HC Deb 30 April 1947 vol 436 cc2026-71
Brigadier Prior-Palmer (Worthing)

I beg to move, in page 44, line 7, to leave out "or B licence."

Much that the Minister has said leads one to suppose that he is not unsympathetic to this Amendment. It relates to "B" licences which concern mainly the small man, by which I mean the small man in trade and not in the road haulage business. In no way can it be suggested that he is part of the road haulage organisations which I suggest it is the intention of this Bill to nationalise. They consist of greengrocers, coal merchants, furniture dealers, horticulturists and so on. They carry their own goods in their own vehicles, and on occasion they carry goods belonging to other traders, but only over short distances. I, therefore, suggest that they do not come within the meaning of this Bill in the same way as do the large road haulage organisations.

I would particularly like to put the case from the point of view of the horticulturist grower. We have horticulturists who are cultivating under glass, who live in close proximity to each other and who, from time to time, send their goods either to London or to nearby towns. The loads which are carried by these men depend very much on the weather and on other conditions. There are times when one horticulturist, finding that he cannot fill his vehicle economically, rings up the next door horticulturist saying that he has some space in his lorry and is able to carry some of his goods. The distance is not great. If the B licensees are to be nationalised, it will prevent the horticulturists from doing that, it will place a heavy burden on them, they will have to take out C licences and will be prohibited on the odd occasion from taking somebody else's produce as well as their own.

The people concerned are very limited in range already. They are subject to licence, they have fought many battles in the courts for their continued existence, and over the past few years they have been greatly whittled down. Those who still remain have proved in the courts their case for continued existence, If anybody doubts what I am saying with regard to the size of the businesses which are conducted by these men, we have only to look at the figures. In this country there are 28,000 B licencees. Of those, as many as 73 per cent. own less than two vehicles, and 96 per cent. of that number own less than five vehicles. Therefore, on that ground and on grounds of equity I suggest they are due for consideration. They are definitely the "small fry," who do not affect this Bill in any way. They are very near relations to the C licence holders, whose case the Minister has met, and I suggest that he could do no harm to his Bill but could do a great deal of good to small industry in rural areas by accepting this Amendment. They are statistically negligible but locally extremely important.

I think there is occasionally a mistaken view on both sides of the House that A and B licences relate to long and short distance drivers. Nothing could be further from the case. I would also point out that, if this Amendment were accepted, the Minister would still have the power of licensing, and in that way the Minister could regulate and control them in any reasonable way that was necessary. B licences constitute no menace to this great scheme of the Minister's and are worthy of fair and sympathetic treatment.

7.15 p.m.

Mr. Basil Nield (City of Chester)

I beg to second the Amendment.

I think the House cannot fail to have been impressed by the cogent argument of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer), and I hope the Minister will find it possible to accept the Amendment. I am quite certain that the Minister will not be unwilling to listen to the views of those who were not Members of the Standing Committee and, perhaps, of those who have some experience, as I have, of the working of the licensing arrangements under the Road and Rail Traffic Act, 1933. The Clause which we are considering is the one under which various undertakings are to be acquired by the Commission. Those undertakings consist Wholly or partly of haulage operations undertaken by those who hold A and B licences. As my hon. and gallant Friend said, there is a wide difference between the holders of A licences and of B licences, and it is a difference which is sometimes not fully understood. I would like to suggest in a few words what those various types of licence involve. A licence holders can carry any goods anywhere. A B licence is not a short-distance licence at all. It permits a man to carry his own goods on his own vehicles, and he may carry goods for others for hire or reward, subject to conditions imposed by the licensing authority. I suppose those conditions relate to the type of goods carried, or the persons for whom they are carried, or the distances along which they are carried. Therefore, the House will appreciate that in nearly all the cases of B licence holders, they are really persons running businesses quite apart from haulage, with haulage as an ancillary undertaking.

To give a short example of which I know, there might be a timber merchant who has a storage place. He is allowed under a B licence to carry his own timber. Of course, he could do that under a C licence, but he is also able, subject to the conditions of the licensing authority, to carry for his storage customers. In the case I have in mind, which is in Liverpool, the conditions are that the man may journey from the docks within quite a short radius. I feel strongly with my hon. and gallant Friend that this is not the sort of business which was contemplated when the Government determined upon this course. Really half or more of the work done by the "B" licence holders is the equivalent of the work done by "C" licence holders, carrying their own goods in their own vehicles. We know now that "C" licence holders are to be excluded, and, therefore, the Government accept a large part of what we are saying. We now ask them to go further, and to say that these haulage undertakings with which we are dealing should not be brought within this scheme. It is not equitable, right, nor in the interests of the scheme itself that they should be included.

Major Cecil Poole (Lichfield)

I hope, and feel sure, that the Minister will reject this Amendment. It brings before the House evidence of the insatiable appetite of hon. and right hon. Members opposite. Having tasted blood in the "C" licence concession they proceed to the next stage, and ask that "B" licences should be similarly treated. Give them this and then, of course, "A" licences will follow, and the whole of the nationalised co-ordinated transport will have gone by the board. I believe the Minister has already given away too much in the "C" licence concession. I say that because I want to be frank about this. If this Amendment was accepted by the Minister, I believe no quarter would be given. The case which has been put up by hon. Members opposite has no substance. What is the position? If these people, as we rightly understand, are those holders of licences whose primary purpose in holding a licence is to carry their own goods, they are now completely and adequately safeguarded, inasmuch as they now have unrestricted facilities for operating their own vehicles wherever they may wish under a "C" licence. More than that; they are also able to continue to operate their "B" licences up to a distance of 25 miles. Therefore, it is merely a question of carrying their own goods where they wish.

The hon. and learned Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Nield) instanced the case of a man in Liverpool who has a warehouse, and who wants to bring from the docks to his warehouse some of someone else's timber. I hardly imagine that that warehouse will be located more than 25 miles from the docks. If that is what the hon. and learned Member seeks to accomplish by this Amendment, the power is already here, the safeguard is already in the Bill, and the man who wants to operate and to carry his own goods, and to do an occasional good turn for his neighbour, is quite able to do it up to 25 miles. As a matter of fact, by licence from the Minister he could even exceed the 25 miles distance. I think every safeguard necessary for the "B" licence holder is already in the Bill, and I hope the Minister will resist this Amendment.

Mr. Renton

The hon. and gallant Member for Lichfield (Major Poole) says that the Opposition's case on this Amendment has no substance. I would remind him that it is, I believe, generally accepted by Socialists that when a case for nationalisation has to be made—out the burden of proving that nationalisation is necessary lies upon those who wish to nationalise. We challenge the Minister to make out his case for nationalising these traders whose vehicles he intends to take over. First of all, I remind the Minister that during Committee it transpired that it was intended to nationalise only 2,000 vehicles. Each of those 2,000 vehicles has a dual purpose. They are hybrid vehicles. Like the Liberal-National Party, they combine the virtues of both with the vices of neither. They are primarily held, not by transport operators but by men who are traders. In so far as they try to operate for hire or reward they are subject to the most rigorous restrictions by the licensing authorities, both as to the class of goods to be carried and the distances they may carry them. Bearing in mind the small number of vehicles, the fact that each vehicle is used only partly for hire or reward, and that in so far as it is used for hire or reward it is subject to restrictions, I suggest to the Minister that the Commission will not suffer very greatly if these vehicles are not taken over. But the traders themselves—and I suggest, the public also—will suffer greatly.

How will the traders suffer? In the first place, a very economical way of using a vehicle will disappear, because at the moment—and this is to the benefit of the public as well as the trader—many an empty back load on what otherwise might be a "C" licence becomes a good pay load on a "B" licence. Is that facility one which is to be wilfully swept away? The traders must have their vehicles there, and, as has been pointed out by hon. Members, they will have to try to replace these "B" licence vehicles with "C" licence vehicles, when the Minister has taken over what he considers to be the "B" licence element of their businesses. We think there is no great advantage to the Commission in taking over those portions of people's businesses which are engaged in hire or reward on "B" licences. Also, we have to remember that the licensing authorities will continue to restrict the vehicle up to 25 miles when carrying for hire or reward, and over that distance it will be necessary to obtain a permit from the Commission. Therefore, the Commission have their protection in any case.

The anxiety arises from this sort of circumstance. The Minister is familiar with this example, which was raised in Committee by the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers). Suppose a man has "B" licence vehicles only, and suppose for 55 per cent. of their time they are carrying for hire or reward, and for 45 per cent. of their time are carrying their own goods in connection with their own business. Under the Clause at present, that man's vehicle or vehicles—he may have three, four or five, but not very often can be taken away from him. What is to happen to the rest of his business? There is another very useful example which has been given before. Suppose a man who has seven vehicles and a garage, and suppose by applying the somewhat difficult formula which arises on the joint interpretation of Clauses 44 and 48 the Commission decide to take over four of the seven vehicles. What happens to the garage which is to be used in connection with the transport side of the business? That garage may be attached to other premises, such as a baker's or a greengrocer's, and very great hardship and difficulty may be caused by the interpretation of this Clause

Let me attempt to leap before I come to the stile, and anticipate an argument which I have no doubt the Minister will raise, namely, that like everything else in this Clause the power which is given, for good or evil, is certain to be used for good. Of course, that is not a proposition which one can accept very easily when making laws for people. It is not fair to give Ministers powers which they can use for evil, unless there are overwhelming circumstances which prove conclusively that they can, and must, only be used for good. However, I suggest that on this occasion such circumstances are not present in such a manner as to convince us that the various injustices which can so easily arise under this Clause will be avoided. We are not dealing, on this Amendment, with the big transport concerns, The big hauliers. We are dealing with the small traders of the country-28,000 small traders, 73 per cent. of them having only one vehicle, and 23 per cent. only two, three or four vehicles, and only four per cent. possessing five or more vehicles. These small traders are not represented in the big political parties, by big battalions; they have not large sections of the Press fighting their case every day. I suggest that it is up to us, Private Members of Parliament on both sides of the House, to be particularly regardful of their interests, and it is because their interests do seem to me most genuinely to be threatened by the few- words of the Bill which we are seeking to delete, that I commend this Amendment to the House.

7.30 p.m.

Brigadier Mackeson (Hythe)

The hon. and gallant Member for Lichfield (Major C. Poole) is quite right in accusing some of us on these benches of having an insatiable appetite I, personally, have as far as this Bill is concerned. Our desire is to try to retain as much liberty for the people of this country as possible. I have not yet been convinced, in connection with the "B" licence, that we are going to get greater efficiency by insisting in the inclusion of the "B" licence holders. I think the point made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer) in connection with greenhouse produce could be taken a little further, as I doubt very much whether. the Minister realises the problem that is going to arise in the Southern counties. It will probably be a very acute problem. I do not want to deal with;1 in detail now; but it is one particularly pertinent to the "B" licence, because it will mean that the B "licence holder who wants to be able to carry his neighbours' goods up to London and around, will be handicapped. This will hit the fruit-growers very severely.

There are two other points which the Minister might care to consider. I doubt if anybody realises just how difficult it will be to impose this legislation, in connection with the "B" licence. It will be necessary, in order to bring a charge against a "B" licence holder, to search his vehicle, presumably, to see whether the goods inside are his own or if they belong to somebody else. I think the police have quite enough on their hands. without our creating any situation requiring a lot of inquiries and snoopers. By excluding the "B" licence we may save the nation a considerable wastage of manpower. The final point I wish to make is that, even if the Clause goes through as drafted, the Commission may find themselves loaded with a responsibility they would very much rather not have. In the isolated districts where the grocer or the baker goes over a distance of 25 miles, we do not want to impose on the Commission the duty of taking over that vehicle, we do not want to make the Commission responsible for carrying traffic in the isolated districts at a loss. In the North there are vehicles which run in the course of ordinary trade long distances, and they should be allowed to exceed the distance of 25 miles, if necessary, to carry goods for the people at the top of the glens or straths.

Major Legge-Bourke

It seems to me that the Minister, if he refuses this Amendment, is ignoring the fact that in the agricultural or horticultural districts Class B licence holders do something in a way which is highly desirable. Although this is, perhaps, more the business of the Minister of Agriculture than the Minister of Transport, the fact remains that the Bill as drafted is against the spirit of cooperation in the horticultural districts, where they work in co-operation. In rejecting this Amendment the Minister will destroy that spirit. I think that if he will discuss it with the Minister of Agriculture, he will find that the spirit is one of the things the Minister of Agriculture most desires in horticultural districts.

I was interested to hear what the hon. and gallant Member for Lichfield (Major C. Poole) had to say. He resented the fact that we on this side are trying to encroach on this Bill, and said that every time we gained some improvement in it, we wanted another. It seems to me that that is the most disastrous argument that could possibly be put forward from the hon. and gallant Member's point of view, because, surely, if ever there was a case of encroachment, it is this Bill, which is taking away from many people businesses which they have built up from very small beginmngs indeed, and have built up entirely through their own energy. It seems to me that that was a highly presumptuous argument to introduce into this Debate.

Major C. Poole

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman in a position to tell the House just how many of these "B" licence holders—what percentage of them—have operated over 25 miles distance, or do operate over 25 miles today, to see how much we are taking away from them?

Mr. Renton

The Minister stated in Committee that it was about 2,000. The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) was not a Member of the Standing Committee.

Major C. Poole

Nor was I.

Mr. Renton

But I was, and I thought I might assist in answering the question of the hon. and gallant Member.

Major Legge-Bourke

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton) for that information. I was thinking particularly of a place which the Minister visited last year in my constituency, namely, Wisbech, which happens to be one of the most active horticultural districts of this country. The 25 mile limit is quite useless to horticulturists there, because their fruit has to go to London. By co-operating with their fellow horticulturists, those people who have "B" licences can help not only in carrying the fruit to Covent Garden, but they can also help in bringing back empty containers with them to Wisbech. This Bill seems to me to be bringing us back to all the troubles we experienced during the war under the Ministry of War Transport. If the right hon. Gentleman does not know what those troubles were I suggest that he goes to any horticultural district to find out for himself. The criticism during the war always was, that when the Ministry of War Transport was dealing with a matter, the lorries arrived too late, they did not know where to go, it was difficult to find enough people to guide them to the correct place. It is most essential to have these matters dealt with locally by class "B" and class "C" licence holders, and not by any transport Ministerially directed from London.

Sir A. Salter

I was brought into contact with the particular problem of the small, intermediate class as far back as 1932. The question that faces the Government now is, on which side of the line which they are drawing between A, on the one hand, and C, on the other, this small class falls. The hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton) drew a certain analogy between this class and the Liberal National Party. I think he might have carried his analogy a little further, not confining himself only to its exceptional virtues. It is also similar in being an extremely small proportion of the total. Moreover I should also say it is in its general character more appropriate to the private enterprise side than it is to the Socialist side.

I would like to suggest what would be the consequences of accepting this Amendment. First, it could not possibly do any real harm to the Minister's general scheme, if one takes into account the character and number of the vehicles concerned, and also the fact that they can be, and are, regulated by a flexible system of licences. Incidentally, I think the method of using a conditional licence system is one that might have been given a much bigger effect in the general transport scheme. That is by the way. The Minister's general scheme would certainly not be injured if he put these "B" licences on the other side of the line, retaining as he would the power to control them by licence.

Secondly, the Transport Commission might be just a little inconvenienced occasionally for this reason. They have, under the concession on "C" licences, now to face, what they had not to face under the Bill as it was originally drafted, some measure of competition, which forms some kind of test of the efficiency of the general public transport system. But the competition which they have to face at present is, of course, subject to the very serious reservation that, whereas the public system can always bring back return loads, the "C" carrier must be so much more efficient than the public transport system that he finds it preferable to carry his own goods even though he is not allowed to bring back return loads. To that extent, the Transport Commission would—and I think it would be very much better for it—have to face here and there a little more effective competition. I think that would be an extremely good thing. Certainly, it could not do any harm to the efficiency or the general interests of the Transport Commission.

Thirdly, the effect of accepting the Amendment would be this; there are, beyond any kind of question, a number of transport jobs in which there is a real economy if a man, when carrying his own goods one way, can save his vehicle from being completely wasted on the return journey. The effect of leaving the Bill as it is, with the rejection of this Amendment, would not be to transfer that economy in all cases to the public transport system. In many cases, undoubtedly it would induce the trader to forego the economy in order that he might have his freedom as a "C" licence holder. In that case it is clear that not only the private trader, but the general national economy will have lost, not a very big economy, but at any rate some economy, without there being any real advantage on the other side. The Amendment affects only a very small number of vehicles, and the proposal is not such as could possibly interfere with the general system of the Bill.

7.45 p.m.

Mr. H. Macmillan

Although I was not very successful in my two previous interventions, I would like to ask the Minister, before he finally commits himself on this matter, to see whether he cannot meet my hon. Friends on this small but important point. I sympathise with the hon. and gallant Member for Lichfield (Major Poole) to the extent that always when a Government has made certain concessions, it very properly resents those concessions being used for the purpose of gaining still further concessions. I quite understood what the hon. and gallant Member for Lichfield had in mind, and I did not put upon it quite the same interpretation as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke). As I see the position, the Government having decided in principle to set up the monopoly, the monopoly must be protected. Whether it is right or wrong, it is a monopoly, and the Minister must naturally protect it against competition which might be injurious to it; but accepting that, and having regard to the principle, wherever, without injury to the monopoly, public convenience can be assisted, or individual freedom maintained, I think there is a case, which even the monopoly should accept, to see whether it cannot meet a small but important feature in the system which might be alleviated by the monopoly being not so grasping as to refuse the smallest concession.

Looked at from that point of view, what does the Amendment mean? The monopoly cannot be seriously injured by the degree of competition which would be involved in making this concession. The monopoly would have the protection of the 1939 Act—the licensing system itself. It would have the further protection that it is a question of only about 28,000 operators, most of whom own one, two or three vehicles. Of those, out of the 90,000 or whatever the figure may be, only 2,000 come into the category that would be either clamped down or released for this work, whichever way the decision of the House may go. Obviously, it is not an important decision compared with the vast junction of the monopoly over the whole field of transport. The monopoly is tremendously protected by all the other rights which it has.

Where, then, does private convenience come in? We may assume that the monopoly could not be seriously injured by the 2,000 vehicles. I should hesitate to think that the whole scheme of nationalised transport would be brought down if the operators of 2,000 vehicles were allowed occasionally to pick up a parcel for a friend and take it, for a small charge, to London, with their own goods, and then to bring back something from London to distribute among their immediate neighbours, friends or co-operators in the same class of business. Therefore, if the injury to the monopoly would be minute, surely, apart from preconceived notions as to the value and importance of the monopoly, we ought to see whether we cannot meet public convenience and the established rights of free operators who have been working under this system.

Today, one of the great troubles of this country is the sense of frustration from which everybody suffers. It is so hard to get anything done. It is not a question of the supply of services and goods being so much ahead of demand that there is immense competition among those who provide the services and goods. The trouble is that the demand is so much ahead of what the services and goods can supply that everybody, in almost every walk of life and in all forms of business, is suffering from the feeling that it takes so long to get the simplest thing done. Such is the pressure on public services and transport that, certainly at this time—whatever may be the condition in 10 years' time, when perhaps the whole balance between supply and demand will change, as it must change somewhat after the great pressure of war—public convenience can best be met by always giving the benefit of the doubt to anything which can get things going and give somebody a little bit of help in doing his business.

If people like market gardeners can be allowed to carry the products of another and possibly bring something back that helps them all, if it is only a question of 2,000 vehicles in all and if it makes a little addition to the general convenience of life, I should have thought that at this time at any rate, having regard to all the other controls involved in the system, the Minister could perhaps tell us that he would look at it again. I would not ask him to pledge himself now to do more than consider it again; we should be very happy if he would say that there is still time to look into it and see whether the facts are correct and the arguments are sound, and that the injury, if it is an injury, would be small. If he could say that he would look at this point again, we should prefer not to press the matter. We would rely upon his good faith and his undertaking to look into this point—small as we all admit it is in proportion to the vast character of this immense Bill, but, nevertheless, important to the people concerned, to those who operate these vehicles and to those whom they serve. Perhaps occasionally in these proceedings I have introduced an element of vehemence and violence, and if the Minister could agree to look at it again, he would be adding, as he is so well fitted to do, an element of grace and comfort which would leave us upon a happier note.

Mr. Barnes

I am afraid that when I have stated my case on this Amendment, the right hon. Gentleman will realise that I should be very unwise to accept it. It is quite true that it has been emphasised in our discussions that approximately 2,000 B licence holders are affected by this Clause. No one has mentioned the other aspect of the figure, namely, that the total number of B licence holders approximates to 50,000.

Mr. Renton

May I correct the right hon. Gentleman? The figures given to him before, which were not challenged, were these; in 1938 there were 32,120 licence holders owning 56,000 vehicles; in 1946 the number had fallen to 28,000 licences holders owning 50,000 vehicles.

Mr. Barnes

I thank the hon. Member for the correction, I was quoting vehicles, and my hon. Friend has just brought it to my notice that there is a difference between the number of operators and the number of vehicles. That being the case, I think we get it in its proper proportions; it is not a question of numbers that is involved here. There is no question of picking out so many B licence holders for the purpose of bringing them into the Bill. What hon. and right hon. Gentleman are really advocating is rather a dangerous principle, if I may put it that way; it is that in the Bill we should discriminate between one trader and another in the test applied. If hon. Members would refer to Clause 38, I think the position would become perfectly plain. We are dealing here with the operator who takes out a licence for the purpose of carrying the goods of another person for hire or reward. The goods that he carries for himself in his vehicle have nothing to do with the issue we are discussing, because the goods he carries for himself are left outside the calculation eventually applied. The Clause reads: Where the Commission are of opinion with respect to an undertaking the activities of which consist wholly or partly of the operation of any vehicles authorised to be used under any A licence or B licence—… (b) that the activities of the undertaking in that year, so far as they consisted in the carriage of goods in goods vehicles consisted to a predominant extent in ordinary long distance carriage for hire or reward. Again, I want to emphasise that in the case of the B licence operator the goods that he carries for his own business are excluded from this calculation. Then, of course, the Bill applies a test both to the A licence vehicle and to the B licence vehicles to ascertain whether the majority of the traffic, judged either by weight or value, is carried over a certain distance. If that traffic is shown by the test to be over that distance, then the undertaking is compulsorily acquired. What hon. and right hon. Gentlemen are in fact submitting to me for consideration is that this Bill should apply a different test to two similar persons engaged in the same task 'of offering their vehicles for hire or reward to some person or persons. The hon. and learned Member for Chester (Mr. Nield) stated the position of the B licence operator very clearly, but I do not think that he completed the explanation of his case. I feel fairly certain that if he would follow out the illustration he gave in detail and apply the test under the Bill, the case he quoted would not fall within the definition of this Clause, and would not represent an undertaking which would be compulsorily acquired. That is the reason why the great majority of 13 licence vehicles and operators fall outside this test.

In the first place, a B licence operator can carry his own goods. Then, in the majority of cases, a condition is attached by the licencing authority, putting a limit on the distance or the class of traffic or something of that character. It is because the type of traffic that he carries for hire and reward is as a rule of a short distance character that the majority of them will not fall within the test. On the other hand the A licence operator quite clearly and definitely goes out for all kinds of traffic, and does not bother about his own because it is not sufficient for his purpose. He is aiming at something much larger, and that is the reason why the greater number of A vehicles and operators will come within the provisions of the Bill. In the case of the B licence operator mentioned by the hon. and learned Member for Chester, the only addition to carrying his own timber would be represented by the traffic to and from the docks to his customers, and it is most improbable in that case that the majority of his journeys would exceed the 40-mile radius and bring him within the provision. If as a matter of fact the majority of his journeys for hire or reward were over the long distance, why should not he be brought in as well as the A licence operator? Why should he be excluded when he is engaged in the same type of direct service as the A licence operator who would be his competitor? The senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) said that this would do no real harm to the proposals of the Bill. I venture to suggest that it should not be considered on the basis of whether the volume or number of vehicles would do harm to the proposals of the Bill, but on the basis that the same kind of test must be applied to any' operator if he is plying for hire or reward.

8.0 p.m.

My final point is with regard to the remarks of the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan), who continually emphasised that the new organisation would be a monopoly and rather sympathised with the desire to protect the individual against monopolies—which, of course, I quite appreciate. I would prefer to say it in another way. Here we have a number of transport services which are vital to the prosperity and efficiency of the State and which we cannot leave any longer in the hands of private enterprise to carry on with deficiency, and in some respects with inefficiency, and in the inadequate way in which they have been carried on in the past.

Mr. Maclay

I should like the opportunity to refer to one of the points that the Minister has made and which I think ought to be carried further. Why should not the majority of those hauliers who work over long distances with "B" licences be excluded from the enterprises which will be taken over? Why should such a "B" licence holder use his "B" licence? Surely, he will want to carry his own goods safely to their destination in the most efficient way. He works under a "B" licence because his operations are economic only if he can charter the vehicle for the return journey.

If he transferred to a "C" licence, he would have to use his vehicle uneconomically, which would be a bad waste of transport. The only way for him to get safe delivery of his goods would be for him to have his own driver on the job, a specialised man, and he would have to transfer to the "C" licence in order to get that advantage. Otherwise, he would have to run his lorry back every time he has delivered his own goods, and that could not be to the advantage of this country.

Major C. Poole

Would the hon. Gentleman tell the House what happens about the back loading of the 170,000 "C" licensed vehicles at the present time?

Mr. Maclay

I do not know the details of that matter. Presumably the "C" licence holder finds that he has enough of his own goods to make an efficient operation. He has goods going out to be delivered to purchasers and he is bringing in the raw materials. I do not think the "C" operator is in the habit of carrying goods for fun. He works as economically as he possibly can. Otherwise, he would run on a "B" licence.

The suggestion is made that the "B" licence holder should use the Transport Commission's long-distance haulage wagon which is available. Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is likely that the Commission will be able to allocate a special vehicle and driver to work steadily on the business of one firm? That might help the operator to get his goods delivered safely. There are firms in my constituency who want to have the same man steadily working on the job, because such men get to know the job backwards and how to handle the goods properly. I am rather doubtful whether it will be found possible for the Commission to allocate a special driver steadily to one firm's needs.

In a sense, the Minister has put forward a very ugly proposition from the point of view both of the individual operator and of the country. A certain number of people will either have to have their goods handled in such a way as will damage the goods—or will damage them in the opinion of those people—or they will be forced to take "C" licences and to use their vehicles thoroughly uneconomically.

Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)

I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) has gone out. As the Minister said, the right hon. Gentleman deliberately insisted throughout his speech that this organisation was to be a monopoly. If it were to be a monopoly, there would be some reason to be concerned about the small man, but this is not a monopoly. The right hon. Member for Bromley is either crassly ignorant or deliberately wicked, when he says that it is a monopoly. A monopoly is a great concentration of capital in the hands of a group of people who have only one concern, and that is to get profits. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the Post Office?"] Now let us see how far we can get.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

I am afraid the hon. Member cannot get very far along those lines. The question that the House is discussing is whether to leave out the "B" licences or otherwise.

Mr. Gallacher

Yes, but the right hon. Member for Bromley based his appeal on behalf of the "B" licensees on the ground that this was to be a monopoly. If that were true, there would be some reason for concern about the "B" licensees, but it is not a monopoly. That is the important thing about it.

Sir A. Salter


Mr. Gallacher

Will the right hon. Member wait a moment. The relationship of the "B" licence holders to this institution is something entirely different from what the position of a "B" licence holder would be to a monoply. A monopoly crushes its competitors and pulls down their businesses. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Co-op."] It restricts production and productive activities in order to keep up prices and profits.

Sir A. Salter

Does the hon. Member assert that there is and can be no such thing as a public monopoly? If that is his assertion, can he quote from any authority or any dictionary or indeed from any Member of this House?

Mr. Gallacher

I could quote, if Mr. Deputy-Speaker would allow me to do so, from the greatest authority upon economics, and particularly upon capitalist economics, and that is Karl

Marx. The proposed institution will be the ownership of a great industry by the people. It will be run in the interests of the people. Is there any possibility—

Mr. Renton

On a point of Order. Is it in Order for the hon. Member, upon a simple Amendment dealing with the exclusion of "B" licences from the Bill, to expound his whole political philosophy?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Perhaps the hon. Member who has raised the point of Order would be kind enough to leave that matter to me. The hon. Member who is addressing the House is certainly going beyond the terms of the Amendment. I hope he will, in that sense, keep his remarks within limits.

Mr. Gallacher

This institution will not restrict activities but will increase them. It will not only compensate "B" licence holders but, in nearly every case, as a consequence of increased activity, will provide the "B" licence holder with employment of a character that will enable him to carry on and will probably increase the security of income that he had as a "B" licence holder. There is a world of difference. There is no comparison whatever between a monopoly which restricts activities and a national institution like this which increases activities in every direction and integrates those activities. This institution will provide greater opportunities for the B licence holders than they have ever had before.

Question put, "That the words 'or B licence' stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 308; Noes, 133.

Division No. 162.] AYES. [8.11 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Bing, G. H. C. Chamberlain, R. A.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Binns, J. Champion, A. J.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. Blenkinsop, A. Chater, D.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Blyton, W. R. Chetwynd, G. R.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Boardman, H. Clitherow, Dr. R.
Alpass, J. H. Bottomley, A. G. Cobb, F. A.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Cocks, F. S.
Attewell, H. C. Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Coldrick, W.
Austin, H. L. Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pt, Exch'ge) Collindridge, F.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B Brook, D. (Halifax) Collins, V. J.
Bacon, Miss A Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Dolman, Miss G. M.
Baird, J. Brown, George (Belper) Comyns, Dr. L.
Balfour, A. Brown, T. J. (Ince) Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J Buchanan, G. Corlett, Dr. J.
Barstow, P. G. Burden, T. W. Corvedale, Viscount
Barton, C. Burke, W. A. Cove, W. G.
Bechervaise, A. E. Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Crawley, A.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J Callaghan, James Crossman, R. H. S.
Benson, G. Carmichael, James Daggar, C.
Beswick, F. Castle, Mrs. B. A. Daines, P.
Davies, Edward (Burslem) Kinley, J. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Kirkwood, D. Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Lavers, S. Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.) Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J. Royle, C.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lee, F. (Hulme) Scollan, T.
Deer, G. Lee Miss J. (Cannock) Scott-Elliot, W.
Delargy, Captain H. J. Leonard, W. Shackleton, E. A A.
Diamond, J. Leslie, J. R. Sharp, Granville
Dobbie, W. Levy, B. W. Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
Dodds, N. N. Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)
Driberg, T. E. N. Lewis, J. (Bolton) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Lewis, T. (Southampton) Shurmer, P.
Durbin, E. F. M. Lindgren, G. S. Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Dye, S. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Logan, D. G. Simmons, C. J.
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.) Longden, F. Skinnard, F. W.
Edwards, John (Blackburn) Lyne, A. W. Smith, C. (Colchester)
Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) McAdam, W. Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) McEntee, V. La T. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
Evans, E. (Lowestoft) McGhee, H. G. Solley, L. J.
Evans, John (Ogmore) McKinlay, A. S. Sorensen, R. W.
Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Maclean, N. (Govan) Soskice, Maj. Sir F.
Ewart, R. McLeavy, F. Stamford, W.
Fairhurst, F. Macpherson, T. (Romford) Steele, T.
Farthing, W. J. Mallalieu, J. P. W. Stephen, C.
Field, Captain W. J. Mann, Mrs. J. Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)
Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.) Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth)
Follick, M. Marquand, H. A. Stubbs, A. E.
Foot, M. M. Marshall, F. (Brightside) Swingler, S.
Forman, J. C. Mathers, G. Sylvester, G. O.
Foster, W. (Wigan) Mayhew, C. P. Symonds, A. L.
Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Medland, H. M. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Freeman, Peter (Newport) Mellish, R. J. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Gallacher, W. Messer, F. Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Mikardo, Ian Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Gibbins, J. Mitchison, Major G. R. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Gilzean, A. Monslow, W. Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
Gooch, E. G Montague, F. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Goodrich, H. E. Moody, A. S. Thurtle, Ernest
Gordon-Walker, P. C. Morgan, Dr. H. B. Tiffany, S.
Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Morley, R. Timmons, J.
Grenfell, D. R. Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.) Titterington, M. F.
Grey, C. F. Morris, P. (Swansea, W) Tolley, L.
Grierson, E. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.) Turner-Samuels, M.
Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Mort, D. L. Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Moyle, A. Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Murray, J. D. Viant, S. P.
Guest, Dr. L. Haden Nally, W. Walker, C. H.
Gunter, R. J. Naylor, T. E. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Guy, W. H. Neal, H. (Claycross) Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Warbey, W. N.
Hale, Leslie Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford) Watkins, T. E.
Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby) Watson, W. M.
Hardman, D. R. Noel-Buxton, Lady Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
Hardy, E. A. O'Brien, T. Weitzman, D.
Harrison, J. Oldfield, W. H. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Oliver, G. H. Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Haworth, J. Paget, R. T. West, D. G.
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth) Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Hewitson, Capt. M. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Holman, P. Palmer, A. M. F. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Parker, J. Wigg, Cot. G. E.
House, G. Parkin, B. T. Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Hubbard, T. Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Wilkes, L.
Hudson, J. H. (Eating, W.) Paton, J. (Norwich) Wilkins, W. A.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Pearson, A. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.) Peart, Capt. T. F. Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme) Platts-Mills, J. F. F. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield) Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Popplewell, E. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Irving, W. J. Porter, E. (Warrington). Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Janner, B. Porter, G. (Leeds) Williamson, T.
Jay, D. P. T. Proctor, W. T. Willis, E.
Jeger, G. (Winchester) Pryde, D. J. Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.) Pursey, Cmdr. H. Wise, Major F. J
John, W. Randall, H. E. Woodburn, A.
Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley) Ranger, J. Wyatt, W.
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Rankin, J. Yates, V. F.
Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow) Reeves, J. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Reid, T. (Swindon) Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Rhodes, H.
Keenan, W. Richards, R. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Key, C W. Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Mr. Joseph Henderson
Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E Robens, A. Mr. Hannan.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G Grant, Lady Peake, Rt. Hon. O
Aitken, Hon. Max Grimston, R. V Peto, Brig C H M.
Amory, D. Heathcoat Gruffydd, Prof W J Pickthorn, K.
Astor, Hon. M. Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Ponsonby, Col. C. E
Baldwin, A. E. Harris, H Wilson Poole, O. B S. (Oswestry)
Barlow, Sir J. Haughton, S. G. Prescott, Stanley
Beamish, Maj. T. V H Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt Hon S[...] C Price-White, Lt.-Col. D
Beechman, N. A. Henderson, John (Cathcart) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O
Bennett, Sir P Hogg, Hon. Q Rayner, Brig. R.
Birch, Nigel Holmes, Sir J Stanley (Harwich) Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Bowen, R. Howard, Hon. A Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Hulbert, Wing-Comdr. N J. Renton, D.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T Hutchison, Lt.-Cdr. Clark (Edin'gh, W) Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Bullock, Capt. M Jeffreys, General Sir G Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Butcher, H. W Jennings, R. Roberts, Maj. P. G (Ecclesall)
Byers, Frank Kendall, W. D. Ropner, Col. L.
Carson, E. Lambe[...]t, Hon. G Ross, Sir R.
Challen, C. Lancaster, Col. C. G Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J A
Channon, H. Langford-Holt, J. Scott, Lord W.
Clarke, Col. R. S. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A H Shephard, S. (Newark)
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col G Lindsay, M. (Solihull) Shepherd, W S. (Bucklow)
Cole, T. L. Linstead, H. N Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Lipson, D. L Spence, H. R
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow) Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Strauss, H. G (English Universities)
Crowder, Capt. J. F E Low, Brig. A. R. W. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J (Moray)
Cuthbert, W. N. Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Studholme, H. G
Darling, Sir W. Y. MacAndrew, Col. Sir C Taylor, C S. (Eastbourne)
Davies, Clement (Montgomery) Macdonald, Sir P. (Isle of Wight) Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A (P'dd'ton, S)
De la Bère, R. Mackeson, Brig. H R Teeling, William
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Maclay, Hon. J. S. Thomas, J P. L. (Hereford)
Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness) Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries) Thornton-Kemsley, C N
Drayson, G. B. Maitland, Comdr. J W Vane, W. M. F
Drewe, C. Marlowe, A. A. H. Wadsworth, G
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T (Richmond) Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Walker-Smith, D
Duthie, W. S Maude, J. C Wheatley, Colonel M. J
Eccles, D. M. Mellor, Sir J. White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Fletcher, W. (Bury) Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Fox, Sir G. Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone) Morris-Jones, Sir H. Winterton, Rt Hon. Earl
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale) Morrison, Maj. J G (Salisbury) York, C.
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D P M Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C E
Gage, C. Neven-Spence, Sir B. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gammans, L. D. Nicholson, G. Major Conant and
George, Maj Rt. Hn. G Lloyd (P'ke) Nield, B. (Chester) Lieut.-Colonel Thorp.
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G. Orr-Ewing, I. L
Mr. Wadsworth (Buckrose)

I beg to move, in page 44, line 18, to leave out from the beginning, to "give," and to insert "the Commission may."

I would make it clear that we are introducing into the Bill by this Amendment an element of flexibility which we consider it needs. The purpose is to give certain discretionary powers to the Commissioners in taking over long-distance transport vehicles. We claim that there are many objections to nationalisation but, if there is one outstanding objection, it is that when you nationalise an industry, it becomes rigid, and from the top to the bottom very few desire to take responsibility; whereas, in private enterprise, there is a much more flexible system and decisions are taken from day to day, and in fact from hour to hour, not only by the managing director but by many juniors. In fact, it will be remembered that, quite recently, on the National Coal Board the question arose of whether there should be "Brylcreem" machines at the pithead. It caused great consternation and, judging from the newspaper articles, it seemed almost to break up the Coal Board. That sort of decision would obviously be made in private enterprise by some junior in eight minutes. [HON MEMBERS: "No."] It is in order to introduce this flexibility into the Bill that we suggest the Commissioners should have greater powers.

It is difficult to visualise what types of cases will be brought to the notice of the Commission when they are taking over vehicles throughout the whole of the British Isles, and it is possible that the Commissioners themselves may realise that it would be to the advantage of the efficiency of the undertaking not to take over certain vehicles in places like Cornwall and parts of Scotland perhaps, where there are special reasons why private enterprise would serve the efficiency of the industry much better than bringing those vehicles within the orbit of these great nationalisation schemes. I shall call to my aid in arguing why the word "may" should be introduced not our friend Erskine, with whom we are all quite familiar, but no less a person than the schoolmaster of schoolmasters—the Leader of the House himself. In a speech he made in January he said: Public interest counted and the real field for argument was how best should the industry be organised or managed with a view to achieving economic public advantage. It is up to the nationalisers to prove their case that there would he a public advantage by nationalisation. It is no less to the antinationalisers to prove their case that the public interest would best be served by private ownership. Now I come to the really relevant part: In all these schemes of nationalisation the Government intends to hold the right to adopt the form of ownership and management according to the circumstances of the case. —which, as the Bill stands at present, it would not do because it is inflexible. It means that the Commissioners in every case will have no discretionary power in the taking over of these vehicles, and therefore my hon. Friends and myself believe that it will be to the advantage of the Minister to give this discretionary power. It must be remembered that if the Minister accepts this Amendment, the discretion is still with the Commission and with the Minister; in other words we do not take any power away from the Minister, we simply give that certain power into the hands of the Commissioners. Therefore, I hope the Minister will realise the advantage of this Amendment in helping him to carry out this nationalisation Measure. We are against the Bill as a nationalisation Measure; nevertheless we know it will be implemented in due course, and this is a genuine effort to be helpful.

Mr. Hopkin Morris (Carmarthen)

I beg to second the Amendment.

I do so formally, because the arguments for the Amendment are obvious.

Mr. Haworth (Liverpool, Walton)

I am surprised that an Amendment like this should come from the Liberal Party whose Members claim so often that Parliament is delegating its powers to other bodies. Surely, in a case like this, where the conditions under which the Commission shall work are definitely laid down by Parlia- ment, it would be a retrograde step from the point of view which the Liberal Party are so fond of expressing.

Mr. Byers

Is the hon. Member suggesting that this House of Commons should in future run the transport for the whole of the country?

Mr. Haworth

I am suggesting that what is in this Bill should remain in this Bill, that the conditions under which road haulage services should be taken over by the State should be decided by the House of Commons.

Mr. Hopkin Morris

I think the hon. Member misunderstands the effect of the Amendment. The Amendment does not vary the powers of the Commission; it merely says that they "may give" a notice of acquisition in certain circumstances.

Mr. Haworth

I am obliged to the hon and learned Gentleman for saying that what I have stated is quite right. Here conditions are laid down under which, if the Commissioners are satisfied that these conditions are complied with, they must nationalise the industry, but only if they are satisfied that those conditions are complied with. Under the Liberal Party Amendment the Commission can be satisfied that the conditions are complied with, but it is still left to them to use discretion between one part of the industry and another. One may comply with the conditions and they say they will not nationalise them, while another may not comply, and they say they will nationalise them.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Oliver Poole

I want to be quite sure that I am following the hon. Gentleman's argument aright. He is apparently rejecting the Amendment on the grounds that what is in the Bill should not be altered, and that therefore the Amendment should not be accepted. But what becomes of the 129 Amendments proposed by the Minister?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That question does not arise here.

Mr. Haworth

I am surprised that a Liberal Member should move an Amendment such as this, because it delegates powers to the Commission. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will stick to his guns, and not make any concession.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

There are even stronger reasons than those suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Walton (Mr. Haworth) for turning down the Amendment, although I think there was substance in his argument. The suggestion which the hon. Member for Buckrose (Mr. Wadsworth) put before the House is a plausible one. He asks why we should force the Commission to take over some firm which the Commission do not wish to take over. There may be some small firm which is unsatisfactory in many ways, and which may not fit in with the general scheme of the Commission—I am making his case for him—therefore why should we force the Commission to take over that firm? He says we should give the Commission discretion. That is all very well, but if there is to be discretion, it must be two-way discretion. At the moment, any firm can insist that the Commission shall take it over. Any firm engaged in long-distance work can serve notice on the Commission saying that it wants to be taken over. Presumably, it is just the unsatisfactory, uneconomical firm which does not wish to continue in existence, which would demand to be taken over, and which the Commission would have to take over whether they wished to or not. If a firm is interfered with to the extent that it is unable to get a licence to run over 25 miles, it can serve notice on the Commission to take it over. The discretion the hon. Member wants to give the Commission is not very much, because the firm can say, "You must take us over." The proposal is really of no value to the Commission at all, and would lead only to uncertainty. If the Commission decided that they did not want to take over a certain firm, that would be quite valueless, because the firm might, and in many cases probably would, insist on being taken over.

Mr. Peter Thorneycroft (Monmouth)

I regard this Amendment as important. I am not going into the argument of whether it was a proper Amendment to be moved from the Liberal Benches or not. Let us deal with it on its merits. I think the Parliamentary Secretary will agree that there is a good deal of substance in support of it. The object of the Bill, according to the Government, is to ensure that we have what they call—and I do not like the words—"a co-ordinated and inte- grated transport system." That object is certainly not at issue in this Amendment. The Amendment challenges no question of principle. If the Amendment were carried, it would still be within the powers of the Commission to take over all the longdistance firms which fall within the definition laid down by the Government. The Amendment does not restrict the powers of the Commission, but seeks to extend them. It does not curtail their authority or power in any way. Although I did not think very much of the argument advanced by the hon. Member for Walton (Mr. Haworth), I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary improved on it very much. His case was that some businesses may be ruined and might insist on being taken over, and he said that there had to be two-way discretion. But the Commission cannot be prejudiced. The Commission would be no worse off if the Amendment were accepted.

This Bill, although it is a very long one, is really a Bill dealing with share transfers, and the taking over of authority or ownership of road haulage companies and railways, the issue of stock, and so forth. The real job of nationalising transport can only start after the Bill has passed through the House of Commons. There is an immense job, the establishment of a Commission, a selection of people to officer it, selection of the executives, the working out of charges schemes, and the rest—a long and difficult operation.

Mr. Keenan (Liverpool, Kirkdale)

This is not in the Amendment.

Mr. Thorneycroft

If the hon. Member wants to interrupt me, he may do so.

Mr. Keenan

Is the hon. Member in Order in dealing with a matter which is not in the Amendment?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I think I can be trusted not to elaborate unduly. The reason why I was emphasising these points is that it is going to take a considerable time—I do not want to put it higher than that—after the appointment of the Commission and a Road Transport Executive, before that Executive can work out in detail exactly on what basis it is to co-ordinate and integrate the transport system. Under the Amendment, it would be given a breathing space. The provision in the Bill is most extraordinary. First, the Commission are asked to express themselves on a matter of opinion, and make up their minds whether in their opinion certain things are long distance or short distance. They are given considerable freedom in that, but, once having made up their minds on the matter of opinion, they have a duty imposed on them to take over the firm. It is not unreasonable, if one is to trust the Commission at all—and after all we are trusting them with the whole transport system of the country—to trust them to decide just when and which transport firm they are to take over.

I do not want to enter into controversial and widely different matters, but I think it is relevant to say that we have had some experience of this kind of problem already in discussions on the Coal Bill. I am not going to talk about the work of the miners, because from what I have read I think they are producing coal very well, but I wish I could say the same for the reorganisation of the industry. There is no doubt about it, that, with the advancement of the vesting date for compulsory acquisition, the re-organisation is in a state of muddle.

We do not want to get into the same position by compelling the Road Transport Commission to take over firms and undertakings too quickly and before it knows exactly and precisely what it wants. When this Bill was originally contemplated the situation was very different from what it is today. At that time we were nof, at any rate, apparently living on quite such a narrow margin in this country as in fact we are at present. To advance upon the road haulage industry, which is managing to carry the goods now, and to put it compulsorily and without any option, and very quickly, through the extraordinary evolution of going over to public ownership, is a rather risky thing to do. Under the Bill as drafted that will probably happen towards the end of next winter.

A Commission recently appointed, probably with its plans somewhat ill prepared, is to be faced not with the option, but with the duty, of taking over a lot of transport undertakings. The Amendment is designed to avoid placing the Commission in such an embarrassing position. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite may be very confident about what is going to happen next winter. Many people imagine that it may be a very difficult time indeed. To compel the Commission in such a period, whether it thinks it right or wrong, suddenly to assume responsibility for running the whole range of goods haulage in this country, seems to be a most unwise thing to do. I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that this is an Amendment which should be looked at very carefully. We are not asking him to take anything away from the principle of the Bill or from the powers of the Commission. We ask him to trust the Commission which he is setting up—and which will have a much better opportunity of studying these matters—to decide which particular undertakings it wishes to take over and when it should do so.

Mr. Byers

I am a little amazed at the cavalier fashion in which the Parliamentary Secretary has sought to dispose of this Amendment. I do not believe that he really understands what the Amendment does to the Bill. As the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) said, it does, if anything, extend the powers of the Commission. It is a genuine attempt in the light of circumstances which may well prevail in the next few months or years, to get some sort of flexible administration into the working of this Commission and of the Bill itself.

I cannot understand this continuous refusal of the Labour Party to go in for anything which is flexible. Here there is a mandate imposed upon the Commission. The Commission is told that if certain undertakings fit into a very rigid formula then a notice of acquisition must be served. It must be served: there is no argument about that. That apparently appeals to some hon. Members opposite who like looking at these things in a very rigid way. I suggest to them that one of their number—perhaps two—may find himself upon this Commission. He may, if he makes the right sort of speeches, on the right sort of occasions, or if, as in the case of Sir Ben Smith, he makes the wrong sort of speeches on certain occasions.

Mr. Gallacher

The hon. Gentleman will go before the Committee of Privileges if he goes on like that.

8.45 p.m.

Mr. Byers

I hope hon. Members are not going to regard this as a punishment. I put this seriously. Let us look at it from the point of view of somebody who is appointed as a member of the Commission. Would we not get far better, more workmanlike and businesslike results if we gave to the Commission a certain amount of leeway, discretion and flexibility? That is a point that I put to the Minister. It seems to me that there is substance in both arguments, and not merely in the one which says that it may not help the efficiency of the transport system of this country to take over a certain undertaking. I am not particularly worried about that argument. I think there is more substance in the argument that it may not suit the Commission's purpose to carry on acquiring these undertakings immediately after the vesting day. It may be that it might want to put it off because of industrial circumstances. That is a possibility. Next winter, or the winter after that, may be very difficult and it may be that it does not want to take over certain undertakings. It may be that it does not want to dislocate the industry at a particular moment.

Mr. Haworth

Does the hon. Gentleman seriously suggest that after this House of Commons has decided on a policy, any subordinate Commission should have the power or the responsibility of deciding that circumstances are not suitable and that an Act of Parliament must not be carried out because the circumstances are not right?

Mr. Byers

That is exactly what I am suggesting. I do not know whether the hon. Member was present when we discussed an earlier Amendment in which we had a similar argument. We were trying to get some flexibility into the Bill. We were arguing that it was quite wrong for the Minister to be able to say, in April, 1947, that everything would be ready for the Commission to take over on 1st January. I suggest quite seriously that at least some sort of discretionary power should be given to the Commission. In the Bill the Government told the Commission what they want to be done. The Amendment we suggest makes no difference to that. The Government have said what they want done. Surely, it is reasonable that the Commission should be given discretion in regard to when it shall do it and how it shall do it in certain circumstances. I do not think that the hon. Member for Walton (Mr. Haworth) would say that he can guarantee that it would be right to serve notice of acquisition on each of the undertakings fitted into this rigid formula on 1st January, 1948.

Mr. Dryden Brook (Halifax)

Will not this Amendment give the Commission discretion to say whether or not a particular firm or firms shall be brought into the scheme?

Mr. Byers

Certainly it will. Let us get this clear. So far as road transport is concerned, the object of the Bill is to set up an efficient system. Is the hon. Member arguing that the Government ought to have an inefficient system of transport because it says so in the Bill, or does he want an efficient system because the Commission is running its own business in the way it wants? That is the difference between us. I defy the Minister to claim that he will be able to say in two years' time that we were not right. I ask him to give us an assurance that he will reconsider this matter. The Bill is far too rigid. If the Minister does not reconsider it, I think I shall know the reason why. It will be because the Government are not in power but only in office. The Minister is frightened of giving a certain impression to his own back benchers who are in the habit of revolting. He is afraid that he will get a back bench revolt because this Amendment will be interpreted by some of his back benchers as an indication that he is going back on his desire to nationalise road transport. This Amendment does nothing of the sort. I can assure him that we would support him against his own back benchers. [Interruption.] It would not be the first occasion upon which we had supported him This is a serious point and unless we can have an assurance from the Minister, we shall divide upon this Amendment.

Brigadier Mackeson

The Chief Liberal Whip took a very realistic approach in suggesting that we should look at this problem from the point of view of the Commission. Far be it from me to suggest which of the hon. Members opposite should be members of the Commission. We all have our own views about that on this side of the House. We shall look forward to seeing one or two of our colleagues in this position.

I believe that this matter may be looked at in a somewhat different way. It is possible that the Commission, when appointed, will want to make a proper inquiry into the complications of road haulage, which it will have to operate through the Road Transport Executive. Surely, when it comes to making this inquiry, it may find I do not say it will —that, in some of the isolated districts, it does not wish to take over some of the operators which, under this Clause as it is now drafted, it is obliged to do straight away. It may also be the case regarding some of the more technical tasks involved, and particularly one which some of us who live in South-East England are very concerned about—the carriage of perishable foodstuffs—and I km much afraid that that, again, is a matter which we shall not have time to discuss, for reasons beyond our control. It may be, when we get down to this very technical and difficult problem, the Commission will say, "Let us wait for a year or two," rather in the same way in which the taking over of the buses is to be postponed.

Therefore, I would issue a word of warning to the Minister. He may find that, by refusing to accept this Amendment, in due course the Commission may come to him and say, "We wish you had accepted it," because the one thing which this Amendment is not doing is restricting

the Minister's powers or the powers of the Commission. It is perfectly clear at the moment that neither the Minister nor the Commission, when it is set up, will have all the facts at their disposal that will be required. These facts are simply not available. I myself have asked the Minister Questions on the distances travelled by vehicles in the coastal areas, but these facts do not exist at the moment. I do not say that it is the fault of the Minister or of the right hon. Gentleman who preceded him, because we have been at war for six years and many of the economic facts of the country have been changed. We are now about to make another change into a position in which the Commission will take over a number of things which it may not want to do immediately.

I hope the Liberal Party will press this Amendment to a Division, and I hope the Minister will consider that there is some substance in it. I hope he will consider, at a later stage in another place, accepting an Amendment which will give the elasticity which the hon. Member below the Gangway desires.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 317; Noes, 115.

Division No. 163.] AYES [8.54 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Brown, T. J. (Ince) Diamond, J.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Buchanan, G. Dobbie, W.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. Burden, T. W. Dodds, N. N.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Burke, W A. Driberg, T. E. N.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)
Alpass, J. H. Callaghan, James Durbin, E. F. M
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Carmichael, James Dye, S.
Attewell, H. C. Castle, Mrs. B. A. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Austin, H. L. Chamberlain, R. A Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B Champion, A. J. Edwards, John (Blackburn)
Bacon, Miss A Chater, D. Edwards, N (Caerphilly)
Baird, J. Chetwynd, G. R. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)
Balfour, A Clitherow, Dr. R Evans, E. (Lowestoft)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A J Cobb, F. A. Evans, John (Ogmore)
Barstow, P. G Cocks, F. S. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)
Barton, C. Coldrick, W. Ewart, R.
Bechervaise, A. E. Collindridge, F. Fairhurst, F.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J Collins, V. J. Farthing, W. J.
Benson, G Colman, Miss G. M. Field, Captain W. J.
Berry, H. Comyns, Dr. L. Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)
Beswick, F. Corbel, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Follick, M.
Bing, G. H. C Corlett, Dr J Foot, M. M.
Binns, J. Corvedale, Viscount Forman, J. C.
Blackburn, A. R. Cove, W. G. Foster, W. (Wigan)
Blenkinsop, A Crawley, A. Fraser, T. (Hamilton)
Blyton, W. R. Grossman, R. H. S. Gallacher, W.
Boardman, H. Daggar, G. Ganley, Mrs. C. S
Bottomley, A. G. Daines, P. Gibbins, J.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Davies, Edward (Burslem) Gibson, C. W
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Gilzean, A.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M (L'pl, Exch'ge) Davies, Harold (Le[...]k) Gooch, E. G.
Bramall, Major E. A. Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.) Goodrich, H. E.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Gordon-Walker, P. C
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Deer, G. Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)
Brown, George (Belper) Delargy, Captain H. J Grenfell, D R.
Grey, C. F. Manning C. (Camberwell, N.) Skinnard, F. W.
Grierson, E. Marquand, H. A. Smith, C. (Colchester)
Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Marshall, F. (Brightside) Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (LlaneIly) Mathers, G. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Mayhew, C. P. Solley, L. J.
Guest, Dr. L. Haden Medland, H. M. Sorensen, R. W.
Gunter, R. J. Mellish, R. J. Soskice, Maj. Sir F.
Guy, W. H. Messer, F. Stamford, W.
Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Mikardo, Ian Steele, T.
Hale, Leslie Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R Stephen, C.
Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R. Mitchison, Major G. R. Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)
Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Monslow, W. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth)
Hardman, D. R. Montague, F. Stubbs, A. E.
Hardy, E. A. Moody, A. S. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Harrison, J. Morgan, Dr. H. B. Swingler, S.
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Morley, R. Sylvester, G. O.
Haworth, J. Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.) Symonds, A. L
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.) Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Hewitson, Capt. M. Mort, D. L. Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Hicks, G. Moyle, A. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Holman. P. Murray, J. D. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth) Nally, W. Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
House, G. Naylor, T. E. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Hubbard, T. Neal, H. (Claycross) Thurtle, Ernest
Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Tiffany, S.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford) Timmons, J.
Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby) Titterington, M. F.
Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme) Noel-Buxton, Lady Tolley, L.
Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) O'Brien, T. Turner-Samuels, M.
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Oldfield, W. H. Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Irving, W. J. Oliver, G. H. Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Paget, R. T. Viant, S. P.
Janner, B. Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth) Walkden, E.
Jay, D. P. T. Paling, Will T, (Dewsbury) Walker, G. H.
Jeger, G. (Winchester) Palmer, A. M. F. Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.) Parker, J. Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
John, W. Parkin, B. T. Warbey, W. N.
Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley) Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Watkins, T. E.
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Paton, J. (Norwich) Watson, W. M.
Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow) Pearson, A. Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Peart, Capt. T. F. Weitzman, D.
Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Platts-Mills, J. F. F. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Keenan, W. Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield) Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Key, C W. Porter, E. (Warrington). West, D G.
Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E Porter, G. (Leeds) Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Kinley, J. Proctor, W. T. White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Kirkwood, D. Pryde, D. J. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Lavers, S. Pursey, Cmdr. H. Wigg, Col. G. E.
Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J. Randall, H. E. Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.
Lee, F. (Hulme) Ranger, J, Wilkes, L.
Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Rankin, J. Wilkins, W. A.
Leonard, W. Reeves, J Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Leslie, J R. Reid, T. (Swindon) Willey, C. G. (Cleveland)
Levy, B. W. Rhodes, H. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Richards, R. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Lewis, J. (Bolton) Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Lewis, T. (Southampton) Robins, A. Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Lindgren, G. S. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Williamson, T.
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Willis, E.
Logan, D. G. Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Longden, F. Royle, C. Wilmot, Rt. Hon J
Lyne, A. W. Scollan, T. Wise, Major F. J.
McAdam, W. Scott-Elliot, W. Woodburn, A.
McEntee, V. La T Shackleton, E. A. A Wyatt, W.
McGhee, H. G. Sharp, Granville Yates, V. F.
McKinlay, A. S. Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Maclean, N. (Govan) Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (St. Helens) Younger, Hon. Kenneth
MoLeavy. F. Shurmer, P.
Macpherson, T. (Romford) Silverman, J. (Erdington) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mallalieu, J. P. W. Silverman, S. S. (Nelson) Mr. Snow and Mr. Popplewell.
Mann, Mrs. J. Simmons, C. J.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W Cooper-Key, E. M.
Aitken, Hon. Max Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T Crowder, Capt. J. F. E.
Astor, Hon. M. Butcher, H. W. Cuthbert, W. N.
Baldwin, A. E. Carson, E. Darling, Sir W. Y
Barlow, Sir J. Challen, C. Davies, Clement (Montgomery)
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Channon, H. De la Bère, R.
Beechman, N. A. Clarke, Col. R. S. Dodds-Parker, A. D.
Bennett, Sir P. Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.
Bowen, R. Cole, T. L. Dower, E. L. C. (Caithness)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Conant, Maj. R. J. E Drayson, G. B.
Drewe, C. Linstead, H. N Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Duthie, W. S. Lipson, D. L. Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Fletcher, W. (Bury) Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Renton, D.
Fox, Sir G. Low, Brig, A. R. W. Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale) Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. Roberts, Mai. P G. (Ecclesall)
Gage, C. MacDonald, Sir M. (Inverness) Ropner, Col. L.
Gammans, L. D. Macdonald, Sir P. (Isle of Wight) Ross, Sir R.
George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke) Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Salter, Rt Hon. Sir J. A.
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G. Maclay, Hon. J. S. Shephard, S. (Newark)
Grant, Lady Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Gridley, Sir A. Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries) Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Grimston, R. V. Maitland, Comdr. J. W. Spence, H. R.
Haughton, S. G. Marlowe, A. A. H. Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C. Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Henderson, John (Cathcart) Mellor, Sir J Studholme, H. G.
Hogg, Hon. Q. Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd'ton, S.)
Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich) Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen) Teeling, William
Howard, Hon. A. Neven-Spence, Sir B. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Nicholson, G. Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Hulbert, Wing-Comdr. N. J. Nield, B. (Chester) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Hutchison, Lt.-Cdr. Clark (Edin'gh, W.) Orr-Ewing, I. L. Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
Jeffreys, General Sir G. Peto, Brig. C. H. M. Vane, W. M. F.
Jennings, R. Pickthorn, K, Walker-Smith, D.
Kendall, W. D. Poole, O B. S. (Oswestry) Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Lambert, Hon. G. Prescott, Stanley White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Price-White, Lt.-Col. D. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Langford-Holt, J. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Lindsay, M. (Solihull) Rayner, Brig. R. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Byers and Mr. Wadsworth

9.0 p.m.

Mr. Oliver Poole

I beg to move, in page 44, line 24, to leave out "forty," and to insert "eighty."

We are now drawing to the close of these proceedings. It is not, perhaps, without significance that we should be ending with this particular Amendment, because throughout the Committee stage and the Second Reading, and, indeed, throughout the last three days, we have heard a great deal from both sides of the House as to the intention of the Government to take over the long-distance road haulage industry. In spite of the various remarks of the hon. Member for Enfield {Mr. Ernest Davies), who has been such a help to us throughout the whole of our deliberations, and the remarks of other of his hon. Friends who have evidenced their intention of taking over all the transport they can get hold of, the right hon. Gentleman and the Parliamentary Secretary have adhered to their original plan of only taking over long-distance road haulage.

One of the points most brought out is that very little indication has been given in the Bill as to the actual significance of the 40 miles and the 25 miles which are being selected for some arbitrary reason by the Government as the delimitation as between long and short-distance road haulage. The best reasoning that we could obtain from the right hon. Gentleman during the Committee stage was that it has been necessary to fix an arbitrary figure. He said—and I must say that he said it with some justification as, indeed, all his remarks have been—that he had to find a sensible middle position. I am prepared to agree that any single distance that was selected would inevitably have to be arbitrary, inasmuch as one mile one side or the other would not be satisfactory everywhere. It seems to us very remarkable that the same distance should be chosen for all over the country, because a distance that is suitable for, say, London or the Southern Counties, might be quite unsuitable for my own constituency, for other parts of the country, and for districts in Scotland and Wales. Indeed, there are some very remarkable features of this aspect of the Bill.

To take a few obvious examples, Liverpool will be severed from Manchester and Glasgow from Edinburgh. The normal short-distance haulier running between those places will now be precluded from doing so. In Greater London, the distance will fall in the middle of the built-up area, so that we shall have the remarkable situation of a haulier who will be permitted to go as far as Hyde Park Corner, but who will be breaking the law if he goes as far as Piccadilly Circus. That will be the effect of this legislation, and I am sure it will be agreed on all sides that it is entirely unnatural. There are two aspects of this particular problem to which I would like to refer. The first is that it is intended by the Government and the Minister to take over something like 2,000 to 2,500 operators That figure is based on the number of firms controlled during the war, when the free running distance was 60 miles from point to point.

I suggest that under this new restriction, the number taken over, because of the rather peculiar limitation which the restriction will bring about, will be vastly in excess of that figure. In fact, the Minister will find himself taking over not only firms engaged in normal long distance haulage of, say, from London to Manchester or from the South of England to Scotland, which is the intention of the Bill and of all hon. Members opposite, but firms engaged in short-distance haulage between two towns, such as between Manchester and Liverpool, or Glasgow and Edinburgh, and from my own constituency, from, say, Shrewsbury in Shropshire to some place in Wales, or to some other part of the country. Therefore, he will find himself taking over a very large number of small concerns which will be quite uneconomical for him to run and which the Commission will find unsuitable. This transfer will produce very wasteful transport, and will cause the Commission great difficulty.

There is another aspect which I would like to put to the Minister once again, because the last time I got no very satisfactory answer. I would like to know how the right hon. Gentleman is going to enforce these restrictions. One of the faults of our present legislation is that a vast number of laws, regulations and restrictions are imposed which many people think are unreasonable and unnatural, and experience has shown that, whereas the people of this country are law abiding and anxious to carry out restrictions, laws and regulations, to a bigger degree than in many other countries, the time will come when those laws are so unreasonable that the people will not do so. How is the Commission, or the police court or whoever is detailed to do it, to tell whether or not a vehicle has run beyond its distance? I am not talking about the long distance haulier but the man who operates on the outskirts of London. How is anyone to know if he takes a load five miles beyond his normal distance? If two vehicles are going up Regent Street, how is anyone to know whether one is within the limit and the other is beyond it? I suggest that because these arbitrary distances are illogical, many people will go outside them and will break the law.

I suppose the Minister will say that the Commission can handle efficiently all the transport that it takes over and that, therefore, there will be no desire on the part of private enterprise to run distances longer than the short-distance road haulier. I do not believe that will be so,. By excluding short distance traffic, the Government have already shown that they think it would be more efficiently and economically handled by private enterprise, and that is understandable in view of the personal service which the movement of this traffic involves and in view of the large number of small parcels which are carried over these short distances. What we are doing in this Amendment is not in any way to interfere with the principles of the Bill, nor to prevent the Minister from taking over the type of transport he requires, but to find a more reasonable limit and a wider distance which will be more suitable throughout the country, and not in limited areas.

9.15 p.m.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I beg to second the Amendment.

We have given considerable attention to the professions of the Government that what they desire to take over is longdistance haulage, and we are trying to consider that point from various aspects of the matters dealt with in the Bill. But now we get down to the test. Although the Minister was restrained and called the test arbitrary very few other people could find the same self-control in even choosing as kind a word as that. What is the test? The haul is not to be more than 40 miles even though the conditions obtaining are that one vehicle is not more than 25 miles from its operating centre. Anything over that is a long distance haul. The Minister has confessed—and for the very good reason that he was bound to confess, and could not make any other answer—that this is merely an arbitrary choice. Therefore, on the confession of the Minister of Transport it is established that these road hauliers, who have been the subject of so many sneers from hon. Members opposite, are to lose their businesses, or to keep them on a test which is admittedly arbitrary, and cannot be defended on any ground of justice whatsoever.

Let us see if we cannot, by that exercise of good will which we are always so ready to display, try to find if there is not a ground, or a vestige of a ground. Perhaps the Minister sees in a glass darkly. Let us try to imagine what he sees in a glass darkly when he is trying to think out the fate of road hauliers. There are some hon. Members opposite who sit for Metropolitan constituencies, and I should like to develop the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Poole) with regard to the Metropolitan area. I have been looking hopefully for some representative of the Ministry of Town and Country Planning, but I do not see one. However, as all hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are planners rather more than less, they will all appreciate this point. London, said the Minister of Town and Country Planning, is to be based on Professor Sir Patrick Abercrombie's plan. The Greater London area—if I may remind hon. Members opposite, who might have forgotten this, as it is a crude practical fact—comprises some 2,700 square miles. A short exercise in arithmetic— which I recommend to the Minister when he is reconsidering this formula for longdistance haulage—will show him or the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary that the diameter of the Greater London area is 60 miles. What is suggested as the test is, therefore, two-thirds of the distance across the Greater London area. As my hon. Friend said in moving the Amendment, what is suggested as a complementary test is that one vehicle, if its operating centre is on the Northern outskirts of London, is to be able to get to Hyde Park Corner; otherwise, it is long distance and his livelihood is gone.

So much for London. As far as the Metropolitan area is concerned, I submit that no more unbounded piece of arbitrariness has ever existed outside the works of Lewis Carroll. A number of hon. Members opposite are, like myself, more familiar with Northern areas. I recommend to them consideration of the Mersey area. As again was pointed out, a run from Liverpool to Manchester is regarded as long-distance haulage. Yet Liverpool and Manchester are what planners opposite would call a "conurbation." This limit is mere folly. I go with the Chief Whip of my party to Scotland, where the same crass stupidity is applied. A run from Edinburgh to Glasgow is to be regarded as long distance.

But if the Government do not like towns, if they do not like to consider the areas of production, despite all the calls for greater production which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are always issuing, let us deal, for a moment, with the rural areas, where this problem is even more acute. Consider any sparsely populated part of the country—in the West, Dorset or Devon; or the North of Scotland, an even more sparsely populated country. Forty miles in those areas is not regarded as any distance, and the idea that a vehicle in those areas is not to be more than 25 miles from its operating centre is simply ridiculous. One would imagine that the right hon. Gentleman, and those who have advised this course of action, think that every road in the rural parts of Britain is absolutely straight, and that one does not have to add to one's journey by going round physical features.

But I have tried to take some of the tests which apply to different parts of the country. Let us take another test which hon. Gentlemen opposite have not been slow to use, when it suited them in argument on this matter. Let us take what was done in the war. Then, the limit which was put was 60 miles. Apparently, it is the way hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite think most fitting to greet the expansionist era as seen through their spectacles, or through the wrong end of their telescope, that, whereas in the war it was right that the limit should be 60, in the piping time of Socialist expansionist peace the limit should be contracted to 40.

There is another way in which this can possibly be viewed. One cannot find any basis for it at all, and one is left gasping at the mentality which can bring it about. So worried have I been by this aspect of the matter that I have considered whether one could not really approach this matter by analogy. Suppose, merely for the sake of illustration and analogy, one were to ask, "Is this Report stage a long or a short Report stage?" One way in which one could consider whether this was a long or a short Report stage—and this would be the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Transport—would be to say, "I have had 47 Amendments called and dealt with, and the Opposition have had 17 called, practically all of which have been refused." But then, surely, if he was considering whether the 11½ hours of which this Report stage has consisted was a long or short Report stage, he would have to take into account, apart from the 47 Amendments that he has had called, his 92 Amendments which have not been called. Would not he also have to consider the fact that in addition to the 17 Opposition Amendments that have been dealt with, 2O4 have not been called and will not be dealt with? Following on that line, and dealing with the analogy which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will find most helpful in the problem which we are discussing at the moment, he might say, "Ah, but the Opposition, it is true, have had 17 Amendments called, but then they have taken more time than they should." The right hon. Gentleman is too kind to make that sort of remark. I admit at once, but those behind him will probably say so. But even if he were to say that the Opposition have spoken twice as long, or three times as long, or even if the acting Leader of the House were to say they had spoken four times as long, there would still be 151 Amendments not dealt with. That I suggest just shows how, if one takes the trouble to find an analogy, one can find a really constructive and sensible basis for deciding at any rate whether a Report stage is a long or a short Report stage.

My complaint, and the complaint of my right hon. and hon. Friend with regard

Division No. 164.] AYES. [9.30 p.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge) Daggar, G.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Daines, P.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. Bramall, Major E. A. Davies, Edward (Burslem)
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Brook, D. (Halifax) Davies, Ernest (Enfield)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Davies, Harold (Leek)
Allighan, Garry Brown, George (Belper) Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)
Alpass, J. H. Brown, T. J. (Ince) Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Buchanan, G. Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)
Attewell, H. C. Burden, T. W. Deer, G.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Burke, W. A. Delargy, Captain H. J.
Austin, H. L. Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Diamond, J.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B Callaghan, James Dobbie, W.
Bacon, Miss A. Carmichael, James Dodds, N. N.
Baird, J. Castle, Mrs. B. A. Driberg, T. E. N.
Balfour, A. Chamberlain, R. A. Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J Champion, A. J. Durbin, E. F. M.
Barstow, P. G. Chater, D. Dye, S.
Barton, C. Chetwynd, G. R. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Battley, J. R. Clitherow, Dr. R. Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Bechervaise, A. E. Cobb, F. A. Edwards, John (Blackburn)
Belcher, J. W. Cocks, F. S. Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)
Benson, G. Coldrick, W. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)
Berry, H. Collindridge, F. Evans, E. (Lowestoft)
Beswick, F. Collins, V. J. Evans, John (Ogmore)
Bevan, Rt. Hon A. (Ebbw Vale) Colman, Miss G. M Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)
Bing, G. H. C. Comyns, Dr. L. Ewart, R.
Binns, J. Cook, T. F. Fairhurst, F.
Blackburn, A. R. Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Farthing, W. J.
Blenkinsop, A Corbel, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Field, Captain W. J.
Blyton, W. R. Corlett, Dr. J. Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)
Boardman, H. Corvedale, Viscount Follick, M.
Bottomley, A. G. Cove, W. G. Foot, M. M.
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Crawley, A. Forman, J. C.
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Crossman, R. H. S. Foster, W. (Wigan)

to this Amendment, is that there has been admittedly no attempt whatsoever to deal with it. I have endeavoured—

Mr. Gallacher

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is doing it well.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I have endeavoured, with the help of the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), to give some idea of the complete inability of the Minister to tackle this Amendment, but what I would say is this. This Amendment is only typical of everything that has happened during the last three days' sorry parody of legislative effort. I leave this to hon. Gentlemen opposite. They are ready to disturb and confuse the road haulage industry—

It being Half Past Nine o'clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Order made upon 3rd March, successively to put forthwith the Questions on Amendments moved by the Government, of which notice had been given.

Amendment proposed; In page 44, line 30, after "vehicle," to insert: or in a tank not so fixed of which the capacity is not less than five hundred gallons."—[Mr. Barnes.]

Question put, "That the Amendment be made."

The House divided: Ayes, 34O; Noes, 144.

Fraser, T. (Hamilton) McGhee, H. G Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H (St. Helens)
Freeman, Peter (Newport) McKay, J. (Wallsend) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Gaitskell, H. T. N. Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W) Shurmer, P.
Gallacher, W. McKinlay, A. S. Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Ganley, Mrs. C. S Maclean, N. (Govan) Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
Gibbins, J. McLeavy, F. Simmons, C. J.
Gibson, C. W Macpherson, T. (Romford) Skeffington, A. M.
Gilzean, A. Mainwaring, W. H. Skeffington-Lodge, T. C
Gooch, E. G Mallalieu, J. P. W. Skinnard, F. W.
Goodrich, H. E. Mann, Mrs. J. Smith, C. (Colchester)
Gordon-Walker, P. C. Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.) Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A (Wakefield) Marquand, H. A. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
Greenwood, A. W J (Heywood) Marshall. F. (Brightside) Solley, L. J.
Grenfell, D. R. Mathers, G. Sorensen, R. W.
Grey, C. F. Mayhew, C. P Soskice, Maj. Sir F
Grierson, E. Medland, H. M. Stamford, W
Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Mellish, R. J Steele, T.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly) Messer, F. Stephen, C.
Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Mikardo, Ian Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)
Guest, Dr. L. Haden Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R Strachey, J.
Gunter, R. J. Mitchison, Major G. R. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth)
Guy, W. H. Monslow, W. Stubbs, A. E.
Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Montague, F. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Hale, Leslie Moody, A. S Swingler, S.
Hall, W. G. Morgan, Dr. H. B Sylvester, G. O.
Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R Morley, R. Symonds, A. L.
Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield. C.) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Hardman, D. R. Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Hardy, E. A Mort, D. L Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Harrison, J Moyle, A. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Murray, J. D. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Haworth, J. Nally, W. Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh. E.)
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Naylor, T. E. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Neal, H. (Claycross) Thurtle, Ernest
Hewitson, Capt. M. Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Tiffany, S
Hicks, G. Noel-Baker, Capt. F E. (Brantford) Timmons, J.
Hobson, C. R. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. (Derby) Titterington, M. F
Holman, P. Noel-Buxton, Lady Tolley, L.
Holmes, H. E (Hemsworth) O'Brien, T. Turner-Samuels, M.
House, G. Oldfield, W. H. Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Hubbard, T. Oliver, G. H. Usborne, Henry
Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Paget, R. T. Vernon, Maj. W. F
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth) Viant, S. P.
Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Walkden, E
Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme) Palmer, A. M F Walker, G. H.
Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Parker, J Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Parkin, B. T. Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Irving, W. J. Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe) Warbey, W. N.
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A Paton, J. (Norwich) Watkins, T. E.
Janner, B. Pearson, A. Watson, W. M.
Jay, D. P. T. Pearl, Capt T. F. Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
Jeger, G. (Winchester) Piratin, P. Weitzman, D.
Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.) Platts-Mills, J. F. F. Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
John, W. Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield) Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley) Porter, E. (Warrington) West, D. G.
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Porter, G. (Leeds) Westwood, Rt. Hon J.
Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow) Price, M. Philips White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Pritt, D. N. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Proctor, W T Wigg, Col. G. E.
Keenan, W. Pryde, D. J Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A B
Key, C. W Pursey, Cmdr. H Wilkes, L.
King, E. M. Randall, H. E. Wilkins, W. A.
Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E Ranger, J. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Kinley, J. Rankin, J Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Kirkwood, D. Reeves, J. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Lavers, S. Reid, T. (Swindon) Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Lee, F. (Hulme) Rhodes, H. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Richards, R. Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Leslie, J. R. Ridealgh, Mrs. M Williamson, T
Levy, B. W. Robens, A. Willis, E.
Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Roberts, Goronwy, (Caernarvonshire) Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Lewis, J. (Bolton) Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J
Lewis, T. (Southampton) Ross, William (Kilmarnock) Wise, Major F. J.
Lindgren, G. S. Royle, C. Woodburn, A.
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Sargood, R Wyatt, W.
Logan, D. G. Scollan, T Yates, V. F
Longden, F. Scott-Elliot, W. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Lyne, A. W. Shackleton, E. A A Younger, Hon. Kenneth
McAdam, W. Sharp, Granville
McEntee, V. La T Shawcross, C. N (Widnes) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Snow.
Aitken, Hon. Max George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke) Morrison, Maj. J. C. (Salisbury)
Astor, Hon. M. George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey) Mott-Radclyfte, Maj. C E
Baldwin, A. E Gomme-Duncan, Col. A G Neven-Spence, Sir B.
Barlow, Sir J. Grant, Lady Nicholson, G.
Beamish, Maj T. V. H. Granville, E. (Eye) Nield, B. (Chester)
Beechman, N. A. Gridley, Sir A. Noble, Comdr. A. H. P
Bennett Sir P. Grimston, R. V. Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Birch, Nigel Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbr[...] [...]to, Brig. C H M
Boothby, R Haughton, S. G. [...]kthorn, K.
Bowen R. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Mon. Sir C. Poole, O B S (Oswestry)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Henderson, John (Cathcart) Prescott, Stanley
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W Herbert, Sir A. P. Price-White, Lt.-Cot O
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T Hogg, Hon. Q. Prior-Palmer, Brig O
Bullock, Capt. M Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich) Rayner, Brig. R
Butcher, H W Howard, Hon. A. Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)
Byers, Frank Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Reid, Rt. Hon J. S. C (Hillhead)
Carson, E Hulbert, Wing-Comdr. N. J. Renton, D
Challen, C Hutchison, Lt.-Cdr. Clark (Edin'gh, W) Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Channon, H. Jeffreys, General Sir G. Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Clarke, Col. R. S. Jennings, R. Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col G Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr Hon. L. W Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland
Cole, T. L. Kendall, W. D. Ropner, Col. L.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E Lambert, Hon. G Ross, Sir R.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Lancaster, Col. C. G. Salter, Rt Hon. Sir J. A
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H F. C Langford-Holt, J. Shephard, S. (Newark)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Crowder, Capt. J. F. E. Lennox-Boyd, A. T Smith, E. P (Ashford)
Cuthbert, W. N Lindsay, M. (Solihull) Spearman, A. C. M
Darling, Sir W. Y Linstead, H. N Spence, H R
Davies, Clement (Montgomery) Lipson, D. L. Strauss, H G (English Universities)
De la Bère, R. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Stuart, Rt Hon J (Moray)
Dodds-Parker, A. D Low, Brig. A. R. W Taylor, Vice-Adm E A (P'dd'ton. S.)
Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P W. Lucas, Maj. Sir J. Teeling, William
Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness) Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Thomas, J P L (Hereford)
Drayson, G. B. MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. Thorneycroft, G. E P. (Monmouth)
Drewe, C. MacDonald, Sir M. (Inverness) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N
Dugdale, Maj. Sir I. (Richmond) Macdonald, Sir P (Isle of Wight) Thorp, Lt.-Col. R A F
Duthie, W S. Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Vane, W. M. F
Eccles, D. M. McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Wadsworth, G.
Elliot, Lieut.-Colonel W. Maclay, Hon. J. S. Walker-Smith, D
Fletcher, W. (Bury) Macmillan. Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Wheatley, Colonel M
Foster, J. G. (Northwich) Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries) White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Fox, Sir G. Maitland, Comdr. J W Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone) Marlowe, A. A. H Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale) Marsden, Capt. A Winterton, Rt. Hon Earl
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M Marshall, D. (Bodmin) York, C
Gage, C. Mellor, Sir J
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gammans, L. D. Morris. Hopkin (Carmarthen) Commander Agnew and
Mr. Studholme.