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Aircraft And Shipbuilding Industries Bill

Volume 921: debated on Wednesday 1 December 1976

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

Question again proposed, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

Order. I must ask those hon. Members who intend to withdraw from the Chamber to do so quietly and those who have urgent conversations to conduct to hold them elsewhere.

I was saying before the Division that some have alleged that these industries are separate. I was pointing out that the workers in the industries are combined in their trade union movement and the employers in the industries are combined in their employers' association. There is no point in my repeating this if it is to fall on deaf ears, particularly the deaf ears of those who know nothing about the industry. I can only say that it is a fact and that the workers and employers in the industry know this.

Others have alleged that the reason the ship repairing industry should be left out of the Bill is that it raises a question of dynamic marketing. Those who allege that the industry as it is to be taken over will not have dynamic marketing are talking nonsense. One of the important criteria which have been introduced in the Bill is that the industry will be organised on a regional basis. That is something that we on this side welcome, and I should have though that the Scottish National Party would have welcomed it because it will bring a Scottish dimension to the industry.

We all know that the main cause of many of the problems we have had with the Bill in the House was the very skilful and expensive campaign conducted by Bristol Channel Ship Repairers Limited. The workers in the industry were conned by the management. I point out now, as I did on the last occasion, that the strategy in ship repairing is that there will be a major repairing establishment on every major estuary in the United Kingdom. That strategy is common sense.

The Bristol Channel is one of the major potential areas of growth for ship repairing. It must be, otherwise the managing director of Bristol Channel Ship Repairers Limited would hardly have made application to the Government for a very substantial loan to enable him to extend his facilities. That is something that the workers in Bristol Channel Ship Repairers Limited will take on board as the future unfolds and they will recognise that they are in a very great potential growth area.

It is nonsense and, indeed, dangerous to suggest that the Government will direct work away from the Bristol Channel to areas of high unemployment. We have said many times that there is no power in the Bill to do this and that the Government have no intention of doing it. The Government would be foolish to try to do so. Shipping is an international business. Those who own and run ships are free to send them anywhere in the world and if anyone tries to direct them to send their ships to a place to which they do not want to send them, they will take their ships away.

On the question of the continued employment of workers in the industry, there can be no guarantee that jobs will be saved. We have these very serious problems. The shipyard workers themselves are well aware of the problems. Throughout their working lives they have faced problems of redundancy and layoff. They know the industry and the state of the order books. They know where the orders are going and the reasons why some of the orders are going there.

Shipbuilding and ship repairing in Britain have an assured future only when we adopt a national strategy and have a coherent policy for the industry. The greatest mistake that the Labour Government made was in 1968 when, after the Geddes reorganisation, they did not nationalise the shipbuilding and ship repairing industries.

There is one consolation. Workers and management have learned the lessons of that reorganisation. They will not make the same mistakes again. Many mistakes were made and millions of pounds of the tax-payers' money have been poured down many drains because of the inherent faults in the Geddes reorganisation.

The continued success and existence of the industry is vital. Some Members in this House do not take a nationalist view and attempt to protect the jobs of one group of workers. I hope that I can claim to speak not on behalf of Merseyside workers, nor on behalf of my ex-Tyneside colleagues, but on behalf of all shipbuilding and ship repairing workers throughout the United Kingdom. Our concern is for all workers.

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East is not in her place. I should like to quote from yesterday's Glasgow Herald which carries the headline:
"Nationalists lost us 230 jobs—union man."
The union man concerned was James Ramsay, a Clyde district delegate of the Boilermaker's Society at the Alexander Stephen's ship repair yard. He said:
"These men"
who are to be laid off on 4th January,
"are the first victims of the failure of the Bill to get through Westminster … I blame the Scottish Nationalists and those bloody old fools in the House of Lords. They have created this situation by their failure to support a necessary piece of Government legislation. There were plenty of potential buyers but now they are shying away because of the uncertainty over the yard's and the industry's future. If this is an example of the SNP's policy of attracting or keeping jobs in Scotland, then God help us."

As an ex-employee of the Glasgow Herald, I never thought that I should hear a Labour Member endorse what it said. If the hon. Gentleman believes what the Glasgow Herald says, he will believe anything.

I was quoting Mr. James Ramsay, the Clyde district delegate of the boilermakers' society.

I finish on this note. We have had a great shipbuilding and ship repairing industry. We have got a great shipbuilding and ship repairing industry. Unless the Bill goes through, and unless it goes through the other place in the near future, we shall not have any industry, never mind a great industry.

10.23 p.m.

The fundamental fact about the future of the shipbuilding industry is that it has no future at all unless it is efficient. The chairman of the Organising Committee, in speeches which he has made throughout the country, has made it clear that this is an international industry. He recognises that there is no captive market and that, if we cannot compete in a difficult world market, there will be no future whatever for this industry.

We should look at the Government's proposal against the fundamental requirement: will State ownership make the industry more efficient or not? Looking at the record of every nationalised industry, I cannot see how any rational person can say that State ownership is the way to salvation for the shipbuilding industry.

What do we find in the existing State-owned yards? We find the worst tales of inefficiency in the country. The hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Evans) referred to the taxpayers' money going down drains. I suggest that some of the biggest drains are the State-owned yards. About 87 per cent. of all the State money which has gone into the industry has gone down the drains in those State-owned yards.

Is it not a fact that a large proportion of the money given to the yards has been spent on modernising them because the previous owners took out all the profits?

It is a sad fact that the Public Accounts Committee greatly criticised the Govan yard for its inefficiency and continuing failure to meet productivity targets which were set when millions of pounds were poured into the yard. The tragedy is that enormous sums have been spent on capital equipment without the hoped for improvement in productivity and there have been continuing losses at the end of the day.

One of the most worrying features about the proposal to nationalise the industry is that the efficient yards—the Swan Hunters of this world—may be in danger of being cut back as a result of these sacred cows—the present State-owned yards—being continued in future.

This is a great worry to some of us on Tyneside. Indeed, one sometimes wonders why the Government are so determined to put the industry's headquarters on Merseyside. They have not so far said where they will put it but the feeling is that it will be on Merseyside. Is that because there is no future on Tyneside, and is that why the industry's natural site for a headquarters is being ignored? Communications from Merseyside are not good. Just about the only place to which one can take a plane from Liverpool is the Isle of Man, and there is not much shipping there. There is no reason to put the headquarters on Merseyside except perhaps that there is to be no future for the industry in the Tyne and Wear area.

The real reason for the nationalisation proposals is of course dogma. There are those on the other side who do not believe in private ownership. There are others who believe in a mixed economy but they are prepared to do a bargain to prolong their period in office. That is what is happening on this Bill as with so many other of the Government's proposals.

The only positive act by the Government has been to cut back naval orders. But more naval orders is one of the ways in which the industry could have been helped. It would have been better to increase the size of the navy. That would have helped the shipbuilding industry.

The hon. Member has a great knowledge of the industry and Tyneside. Without the through-deck cruiser that we have ordered and the other orders that we have placed on the Tyne the position of the people working there would be much worse than it is today. Of all people—and he has both integrity and knowledge—he is not a man fitted to make an allegation of that kind.

Before coming to the Chamber I consulted Hansard. In answer to a Question that I asked about how many jobs would be lost as a result of the naval cut-back, the then Minister of State for Defence said that 11,000 jobs would be lost to the shipbuilding industry. Of course it is true that the building of a particular ship produces jobs, but what about the cuts? There has been a one-seventh cut in destroyers, a one-seventh cut in frigates and a one-third cut in Royal Fleet auxiliaries, which were often built on the Tyne. This is a time when the Soviet Navy is expanding and there is therefore a sound case for increasing rather than cutting naval expenditure.

The main indictment of the Government is that after nearly three years in office, after 1,000 days, they have no plans for the future of the industry other than to take it into public ownership. That is irrelevant to the industry's future. There are no plans, and we have no idea of what the future holds. In all the numerous debates no Minister has enlightened us about the future structure, strategy or size of the industry.

I suspect that many men in the industry are under the delusion that their jobs will be maintained through this change to public ownership. An hon. Member opposite spoke of the optimism, confidence and security for the future. But Mr. Graham Day, Chief Executive of the Organising Committee, said that if we do not contemplate the fact of an inadequate number of orders, many more people will get hurt than is necessary. It is inevitable that there will be some contraction in the shipbuilding industry. But after three years in office the Government have not issued a word about their plans. They still try to pretend that there is no need for jobs to be lost. That is not the case.

Why have the Government not informed us of the facts of life for this industry? The world's shipyards are capable of turning out 50 million tons of shipping a year. The Japanese alone can turn out 18 million tons and the world demand is only 12 or 13 million tons a year.

The Minister of State and I travelled round the world in opposite directions this summer but we turned up in the same places. He saw, as I saw, the new yard in Korea. I do not know whether the statistics that he was given were quite the same as mine. My recollection, however, was that they were working some 60 hours a week. I went around the yard on a Saturday afternoon. Beforehand I suggested that that was a funny time to be going around a shipyard, but the people there replied "Why? There are 19,000 men hard at work." That was so. A Saturday afternoon was no different from any other day. These 19,000 men were working for about £20 a week and turning out the same standard ships as built by Govan Shipyard on the Clyde.

Hon. Members may laugh. They may not be pleased to hear that, but it is a fact. They may think that factor laughable, but it is a fact of life, and that is the true competition faced by Govan and other British merchant shipbuilders. The Minister must have found, as I did, that it is competition which even the Japanese have found very worrying. That is the true competition facing our industry.

It is a considerable indictment of the present Government that after 1,000 days in office they have put forward no plans whatever for the future of this industry. They have deluded those working in it into thinking that by putting it into public ownership their jobs will be made secure, when the only thing that can achieve that is efficiency. It is a very strong indictment against the Government that they cannot give any answer to the question of the size, strategy and structure of this industry in the future. Either they are determined on secrecy, which is disgraceful, or else they have no plans. I hope that in winding up the debate the Minister of State will advise us which of those alternatives is the truth.

10.32 p.m.

The hon. Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Trotter) will not expect me to follow up his remarks on shipbuilding. I want to speak mainly about the aircraft industry, which is of concern to my constituents in the Bristol area.

The hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) seemed to treat this whole matter as an academic argument about nationalisation and about the rôle of the House of Lords. I was sorry that he brought in the argument about the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maguire) because it detracted from the quality of his speech. Certainly the style of presentation of the hon. Member for Oswestry is markedly removed from the flamboyant style of his predecessor in Shadow office, the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine). During the last General Election campaign, the hon. Member for Henley came into the West Country trying to solicit the votes of aircraft workers and tramped the country trying to talk to them about the Opposition's policy on the aircraft industry.

This is not an academic argument about nationalisation. The position of the British aircraft industry is now too grave for that. Without public ownership our aircraft industry as we know it will collapse, because there are very few plans for the future.

My hon. Friend the Minister of State has visited Bristol to talk to shop stewards, with me, and to talk to the management of BAC about future plans for the industry. I think that he was there on one occasion when we were told by the BAC management that there were virtually no plans for the industry. We were told then "You do not fill up the petrol tank if you are going to sell the car." If that is the position, the nationalisation of the aircraft industry is the only thing that will save the workers' jobs.

What we are talking about tonight is not an academic question but the matter of men's livelihoods and the livelihood of their families. That is what is at stake. Cities such as Bristol have been far too relaxed about aircraft production over the years. Many of us have been fearful about the prospects if something happened. We have suffered uncertainty for several decades. The things that have happened to this Bill, both in the hybridity sense and in the sense of the action taken in the other place, have resulted in grave uncertainty, which in turn has put men's jobs in jeopardy. The delay will eventually mean the loss of jobs and job prospects for the workers.

People at the BAC plant at Filton are objecting, and the management and shop stewards are worried about the situation. They ask what will happen to the factory if the Bill does not go through. The delay in implementing the plans that were initiated by this Government has been disastrous for job prospects in the industry.

Successive Governments have over the years given millions of pounds to the British aircraft industry, and it has been reliant on that money. Now is the time for greater accountability in the industry because, as has been said by many of my hon. Friends, there has been a lack of investment by private enterprise firms in the aircraft industry, and that cannot be contradicted.

The hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson) referred to the rôle of Sir Arnold Weinstock. As he has been mentioned, I think I should tell the House of the worries of the workers about what Sir Arnold Weinstock has said in the past. He has given the impression that if BAC is not nationalised he would have it withdrawn from civil aviation altogether and concentrate on more lucrative elements of production.

Bristol relies on the aircraft industry, and the site at Filton, which is heavily dependent on the Concorde project, is one of those things about which a decision is needed now. Decisions have to be made by the new Corporation, and one reason for the consultations that some of my hon. Friends and I have had with Lord Beswick has been to secure something for the workers so that we can tell them exactly what is to happen.

The decision that the House has taken about this Bill on a number of occasions has strengthened the resolve of those in the trade union movement to see this industry brought into public ownership, because decisions have to be made now about the future of the Concorde project as a whole. These decisions need to be made in the context of the new Corporation. They cannot be made by people who may be relinquishing their responsibilities in a few months' time.

Decisions have also to be made about a possible 150 to 180-seater aircraft for use in the 1980s. The HS146 is one plane that is still on the shelf, and a decision will have to be made about that. A decision is needed also on the BAC 111. Hon. Gentlemen say that more BAC 111s are being produced, but that is because of the guarantee that has been given by the Government for the financing of this aircraft. I went to Filton and saw these planes being made, and it is the Government who have to take all the flak in these matters.

The message that I want to hear going forth from this debate is that the Bill is going forward again. If there is any further delay it will mean that of the three BAC factories at Hum, Weybridge and Filton, one will have to close. If there is further delay, the question will be, which one? I do not want my constituents who work in Filton to be thrown on the scrap heap, and I am sure that those hon. Members who represent the other places I have mentioned take the same view. We need an end to the uncertainly, a decision one way or the other. That is why I hope that we shall proceed tonight; otherwise, one of these factories will come under the axe.

The delay has meant that time is now running out. The birth of the new British Aerospace must not be longer delayed. I congratulate the Secretary of State on his great resolve in pressing ahead with the Bill against all the opposition. I hope that he will be rewarded by seeing it on the statute book early in 1977.

10.41 p.m.

When the Bill was amended by the other place in a way unacceptable to the Government, the Secretary of State said that it was the Tory Peers only who had defeated it. That was uncharacteristic and ungenerous. In fact, six Independents, 16 Liberals and at least 44 others who took no party Whip voted against it—including former Labour Cabinet Ministers. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman on reflection will want to withdraw that statement, which, as well as being uncharacteristic and ungenerous, was misleading —and that is something that we have not learned to expect from him.

Will the Bill ensure the survival and virility of the aircraft and shipbuilding and repairing industries? If it is to ensure that those working in the industries retain their jobs, it must produce orders for ships to be built and repaired. The Secretary of State admitted tonight that there had been a worldwide decline in the demand for new ships and that it would be difficult to ensure that the yards were kept busy. He could give no promise that that would happen.

We all know that change of ownership, from private to public, will not provide one extra order from overseas shipowners for a ship to be built or repaired here unless price and delivery are competitive with those of ships built abroad. Indeed, as the Secretary of State agreed earlier tonight by nodding his head, we must also take into account countries new to shipbuilding, which will be competing with us for the first time.

When I asked the Prime Minister recently how many existing shipyards would be kept in operation after nationalisation, he made it clear that he could give no promise. I asked him whether, if orders were not forthcoming from overseas, the Government would build ships themselves, and if so, what they would do with them and how they would pay for them. I asked whether he could ensure that the present workers would retain their jobs. He said that there must be some rationalisation. The Secretary of State knows that, unless we can obtain orders in competition with overseas companies, there will be a cutback. I hope that the Minister will admit it.

Many hon. Members opposite are under the delusion, as are perhaps some workers in the shipyard and ship repairing industry, that the mere act of nationalisation and State ownership will ensure that they keep their jobs and that they will prosper. When I asked the Secretary of State where the orders would come from he said that British shipowners would be encouraged to place their orders in this country.

Will the Minister of State tell us what encouragement will be given to them? Will sanctions be imposed on them? If so the Government must take into consideration that if British shipowners are forced to purchase their ships in British yards, if those ships cost more than they would cost in foreign yards and if they take longer to deliver, it will make the operating costs very much higher. The Government must also consider that the loan charges on such high capital cost equipment will enormously increase the cost and the difficulties of operating them profitably if there are long delays in delivery.

How do the Government intend to keep the shipyards in this country open? How will they ensure that those yards will continue to employ the men who are already working in those yards and to expand the labour force?

What will happen if the British shipyard cannot get orders from abroad? What will happen if the Government are not prepared to put down orders? What will happen if the Government do not force the British shipowners to purchase ships in this country? Considering the decline in tonnage over recent years I would suggest that the Government will have to bring pressure upon the British shipowners and impose sanctions on them. If they intend keeping yards open and if we get all their ships built in British yards, do the Government really believe that that will be enough to keep the existing number in full employment and full operation? These are things that we need to know.

I questioned the Minister of State a few days ago about ship repairing, which has caused me considerable concern. I pointed out that in the past practically all the repairs to naval vessels have been done by the Royal Naval dockyards. They have had the power to undertake these repairs. Can the Minister of State give a categorical assurance that the nationalisation of the private yards will not mean that in the future the Royal Naval dockyards will have taken away from them the repair and refit of Royal Navy vessels upon which they depend for their very existence?

Does anyone really believe that State ownership brings efficiency to any industry? As the threat of nationalisation has grown, why is it that our industrial efficiency, as expressed in world trade, has declined so dramatically and so drastically? This is a fact which is there for all the world to see.

Many Government supporters are at issue with the Prime Minister in that they do not want a mixed economy. They want nationalisation right across the board, and, if they were honest, they would say so. The Prime Minister will have a very hard battle to ensure that there is a mixed economy. But, with the constant erosion of it by more and more nationalisation, it becomes less effective and more dependent upon the Government and upon the nationalised industries which serve it.

This is not the way to ensure the future prosperity of Britain. It is the way to further industrial decline, and I am sure that time will show that this act of nationalisation of the aircraft, shipbuilding and ship repairing industries will not bring one additional aircraft, one additional order from overseas for ships to be built here, or one additional ship built abroad for repair in this country.

Nor will this Act ensure that the people already working in our shipyards will stay in employment. As soon as the Bill is passed and the industry is looked at, I believe that there will be a cutback in the number of people working in our shipbuilding and ship repairing industries.

10.51 p.m.

I want to echo the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Mr. Walker) in hoping that this Bill will now reach finality. I spoke in the Second Reading debate on the original Bill, I took part in the 58 very long sittings of the Committee, and I participated in the debates on Report and Third Reading. I looked forward to vesting date on 1st June, 1st July, 1st August, 1st October and 1st January 1977. Now I hope that the vesting date really will be 1st February 1977. We need some finality to this Bill, and I hope that we shall reach that stage, if only for the sake of those who work at Scottish Aviation and live in my constituency.

Scottish Aviation is one of the firms included in the nationalisation proposals. Scottish Aviation, with only 5 per cent. of the total work force in British Aerospace, will go to the wall unless it is nationalised. At present, it is being squeezed out of existence. During the past two years, its labour force has dropped by 50 per cent., from 2,600 to 1,300. This small unit on the periphery of the British aerospace industry will fail if it is not nationalised.

I speak tonight on behalf of the management and the workers—the shop stewards' committee—of Scottish Aviation, because I can tell my Scottish nationalist Friends—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh !"]—that both sides of the industry in Scotland want it nationalised.

When the hon. Gentleman speaks about vesting dates, would not he do well to remember that the delay was the fault of the Secretary of State? It was he who lost his temper and refused to accept the Lords amendments. If he had not done that, he would have had vesting. He is to blame, because he lost his temper and, with it, the Bill.

It is always a mistake to give way at this time of night. Interruptions halt the flow of thought. I was making the point that the workers and management at Scottish Aviation want the firm nationalised because unless it is properly dealt with it will go to the wall.

This has been an unreal debate. On Monday, and yesterday, shop stewards of Scottish Aviation were asking me "What will happen. The Government have a majority of one. Will you win?" I can remember earlier debates when senior members of the Opposition got so heated that they lifted the Mace and threatened innocent Labour Members. We had arguments about hybridity and equality of votes and we had Mr. Speaker giving a casting vote. Now the whole country is watching, wondering what will happen. Yet during the whole of this debate I could have counted the number of Opposition Members present on the fingers of one hand.

I am not interested in that. We do not need to be here now because we want the Bill to get through. Our Whips are telling us not to speak. There is one saying to me now "Do not speak. Let us get on with the vote." During the Divisions we have had majorities of 20 and 40—

Would the hon. Member care to confirm and place it on the record that there are 17 Labour Members present compared with 32 Opposition Members?

The hon. Member came in to the debate at nine o'clock. It began long before then.

I was interested to note that the Scottish National Party had a new industry spokesman. I must say that the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain) is better looking than the old spokesman. The hon. Lady made as good a speech tonight on industry as she usually makes on education.

We heard that there was a palace revolution last week in the SNP parliamentary party and that Margo Macdonald, the party's vice-president, came down, hell-bent on dealing with some of the SNP Members of Parliament. She knocked on the door and was told that she had no locus here and that she should get out. She had to leave. I thought, when I saw the hon. Lady replacing the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson), that the palace revolution had been successful and that the Socialists inside the SNP had won—

I am coming to the hon. Member. He should sit down for the present. Although the SNP has changed its spokesman the same speech writer is being used. He was sitting beside the hon. Lady telling her what to say when she deviated. We know the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Crawford) from the past. The hon. Member challenged my hon. Friend the Member for Newton (Mr. Evans) when he was reading from the Glasgow Herald and said that it was a reactionary paper. He used to write the speeches for the Tories in Scotland. Now he is writing the same speeches for the Tories in the SNP. We have not had a palace revolution, as I had hoped.

I am amused by what the hon. Gentleman is saying. I did not realise that he actually read The Times. If he believes everything he reads in it he will believe anything. If The Times can so garble the events and happenings in a small party such as the SNP, with 11 members, I hate to think what it does to reports of meetings of the Cabinet and the Shadow Cabinet.

The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire should be honest and admit that he wrote speeches for the Scottish Tories and he is now writing the same speeches for the Tories in the Scottish National Party. He should be honest and not put up this camouflage about stories in The Times and the Glasgow Herald. The only thing I read in The Times today was a defence of Sir Hugh Fraser who stole £4 million from shareholders and gave part of it to the gamblers in Monte Carlo and another part to the Scottish National Party to fight the Labour Party. I do sometimes read both the Glasgow Herald and The Times. The Scottish National Party had an opportunity tonight to vote for the Government and to give us that secure majority which will allow us to nationalise the shipbuilding and aircraft industries in Scotland and give some guarantee of security in those industries.

The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East used the example of the Norwegian shipbuilding industry and said that it was one that we should follow. But we are following it. If the hon. Lady knew anything about the Norwegian shipbuilding industry, and had not just read the Tory speech prepared by the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire, she would also know that the industry is very nearly nationalised.

I should like to assure the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) that I am quite literate and can write my own speeches. The real difference between the Norwegian Government and our Government is that the Norwegians are not bankrupt and crawling on hands and knees to others for money. A Scottish Government, with access to resources, could build the sort of industry that we need.

Order. I understand that a short time ago the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) declared that it was stupid to give way at this time of night.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. With the greatest respect, does it not seem that the Deputy Speaker sometimes intervenes when my party happens to have the floor?

I strongly resent that accusation against the Chair. I was merely reminding the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire of what he had said earlier. It was nothing to do with the Scottish National Party or any other party.

It is very difficult to pin down the Scottish National Party on anything because, whenever one takes up a point with its Members, they do not answer it but move on to another point. I repeat my earlier statement to the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East. If she knew anything at all about the Norwegian shipbuilding industry, she would know that it was a Government-controlled, nationalised industry.

During the spring of this year I visited a major shipbuilding yard near Stavanger in Norway. We were told that the Government were going to take it over and to supply the necessary finance. I would like to see the Norwegian example followed here. That is why I support nationalisation and believe that the Government should be given control over the direction of investment in the shipbuilding industry.

I say to Members of the Scottish National Party that this Bill would have been on the statute book nine months ago but for their failure to support the Government. It is all very well for them to say that they did not vote on the procedural motion because they want to see some finality. We could have had that last May if the Government had had the guaranteed support of the Scottish National Party. But what were Scottish National Party Members doing?

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. When the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) asked what SNP Members were doing, I distinctly heard the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) say that they were boozing. Is that a parliamentary expression?

The SNP Members were tearing up telegrams from the shop stewards in shipyards on the Clyde and from the joint works committee of Scottish Aviation. That is how they were representing Scottish workers.

I hope that the Government push through the Bill. My only disappointment is that we are not also considering a Bill to abolish the House of Lords. I hope that the Government push ahead with the nationalisation of these industries. It is the only way to provide a secure future for them and the workers in Scotland.

11.6 p.m.

As a member of the Committee which sat on 58 occasions to consider this Bill, I could be forgiven for thinking that we had deployed every possible argument on the measure.

The recent altercation between this House and another place has focused attention on the weakest plank in the Government's platform. There have been many references in recent months to the urgent need for this measure. Time and again, Ministers and their supporters have said how terribly urgent it is that the shipbuilding industry should be taken into public ownership.

Tonight we have heard quotations from The Times, the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) saying what a shame it was that the SNP did not support the Government earlier this year and the hon. Member for Kingswood (Mr. Walker) saying that his constituents who work in a BAC factory—as do some of mine—are anxious to know the outcome of the Bill because there is great uncertainty and they are worried about their future.

When the Government took office in February 1974, they were saying that it was urgent to get these industries—which have been put together in one Bill for reasons which no one with any sanity can understand—taken into public ownership. If it were so urgent, why did it take from February 1974 to the first few days of December 1975 before we had the Second Reading of the Bill? This was supposed to be so urgent to the future of the industries and the workers, yet we had to wait not six weeks or six months but 22 months for a Second Reading. Even after the Bill left this House, there was a delay of five or six weeks before another place started to consider it.

Last week, when the Bill had finally finished its ricocheting between the two Houses, the Government were still bleating and trumpeting about it being a desperately urgent measure and that the workers were anxiously awaiting the out- come. The Government had their chance to have the Bill, but they chose to do the other thing. We should be delighted to know the reasons for that decision.

The BAC, Hawker Siddeley, the shipbuilding and aircraft industries are saying that the Government could have had them in public ownership last week were it not for the fact that they were afraid to introduce a separate Bill to cover ship repairing. Consequently, we have to go through the whole thing again.

That is the question, and I have never yet heard an answer to it. That is the way in which uncertainty would have been ended and urgency would have been acted upon, but still the workers are waiting for an answer. Are the Government going to answer? They cannot have it both ways. They are very fond of telling us that. Is this matter urgent or not? If it is, why did they not nationalise these industries last week?

11.11 p.m.

The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Crawford) in an intervention gave us an interesting insight into the objectivity of the British Press, especially the Glasgow Herald, when he told us that he would be very surprised if we ever found anything in it worth quoting which was favourable to the Labour Party. I have news for him—we have known that for a long time. We knew long before he told us of the bias of the British Press, including the Glasgow Herald.

Anyone who has been in contact with the shipbuilding industry recently, be it with the Shipbuilding Organising Committee, the unions involved in shipbuilding, or the management—whether they are for or against nationalisation—knows that in principle there is complete unanimity about one thing. That is, that a decision must be taken whether the industry is to be nationalised.

I do not expect, and I do not think that anyone would pretend, that on vesting day suddenly the future of British shipbuilding becomes miraculously better and changed. Until, on and after vesting day, the industry will face the same problems as it faces now—problems of capacity and orders. What then, is the rationale behind the way in which the Shipbuilding Organising Committee will operate in future? The Chairman, Admiral Sir Anthony Griffin, and the Chief Executive designate Mr. Graham Day, both say that the rationale of the new Corporation is to provide the healthiest and most viable industry of maximum capacity, which will not go into business on the basis of saying which yards should be shut down and which should keep going. They want to go into the future by drawing up a plan for the whole country on the basis of a secure future for the biggest industry possible. That is very different from saying that there is a guarantee that there will never be any redundancies. I do not think that anyone could give that guarantee for any industry in this country.

I take issue with the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain), because members of her Party go about the country giving cast-iron guarantees about what would happen to Scotland if they had their way. If they were more honest and truthful about the difficulties the whole country is facing, people might take them more seriously.

If we do not have nationalisation of the shipbuilding industry, what shall we have in its place? Conservatives say that we have the Industry Act, and that money can be provided for the industry by this means. That is true, but one of the recognised defects of that Act is that it does not allow any planning of the industry in a national sense. If an individual company applies for assistance under the Industry Act and meets the necessary criteria, it gets the money, but there is no structural plan or arrangements for forecasts for the future. The alternative to nationalisation is to allow the industry to drift, to allow shipyards to close down, and to allow shipyard workers to be callously thrown out of work. After three or four years we would have a decimated industry. Only then would we begin to pick up the pieces and plan for the future.

If we are right in our forecasts, in four or five years' time perhaps shipbuilding orders will be accelerating. That would be the wrong time to begin to try to plan the future of the industry. That is why we must plan now so that, when there is an upturn in the world economy, we are able to take advantage of it and can see where to make investment to the best advantage.

The hon. Lady the Member for Dunbartonshire, East said that she had heard a rumour at the weekend twin a high union source to the effect that there were definite plans to close yards—I think she meant in Scotland. Admittedly this is second-hand, but I can say that I have an assurance from the Organising Committee that it does not intend to approach the business in the way of shutting down yards.

There are many rumours circulating. There is a first-class shipyard in my constituency. The workers there were worried because they had heard a rumour to the effect that it was the intention to concentrate all the new investment and all shipbuilding on the Wear, the Tyne and the Clyde. I took that matter up, and it was denied.

If I may give some advice to the hon. Lady—I hope that she will not think me patronising—she should go and see the Organising Committee. If she does so, I think that she will come away with a totally different idea from that which she now has. I wish that she had gone there earlier. If she had done so, perhaps she would not be advising her party to vote against the Bill tonight.

I believe that the most secure future for our shipbuilding industry lies in nationalising it. I accept, as I believe the workers in the industry accept, that there is no guarantee that there will be no redundancies. However, I do not take the view taken by the Scottish National Party. The hon. Lady said that the main reason she and her hon. Friends will vote against the Government tonight is that we cannot give a guarantee that there will be no redundancies—that not one man will lose his job.

The hon. Lady is prepared to put in jeopardy thousands of jobs in the shipbuilding and aircraft industries because she cannot get that guarantee. If she shares our desire that workers throughout the whole of the United Kingdom—not just in Scotland—should have the maximum opportunity to build a secure future —perhaps not entirely free of redundancies, but certainly free of the total uncertainty from which they have suffered for so long—I believe that she will, even at this late stage, get her party together and persuade her hon. Friends to support the Bill so that we can get it on to the statute book and get things moving, because things have been delayed for far too long.

11.18 p.m.

The hon. Member for Kingswood (Mr. Walker) began his address by saying that he wanted to talk about the aircraft industry rather than about ship repairing. This is why tonight, almost a year after the Second Reading of the last Bill, we are still dealing in the House with the question of the nationalisation of this industry. Throughout last year's deliberations and throughout today's debate, all too few Members on the Government side have been prepared to discuss intelligently or justify their case for the nationalisation of the ship repairing industry.

The various reassurances and nods that we have had from the Government side must fill the shipyard workers at Falmouth with great apprehension. We were assured that there would be no direction of work within the ship repairing industry in the interests of helping areas of high unemployment. Falmouth has a ship repair yard in a town which has a high local level of unemployment. We were assured that there would be ship repairing on every major estuary. Falmouth, alas, happens not to be a major estuary.

We were given assurances to the effect that Royal Naval work would remain in the Royal Naval dockyards. We are fearful that Royal Fleet auxiliaries and NATO refits will move from the civilian yards in the ship repairing sector into the Royal Naval dockyards.

The whole question of the future of the ship repairing industry seems to depend upon the Government's Freudian fear of the effect of the Japanese in this market. I accept that the Government have a great deal to fear as the potential owner of the ship repair industry. If they take up the glossy brochure of any Japanese ship repair firm, they will find a marked contrast with the publicity material of British yards. The photographs of the Japanese industry will show the swing towards mechanisation, automation and, above all, a slim-line work force. If we pick up the brochure of the average British ship repair or shipbuilding company we find, alas, far too many employees spending far too much time looking at the photographer rather than at the job they should be doing. If there is to be a transfer to Japanese manpower methods, the Government will have to accept mechanisation, automation and a slim-line work force.

Secondly, the Government must face an important political decision linked with back-up for the shipbuilding industry. One of the great reasons for the Japanese domination of the industry is that it has provided back-up facilities for the ships that it is creating. It is no coincidence that the Kawasaki Corporation now has agency refit agreements in Gothenburg, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Lisbon and Genoa—namely, the terminal or turn-round points of the ships made in the Kawasaki yards.

If we are to have a situation where British Shipbuilders has to compete on equal terms with Kawasaki and the Government will have the political and economic courage to acknowledge here and now that they are prepared to set up outposts for the corporation in Chile, Greece, Taiwan and South Africa. That is the only way in which the interests of the two sections of the British shipping industry—construction and repairing—can be developed. It is the only way in which Britain can begin to compete in the world market, which at present is held, quite rightly, by Japan.

11.22 p.m.

The last three Labour Members to speak in the debate said that under nationalisation there would be less redundancy and more investment. In the six years of Labour Government from 1964 to 1970 there were 408,000 redundancies in the nationalised industries. There was never a period in which there were more redundancies in the railways, the steel industry and the coal industry.

The steel industry was nationalised nine years ago, and in 1972 I announced the biggest modernisation programme. This Government have been in power for three years and they have deferred the whole of that investment programme for those three years. That is a reflection on the reality of nationalisation.

11.23 p.m.

I was not a member of the Committee that considered the Bill and I feel rather like a stranger arriving on a cratered battlefield potted with the verbal ammunition that has been fired by both sides.

I do not have the experience of some of my right hon. Friends of the aviation and shipbuilding industries. Perhaps that is a personal advantage because the arguments that have been rehearsed to me at least had a certain freshness, although I can assure the House that I do not intend to go over the arguments at great length.

I want to make one passing reference to the interest that my constituency has in the Bill. Kingston was the place where the original firm of Hawkers was first founded. It is today the headquarters of Hawker Siddeley Aviation Limited. I think that the House will understand that not only Conservative politicians but many people in my constituency will regret the passing of the identity of Hawker Siddeley into the anonymity of the nationalised corporation.

It has been said that the Bill deals with two, three and possibly four industries. As my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson) has said, it is an unmistakable fact that the aircraft industry has been extremely successful. It is the largest and most comprehensive aircraft industry outside the United States. It exports half of its turnover.
"If every industry exported half its turnover, we should have no problems. … That is truly remarkable growth."
The House may be interested to hear that those words are not mine, but those of the Secretary of State for Energy who recognised the tremendous achievements of the British Aviation industry.

It seems astonishing—almost unbelievable—that people can say "The industry's contribution in the past has been excellent. If every other industry had done as well, we would have no problems. If we nationalise it, it will do even better. It will do brilliantly." If people believe that, they will believe anything.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) referred to the industry's contribution to the community. We are told that if we nationalise an industry, in some mysterious way it makes a contribution to the community. I have always thought that the best contribution that an industry can make to the community is to pay corporation tax on its profits. The astonishing fact is that the aviation industry has paid more money to the Treasury by way of taxes on its profits than the whole of the nationalised industries during their entire existence. Why, when we have economic and industrial problems, should we want to destroy a successful and outstanding industry? Why should we throw away the best?

The shipbuilding industry presents a very different picture. It has many problems. It is significant that, although we have two industries with contrasting problems, the Government's answer is always the same—to nationalise regardless of the problems.

The British shipbuilding industry's share of world markets has declined as it has with other traditional industries in this country. If the industry had been nationalised, I do not believe that that could have prevented or reversed that decline.

There is the problem of over capacity in shipbuilding all over the world. There is the problem of new low-cost producers —the Brazilians, the Japanese and the Koreans—building ships at prices with which it is extremely difficult for us to compete. Nationalisation will not help us to overcome the threat of competition from those countries.

There are successful firms in some parts of our shipbuilding industry. Naval shipbuilding yards have increased employment in recent years. They have provided the only real jobs which count—jobs provided not by subsidies but by profitable companies selling goods which world markets want to buy.

The Secretary of State said that ship repairing had declined. It has declined, as it has done throughout Western Europe. However, I should make the point that we increased our share of the European market during the period of decline.

We firmly believe that ship repairing is totally unsuited to nationalisation. The industry consists in many cases of small companies. Some yards, which are to be nationalised under this legislation, employ fewer than 100 people, others even fewer. It is almost as though, because a Government were going to nationalise the motor car industry, they therefore felt that they had to nationalise the garages as well.

Ship repairing is an industry which, above all, depends on speed and performance. It is a service industry. It is totally unsuited to nationalisation. Above all, ship repairers cannot treat their customers with the same contempt as the GPO and the electricity boards appear to treat theirs.

I hesitate to touch on the vexed subject of Bristol Channel Ship Repairers. Not having been a member of the Standing Committee. I know that the mere mention of that name is likely to arouse considerable controversy and that the Minister of State is likely to jump up. So I shall confine myself to one circumspect comment. Whatever else we may think about Bristol Channel Ship Repairers, looking at that company's industrial relations and record of worker participation—I speak as someone who is sceptical of worker participation—we must admit that the company is innovative, experimental and unusual. The tragedy of nationalisation is that experimentation and innovation of that kind will be stamped out.

The argument presented by the hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Thorne) was that these industries have been the recipients of large amounts of public money. In the case of both industries one has to recognise that a large part of the money has gone to cover special situations. In the shipbuilding industry 70 per cent. of the money has gone to yards that are already within the public sector.

In the aircraft industry a large proportion of the money has gone into Concorde and the RB-211 projects which the Government encouraged the private sector to undertake. It is hardly fair for the Government to present projects which the industry may not want to undertake, to pressurise and encourage the industry to undertake them, and then suddenly, in the middle, to turn round and say "We are paying for this and therefore we should own the industries."

The civil side of aviation has had little Government aid outside the two projects that I mentioned. Hawker Siddeley has received little aid. If the argument is based on aid for civil projects there is no case at all for Hawker Siddeley being included in the Bill.

The other argument is that the Government are the biggest customer and should therefore own the industries. That is not true for the aviation industry. The Government are not the biggest customer. The argument that because someone goes into a shop and pays a proper price for something, he must own the shop would lead, in this case, to the British aviation industry being owned by a lot of foreigners. It seems to me curious to argue that because one buys something one should own the industry which produces it. The Government are the biggest buyers of medical equipment, bricks, cement, timber and paper—above all, paper. Are they proposing to nationalise those industries?

The real argument is the reverse. If the Government want to get value when putting money into a project, they are more likely to achieve that if the industry concerned is privately owned and competitive. We know that there is elaborate machinery at the Departments of Defence and Industry, and there is the Public Accounts Committee. These bodies can do their work best at arm's length from private industry. As the Public Accounts Committee found, it can be difficult to delve into the inner workings of some of the nationalised industries. If we want value for Government money, let us keep these industries private.

The hon. Member for Kingswood (Mr. Walker) argued that the industries should be nationalised because of the uncertainty within them. But, as my hon. Friend the Member for Chertsey and Walton (Mr. Pattie) said, the Government have been extraordinarily leisurely in their progress over the Bill. They introduced it in 1974 but did not proceed. Last Session there was a long gap between the Bill's introduction and the Second Reading.

It is an extraordinary argument to say that a Government can introduce a bad Bill, create a lot of uncertainty and then turn round and say, "We must have this Bill quickly to end the uncertainty we have caused".

Apart from the situation in each particular industry, one must pay attention to the implications for the economy as a whole of expanding the public sector. The performance of State industries has varied from the mediocre to the disastrous.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker) said, nationalised industries have not provided secure jobs. Often they have delayed the inevitable and increased job losses. In the end redundancies have come. It is an illusion that nationalisation prevents job losses.

By enlarging the public sector we are enlarging that area of the economy which is subject to political pressure and interference and which will drag an otherwise admirable Civil Service into managerial and entrepreneurial decisions for which it is totally unsuited.

Nationalisation is not wanted by the public. Some workers may want it, because they are under the mistaken impression that it will give them job security. They will soon find out the bitter truth, which is that the Bill will turn thriving industries into bureaucratic bumbledoms. Some hon. Members on the Government Benches may think that that is a small price to pay for the unity of the Labour Party. It may be a small price if they place small value on their own consciences.

Once again the interests of the Labour Party are being placed before those of this country. For that reason, I urge my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote against the motion tonight.

11.36 p.m.

The industrial case for taking these industries into public ownership has been compellingly put forward in the debate by my hon. Friends, just as it has been put forward consistently during the past year, since the Bill originally had its Second Reading on 2nd December last. Since then, while we have been preparing for nationalisation, we have been well served by the two Organising Committees. It is our sincere hope that both these Committees will carry on their excellent work.

I was glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Mitchell) pay tribute to Sir Anthony Griffin and his Organising Committee, and I would link with that the excellent work done by my noble Friend Lord Beswick for British Aerospace.

My hon. Friend the Member for Itchen asked two important questions. The first was about the role of the specialist warship builders. I can tell my hon. Friend that we have made it clear that the Ministry of Defence will continue its policy of increasingly concentrating warship orders with the three specialist warship builders—Vosper Thorneycroft, Yarrow and Vickers, although the requirements of the Navy may mean that from time to time warship orders will be placed with other shipbuilders, as I told the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Trotter).

My hon. Friend also asked about the future of the HS146 project. I was a little surprised that the hon. Member for Kingston upon Thames (Mr. Lamont)—a Member of Parliament, as he told us, for an area in which a Hawker Siddeley factory is situated—brought out the extraordinary canard that Hawker Siddeleyand BAC, too did not rely on Government money for its civilian projects, because the HS146, about which my hon. Friend asked, would be a dead project today if the Government had not placed the holding contract. Last year Hawker Siddeley came to us and told us that it would have to kill that project unless the Government would fund it 100 per cent.

The hon. Member for Chertsey and Walton (Mr. Pattie) is the last person to talk about employment prospects in his constituency because he knows that if, last July, I had not announced a £3 million Government underwriting of five more BAC 111s about 1,000 redundancies would have taken place since that date at BAC Wavertree. So hon. Members on the Opposition Benches should not talk about the independence of the civil air craft industry from Government money.

The case for public ownership has been supported overwhelmingly by the representatives of the workers in the aircraft, shipbuilding and ship repairing industries, and during the past few days we have been inundated by demands from the workers' representatives that this Bill should be urgently enacted. My hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Stott) has given me a letter from the workers' representatives at Hawker Siddeley Dynamics at Lostock. That far from revolutionary publication Lloyds List yesterday devoted much of its front page to such demands. Workers' representatives on Tyneside, Merseyside and Clydeside—[Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Newton (Mr. Evans) has already referred to some of the remarks of Mr. James Ramsey, the boilermakers' Clyde delegate. I think that Lloyds List was one of the newspapers that the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Crawford) told us that we should not believe. He says that we must not believe The Times or the Glasgow Herald—advice that we shall take to heart.

I know what the hon. Gentleman wishes to intervene about, and I shall come to that.

Mr. James Ramsey, the boilermakers' Clyde delegate-[Interruption.] I am coming to Austin and Pickersgill. Mr. James Ramsey, the boilermakers' Clyde delegate, was reported in Lloyds List yesterday as saying
"There is a feeling of depression among the workers that such action should be taken by the House of Lords and the SNP. We need to educate the SNP or kick them out next time."
That is a workers' representative from the Clyde.

The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) was quoted by his hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) as having paid a visit to Austin and Pickersgill at Sunderland. He has done it rather belatedly. I paid a visit rather earlier this year. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) and my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Bagier) are far better representatives of the views of workers in the Sunderland shipyards than the hon. Member for Rochdale after a butterfly visit.

I am grateful to the Minister for allowing me to intervene. Is he aware that yesterday morning I met all of the shop stewards at Austin and Pickersgill, alone, in the works canteen there? The shop stewards of that company told me that neither of their Members of Parliament had asked them for their views on the Bill, and, furthermore, that they, as shop stewards—30 of them were present—were totally opposed to the Bill.

I am not at all surprised that the hon. Gentleman chose the canteen in which to meet the workers. My right hon. and hon. Friends the two Members for Sunderland have had regular meetings with the workers there. I have attended some of them myself. While the hon. Member for Colne Valley was showing his lack of interest in the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill by his consistent absenteeism from the Standing Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North was a regular attender and spokesman for his constituents.

The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) went to my constituency without the courtesy of telling me that he was going there. I can tell him quite brutally that what he has said is an absolute lie.

Order. I do not know what has been bandied about across the Chamber. I was not able to hear because of the noise.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) accuses me of telling a deliberate lie. On my word of honour. I have told the truth. The shop stewards may have wrongly informed me. I am not saying that they have wrongly informed me but that they may have done so. However, the statement that I have made to the House tonight is absolutely true. The shop stewards told me that neither of the Members for Sunderland had ever asked for their views.

If the right hon. Member for Sunderland. North (Mr. Willey) accused the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) of telling a lie, I must ask him to withdraw that.

I shall repeat what I said, namely, that what the hon. Gentleman. said was a lie.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You have heard the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) not only call the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith)—

Order. I must ask the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North to withdraw the word "lie".

Before I do so I would just say this to the hon. Gentleman. He says that what he was told may be a lie. I am saying that what he has stated in the House is a lie.

If the hon. Gentleman believes that this is a reflection on him personally, of course I shall withdraw the word, and say that I give him notice that I intend to raise this matter when we discuss the Bill further next week.

We have been talking about the industrial case for nationalising this industry, and the case has been made repeatedly, but only once in the past year has the Tory Party put forward any alternative policy. The hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) in his regular tirades, which we shall in future miss—very thankfully—did not once tell the House how his party would preserve and encourage a merchant shipping and civil aircraft industry.

I shall not give way, because the House wants to come to a decision.

As I was saying, the hon. Member for Henley has not once told the House how the Tory Party would preserve and encourage a merchant shipping and civil aircraft industry in this country, and the Marine Week, speaking of the hon. Gentleman, described him as having
"patently little knowledge of, and sympathy for, what the industry really required (even if it was not nationalisation)."


The hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen), for all his acknowledged originality of thought, was unable today to be more forthcoming, but at least in putting forward no policy whatever he achieved in a fortnight what it took his hon. Friend the Member for Henley a year to do. The hon. Member for Oswestry fell below his usual standards in what he said about my hon. Friend the Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maguire). What the hon. Gentleman said did him no credit and disappointed many hon. Members. He spoke about my hon. Friend the Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone being persuaded to vote for this Bill, but he should be aware of the integrity with which my hon. Friend has resisted the corrupt attempts to get him to vote against the Bill.

The only Tory spokesman who has made any positive proposal on this matter is Lord Carrington. Addressing the massed shipyard workers of the Wessex Area Young Conservatives in that industrial citadel the Kelvin Hotel, Bournemouth, on Saturday 20th November, he said that the Government
"… can help both the shipbuilding and aircraft industries in exactly the same way as they have shelled out hundreds of millions of pounds to bolster up British Leyland."
That, if they have one at all, is the Tory Party policy for aircraft, shipbuilding and ship repairing. The party which believes in massive public expenditure cuts proposes vast public subsidies to private enterprise—if one can call it enterprise—with no accountability whatever. That Tory proposal makes to the hilt the case for nationalisation as unanswerably as any argument advanced from this side.

If the Conservatives so passionately oppose the Bill without any true alternative of their own, we must—

Yes, but at least my speech was not written for me by the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire.

We must ask why it is that not only the Tory Party but the whole of the establishment in this country have strained every nerve and exerted every ounce of misplaced ingenuity to defeat the Bill. No one could call it a revolutionary Bill. By any standards it is a mild one. Some—but not I—have called it a milk and water Bill. Yet it has been opposed with a passionate and unscrupulous malevolence unparalleled in any recent political controversy. The reason is clear —because the Bill makes an attempt, and a determined attempt, to transfer economic decision-making from a small and unrepresentative minority to the workers in these industries and to the nation as a whole.

Such a transfer, on however limited a scale, is truly repugnant to those who have grown so used to running this country for their own benefit that they will stop at nothing to prevent it. It is as simple as what we promised in our manifesto, to bring about
"… a fundamental and irreversible shift in the balance of wealth and power in favour of working people and their families."

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Those who have long regarded industry in this country as their own private power base cannot abide it.

I give them this warning, and I offer it in particular to the House of Lords. Should the Bill be carried in this House and go to the other place for consideration, they have it in their power not only to delay the Bill, and in doing so to damage these industries irreparably. They also have it in their power to damage irreparably the democratic process itself.

For 70 years the Labour Party has successfully persuaded those who support it that economic, industrial and political change can be achieved by peaceful consent, through the democratic process. That is and will remain our passionate conviction. But our powers of persuasion can

Division No. 7.


[11.56 p.m.

Abse, LeoBishop, E. S.Campbell, Ian
Allaun, FrankBlenkinsop, ArthurCanavan, Dennis
Anderson, DonaldBoardman, H.Cant, R. B.
Archer, PeterBooth, Rt Hon AlbertCarmichael, Neil
Armstrong. ErnestBottomley, Rt Hon ArthurCarter, Ray
Ashley, JackBoyden, James (Bish Auck)Cartwright, John
Ashlon, JoeBradley, TomCastle, Rt Hon Barbara
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)Bray, Dr JeremyClemitson, Ivor
Atkinson, NormanBroughton, Sir AlfredCocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Brown, Hugh D. (Proven)Cohen, Stanley
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)Coleman, Donald
Bates, AlfBuchan, NormanColquhoun, Ms Maureen
Bean, R. E.Buchanan, RichardConcannon, J. D.
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony WedgwoodButler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)Conlan, Bernard
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)
Bidwell, SydneyCallaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)Corbett, Robin

carry conviction only if change can indeed be achieved by consent through the parliamentary process.

If Parliament is seen to fail to provide such change, as endorsed by the nation in general elections, then those twisted and dangerous people outside Parliament, outside the main parties and outside the democratic process will have had handed to them the weapon they are seeking—the weapon which will enable them to tell the people of this country that change cannot be achieved by consent and through Parliament and that therefore they must resort to other and less savoury processes.

That is the fire with which the Tory Party is playing. That is the box of matches that the House of Lords will have in its hands. If that box of matches were to consume the House of Lords itself, not everybody would be sorry. Our democracy, though powerful and enduring, is not so strong that it can survive those who would be able to say that repeatedly-expressed decisions of the House of Commons to enact laws do not ensure that laws reach the statute book.

This debate is, of course, about this extremely important Bill. I very much trust that this House will support its Second Reading tonight. But because of the actions of the Tory Party, because of unscrupulous outside interests and because of the irresponsibility of the House of Lords, it has also become a debate about the very basis of our democracy. For that reason, too, I ask the House to support the Government in the Division Lobby.

Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 285, Noes 279.

Cowens, HarryJenkins, Hugh (Putney)Price, William (Rugby)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting)John, BrynmorRadice, Giles
Crawshaw, RichardJohnson, James (Hull West)Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)
Cronin, JohnJohnson, Walter (Derby S)Richardson, Miss Jo
Crosland, Rt Hon AnthonyJones, Alec (Rhondda)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Crowder, F. PJones, Barry (East Flint)Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Cryer, BobJones, Dan (Burnley)Robertson, Join (Paisley)
Cunningham, G. (Islington S)Judd, FrankRobinson, Geoffrey
Cunningham, Dr. J. (Whiteh)Kaufman, GeraldRoderick, Caerwyn
Davidson, ArthurKelley, RichardRodgers, George (Chorley)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)Kerr, RussellRodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)Kilroy-Silk, RobertRooker, J. W.
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Kinnock, NeilRose, Paul B.
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)Lamble, DavidRoss, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Deakins, EricLamborn, HarryRowlands, Ted
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)Lomond, JamesRyman, John
Dell, Rt Hon EdmundLatham, Arthur (Paddington)Sandelson, Neville
Dempsey, JamesLeadbitter, TedSedgemore, Brian
Doig, PeterLee, JohnSelby, Harry
Dormand, J. D.Lester, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Douglas-Mann, BruceLever, Rt Hon HaroldSheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)
Dunn, James A.Lipton, MarcusShore, Rt Hon Peter
Dunnett, JackLitterick, TomShort, Mrs Renee (Wolv NE)
Eadie, AlexLoyden, EddieSilkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Edge, GeoffLuard, EvanSilkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)Lyon, Alexander (York)Siliars, James
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)Silverman, Julius
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)Mabon, Dr J. DicksonSkinner, Dennis
English, MichaelMcCartney, HughSmall, William
Ennals, DavidMcDonald, Dr OonaghSmith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)McElhone, FrankSnape, Peter
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)MacFarquhar, RoderickSpearing, Nigel
Evans, John (Newton)McGuire, Michael (Ince)Spriggs, Lestle
Ewing, Harry (Stirling)MacKenzie, GregorStewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.Mackintosh, John P.Stoddart, David
Fitch, Alan (Wigan)Maclennan, RobertStott, Roger
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W)McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)Strang, Gavin
Flannery, MartinMadden, MaxStrauss, Rt. Hon G. R.
Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston)Magee, BryanSummerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)Maguire, Frank (Fermanagh)Swain, Thomas
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelMahon, SimonThomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Ford, BenMellalieu, J. P. W.Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Forrester, JohnMarks, KennethThomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)Marquand, DavidThorne, Stan (Preston South)
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)Tierney, Sydney
Freeson, ReginaldMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)Tinn, James
Garrett, John (Norwich S)Mason, Rt Hon RoyTomlinson, John
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)Maynard, Miss JoanTomney, Frank
George, BruceMeacher, MichaelTorney, Tom
Gilbert, Dr JohnMellish, Rt Hon RobertTuck, Raphael
Ginsburg, DavidMikardo, IanVarley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Golding, JohnMillan, Rt Hon BruceWainwright, Edwin (Dennis V)
Gould, BryanMiller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Gourlay, HarryMiller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Graham, TedMitchell, R. C. (Solon, Itchen)Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Grant, George (Morpeth)Molloy, WilliamWard, Michael
Grant, John (Islington C)Moonman, EricWatkins, David
Grocott, BruceMorris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Weetch, Ken
Hamilton, James (Bothwell)Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)Weitzman, David
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Wellbeloved, James
Hart, Rt Hon JudithMoyle, RolandWhite, Frank R. (Bury)
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyMulley, Rt Hon FrederickWhite, James (Pollok)
Hatton, FrankMurray, Rt Hon Ronald KingWhitlock, William
Hayman, Mrs HeleneNewens, StanleyWilley, Rt Hon Frederick
Healey, Rt Hon DenisNoble, MikeWilliams, Alan (Swansea W)
Heffer, Eric S.Oakes, GordonWilliams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Hooley, FrankOgden, EricWilliams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Horam, JohnO'Halloran, MichaelWilliams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)Orme, Rt Hon StanleyWilson(Alexander (Hamilton)
Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)Ovenden, JohnWilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)
Huckfield, LesOwen, Et Hon Dr DavidWilson, William (Coventry SE)
Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)Padley, WalterWise, Mrs Audrey
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Palmer, ArthurWoodall, Alec
Hughes, Roy (Newport)Park, GeorgeWoof, Robert
Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)Parker, JohnWrigglesworth, Ian
Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)Parry, RobertYoung, David Bolton E)
Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)Pendry, Tom
Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)Perry, Ernest


Janner, GrevillePrentice, Rt Hon RegMr. Joseph Harper and
Jay, Rt Hon DouglasPrescott, JohnMr. A.W. Stallard.
Price, C. (Lewisham W)


Aitken, JonathanGodber, Rt Hon JosephMiller, Hal (Bromsgrove)
Alison, MichaelGoodhart, PhilipMills, Peter
Amery, Rt Hon JulianGoodhew, VictorMiscampbell, Norman
Arnold, TomGoodlad, AlastairMitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)Gorst, JohnMoate, Roger
Awdry, DanielGow, Ian (Eastbourne)Molyneaux, James
Bain, Mrs MargaretGower, Sir Raymond (Barry)Monro, Hector
Baker, KennethGrant, Anthony (Harrow C)Montgomery, Fergus
Banks, RobertGray, HamishMoore, John (Croydon C)
Beith, A. J.Griffiths, EldonMore, Jasper (Ludlow)
Bell, RonaldGrimond, Rt Hon J.Morgan, Geraint
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)Grist, IanMorgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral
Banyon, WGrylls, MichaelMorris, Michael (Northampton S)
Berry, Hon AnthonyHall, Sir JohnMorrison, Hon Peter (Chester)
Biffen, JohnHall-Davis, A. G. F.Mudd, David
Biggs-Davison, JohnHamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Neave, Airey
Blaker, PeterHampson, Dr KeithNelson, Anthony
Body, RichardHannam, JohnNeubert, Michael
Boscawen, Hon RobertHarvie Anderson, Rt Hon MissNewton, Tony
Bottomley, PeterHastings, StephenNormanton, Tom
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)Havers, Sir MichaelNott, John
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)Hayhoe, BarneyOnslow, Cranley
Bradford, Rev RobertHeath, Rt Hon EdwardOppenheim, Mrs Sally
Braine, Sir BernardHenderson, DouglasOsborn, John
Brittan, LeonHeseltine, MichaelPage, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Brocklebank-Fowler, C.Hicks, RobertPage, Richard (Workington)
Brotherton, MichaelHiggins, Terence L.Paisley, Rev Ian
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Hodgson, RobinPardoe, John
Bryan, Sir PaulHolland, PhilipParkinson, Cecil
Buchanan-Smith, AlickHooson, EmlynPattie, Geoffrey
Budgen, NickHordern, PeterPenhaligon, David
Bulmer, EsmondHowe, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyPercival, Ian
Burden, F. A.Howell, David (Guildford)Peyton, Rt Hon John
Butler, Adam (Bosworth)Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Pink, R. Bonner
Carlisle, MarkHowells, Geraint (Cardigan)Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Carson, JohnHunt, David (Wirral)Price, David (Eastleigh)
Chalker, Mrs LyndaHurd, DouglasPrior, Rt Hon James
Churchill, W. S.Hutchison, Michael ClarkPym, Rt Hon Francis
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)Raison, Timothy
Clark, William (Croydon S)James, DavidRathbone, Tim
Clegg, WalterJenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd)Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Cockcroft, JohnJohnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)Johnston, Russell (Inverness)Rees-Davies, W. R.
Cope, JohnJones, Arthur (Daventry)Reid, George
Cormack, PatrickJopling, MichaelRenton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Corrie, JohnJoseph, Rt Hon Sir KeithRenton, Tim (Mid_Sussex)
Costain, A. P.Kaberry, Sir DonaldRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)Kershaw, AnthonyRidley, Hon Nicholas
Crawford, DouglasKilfedder, JamesRidsdale, Julian
Crouch, DavidKimball, MarcusRifkind, Malcolm
Crowder, F. P.King, Evelyn (South Dorset)Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knufsford)King, Tom (Bridgwater)Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Dean, Paul (N Somerset)Kirk, Sir PeterRoss, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Dodsworth, GeoffreyKitson, Sir TimothyRoss, William (Londonderry)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesKnight, Mrs JillRossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Drayson, BurnabyKnox, DavidRost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
du Cann, Rt Hon EdwardLamont, NormanRoyle, Sir Anthony
Dunlop, JohnLangford-Holt, Sir JohnSainsbury, Tim
Eden, Rt Hon Sir JohnLatham, Michael (Melton)St. John-Stevas, Norman
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)Lawrence, IvanShaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Elliott, Sir WilliamLawson, NigelShelton, William (Streatham)
Emery, PeterLewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Shepherd, Colin
Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray)Lloyd, IanShersby, Michael
Eyre, ReginaldLoveridge, JohnSilvester, Fred
Fairbairn, NicholasMcAdden, Sir StephenSims, Roger
Fairgrieve, RussellMcCrindle, RobertSkeet, T. H. H.
Fell, AnthonyMcCusker, H.Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Finsberg, GeoffreyMacfarlane, NellSmith, Dudley (Warwick)
Fisher, Sir NigelMacGregor, JohnSpeed, Keith
Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesMacmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)Spence, John
Fookes, Miss JanetMcNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Forman, NigelMcNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)Madel, DavidSproat, Iain
Fox, MarcusMarshall, Michael (Arundel)Stainton, Keith
Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St)Marten, NellStanbrook, Ivor
Freud, ClementMates, MichaelStanley, John
Fry, PeterMather, CarolSteel, David (Roxburgh)
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.Maude, AngusSteen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Gardiner, George (Relgate)Maudling, Rt Hon ReginaldStewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)Mawby, RayStewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinStokes, John
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)Mayhew, PatrickStradling Thomas, J.
Glyn, Dr AlanMeyer, Sir AnthonyTapsell, Peter

Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)Wakeham, JohnWiggin, Jerry
Tebbit, NormanWalder, David (Clitheroe)Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Thatcher, Rt Hon MargaretWalker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)Winterton, Nicholas
Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir DerekWood, Rt Hon Richard
Thompson, GeorgeWall, PatrickYoung. Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)Walters, DennisYounger, Hon George
Townsend, Cyril D.Watt, Hamish
Trotter, NevilleWeatherill, Bernard


van Straubenzee, W. R.Wells, JohnMr. Spencer Le Marchant and
Vaughan, Dr GerardWelsh, AndrewMr Michael Roberts.
Viggers, Peter

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House, pursuant to the Order this day.

Committee this day.