treasury Bench. I say that the speech of the Minister was not relevant to either of those points. It is due to the Committee, at whatever hour of the day or night, that these two points should be met.

It is somewhat characteristic of the attitude that this Government adopts towards this House that the Minister should regard it as a concession—which may or may not have been withdrawn, I do not know—that the imposition of this particular form of taxation should be carried out by the same procedure thought appropriate in deciding whether "Little Puddlecombe" shall have cinemas open on Sunday afternoons. It really does argue, at the same time, a complete failure to understand the constitutional issues involved.

3.15 a.m.

There is a failure to understand what many of us on this side at any rate feel, that the imposition of taxation should be safeguarded by the fullness of Parliamentary procedure, and that to fob us off with the suggestion that a statutory instrument subject to affirmative Resolution is good enough shows a frivolity which is highly disturbing. My interest, and particularly the interest of those of my bon. Friends who were in the 1931 Parliament—and I was not—relates to the doctrine, propounded by the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland), that because something was done then it must be all right. In point of fact it was not done in the 1931 Parliament, but the underlying thesis of the hon. Baronet, that the doings of a pre-war Parliament with a Conservative majority, is sacrosanct is an interesting doctrine.

My particular point was that there were no grounds for the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) getting so heated and indignant in suggesting that there was something slightly improper in doing something which that Government did with his support when he was elected to the House in a by-election. It cannot be so monstrously wrong today. There may be some technical difficulties, but there cannot be any monstrous issues involved over which hon. Gentlemen opposite can get so heated.

I accept the hon. Baronet's assurance that it is inconceivable that a pre-war Conservative Government could have committed a constitutional outrage. Further my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) was not elected to this House till 1937. It is perfectly clear that the hon. Member for Oxford was not here at the time, and that what the hon. Baronet thinks was done was not, in fact, done.

I think that when the Minister made his great concession, as he appeared to regard it, of the affirmative procedure he did, in fact, select the least effective of the two alternatives. He did not select the one under which the Order does not come into force without the express approval of the House. He suggested the much less effective one in which the Order comes into force at once and lapses unless affirmed after so many Parliamentary days. One snag is that time for that purpose only runs during the Parliamentary Session. If the House is in recess the Government can make an Order which can be in force for months before any Member can have the slightest chance of doing anything about it while taxation is levied under it. When the time does come it is inevitable that the Minister says that the Order has been in effect for some months, and that it would be administratively impracticable to alter it.

That is the sort of unsatisfactory procedure with which the House is presented. Then there is the final evil that one cannot amend it. We are told to take it or leave it. That simply is not good enough when dealing with the imposition of taxation. This is almost the oldest issue in the history of this House. His late Majesty King Charles I attempted that sort of thing and lost his head in the process—a more serious loss perhaps than in the case of certain right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Right hon. Gentlemen must appreciate that if they persist in this intention to go on with the imposition of taxation by executive act they are not merely flying in the face of opposition from us, but flying in the face of three centuries of English Parliamentary tradition. They are committing a wrong and a constitutional outrage, and, in the long run, the perpetration of these constitutional outrages rebounds on the heads of those who perpetrate them.

Nearly everything I wished to say has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter). I only wish to mention two matters again, first of all to try to disabuse the mind of the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland). I think he is still under a genuine misapprehension on what was done with regard to Import Duties. Whether the procedure in relation to Import Duties was a good one or a bad one it really did provide certain safeguards which will not be provided if the procedure now suggested by the Government remains unamended. The Act by which the procedure to which he has referred was laid down did provide for a committee which considered all these matters and all proposed changes in the imposition of these duties.

No. The Committee was set up by Statute—a Committee which Parliament thought was the best form of tribunal for deciding that particular question. A decision of that Committee did not have legislative force until there had been a resolution of this House. Speaking from memory, I think that that was the procedure. Whether that is thought good or not, it did provide for the consideration of any change by a body which was considered the most appropriate body for the purpose by Parliament.

It was not a Parliamentary Committee but a group of men chosen by the Government of the day. That Government no doubt thought that they were excellent men. The Opposition of the day did not have any opinion at all: we did not think they were very wonderful people. I am sure that before altering this rate of preference the Government will have the best advice from those whom it considers every bit as competent as the Government of that day considered the members of the Import Duties Advisory Committee. That does not alter the fact that there was no greater House of Commons control than there would be now.

It is true that it was a non-Parliamentary Committee. That was the whole point of the Statute. Leaving aside any statement whether it was a good or bad procedure Parliament decided that a particular subject was appropriate for consideration by an outside Committee which it set up. Nevertheless, although a decision was come to by the body Parliament considered an expert body, it did not have the force of law until it had received an affirmative Resolution.

If the procedure now suggested remains unamended there will be no certainty that it will be considered by any expert body at all, or that any evidence will be heard. The hon. Baronet is quite entitled to assume that this Government will act with the utmost wisdom. He believes so many strange things that he may even believe that. If, however, this proposal becomes law, then the law as laid down in this Bill can be operated by other Governments, and possibly by Governments in which the hon. Baronet may have less confidence. I really hope that the Government will deal with the point that the only precedent suggested for what is proposed is no precedent at all.

I now come to a question that I would put in all seriousness to the Treasury Bench. The one thing that I have not heard in all this discussion is any reason why the Amendment should not be accepted. If the Amendment were accepted, the taxation of the home-produced article could be reduced by a subordinate Order of the House without the necessity of a Bill. But if the rare occasion arose when the Government of the day wished to increase the taxation they would have to introduce a Bill. And why not?

What is the objection of Members opposite to proceeding by legislation, even if it were not a matter of taxation? Why is it always assumed that the House has to deal not only with the considerations operative at the time of the passing of the legislation, but with any conceivable occasions which may thereafter arise without the necessity of further legislation? The chief thing that has been shown by the Government is their profound disbelief in this House, their disbelief in the whole process of legislation. They always believe that it is better to tuck some little provision in a Bill which is before the House in order to avoid the necessity of having to come back to the House and to argue the case afresh, if new considerations arise in regard to which the House may wish to declare a considered opinion. On these two grounds, I hope that this Amendment will be pressed to a Division.

I am sure that no new Member would wish to be pushed into doing anything unconstitutional, and, therefore, I have been listening very carefully to what is precisely the constitutional position. I must say, however, that I have been left in a state of confusion, having particularly found it difficult to follow the interpretation put forward by the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) who, apparently, dismissed any precedent of the Parliament of 1935 as not being relevant and founded his argument entirely on what Charles I had done. There seems to me nothing which in any way differs from the procedure which was adopted by the 1935 Parliament, as my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) said. The only argument put forward against that was that there is to be established a body which is not a committee of this House and which will act independently of this House. The argument is that if an outside body fixes taxation we do not have the same strict Parliamentary control. That is an argument I find it impossible to follow.

3.30 a.m.

I am certain that the hon. Gentleman wishes to follow the point. No outside body was empowered to impose taxation. There was an outside tribunal, or Committee, set up by Statute. This Government has set up many tribunals by Statute. This particular tribunal was, in Parliament's view, the most suitable body to take evidence, to consider and to decide matters in a semi-judicial way. Nevertheless, it could not impose its decision by force of law. For that it was necessary to have a positive Resolution of this House, not what is suggested in this Bill now, and not "what has been offered by the Minister by way of compromise.

The intervention of this House is precisely the same in both cases. My right hon. Friend suggested that a positive Resolution should be substituted, and he was rebuked, almost frivolously, for making this suggestion. He was told there was no difference between negative and positive Resolutions in this case. But he was doing everything he could to meet the point put by hon. Gentlemen opposite. The fact that this outside body was empowered to intervene in fiscal matters seems to me wholly irrelevant. The issue is: by what procedure is the House to fix taxation? The precedent is entirely relevant to the point. I cannot see how this differs from what has always been the customary procedure under Conservative Governments before the war.

It is astonishing that a party which was quite happy to allow this procedure to go on for years should suddenly, at this late hour, discover it is a novel and revolutionary doctrine and consider that Members on this side are indifferent to the rights of Parliament in taxation matters. This is a completely bogus argument. The procedure is precisely the same and in line with constitutional and historical procedure, which, after all, is the basis of the constitution.

Perhaps I may be forgiven for bringing the Debate back to the problem of the industry involved. The industry has two concerns at this time. The first is the power, under the Bill as it stands, to vary and alter the preference, to the great embarrassment of the industry, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) said in his interesting speech. The second matter is also of the greatest importance. It is that after July of this year the industry has no security of any kind whatever, and no guarantee or promise implied or implicit that they will have any preference or protection of any sort. In mentioning this matter I would say that there was never a time when greater encouragement should be given to the coking industry than now. Its expansion and modernisation are linked up with the expansion and development of the steel industry. The coking industry at this time is only just able to meet the coke demands of the blast furnaces of Great Britain. Many of the plants are obsolete, and in the next few years a large number more will also become obsolete.

The assistance we are asking is to give encouragement to the industry to build new furnaces as soon as possible. It is known that the capital cost of coke ovens runs into extremely high figures, and no man of business would embark, in these days, on the erection of plant of that description unless he and the industry had some assurance that the present protection would be continued in its present form, or in some form as that now operating. It is reasonable that they should have that assurance and this special arrangement which goes back as far as 1935 should be continued and the industry given the protection it deserves. The security of the last 12 years encouraged the coking and gas industry to go ahead and modernise. For every ton of coal carbonised there is a yield of three gallons of benzole motor fuel and, last year, in this country, 100 million gallons of benzole was produced in that way. The saving in dollars which resulted is a very important matter.

The other industrial products which come from the operation of the carbonising industry are the backbone of the chemical industries in this country. Very many of them contribute to a great extent to the export market. After July this year the industry has no assurance of any kind, no security nor guarantee that the present arrangements which are no more than satisfactory will continue. I hope the Treasury will find a form of words tonight to give that confidence to the industry which it deserves, and give it an assurance from this House that some way or another before July protection will be forthcoming to it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Esher (Mr. Robson-Brown) has mentioned the reason why we on this side of the Committee wish to have this Amendment inserted in the Bill, and why the arguments put forward from the other side are so entirely fallacious on this particular occasion. The reason, as I understand it, why we wish this Amendment to be carried is to have security in this industry and a real knowledge of what is to happen in the future. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have spoken about what happened with tariffs, but, there, it was a specialist Committee set up for the purpose of seeing that security was given to industry and that no change should be made at the whim of the Treasury. It was a Committee which was in close contact with industry, so that if a tariff became too high or too low the Government could, on its recommendations, immediately make an Order to raise or lower the tariff.

The difference on that occasion was that the initiative had to come from that body, while on this occasion the initiative comes from the Government. The body from which the initiative came on that occasion was a specially appointed body, and it had the confidence of almost every section of industry—and by that I mean both sides of industry. It was also in close touch with industry, and was not subject to political pressure of any kind. [Interruption.] I am very glad to have, at last, an admission from hon. Members on the other side of the Committee that they dislike political pressure upon industry of any kind. It is the first time they have ever admitted it. I am only sorry that the Prime Minister, the Leader of the House and a few other believers in political pressure are not here to learn how unpopular their course is at present. Does the Financial Secretary wish to say something, or is he merely muttering, like his predecessor?

The point is that, constitutionally, the whole thing is entirely different. If the Amendment is accepted the Committee will not have done anything which can hinder the proceedings, so far as I can understand. A further point which to me and, I think, to the whole of the hon. Members on this side of the Committee, makes a vast difference, is that in this case if the tax goes on it is imposed on British goods and British citizens. But a tariff is imposed on foreigners, or upon imports of their goods into this country. A tariff can encourage the production of British goods, while a tax can discourage their production. On the one hand the tax is upon foreigners; on the other hand, it is upon our own people.

I hope hon. Members will sit down when I stand up. We have had more than a dozen speeches and have spent more than an hour on this Amendment. I hope the Committee is ready to reach a decision on the matter.

Division No. 24.]

AYES

[3.46 a.m.

Acland, Sir RichardFernyhough, ELewis, A. W. J. (West Ham, N.)
Adams, RichardField, Capt. W. J.Lewis, J. (Bolton, W.)
Albu, A. H.Finch, H. J.Lindgren, G. S.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Follick, M.Logan, D. G.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Foot, M. M.Longden, F. (Small Heath)
Awbery S. S.Forman, J. C.McAllister, G.
Ayles, W. H.Freeman, J. (Watford)MacColl, J. E.
Bacon, Miss A.Freeman, Peter (Newport)McGhee, H. G
Baird, J.Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.McGovern, J.
Balfour, A.Ganley, Mrs. C. S.McInnes, J
Bartley, P.Gibson, C. W.Mark, J. D
Benson, G.Gilzean, A.McKay, J. (Wallsend)
Beswick, F.Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading, N.)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Gooch, E. G.McLeavy, F.
Bing, G. H. C.Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon P. C.MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Bienkinsop, A.Greenwood, A. W. J. (Rossendale)McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.
Blyton, W. R.Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Boardman, H.Grenfell, D. R.Mainwaring, W. H.
Booth, A.Grey, C. F.Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Bottomley, A. G.Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)Mann, Mrs. J.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M.Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange)Manuel, A. C.
Brockway, A. FennerGunter, R. J.Marquant, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Brook, D. (Halifax)Hale, J. (Rochdale)Mathers, Rt. Hon. George
Brooks, T. J. (Normanton)Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)Mellish, R. J.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Hall, J. (Gateshead, W.)Messer, F.
Brown, George (Belper)Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)Middleton, Mrs. L.
Brown, T. J. (Ince)Hamilton, W. W.Mikardo, Ian
Burke, W. A.Hannan, W.Mitchison, G. R.
Burton, Miss E.Hardman, D. R.Moeran, E. W.
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Hardy, E. A.Monslow, W.
Callaghan, JamesHargreaves, A.Moody, A. S.
Carmichael, JamesHarrison, J.Morley, R.
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Hastings, Dr. SomervilleMorris, P. (Swansea, W.)
Champion, A. J.Hayman, F. H.Mort, D. L.
Chetwynd, G. R.Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley R.)Moyle, A.
Clunie, J.Herbison, Miss M.Mulley, F. W.
Cocks, F. S.Hewitson, Capt. M.Murray, J. D.
Collick, P.Hobson, C. R.Nally, W.
Collindridge, F.Holman, P.Neal, H.
Cook, T. F.Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.
Cooper, G. (Middlesbrough, W.)Hoy, J.O'Brien, T.
Cooper, J. (Deptford)Hubbard, T.Oldfield, W. H.
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Peckham),Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, N.)Oliver, G. H.
Cove, W. G.Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)Orbach, M.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Padley, W. E.
Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir S.Hughes, R. M. (Islington, N.)Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly)
Crosland, C. A. R.Hynd, H. (Accrington)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Crossman, R. H. S.Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Pannell, T. C.
Cullen, Mrs. A.Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Pargiter, G. A
Daines, P.Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)Parker, J.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Paton, J.
Davies, Edward (Stoke, N.)Janner, B.Pearson, A.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)Jay, D. P. T.Peart, T. F.
Davies, Harold (Leek)Jeger, G. (Goole)Poole, Cecil
Davies, R. J (Westhoughton)Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.)Popplewell, E.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Jenkins, R. H.Porter, G.
de Freitas, GeoffreyJohnson, J. (Rugby)Price, M. Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Deer, G.Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)Proctor, W. T.
Dodds, N. NJones, D. T. (Hartlepool)Pryde, D. J.
Donnelly, D.Jones, Frederick Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)Pursey, Comdr. H.
Donovan, T. N.Jones, J. H. (Rotherham)Rankin, J.
Driberg, T. E. N.Jones, William Elwyn (Conway)Rees, Mrs. D.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. J. (W. Bromwich)Keenan, W.Reeves, J.
Dye, S.Kenyon, C.Reid, T. (Swindon)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. CKey, Rt. Hon. C. W.Reid, W. (Camlachie)
Edelman, M.King, H. M.Rhodes, H.
Edwards, John (Brighouse)Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. ERichards, R.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)Kinley, JRobens, A.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)Lang, Rev. G.Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)Lee, F. (Newton)Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Evans, E. (Lowestoft)Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)
Ewart, R.Lever, N. H. (Cheetham)Ross, William (Kilmarnock)

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 289; Noes, 272.

Royle, C.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Shackleton, E. A. A.Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H.Thomas, T. George (Cardiff)Wigg, George
Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Shurmer, P. L. E.Thomas, I. R. (Rhondda, W.)Wilkes, L.
Silverman, J. (Erdington)Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)Thurtle, ErnestWilley, O. G. (Cleveland)
Simmons, C. J.Timmons, J.Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Slater, J.Tomney, F.Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)Turner-Samuels, M.Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Snow, J. W.Usborne, HenryWilson, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Huyton)
Sorensen, R. W.Vernon, Maj. W. F.Winterbottom, I. (Nottingham C.)
Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir F.Viant, S. P.Winterbottom, R. E. (Brightside)
Sparks, J. A.Wallace, H. W.Wise, Major F. J.
Steele, TWatkins, T. E.Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)Watkinson, H.Woods, Rev. G. S.
Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)Wyatt, W. L.
Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.Weitzman, D.Yates, V. F.
Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Vauxhall)Wells, P. L. (Faversham)Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Stross, Dr. B.Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Summerskill, Rt. Hon. EdithWest, D. G.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Sylvester, G. O.Wheatley, Rt. Hn. John (Ed'nb'gh, E.)Mr. Bowden and Mr. Delargy.
Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)White, Mrs. E. (E. Flint)

NOES

Aitken, W. T.Darling, Sir W. Y. (Edinburgh, S.)Howard, G. R. (St. Ives)
Alport, C. J. M.Davidson, ViscountessHoward, S. G. (Cambridgeshire)
Amery, J. (Preston, N.)Davies, Nigel (Epping)Hudson, Sir A. U. M. (Lewisham, N.)
Amory, D. Heathcoat (Tiverton)Deedes, W. F.Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)
Arbuthnot, JohnDigby, S. WingfieldHudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)Dodds-Parker, A. D.Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Donner, P. W.Hurd, A. R.
Astor, Hon. M.Douglas-Hamilton, Lord M.Hutchinson, G. (Ilford, N.)
Baker, P.Drayson, G. B.Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)
Baldock, J. M.Drewe, C.Hyde, H. M.
Baldwin, A. E.Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)Hylton-Foster, H. B.
Banks, Col. C.Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.Jeffreys, General Sir G.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.Dunglass, LordJohnson, H. S. (Kemptown)
Bell, R. M.Duthie, W. S.Jones, A. (Hall Green)
Bennett, Sir P. (Edgbaston)Eden, Rt. Hon. A.Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.
Bennett, R. F. B. (Gosport)Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. WalterKaberry, D.
Bennett, W. G. (Woodside)Erroll, F. J.Keeling, E. H.
Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Toxteth)Fisher, NigelKerr, H. W. (Cambridge)
Birch, NigelFletcher, W. (Bury)Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.
Bishop, F. P.Fort, R.Lambert, Hon. G.
Black, C. W.Foster, J. G.Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)Fraser, Hon. H. C. P. (Stone)Langford-Holt, J.
Bossom, A. C.Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.
Bowen, R.Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Bower, N.Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)Lennox-Boyd, A. T.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Lindsay, Martin
Bracken, Rt. Hon. BrendanGammans, L. D.Linstead, H. N.
Braine, B.Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh)Llewellyn, D.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Gates, Maj. E. E.Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Brooke, H. (Hampstead)Gridley, Sir A.Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)
Browne, J. N. (Govan)Grimond, J.Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Grimston, Hon. J. (St. Albans)Longden, G. J. M. (Herts. S. W.)
Bullus, Wing-Commander E. E.Grimston, R. V. (Westbury)Low, A. R. W.
Burden, Squadron-Leader F. A.Harden, J. R. E.Lucas, Major Sir J. (Portsmouth, S.)
Butcher, H. W.Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.
Carr, L. R. (Mitcham)Harris, R. R. (Heston)Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O
Carson, Hon. E.Harvey, Air-Codre. A. V. (Macclesfield)McAdden, S. J.
Channon, H.Harvey, I. (Harrow, E.)McCallum, Maj. D.
Clarke, Col. R. S. (East Grinstead)Hay, JohnMcCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S
Clarke, Brig. T. H. (Portsmouth, W.)Head, Brig. A. H.Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)
Clyde, J. L.Heald, L. F.Mackeson, Brig. H. R
Colegate, A.Heath, Colonel E. G. R.McKibbin, A.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Henderson, John (Cathcart)McKie, J. H. (Galloway)
Cooper, A. E. (Ilford, S.)Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.Maclean, F. H. R.
Cooper-Key, E. M.Higgs, J. M. C.MacLeod, I. (Enfield, W.)
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)MacLeod, J. (Ross and Cromarty)
Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne)Hill, Dr. C. (Luton)Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)
Cranborne, ViscountHinchingbrooke, ViscountMacpherson, N. (Dumfries)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Hirst. GeoffreyMaitland, Comdr J. W.
Cross, Rt. Hon. Sir R.Hogg, Hon. Q.Manningham-Buller, R. E.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Hollis, M. C.Marlowe, A. A. H.
Crouch, R. F.Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)Marples, A. E.
Crowder, F. P. (Ruislip, N'thwood)Hope, Lord J.Marshall, D. (Bodmin)
Crowder, Capt. John F. E. (Finchley)Hopkinson, H.Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)
Cundiff, F. W.Hornsby-Smith, Miss PMaude, A. E. U. (Ealing, S.)
Cuthbert, W. N.Horsbrugh, Miss F.Maude, J. C. (Exeter)

Maudling, R.Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)Teeling, William
Medlicott, Brigadier F.Roberts, P. G. (Hesley)Thompson, K. P. (Walton)
Mellor, Sir J.Robinson, J. Roland (Blackpool, S.)Thompson, R. H. M. (Croydon, W.)
Molson, A. H. E.Robson-Brown, W.Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Morris, R. Hopkin (Carmarthen)Rodgers, J (Sevenoaks)Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)Roper, Sir H.Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.
Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)Tilney, John
Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.Russell, R. S.Touche, G. C.
Nabarro, G.Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.Turton, R. H.
Nicholls, H.Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.Tweedsmuir, Lady
Nicholson, G.Scott, R. D.Vane, W. M. F.
Nield, B. (Chester)Shepherd, W. S. (Cheadle)Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.Vosper, D. F.
Nugent, G. R. H.Smith, E. Martin (Grantham)Wakefield, E. B. (Derbyshire, W.)
Oakshott, H. D.Smithers, Peter (Winchester)Wakefield, Sir W. W. (St. Marylebone)
Odey, G. W.Smithers, Sir W. (Orpington)Walker-Smith, D. C.
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)Ward, Hon. G. R. (Worcester)
Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Snadden, W. McN.Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)Soames, Capt. C.Waterhouse, Capt. C.
Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)Spearman, A. C. M.Watkinson, H.
Osborne, C.Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
Peto, Brig. C. H. M.Spens, Sir P. (Kensington, S.)Webbe, Sir H. (London)
Pickthorn, K.Stanley, Capt. Hon. R. (N. Fylde)White, J. Baker (Canterbury)
Pitman, I. J.Stevens, G. P.Williams, C. (Torquay)
Powell, J. EnochSteward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Prescott, StanleyStewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)Wills, G.
Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.Wilson, G. (Truro)
Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.Storey, S.Wood, Hon. R
Profumo, J. D.Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)York, C.
Raikes, H. V.Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Rayner, Brig. R.Summers, G. S.
Redmayna, M.Sutcliffe, H.

TELLERS FOR THE NOES:

Remnant, Hon. P.Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)Mr. Studbolme and
Ronton, D. L. M.Taylor, W J. (Bradford, N.)Major Wheatley.

Question put accordingly, "That 'other' stand part of the Clause."

Division No. 25.]

AYES

[3.58 a.m.

Acland, Sir RichardCooper, G. (Middlesbrough, W.)Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.
Adams, RichardCooper, J. (Deptford)Ganley, Mrs. C. S.
Albu, A. H.Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Peckham)Gibson, C. W.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Cove, W. G.Gilzean, A.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Glanville, J. E. (Consett)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir S.Gooch, E. G.
Awbery, S. S.Crosland, C. A. R.Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.
Ayles, W. H.Crossman, R. H. S.Greenwood, A. W. J. (Rossendale)
Bacon, Miss A.Cullen, Mrs. A.Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)
Baird, J.Daines, P.Grenfell, D. R.
Balfour, A.Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Grey, C. F.
Bartley, P.Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)
Benson, G.Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)
Beswick, F.Davies, Harold (Leek)Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)Hale, J. (Rochdale)
Bing, G. H. C.Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)
Blenkinsop, A.de Freitas, GeoffreyHall, J. (Gateshead, W.)
Blyton, W. R.Deer, G.Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)
Boardman, H.Delargy, H. J.Hamilton, W. W.
Booth, A.Dodds, N. N.Hannan, W.
Bottomley, A. G.Donnelly, D.Hardman, D. R.
Bowden, H. W.Donovan, T. N.Hardy, E. A.
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)Driberg, T. E. N.Hargreaves, A.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M.Dugdale, Rt. Hon. J. (W. Bromwich)Harrison, J.
Brockway, A. FennerDye, S.Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Brook, D. (Halifax)Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Hayman, F. H.
Brooks, T. J. (Normanton)Edelman, M.Henderson, Rt. Hon A. (Rowley R.)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Edwards, John (Brighouse)Herbison, Miss M.
Brown, George (Belper)Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)Hewitson, Capt. M.
Brown, T. J. (Ince)Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)Hobson, C. R.
Burke, W. A.Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)Holman, P.
Burton, Miss E.Evans, E. (Lowestoft)Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Hoy, J.
Callaghan, JamesEwart, R.Hubbard, T.
Carmichael, JamesFernyhough, E.Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, N.)
Castle, Mrs. B. AField, Capt. W. J.Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)
Champion, A J.Finch, H. J.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Chetwynd, G. R.Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)Hughes, R. M. (Islington, N.)
Clunie, J.Follick, MHynd, H. (Accrington)
Cocks, F. S.Foot, M. M.Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)
Coldrick, W.Forman, J. C.Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Collick, P.Freeman, J. (Watford)Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)
Cook, T. F.Freeman, Peter (Newport)Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.

The Committee divided: Ayes, 290: Noes, 271.

Janner, B.Morley, R.Steele T.
Jay, D. P. T.Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Jeger, G. (Goole)Mort, D. L.Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.
Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.)Moyle, A.Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Jenkins, R. H.Mulley, F. W.Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Vauxhall)
Johnson, J. (Rugby)Murray, J. D.Stross, Dr. B.
Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)Nally, W.Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)Neal, H.Sylvester, G. O.
Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. JTaylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Jones, J. H. (Rotherham)O'Brien, T.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Jones, William Elwyn (Conway)Oldfield, W. H.Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Keenan, W.Oliver, G. H.Thomas, T. George (Cardiff)
Kenyon, C.Orbach, M.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Key, Rt. Hon. C. WPadley, W. E.Thomas, I. R. (Rhondda, W.)
King, H. M.Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'Ily)Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Thurtle, Ernest
Kinley, J.Pannell, T. C.Timmons, J
Lang, Rev. G.Pargiter, G. A.Tomney, F.
Lee, F. (Newton)Parker, J.Turner-Samuels, M.
Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)Paton, J.Usborne, Henry
Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)Pearson, A.Vernon, Maj. W. F
Lever, N. H. (Cheetham)Peart, T. F.Viant, S. P.
Lewis, A. W. J. (West Ham, N.)Poole, CecilWallace, H. W.
Lewis, J. (Bolton, W.)Popplewell, E.Watkins, T. E.
Lindgren, G. S.Porter, G.Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Price, M. Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)Weitzman, D.
Logan, D. G.Proctor, W. T.Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Longden, F. (Small Heath)Pryde, D. J.Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
McAllister, G.Pursey, Comdr. H.West, D. G.
MacColl, J. E.Rankin, JWheatley, Rt. Hn. John (Ed'nbgh, E.)
McGhee, H. G.Rees, Mrs. D.White, Mrs. E. (E. Flint)
McGovern, J.Reeves, J.White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
McInnes, JReid, T. (Swindon)Whileley, Rt. Hon. W.
Mack, J. DReid, W. (Camlachie)Wigg, George
McKay, J (Wallsend)Rhodes, H.Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B
Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading, N.)Richards, R.Wilkes, L.
McLeavy, F.Robens, A.Willey, F T. (Sunderland)
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Willey, O. G (Cleveland)
McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)Williams, D. J. (Neath)
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Mainwaring, W. H.Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Royle, C.Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Huyton)
Mallalieu, J. P. W (Huddersfield, E.)Shackleton, E. A. A.Winterbottom, I. (Nottingham C.)
Mann, Mrs. J.Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H.Winterbottom, R. E. (Brightside)
Manuel, A. C.Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.Wise, Major F. J.
Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.Shurmer, P. L. E.Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A
Mathers, Rt. Hon. GeorgeSilverman, J. (Erdington)Woods, Rev. G. S.
Mellish, R. J.Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)Wyatt, W. L.
Messer, F.Simmons, C. J.Yates, V. F.
Middleton, Mrs. LSlater, J.Younger, Hon Kenneth
Mikardo, IanSmith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Mitchison, G. R.Snow, J. W.

TELLERS FOR THE AYES:

Moeran, E. W.Sorensen, R. W.Mr. Collindridge and
Monslow, W.Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir FMr. Kenneth Robinson.
Moody, A. S.Sparks, J. A.

NOES

Aitken, W. T.Braine, B.Crowder, F. P (Ruislip, N'thwood)
Alport, C. J. M.Bralthwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.Crowder, Capt. John F. E. (Finchley)
Amery, J. (Preston, N.)Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.Cundiff, F. W.
Amory, D. Heathcoat (Tiverton)Brownes J. N. (Govan)Cuthbert, W. N.
Arbuthnot, JohnBuchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Darling, Sir W. Y. (Edinburgh, S.)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)Bullus, Wing-Commander E. E.Davidson, Viscountess
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Burden, Squadron-Leader F. ADavies, Nigel (Epping)
Astor, Hon. M.Butcher, H. W.Deedes, W F.
Baker, P.Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)Digby, S. Wingfield
Baldock J M.Carr, L. R. (Mitcham)Dodds-Parker, A. D.
Baldwin, A. E.Carson, Hon. E.Donner, P. W.
Banks, Col. C.Channon, H.Douglas-Hamilton, Lord M.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.Clarke, Col. R. S. (East Grinstead)Drayson, G. B.
Bell, R. M.Clarke, Brig. T. H. (Portsmouth, W.)Drewe, C.
Bennett, Sir P. (Edgbaston)Clyde, J. L.Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)
Bennett, R. F. B. (Gosport)Colegate, A.Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.
Bennett, W. G (Woodside)Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Dunglass, Lord
Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Texteth)Cooper, A. E. (Ilford, S.)Duthie, W. S.
Birch, NigelCooper-Key, E. M.Eden, Rt. Hon. A.
Bishop, F. P.Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter
Black, C. W.Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne)Erroll, F. J.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)Cranborne, ViscountFisher, Nigel
Bossom, A. C.Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Fletcher, W. (Bury)
Bower, N.Cross, Rt. Hon. Sir R.Fort, R.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Foster, J. G.
Bracken, Rt. Hon. BrendanCrouch, R. F.Fraser, Hon. H. G. P. (Stone)

Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)Robinson, J. Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)Robson-Brown, W.
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.Rodgers, J. (Sevenoaks)
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Longden, G. J. M. (Herts. S. W.)Roper, Sir H.
Gammans, L. D.Low, A. R. W.Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh)Lucas, Major Sir J. (Portsmouth, S.)Russell, R. S.
Gates, Maj. E. E.Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)Ryder, Capt. R. E. D
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Gridley, Sir A.Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.Scott, R. D.
Grimond, J.McAdden, S. J.Shepherd, W. S. (Cheadle)
Grimston, Hon. J. (St. Albans)McCallum, Maj. D.Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.
Grimston, R. V. (Westbury)McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.Smith, E. Martin (Grantham)
Harden, J. R. E.Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridgs)Mackeson, Brig. H. R.Smithers, Sir W. (Orpington)
Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)McKibbin, A.Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Harris, R. R. (Heston)McKie, J. H. (Galloway)Snadden, W. McN.
Harvey, Air-Codre. A. V. (Macclesfield)Maclean, F. H. R.Soames, Capt. C.
Harvey, I. (Harrow, E.)MacLeod, I. (Enfield, W.)Spearman, A. C. M
Hay, JohnMacLeod, J. (Ross and Cromarty)Spens, Sir P. (Kensington, S.)
Head, Brig. A. H.Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Stanley, Capt. Hon. R. (N. Fylde)
Heald, L. F.Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)Stevens, G. P.
Heath, Colonel E. G. R.Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Henderson, John (Cathcart)Manningham-Buller, R. E.Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.Marlowe, A. A. H.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M
Higgs, J. M. C.Marples, A. E.Storey, S.
Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Hill, Dr. C. (Luton)Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Hinchingbrooke, ViscountMaude, A. E. U. (Ealing, S.)Summers, G. S.
Hirst. GeoffreyMaude, J. C. (Exeter)Sutcliffe, H.
Hogg, Hon. Q.Maudling, R.Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Holds, M. C.Medlicott, Brigadier F.Taylor, W J. (Bradford, N.)
Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)Mellor, Sir J.Teeling, William
Hope, Lord J.Molson, A. H. E.Thompson, K. P. (Walton)
Hopkinson, H.Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)Thompson, R. H. M. (Croydon, W.)
Hornsby-Smith, Miss P.Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)Thorneycroft, G. E P. (Monmouth)
Horsbrugh, Miss F.Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Howard, G. R. (St. Ives)Nabarro, G.Thorp, Brigadier R. A F
Howard, S. G. (Cambridgeshire)Nicholls, H.Tilney, John
Hudson, Sir A. U. M. (Lewisham, N.)Nicholson, G.Touche, G. C.
Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Nield, B. (Chester)Turton, R. H.
Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)Noble, Comdr. A. H. PTweedsmuir, Lady
Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.Nugent, G. R. H.Vane, W. M. F
Hurd, A. R.Oakshott, H. D.Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Hutchinson, G. (Ilford, N.)Odey, G. W.Vosper, D. F.
Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.Wakefield, E. B. (Derbyshire, W.)
Hyde, H. M.Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Wakefield, Sir W. W. (St. Marylebone)
Hylton-Foster, H. B.Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)Walker-Smith, D. C.
Jeffreys, General Sir G.Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)Ward, Hon. G. R. (Worcester)
Johnson, H. S. (Kemptown)Osborne, C.Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Jones, A. (Hall Green)Perkins, W. R. D.Waterhouse, Capt. C.
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. WPeto, Brig. C. H. M.Watkinson, H.
Kaberry, D.Pickthorn, K.Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
Keeling, E. H.Pitman, I. J.Webbe, Sir H. (London)
Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)Powell, J. EnochWhite, J. Baker (Canterbury)
Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.Prescott, StanleyWilliams, C. (Torquay)
Lambert, Hon. G.Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Lancaster, Col. C. G.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.Wills, G.
Langford-Holt, J.Profumo, J. DWilson, G. (Truro)
Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.Raikes, H. V.Wood, Hon. R.
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Rayner, Brig. R.York, C.
Lennox-Boyd, A. T.Redmayne, M.Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)
Lindsay, MartinRemnant, Hon. P.
Linstead, H. N.Renton, D. L. M.

TELLERS FOR THE NOES:

Llewellyn, D.Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)Mr. Studholme and
Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)Roberts, P. G. (Heeley)Major Wheatley

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

I offer very few remarks to the Committee on this subject, because the main arguments have already been put forward on Clause 1. But it is necessary to understand that different industries are affected by the appearance for the first time of a duty of 9d. on indigenous hydrocarbon oils, that is to say, the coal tar group of oils. Consequently, the industries affected are different from those I mentioned on the previous Clause. The one I particularly want the Committee to note is the plastics industry.

We see how completely hollow are the exhortations which the Government make about the need for reducing costs. That is what they are always saying, but when they take action it means a direct increase on the costs of industry. There are other industries affected in this case—drugs, films, and textiles—but perhaps the plastics industry is the most important. It is true that the result of the Clause is that the preferential position of indigenous oils is maintained, at least temporarily, but the cost of these coal tar oils is going up by 9d. a gallon, and the result cannot be other than very serious on the three or four industries I have mentioned.

I should like to ask the Chancellor one question on this rather complicated Clause. I want to know whether he has consulted, or will consult, with the Minister of Fuel and Power with regard to the administration of this excise procedure on the nationalised coal and gas industries. We now find that these coking and gas making concerns are turned virtually into bonded warehouses, and the benzole and other products which come from them are now subject to control by excise officers, which is a new procedure. This must be done, but I understand that in the past two or three weeks while these regulations have been in force these excise gentlemen have gone to these plants, small gas works and coke ovens, have plastered white paint on bits of machinery, and then have put the onus on the men producing these fuels to do a great deal of the work which should be done by the excise men.

This new departure is going to mean that the men in these industries who are doing their best to keep the ship of nationalisation afloat are going to be given the added task of acting as excise officers for the Treasury. When these regulations were made, did the right hon. Gentleman consult the Minister of Fuel and Power, and can he give an assurance that under the regulations his excise officers will not put unnecessary burdens on the people trying to produce this fuel? Otherwise there will be a great deal of unnecessary red tape which will not be helpful to those in the industry or to the Treasury.

I want to raise only one or two points at this late hour. I want to ask the Government whether or not the offer they made earlier is still open—I assume it is—that the positive procedure should be substituted for the negative procedure. I should like to ask the Chancellor if he will consider going a little further. There are thousands of pounds involved in this industry. I remember the negotiations in 1938. There are vast buildings, with enormously complicated equipment costing large sums. Some of these coke ovens are becoming out of date and will need to be renewed.

From July there will be no firm preference as far as these hydrocarbon oils are concerned, and therefore there is complete lack of security. The Treasury, at any time, and in theory without telling anybody, can issue an order and deprive; the industry of its preference. There are big figures involved, and it is going to be very difficult for anybody who has to replace out-of-date machinery to face the risk if the preference is likely to go. Before the war there was consultation through the Import Duties Advisory Committee, but now there is none in theory. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) made a suggestion which is not perfect, but which did attempt something.

4.15 a.m.

I quite agree. There was an attempt to increase the security, but at the present time there is none. I wish to ask the Chancellor to do his best by reconsidering the matter and trying to increase the security. I see no reason why the length of time for security, in view of the heavy sums involved and the necessity to see that these buildings and machinery are renewed when they should be, should not be given.

The Clause is very curiously worded in subsection (1, a). In this respect, I do not think the drafting is worthy of what the House expects. It is surely not necessary to say that the Duty shall be 1s. 6d. and then that it shall be less 9d., or some other sum which the Treasury may direct. That has to be taken with Clause 7, which provides that the Treasury may make Statutory Regulations to alter the amount of the duty up or down.

The only reason that could be advanced by the Government side is that it rests on precedent, and the precedent which they would seek to invoke is that it was done under the Import Duties Act, under which a committee was set up. It is always refreshing to find the Socialists relying on precedents as the only justification for what they are doing. It is, of course, probable that the only justification for the declaration of policy of the Labour Executive is the precedent of King Canute and Ethelred the Unready.

I wish to ask the Chancellor why he has provided that the Treasury shall be empowered to increase the tax on these oils by negative Resolution. That is a question I feel sure the Committee would like to have answered. Hon. Members opposite have no other reason in their minds except that this has been done before, but if they think there is a precedent they are mistaken. The precedent which was provided in 1932 was a precedent with the affirmative Resolution procedure which had the safeguard of a committee set up by an Act of Parliament. I defy Members opposite to say that that is a precedent or the same procedure as a negative Resolution without the safeguard of such a committee.

The non. Member is trying to have it both ways, and I do not blame him for that. He wants to say that they are relying on precedent, and that therefore they are right, and then to say that they are not relying on precedent, and that therefore they are also right. I agree with him that they need not rely on precedent but on merits. After I have spoken will the hon. Gentleman tell the House the reason which justifies the right hon. and learned Gentleman in putting forward this Clause which allows the Treasury to do so on this occasion? I do not believe a single reason will come from the other side on this point.

We do not want the Minister to set up the defence of precedent and then have some light-footed picador at the back to guard the matador in front who has put up this ridiculous defence. What we want to know is whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman can say that there is a need for such flexibility as regards hydrocarbon oils that they have to do away even with the safeguard of an Import Advisory Committee? Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman think it right that the Resolution should be a positive one instead of negative and that a committee should be set up which would give the industry advice, as the Import Advisory Committee was in a position to do. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman not think that would more closely follow the precedent which was before the House in 1932? I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to tell us whether the Treasury really need this power.

I hope he will not look on it just as a reduction or augmentation of preference, because it has the other facet of being an increase or reduction of taxation; that is a matter which should never be done by a simple resolution, whether negative or affirmative, without some other safeguard. At the present time there is no such other safeguard in this Clause and I would ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to consider that part of the Clause.

I shall not deal with the matters just raised by the hon. and learned Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster) because it would be out of order. It would be a tedious repetition of matters already debated in the House. I will take one question put to me by the hon. Member for Heeley (Mr. P. Roberts). I may say that I had the closest consultation with the Minister of Fuel and Power over the whole of these Clauses dealing with oil and that the duties will certainly be carried out by excise officers.

In reply to the question put by the hon. and gallant Member for South Angus (Captain Duncan) as to whether the offer of an affirmative Resolution was still open, the matter has been voted on by the Committee and that has decided the form in which the Clause will go forward. As it has been voted on, we do not propose to upset the form in which the Committee have now put it. As to the question of security for the industry, the industry are not in a position in which at any moment they might be disturbed. I gave a perfectly clear undertaking in my Budget speech that no change would be made without the fullest consultation with the industry, and that can be regarded as an undertaking. Indeed it would be ridiculous for anybody in my position or for anyone of responsibility at the Treasury to seek to upset some section of British industry. Our job is to try to collect as much from as prosperous an industry as possible.

Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that he is not there for ever, and that he may not be Chancellor of the Exchequer much longer.

I know of no case where a Chancellor of the Exchequer has not honoured the undertakings given by his predecessors.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again." I do so mainly to ascertain the intentions of the Government, which the Committee would like to hear.

I am glad to respond to the reasonable request made by the right hon. Gentleman that we should indicate what we intend to do. It is now nearly 4.30 a.m. and we have just passed Clause 2. Taking that speed of advance we shall want all the time between now and Friday morning to consider this Committee stage. We propose to continue sitting until then.

I am not sure I understand what the right hon. and learned Gentleman means, and whether he intends to continue after Clause 12.

We had a conversation with the right hon. Gentlemen opposite and informed them that if we could get to Clause 12 by midnight last night we would be prepared to adjourn, but if we sat after midnight, and were not able to get as far as that, we should feel it necessary to continue sitting and get ahead with the Bill.

On a point of order. Are the hon. Gentlemen lounging in the corridor in order, or are they inside or outside the House?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has indicated that in his opinion we are not making the progress he had hoped. I am one of those on this side of the House who has managed to refrain from speaking so far in this Debate, in order to facilitate progress. May I put to the right hon. and learned Gentleman in the most friendly manner that it is unusual in consideration of a Bill in Committee to invite the Committee to remain for such long hours in view of the strain which is imposed not only on himself which he bears very well but on the weaker vessels assisting him on this occasion. I wondered why it was that our deliberations on the Gas Bill took such a long time, and it was because the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of State for Economic Affairs was a member of that Committee. Having made admirable progress in disposing of two important Clauses, would not the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept this Motion proposed by the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton)? Full progress would then be facilitated on the remaining stages. Failing that, I hope that the right hon. Member for Aldershot will take this matter to a Division.

4.30 a.m.

Do I understand that it is a serious suggestion by the right hon. and learned Gentleman that we should have a continuous sitting- to deal with this Finance Bill; that we should sit until lunch-time today, or continue straight through to Friday morning?

If the right hon. Gentleman is telling us that that is the way to conduct the financial business of the country I think he ought to be ashamed of himself. In this Finance Bill, as he must know, there are many matters of grave importance to a great many people—matters which require very clear heads for their consideration. In that regard I do not think we can congratulate the Government upon the clarity they have displayed so far. I suggest that it would be disgraceful, an abuse of democratic processes, to suggest that we should continue with this business without rest of any kind. I gather that the right hon. and learned Gentleman's suggestion was that we should go on continuously.

It would perhaps be of convenience to the Committee if the Chancellor of the Exchequer made clear what is, I think, the case, in spite of the mock heroics which he has indulged in; that is, that it is impossible for the Committee to sit beyond half an hour of Parliamentary time tomorrow.

I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is right. If we sat beyond the hour at which the House would meet tomorrow, we would lose a day, but we would get on with the business. Whether we do all the business on what is nominally a Wednesday, or whether we do it on a Wednesday and Thursday is not material, so long as we do the business. The hon. and learned Gentleman was a little hot and indignant, I think—

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is giving a very bad-tempered exhibition. There is no need to be captious about it.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is making an exhibition of himself, and a very bad one, too.

I am answering the hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd). I do not think the hon. Member need get irritated. After all, we have been now sitting on this Bill for just 13 hours.

There is no precedent for this on the first night of the Committee stage of the Finance Bill.

There is no precedent that I know of for the long time which it has taken to discuss some four or five Amendments, which is, in fact, what we have got through so far. It is obvious, if I may say so, that there has not been any great anxiety to meet the timetable which my right hon. Friend announced. He said that we would get through this Committee stage in five days. That was the timetable. It was announced—I have forgotten how long ago, but it was a number of days ago—that that was the time which was being allocated for the matter.

I discussed it with those who are responsible for the party opposite, and I understood that they had no objection to five days. In fact, they actually made suggestions on how the business should be conducted on the five days. They gave no undertaking of any kind, of course. That was the time allotted by the Government, and if we are going to get through in that time, at the speed at which we have been proceeding so far we shall have to sit for practically 24 hours a day throughout the whole period. There is no other way of doing it; and as we want to get on with the business, I suggest that we should go on sitting.

I do ask that there should be no misunderstanding of where we stand. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has taken a very gloomy view of our progress. The Amendments with which we have been dealing are those of the greatest substance in this part of the Finance Bill; but, however that may be, when the question of days was discussed, there was no kind of undertaking on this side of the Committee at any time. The Chancellor implied that there was a timetable.

But the Chancellor knows very well, having led the House himself, that the Leader of the House cannot "lay down." This is a free assembly, and it is for the House to agree or disagree.

I know that the Minister of Health is a great authority, but we on this side do not consider that we have broken either the letter or the spirit of matter—

and I do not think that the proceedings so far, are such as to deserve the strictures of the Chancellor.

I have had the honour of listening to many Chancellors of the Exchequer in this House, and I have known Chancellors who have had to deal with very difficult Budgets. I have, furthermore, always noticed that if they had any political wisdom, or knowledge of the House, they tried to conduct the business peaceably on the first day. I have also noticed that a Minister who is weak and indecisive, and not really in control of himself, has tried to over-play his part in the Committee. In quite a friendly spirit—[Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite should not make light of these remarks, because I have taken very little part in this Debate and that small part was in no unfriendly way towards the Government.

I suggest to the Government that the main subject in this Budget is the Petrol Duty. That is now out of the way, and if the right hon. and learned Gentleman did as wise Chancellors would do, having got the really important matter over, we could go as far as the beer and spirit Clauses and start on that rather more salubrious subject later to-day. If be would meet the Committee to that extent, he would have a chance of getting through this stage of the Bill without any great difficulty. I know of no other 10, or even 20, Clauses put together which would take so long, with reasonable agreement, as the Clause we have just passed. We on this side of the Committee think that this Clause hits many millions of people in this country. That is what we feel, and that is what many people outside feel.

The Chancellor was wise enough to say that there has been no useless discussion. If he would look at the situation from that point of view and let us stop at a reasonable place tonight—there is one quite shortly—would it not be more in the interests of Parliament and the country than to continue discussing points which are of importance at a time when it is obvious that it is not in the best interests of legislation to continue? Might it not be really worth while if the Chancellor came to some arrangement about this, which he could do if he was reasonable? Does he wish to interrupt me or is he merely making rude gestures at the Opposition Front Bench?

It is very discreditable that a Government in such a weak position as this one should use its slender majority to do such a hurtful thing to the House of Commons as to cause a continuous sitting at this time when everyone with a real knowledge of the House must know that, so far as the Committee stage is concerned, the "guts" are out of the Bill.

Perhaps it would be best if we were to proceed, at any rate, for an hour or so, and see how we get on. We can then consider the question again. I hope that nobody is going to get hot and nettled about this. All we want to do is to get the Bill.

I know, but I am sure that hon. Gentlemen want to leave reasonable time for the new Clauses. We feel that there should be reasonable time for the discussion on them. We believed that we could have got 12 Clauses today and then we could have made very good progress with the rest of the Bill at the next Sitting.

I do not know if the last intervention by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was meant to withdraw the statement which he made earlier that we were going to continue to sit now continuously until Friday. [Interruption.] That is what he said. It is quite useless for hon. Members opposite to make zoo noises. If the intervention of the right hon. and learned Gentleman was meant to withdraw his statement, it indicates a more reasonable attitude. Giving the best guess I can—I know that it will be shared by some of my hon. Friends who are taking an interest in the Bill—I have always had a doubt whether the Committee stage could be completed in five days, but we have not had much doubt that it could be completed in not very much more.

Even today, I suggest—[Interruption.] I am not aware, Major Milner, that I am out of order, and until you tell me that I am out of order I do not propose to be deterred by zoo noises from the other side of the Committee. It is true that at present we have only got to the end of Clause 2. We should have got a good deal further but for the moving of the Closure on two or three occasions. I am expressing my genuine view, and I am as much entitled to that as any hon. Member opposite is to his view. On several occasions only one or two short speeches had still to be made and the divisions which took place on the Closure and the Amendments resulted in far less progress than would otherwise have been made.

4.45 a.m.

Assuming for the moment that by his last intervention the right hon. and learned Gentleman has not completely withdrawn his former suggestion that we should sit straight on until Friday, I suggest that very serious considerations arise. I have no doubt that he has the power to insist on that if he wishes. It is quite obvious in these circumstances that there is going to be no proper discussion on a Finance Bill to which, I suppose, he himself attaches importance. I should have thought it was rather disgraceful that his suggestion of a procedure which would have prevented all real discussion—[Interruption.] If hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to behave like a zoo, I do not suppose we need bother.

If the right hon. and learned Gentleman wishes to take this course, he may be able to insist on it, but it is quite obvious in those circumstances that there will be no proper discussion of the very important issues in this Bill. Why does he desire this, and why was the suggestion so vociferously applauded on the benches behind him? It is in order to demonstrate their contempt for Parliamentary procedure. It is not in the least a mere chance or fluke that the right hon. and learned Gentleman who made this threat was the same right hon. and learned Gentleman who made common cause with Communism not so very long ago.

The hon. and learned Gentleman is departing from the rules governing questions before the Committee. The hon. Gentleman must keep to the reasons for reporting Progress.

I thought, Major Milner, you were going to say that I indulged in some abuse of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The point I have just raised about the right hon. and learned Gentleman was only the matter for which he was expelled from the party which he now adorns. It is most significant that a proposal should be made within the hearing of the whole of this Committee that we should sit from now continuously until Friday morning. [Interruption.] The suggestion, which I am delighted to hear is applauded opposite, demonstrates what I am doing my best to convince others who ought to know it; that it is the desire of the party opposite that Measures should not be properly discussed in this Committee. It is quite impossible for hon. Members opposite both to applaud the Chancellor of the Exchequer's suggestion to kill discussion by continuous session until Friday morning and to pretend that they have any interest in democratic procedure in this House. [An HON. MEMBER: "Shocking."] If any hon. Member opposite wishes to intervene and say something audible, by all means let him. I will yield to him to hear what he has to say.

I ask the Government this perfectly simple question. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman's intervention entirely cancel what he previously said, that it was the intention of the Government to sit from now until Friday morning without interruption? I ask that only for information. If that is the intention of His Majesty's Government, we on this side of the Committee are quite as capable of bearing the physical strain as hon. Members opposite, but there need be no illusion whatsoever about what the country will think about it. [Interruption.] I do not think that the country doubts the capacity of hon. Gentlemen opposite to make a noise.

A short time ago, it was suggested that they were prepared to work without rest from now until Friday. That was easy, because, judging by today's proceedings, no work whatever will be done by the Government Front Bench. No point of substance raised on this side—[Interruption.] [An HON. MEMBER: "Keep it up."] It is just as well even that the least intelligent hon. Member opposite should wait until the verb comes. No suggestion and no serious argument put forward on this side has even received an answer on numerous occasions from hon. Members opposite.

On Clause 2 the right hon. and learned Gentleman refused to reply to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster) on the ground that it would be "tedious repetition." He said that nothwithstanding the fact that he himself had been absent from the House at the time the discussion to which the hon. and learned Member for Northwich was claiming a reply took place. It would not have been tedious repetition or any repetition at all. My hon. and learned Friend was raising a point to which no reply has been given from the benches opposite. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite tell me—and no doubt they sincerely believe it—that I am wasting time—

Is it in order to place on record the fact that for 20 minutes we have heard this diatribe, wasting the time of the House? The country should know it is the intention of the Opposition simply to filibuster.

The hon. and learned Member for Norwich, South (Mr. H. Strauss) is, I am afraid, guilty of some measure of repetition, and he is tending towards tedious repetition. I hope he will not continue on those lines.

If I have been guilty of tedious repetition I apologise to the Chair, but I think hon. Members who are fair-minded in the matter, wherever they sit, will agree that my speech has been considerably interrupted, largely by hon. Members who have taken no interest in the proceedings which have taken place on the two Clauses; and, if I have been guilty of repetition, I plead in excuse that I have been attending to my duties throughout this important Debate and most of those who have been making these ridiculous noises have not done so. Nevertheless, I certainly bow to your Ruling, Major Milner.

I do not understand the complaint that I am wasting time, having regard to the attitude of hon. Members opposite that, provided we sit continuously from now till the end of the sitting on Friday, it does not matter in the least what we discuss or how effectively we discuss it. That is the attitude behind their cheers, and I say that is a scandal. I appeal to the right hon. and learned Gentleman to withdraw completely the proposal he made and to proceed with the Debate; then we will get on much faster.

I agree with my right hon. and learned Friend that we should proceed for the next hour and then perhaps we might debate our course. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Are we to understand that the arrangement will be that about 12 o'clock we will consider this matter?

The hon. Member will understand that the question is not for the Chair to decide. In any event, the Motion has been withdrawn and no further discussion can take place on it.

I have listened to the Debate all day, all evening, and now in the morning, and I want to know something of the arrangement that has been made. I have listened to a lot of talk, and I think it is time we on these benches did a little bit of talking.

I am sorry, but no further discussion can take place because the Motion has been withdrawn.