HC Deb 23 July 1947 vol 440 cc1473-97

Lords Amendment: In page 66, line 19, after "livestock" insert "or milk."

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—[Mr. G. R. Strauss.]

5.30 a.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

After a long period in which it was, by the rules of Order—of which I do not complain— necessary for me to refrain from addressing the House, that unnatural barrier has been lifted and I am now in a position of having my ordinary Parliamentary privileges once more. The Minister has moved to disagree with the Lords Amendment, greatly to our sorrow, because we had hoped that he might be more willing to look on this one with more favour than the previous Amendment. It is true, as the Minister said, that it is related, but only distantly so, to the previous discussion on this subject. This, as he will agree, refers to the long-distance hauliers, and whether they should or should not be allowed to carry milk for these longer distances. I did not intervene on the previous discussion, because I was anxious to facilitate progress, but I listened with very great interest to the discussion on milk, and, more particularly, the Milk Marketing Board, which I myself had a great deal to do with setting up. I was very glad to listen to the tributes paid to it. The difficulty in which it will be placed if this Amendment is not accepted is well known to the House, and I should like the Minister to consider whether he is not introducing an unnecessary rigidity in the arrangements he is setting up under the Bill.

The Parliamentary Secretary has explained that many of the points we have raised will be more fittingly discussed on an Amendment which the Minister will move later, dealing with special localities and conditions, and we shall postpone many of our remarks until that occasion when we can have a discussion at greater

Division No. 330.] AYES [5.40 a.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Awbery, S. S. Barton, C.
Adams, W T (Hammersmith, South) Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B. Bechervaise, A. E.
Allen, A C (Bosworth) Baird, J. Bing, G. H. C.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Balfour, A Binns, J.
Attewell, H C. Barnes, Rt. Hon. A J. Blenkinsop, A.
Austin, H. Lewis Barstow, P. G. Blyton, W. R.

length. This point as to not having what we might call niggling limitations on the carriage of milk is one on which the Minister might meet us. I do not consider that the Minister wishes to limit or hamper the adequate distribution of milk, or that he thinks that it would be in the best interests of public health or agriculture that the distribution of milk, either by public or private enterprise, should in any way be hampered. Nor can I see that the Parliamentary Secretary's powerful arguments on the need for every possible protection of the nationalised industry has the slightest impact, or that private enterprise, to use a lactic phrase, would cream the traffic and bring his enterprise crashing to the ground. I am sure that would not apply in the case of milk.

This cannot, in the nature of things, be an important province or field of this Commission's enterprises. Would it be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to give some consideration to this matter if suppose this Amendment to be rejected, an alternative Amendment were suggested in another place? If it were possible for him to meet us it might well facilitate our discussion tonight.—[Interruption.] I am using "night" in the Parliamentary sense, although it is astronomically wrong. I am not at all anxious to take up time. Some hours ago, had I been allowed to speak a great deal of compression would undoubtedly have taken place, but the Government must learn that it is not possible for them to ride roughshod over the Opposition and that if they attempt to do it they will be punished as they have been punished. We are not desirous of delaying consideration, but we find ourselves in hearty agreement with the other place in this Amendment. We think the Minister is taking an unwise view in asking the House to disagree with this Amendment, and if he carries the matter to a Division we shall certainly divide against him.

Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 2338; Noes, 80.

Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Richards, N.
Bowles, F G. (Nuneaton) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Ridealgh, Mrs. M.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge) Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W.) Robens, A.
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Brook, D. (Halifax) Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Brown, George (Belpar) Irving, W. J. Rogers, G. H. R.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Janner, B. Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Bruce, Major D. W. R. Jeger, G. (Winchester) Royle, C.
Buchanan, G. Jeger, Dr S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.) Sargood, R.
Burke, W. A. Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Scollan, T.
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow) Shackleton, E. A. A.
Carmichael, James Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Sharp, Granville
Chamberlain, R. A. Keenan, W. Shurmer, R.
Champion, A. J. Kenyon, C. Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Chater, D. King, E. M. Simmons, C. J.
Chetwynd, G. R. Kinghorn, Son -Ldr E. Skeffington, A. M.
Cocks, F. S. Kinley, J. Skinnard, F. W.
Coldrick, W. Lang, G. Smith, C. (Colchester)
Collins, V. J. Lavers, S. Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
Colman, Miss G. M. Lee, F (Hulme) Snow, Capt. J. W.
Cooper, Wing-Cormar G. Lee, Miss J (Cannock) Solley, L. J.
Corbet, Mrs F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Leonard, W. Sorensen, R. W.
Crawley, A. Levy, B. W. Soskice, Maj. Sir F.
Crossman, R. H. S. Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Sparks, J. A.
Daggar, G. Lipton, Lt -Col M. Stamford, W.
Daines, P. Logan, D. G. Steele, T.
Davies, Edward (Burstem) Longden, F. Stephen, C.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield) Lyne, A. W. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.) McAdam, W. Stubbs, A. E.
Deer, G. McGhee, H. G. Swingler, S.
Delargy, H. J. Mack, J. D. Symonds, A. L.
Diamond, J. McKay, J. (Wallsend) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Dobbie, W. Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.) Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Driberg, T. E. N. McKinlay, A. S. Taylor, Dr. S (Barnet)
Dumpleton, C. W. McLeavy, F. Thomas, D.E. (Aberdare)
Ede, Rt. Hon J. C. Macpherson, T (Romford) Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)
Evans, John (Ogmore) Mallalieu, J. P. W. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Mann, Mrs. J. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Ewart, R. Manning, C (Camberwell, N.) Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)
Fairhurst, F. Manning, Mrs. L (Epping) Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Farthing, W. J. Mathers, G. Tiffany, S.
Field, Captain W J. Mellish, R. Timmons, J.
Foot, M. M. Middleton, Mrs. L. Titterington, M. F.
Forman, J. C. Mikardo, Ian Tolley, L.
Fraser, T (Hamilton) Mitchison, G. R. Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Freeman, Maj J. (Watford) Moody, A. S. Usborne, Henry
Freeman, Peter (Newport) Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Vernon, Maj W. F.
Gallacher, W. Murray, J. D. Walker, G. H.
Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Nally, W. Wallace, G. D.(Chislehurst)
Gibbins, J. Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Watkins, T. E.
Gibson, C. W. Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Watson, W. M.
Gilzean, A Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford) Weitzman, D.
Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Noel-Buxton, Lady Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Gordon-Walker, P. C. O'Brien, T. Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Orbach, M. West, D. G.
Grey, C. F. Paget, R. T. White, H. (Derbyshire,)
Grierson, E. Paling, Will T (Dewsbury) Whiteley, Rt. Hon W.
Griffiths, D (Rother Valley) Palmer, A. M. F. Wilkes, L.
Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Pargiter, G. A. Wilkins, W. A.
Gunter, R. J. Parkin, B. T. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Guy, W. H. Paton, J (Norwich) Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Hale, Leslie Pearson, A. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Hamilton, Lieut.-Col R. Peart, Thomas F. Williams, J. (Kelvingrove)
Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Piratin, P. Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Hardy, E. A. Platts-Mills, J. F. F. Willis, E.
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield) Wills, Mrs. E. A.
Haworth, J. Porter, E. (Warrington) Wise, Major F. J.
Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Price, M Philips Woods, G. S.
Herbison, Miss M. Pritt, D. N. Wyatt, W.
Hewitson, Capt. M. Proctor, W. T. Yates, V. F.
Hobson, C. R. Pryde, D. J. Younger, Hon Kenneth
Holman, P. Randall, H. E. Zilliacus, K.
House, G. Ranger, J. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hubbard, T. Rees-Williams. D. R. Mr. Michael Stuart and
Mr. Popplewell.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Cuthbert, W. N.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. De la Bgre, R.
Baldwin, A. E. Butcher, H. W. Digby, S. W.
Barlow, Sir J. Byers, Frank Dodds-Parker, A. D.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Clarke, Col, R. S. Drayson, G. B.
Birch, Nigel Clifton Brown, Lt.-Col. G. Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walte
Bossom, A. C. Crosthwaite-Eyre, Cot. O. E. Foster, J. G. (Northwich)
Bower, N. Crowder, Capt. John E. Fyfe, Rt. Hon Sir D. P. M.
Gage, C. Maclay, Hon. J. S. Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland
Galbraith, Cmdr T. D. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Ropner, Col. L.
Grant, Lady Macpherson, N. (Dumfries) Snadden, W. M.
Grimston, R. V. Marlowe, A. A. H. Spearman, A. C. M.
Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Spence, H. R.
Haughton, S. G. Mellor, Sir J. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Hope, Lord J. Molson, A. H. E. Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Neven-Spence, Sir B. Studholme, H. G.
Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Nicholson, G. Teeling, William
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Noble, Comdr. A. H. P. Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Lambert, Hon G. Osborne, C. Thorp, Lt.-Col R. A. F.
Langford-Holt, J. Pickthorn, K. Touche, G. C.
Law, Rt. Hon R. K. Pitman, I. J. Turton, R. H.
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry) Wadsworth, G.
Linstead, H. N. Prescott, Stanley Ward, Hon. G. R.
Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Prior-Palmer, Brig O. Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Rayner, Brig R. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Mackeson, Brig H. R Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead) York, C.
McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Roberts, W (Cumberland, N.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Major Ramsay and Major Conant.

Lords Amendment: In page 66, line 19, it end, insert: (b) the goods carried consist of felled timber which is being carried in a vehicle specially constructed for the purpose of such carriage.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."—[Mr.Barnes.]

Mr. C. Williams

I cannot possibly say that I am yet persuaded on this point, after all the time and effort that the Government have spent in trying to persuade us on the previous Amendment. I think I ought to be more fully persuaded. The Amendment deals with goods consisting of felled timber carried in a vehicle specially constructed for the purpose. I would like to contrast the favoured position of timber, which is to be given the most valuable advantage of being carried to a much greater extent by private enterprise, with that of milk, for you are depriving the Milk Board and the people who want milk of that opportunity. I can only assume that the Forestry Commission has some pull over the Milk Board. Are we to understand that the Minister of Health, who wants this timber for housing, and, therefore, knows that he must have it carried by private enterprise, has not the same pull in connection with milk for the children?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member must realise that in this Amendment we are discussing timber, and not milk.

Mr. Williams

Yes, I was just contrasting the unfortunate position in which we find ourselves, and saying that as far as timber is concerned I would be only too willing to give the concession that timber should be carried by good and efficient transport rather than by Government and inefficient transport. But I think I should be told why timber should be given this advantage. The Government are right in what they are doing, but I cannot explain to my constituents why timber should have this concession and other things not. There seems to be some unfairness about it. Someone ought to try and tell us why there should be this concession. I do not want to hurt the timber industry in any way, but must be persuaded why we are granting this concession in the case of timber

Mr. McKie

I share to the full the desire that we should be fully informed as to the reason why the Government have decided to agree with the Lords in this Amendment, but I have more alacrity in agreeing to agree with the Government that we should agree. Timber is grown much more generally in my constituency than in that of my hon. Friend, though I am sure he would not wish to deprive me of any direct benefit in which he would only share indirectly. What has actuated the Government in asking us to agree with the Lords Amendment is that they realise the difficult position in which we are because of the shortage of timber. The whole housing programme is held up through lack of timber. The Lords Amendment will help only in a small way along the road, but it does afford some help. The right hon. Gentleman realises that here is some little thing which may prove to be for the public welfare of the country and the better housing of the people, and so there is to be this exemption. I am concerned with the timber industry of this country, and will not raise a dissentient voice against the suggestion that we should agree with this proposal.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is certain that when timber is conveyed by a specially-constructed vehicle it is conveyed "in" such a vehicle, and not "on" such a vehicle? The point although small, is one of some substance. If the explanation is not a technical one, it means that this special right is only granted for vehicles specially-constructed to carry timber in them—and these will have to be very specially constructed vehicles indeed. If I am right, the privilege is completely valueless. Is not the intention that the privilege shall be granted to vehicles specially-constructed for carrying timber on them, and not in them?

Mr. Barnes

By leave of the House, I should say the Parliamentary draftsmen who drafted these words have assumed that they have covered the point. If there is a weakness, it will be properly examined in negotiations with another place. If the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) speaks for his hon. Friends opposite, and they disagree with my proposal in this case, I want to make it plain I shall not resist them in their desire to cut this out. I did hear representations made to me from the other place, which appeared to be founded on substance— that the felling of trees and the carting of them to sawmills represented just a part of the process of saw-milling. That seemed sensible to me.

Mr. C. Williams

I do not represent anyone but myself. I am perfectly prepared to vote for this after the Government have explained the position to me. But I am not prepared to vote blind on an Amendment unless the Government tells me something about it.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 66, line 19, after the Amendment last inserted, insert: or (c) the vehicle is a vehicle authorised for use under a licence granted under subsection (1) of section seven of the Road and Rail Traffic Act, 1933.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I should point out that that at the end of the last line in this Amendment, after the figures, "1933," the word "or," should be added.

Mr. Barnes

I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

Mr. Maclay

I must make some remarks on this Amendment though the Minister probably did not notice that I deliberately abstained from voting when this matter was previously discussed. I will not abstain this time if there is a vote on it. It seems to me that when you come to the question of licensing there is a really foolproof case for putting the "A" contract vehicle on the same footing as the "C" licence. I simply cannot see that there is any conceivable reason for not granting exactly the same facility as for the "C" licence holder. There was some discussion before on this point, but I do not think that it covered the specific point, for it is not a question of abolishing the "A" licensee. He is allowed a certificate, and being allowed a certificate, why should there be discrimination against him?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I want to support what my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose Burghs (Mr. Maclay) has said about the "A" contract licence. This has never been discussed before, either here or upstairs. On what ground does the Minister regard these "A" contract licences as not analogous to the "C" licences? People have contracted to employ these vehicles on exactly the same conditions as the "C" licences. I would put to the Minister the effect that will result if he does not accept this Amendment. The individual will be driven to apply for a "C" licence—and many would agree that we do not want an undue number of "C" licences to be increased—and if he does take out a "C" licence he will be running the vehicle in the least economic and efficient way. The alternative is that he will restrict distribution; that is, say, the distribution of someone who has a laundry, about which we have heard a certain amount today, particularly those who have laundries in the north of Scotland. He will be restricted from going outside the 25 miles limit. I do suggest most strongly to the Minister that he should not throw this Amendment out. It is an Amendment which is entirely distinct from the one which was discussed six or seven hours ago, because no case has been made out here, or in another place, that these contract "A" vehicles are not exactly analogous with the "C" licence vehicles.

6.0 a.m.

Mr. Poole

When the right hon. Gentleman replied to the discussion, some hours ago, he made, I think, two main points that there was almost nothing in the case, and that these were ordinary lorries fulfilling ordinary requirements. I cannot accept that argument. It is obvious that it is convenient for the trader to have in "A" licence vehicle, or he would not have one at all. It is obvious that he is getting some service and facilities by having that "A" licence vehicle, rather than going to a road haulier or to a "C" licence holder. The Minister said that it would be unfair if the vehicles of a man holding "A" contract licences were excluded from the provisions of the Bill, and the vehicles of the holder of another licence were taken over. There is some force in that argument. But when we come to this Amendment, which deals purely with operation, I suggest that the second part of the right hon. Gentleman's argument does not apply. It would not create any great anomaly—once the Commission had decided which vehicles they were going to take over and which vehicles were to be left in the hands of the road hauliers—for "A" licences to be put on the same basis as "C" licences. I am concerned at the idea of having "A" licence holders who are already in existence on a different basis from the "C" licence holders. In this case, I think there is a big difference from the case which the Minister put forward on the previous Amendment. I hope that he will give further consideration to this point.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I would like to emphasise the points which my hon. Friends have made with regard to these figures. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker), that there might have been some difficulty as to how these vehicles would count when one was applying the test for long distance haulage. After the test has been applied, and when considering the limitation which is put on the road vehicles which are not nationalised, it seems to me that the difficulty disappears and we are faced once again with the position that obtained before this Bill. Under the Road and Rail Act, the contract "A" vehicle was given a licence without any power of objection by the Commissioners. Having been given that licence, the vehicle could be driven over any distance which was necessary, in the same way as a "C" licence vehicle. The "C" licence holder has still got that right, and a limitation—a very severe one—of 25 miles has been put on the contract "A" licence holder. I have tried to follow the arguments on this point, but when a person hires a vehicle with his own name on it, and uses it for the carriage of his own goods, and pays a rent for the vehicle, instead of a purchase price, and leaves it for servicing to an expert, he is not in a different position. He is appropriating that vehicle to carrying his own goods, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman, who has gained his point on the long-distance road haulage, seriously to reconsider th-s Amendment.

Mr. Barnes

I should like, with the permission of the House, to respond to the requests to deal with the question as to whether the contract "A" vehicle is an equivalent vehicle to the "C" licence vehicle. I am in difficulty in following the arguments of Members opposite just as they have claimed they were unable to follow my argument. A person who has goods to carry has three choices He can use his own vehicle, if that suits his purpose, and get a "C" licence. He can go into the open market and hire a vehicle from any road haulier, and use that for carrying his goods, or, he can go to a haulier and get the vehicle at an agreed price. It is a contract between two persons, and the vehicle is acquired for a certain period. If the trader decides that he would prefer to hire an "A" contract vehicle, I cannot see how he can claim that the licence should be on the "C" licence basis. Everybody is quite clear as to the different factors which vary according to the type of licence taken out, and in this case, the remedy is in the hands of the trader. If the trader takes out his own vehicles, that represents the type of evasion to which I have referred on the question of the "C" licences. Members ought to bear this in mind. If I take the extraordinary step of putting contract "A" licences on the same basis as the "C" licences, it would be an open invitation to all kinds of organisations to adopt this practice and evade the intentions of the Bill. On both counts, I cannot differentiate on this occasion any more than I could when it was a question for the computation of the mileage figure, and I cannot respond to the invitation.

Division No. 331.] AYES [6.7 a.m.
Adams, Richard (Balham) Guy, W. H. Platts-Mills, J. F. F.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Hale, Leslie Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hamilton, Lieut-Col R. Popplewell, E.
Attewell, H. C. Hardy, E. A. Porter E. (Warrington)
Austin, H. Lewis Hastings, Dr Somerville Price, M. Philips
Awbery, S. S. Haworth, J. Pritt, D. N.
Ayrton Gould Mrs. B. Herbison, Miss M. Proctor, W. T.
Baird, J. Hewitson, Capt. M. Pryde, D. J.
Balfour, A. Hobson, C. R. Randall, H. E.
Barnes, Rt. Hon A J. Holman, P. Ranger, J.
Barstow, P. G. Hubbard, T. Rees-Williams, D. R.
Barton, C. Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Richards, R.
Bechervaise, A. E. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Ridealgh, Mrs. M.
Beswick, F. Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton. W.) Roberts, A.
Bing, G. H. C. Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Binns, J. Hynd, J. B. (Atlercliffe) Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Blenkinsop, A. Irving, W. J. Rogers, G. H. R.
Blyton, W. R. Janner, B. Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W. Jeger, G. (Winchester) Royle, C.
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.) Sargood, R.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pt Exch'ge) Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Scollan, T.
Braddook, T (Mitcham) Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow) Shackleton, E. A. A.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Sharp, Granville
Brown, George (Belper) Keenan, W. Shurmer, P.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Kenyon, C. Silverman, J (Erdington)
Bruce, Major D. W. T. King, E. M. Simmons C. J.
Buchanan, G. Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr E. Skeffington, A. M.
Burke, W. A. Kinley, J. Skinnard, F. W.
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Lang, G. Smith, C (Cotchester)
Carmichael, James Lavers, S. Snow, Capt. J. W.
Chamberlain, R. A. Lee, F. (Hulme) Solley, L.
Champion, A. J. Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Sorensen, R. W.
Chater, D. Leonard, W. Soskice, Maj Sir
Chetwynd, G. R. Levy, B. W. Sparks, J. A.
Cocks, F. S. Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Stamford, W.
Coldrick, W. Lipton, Lt.-Col M. Steele, T.
Collins, V. J. Logan, D. G. Stephen, C.
Colman, Miss G. M. Longden, F. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Cambwell N. W.) Lyne, A. W. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Crawley, A. McAdam, W. Stubbs, A. E.
Crossman, R. H. S. McAllister, G. Swingler, S.
Daggar, G. McGhee, H. G. Symonds, A. L.
Daines, P. Mack, J. D. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Davies, Edward (Burslem) Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.) Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield) McKinlay, A. S. Taylor, Dr S. (Barnet)
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.) McLeavy, F. Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
Deer, G. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)
Delargy, H. J. Macpherson, T. (Romford) Thomas, I. O (Wrekin)
Dobbie, W Mallalieu, J. P. W. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Driberg, T. E. N. Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.) Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.
Dumpleton, C. W. Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping) Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Mellish, R. J. Tiffany, S.
Evans, John (Ogmore) Middleton, Mrs. L. Timmons, J.
Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Mikardo, Ian Titterington, M. F.
Ewart, R. Millington, Wing-Comdr E. R. Tolley, L.
Fairhurst, F. Mitchison, G. R. Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Field, Capt W. J. Morris, P (Swansea, W) Usborne, Henry
Forman, J. C. Murray, J. D. Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Nally, W. Walker, G. H.
Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford) Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Freeman, Peter (Newport) Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford) Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)
Gallacher, W. Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford) Watkins, T. E.
Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Noel-Buxton, Lady Watson, W. M.
Gibbins, J. O'Brien, T. Weitzman, D.
Gibson, C. W. Orbach, M. Wells, P. L (Faversham)
Gilzean, A. Paget, R. T. Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) West, D. G.
Gordon-Walker, P. C. Palmer, A. M. F. White, H (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood) Pargiter, G. A. Whiteley, Rt. Hon W.
Grey, C. F. Parkin, B. T. Wilkes, L.
Grierson, E. Paton, J (Norwich) Wilkins, W. A.
Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Pearson, A. Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Peart, Thomas F. Willey, O. G (Cleveland)
Gunter, R. J. Piratin, P. Williams, D. J. (Neath)

Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 233; Noes, 74.

Williams, J. (Kelvingrove) Woods, G. S.
Williams, W. R. (Heston) Wyatt, W.
Willis, E. Yates, V. F. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Wills, Mrs. E. A. Younger, Hon. Kenneth Mr. Joseph Henderson and
Wise, Major F. J. Zilliacus, K. Mr. Hannan.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Haughton, S. G. Prescott, Stanley
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Baldwin, A. E. Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.) Ramsay, Maj. S.
Barlow, Sir J. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Rayner, Brig. R.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Lambert, Hon. G. Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Bossom, A. C. Langford-Holt, J. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Bower, N. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Ropner, Col. L.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Linstead, H. N. Snadden, W. M.
Butcher, H. W. Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Spearman, A. C. M.
Byers, Frank Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Spence, H. R.
Clarke, Col. R. S. Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G. McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Maclay, Hon. J. S. Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Cuthbert, W. N. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
De la Bère, R. Macpherson, N. (Dumfries) Touche, G. C.
Digby, S. W. Marlowe, A. A. H. Turton, R. H.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Wadsworth, G.
Drayson, G. B. Mellor, Sir J. Ward, Hon. G. R.
Elliot Rt. Hon. Walter Molson, A. H. E. Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Foster, J. G. (Northwich) Neven-Spencs, Sir B. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M. Nicholson, G. York, C.
Gage, C. Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.
Grant, Lady Osborne, C. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Crimston, R. V. Pitman, I. J. Mr. Studholme and Major Conant.
Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)

Lords Amendment: In page 66, line 21, after "loads" insert: or the goods carried are apparatus or equipment ancillary to the operation, for the purposes of the carriage of such loads, of such a vehicle.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

6.15 a m.

Mr. C. Williams

I have one question to put, and I am sure the Government will be able to answer it. It is this: I have been worried to know precisely where cranes come in, and I should be obliged if anyone would tell me. The Amendment reads or the goods carried are apparatus or equipment ancillary to the operation, for the purposes of the carriage of such loads. The crane on a harbour would be helpful to the carriage of goods from the ships on to a truck, and that truck might belong to the Minister of Transport.

Mr. Barnes

If the hon. Member put wheels on the cranes he is referring to, and attached them to the vehicles then they would come within the provisions of the Bill.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 66, line 33, at end insert: Provided that the Commission shall, in exercising their discretion, take into considera- tion the needs of, and any special circumstances affecting, the locality in which is situated the operating centre of any vehicle which the permit would relate.

Mr. Barnes

I beg to move: "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

I rise only because in our previous Debates great interest was displayed in this matter, and a good deal of confusion arose as to the place in the Bill at which this point should be discussed. If Members will turn to Clause 52, Subsection (2), they will see the words: The Commission shall have full power in their discretion either to grant or to refuse any such permit as aforesaid, and any such permit may be granted by them for such period… That makes it clear that it is not limited to the journey. … and subject to such conditions as they think fit … This is not contrary to present day practice. Licensing authorities do attach conditions, particularly to "B" licences, and for the purposes of meeting the anxiety of Members in both Houses, in regard to crofter counties, coastal towns, or sparsely populated areas, this proviso is being inserted, and provides: … the Commission shall, in exercising their discretion, take into consideration the needs of, and any special circumstances affecting, the locality in which is situated the operating centre of any vehicle to which the permit would relate. I claim that the addition of these words—

Mr. C. Williams

Will devastated areas like Plymouth receive special consideration?

Mr. Barnes

The explanation that I have given is general and applies to all areas throughout the country. With this proviso there is all the flexibility to meet practical considerations and exceptional circumstances.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

As the Minister has said this is a very important Amendment, and I think it is a great pity that owing to the operation of the Guillotine it was not possible to discuss this matter on the normal stage—the Report stage—and that it should have to be taken at this most unseasonable hour of the morning. The Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary referred to this Amendment as meeting many of the points which hon. Members of this House were raising. It is true that this Amendment does go some distance towards meeting them, but it meets them in a way which is all too frequent nowadays, by administrative discretion instead of by statutory provision—instead of doing what we wish to do, to insert in the Bill conditions which the hauliers can look to when exercising their calling. It will be left now to the discretion of the Commission and from the explanation of the Minister and Parliamentary Secretary it would seem that they could nearly re-write the Bill as far as the road hauliers are concerned.

We are not told any of the conditions under which these permits are to be issued. It simply says that they shall take into consideration the needs of, and any special circumstances affecting the locality in which is situated the operating centre. The Minister, in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), said, for instance, that a town in a devastated area might be held as being special circumstances. That certainly goes very wide indeed. Does it mean that these permits are to be granted for a period, and what is the length of the period which is left within the discretion of the Commissioner. It might well be possible for the Commission to extend the 25-mile limit to the 50-mile limit. The House will see the vast im- portance of this Amendment, which has come before the House at twenty-five past six in the morning. I suggest it is a great pity indeed that some fuller explanation could not have been given, and that more time was not available to consider an Amendment of this importance.

Would the Minister undertake to issue some sort of advice as soon as the Bill is on the Statute Book about the conditions in which the hauliers might apply the proposals which can only be in draft before the Commission begin to issue these things. I take it that as soon as possible he will enjoin on the Commissioners the desirability of putting out some skeleton forms, in which the people may see first of all how to apply for such permits; and, secondly, some of the general principles which guided the Commissioners in issuing such permits. The extension of the rules dealing with special areas such as the coastal towns, a point which has been raised by several hon. Members here, and the far wider points such as the emergency handling of perishable cargoes like fish, mentioned in an earlier stage of the Debate, are all matters on which we should have some explanation.

As I understand it, it would be quite possible for the Commissioners to issue permits for, say, heavier landings of fish at some port, and thereupon to issue permits for longer hauls to go beyond the 25 mile limit even to 50 to 80 miles. I think the House will see that the arguments which we pressed on the Minister from this side of the House have impressed the Government to a considerable extent. They have brought forward these wide, dispensing powers, and while we are grateful for them, we consider it important to remember that they are such as will provide conditions in which private enterprise may continue to compete with this great monopoly which is being set up under the Bill, and which monopoly by that method can be broken down.

While we are grateful that the Bill should be improved in this way, we do feel it is being left entirely to the discretion of the Minister. That which has been created by the Minister, may be revoked by the Minister, and it will be a very good thing for those carrying on their trade to know exactly where they stand I consider this is perhaps the most important Amendment that has been inserted in the Bill. I think it will lead to very great confusion and it would be very much better if the Government could have seen fit to accept some of our earlier proposals. While we are creating a new crime, that of being found 25 miles away from home with a lorry trying to carry goods, this new crime can be modified by a number of regulations, about which the House of Commons are not being told, because of any special circumstances or any geographical considerations which may seem good to the Commissioners.

6.30 a.m.

To create a crime first and then modify it by a series of unspecified regulations is not a businesslike way of going about the administration of this country. I feel that even yet the Minister will find it better to limit this area of vagueness by allowing the insertion in the Bill of more statutory provisions and not leaving the Bill as it is, a perfectly fixed and rigid thing, and then putting in unspecified modifications under which apparently almost anything can be done according to any decision of the Commissioners of the time. This Bill stands for a long time. Other Government may well come in and other Commissioners may well be appointed and so far as I can see by the mere ipse dixit of the Minister the whole Bill can be turned inside out and the work the House has been doing over so many hours can be totally nullified. I do hope the Government will take an early step to define on the whole what they are doing. Frankly, if the Bill is left as it is now, it will be so vague that any road haulier reading the Bill will be completely unable to see if he shall or shall not be put out of business by the provisions which Parliament has now put through.

Mrs. Middleton (Plymouth, Sutton)

A few moments ago the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) stated categorically that neither of the Members for Plymouth was here. As one of the Members for Plymouth, I would like to state that the Members for Plymouth have been here all night and I would like that to be recorded in the official records.

Mr. Turton

I think this Amendment looks very attractive at first sight, but I am not very happy about it. I hope the Government, after what I have said, will consider some Amendment to this Amendment and that the Solicitor-General, who has been very arduous in his attendance, will assist us on this matter. It appears to me that here one is really limiting the discretion of the Commission to these cases that we may call remote or coastal areas. My right hon. Friend mentioned perishable goods and the transport of fish and, earlier this morning we discussed the problem of emergency, switching of milk to hospitals and schools—

Mr. Shurmer (Birmingham, Spark-brook)

It will get sour in a minute.

Mr. Turton

—in the event of a strike or dislocation or a serious shortage or any contingency that well may happen in the administration of a Socialist Government. They are matters which we must try and cover by this Amendment if possible. The House will see from Clause 52 (2) that: The Commission shall have full power in their discretion. That is how the Bill originally was. Now we are going to say: Provided that the Commission shall, in exercising their discretion, take into consideration the needs of, and special circumstances affecting, the locality. Not the type of goods carried, not the emergency you are trying to cover, but merely the locality. It would be easy, I suggest, to get over the difficulty by merely putting the words "inter alia" before the words "the needs of." Earlier the Minister said that he was expecting under Clause 52 to cover the position of emergency shortages of milk. I am sorry if I am misquoting him, and I hope that he will correct me if that is so, but I heard him say this was the place where he would deal with the case, and that the Commission would have no hesitation in granting a permit for milk to be carried more than 25 miles by a small trader to deal with a temporary shortage, or the case of hospitals and schools. That was the way he managed to persuade most of his followers to go into the Lobby with him. Now I believe that by this Amendment he is preventing the Commission dealing with a case of the emergency character by these means.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

I share with the right hon. and gallant Member for the Scottish Universities (Lieut. - Colonel Elliot) anxiety as to the interpretation and effect of this Amendment. It certainly is not clear to me, and I think it would be tar from clear in its effect to any road haulier who would be affected by the Clause. So far as the point I was reasing earlier is concerned, which we hoped was to be met by this Amendment, I shall be grateful if the Minister can give me some further guidance, and, if possible, an assurance. The point was the one about the sea coast areas. I think it was the Parliamentary Secretary who said, in effect, that it would be possible in such a case, where the haulier was unable to have the 2,000 square miles because he only had a radius as opposed to a diameter of 25 miles, to apply for this permit, under which he could be granted additional facilities. What I want to know is whether it will be open to the Commission on this Amendment to grant a general open permit, to say a road haulier in Bognor Regis—"Notwithstanding that the Bill says 25 miles is the limit, you may for next year extend your limit to a radius of 50 miles." Can we have a categorical answer to that? If the answer is "yes," may we take advantage of the presence of the Solicitor-General to get an assurance that there will not be any legal difficulty under Clause 52 (1) and the provision that goods shall not be carried more than 25 miles except in accordance with a permit granted by the Commission. Can he assure us that that interpretation of the proviso we are now discussing is—as we hope it is, and as we understand the Parliamentary Secretary intended it to be—for the benefit of persons in the position I have described that the widespread effect of the proviso will not nullify the general intention of Subsection r of the same Clause?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

We have been told remarkably little about the intentions of the Government in the use of the very wide powers which this Amendment will give them. The only hint we have had came a good many hours ago when the Parliamentary Secretary indicated to some extent how the special needs of the coastal areas could be met. If I recollect rightly, the Parliamentary Secretary drew the attention of the House in this connection to this particular provision. May I put to him the difficulty which occurs to me in this particular matter? The Parliamentary Secretary in resisting the argument that the Bill itself should contain statutory provision for the coastal areas put forward the argument that to do so would wreck the Bill because so many of the large centres of population—I think he mentioned London, Liverpool and Cardiff—were coastal areas. If this is a valid objection to statutory provision in the Bill, surely it is an equally valid or invalid objection to this provision, which does it by administrative means. Is it the intention of the Government that the Transport Commission can use these powers under this Amendment in order to deal specifically with the problem of the coastal areas?

The Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister are perfectly well aware that the difficult problems of London and Greater London are unique. Is this provision designed to deal with that and to deal, in particular, with the difficulties which arise under the Bill as it now stands—that is, that an operator in one part of Greater London cannot without a licence reach certain other parts of the Greater London area? Is it the intention of the Government and the Commission to deal with that anomaly so as to secure that a traffic operator located, say, at Kingston shall be entitled to operate his vehicle to any part of the Greater London area without a licence, whether the distance is 25 miles or more?

Mr. Pitman

I think the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) has raised an important point in saying that this Clause is not wide enough, and probably the words, inter alia, would considerably strengthen the hands of the Minister. The word "locality," so far as I know, is a geographical term and would cover the case of Plymouth and any seaside place which constituted only a segment of a circle. I am not sure it would cover the instance of perishable fish, which was raised by my hon. and right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Scottish Universities (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot). "Locality" is a very special word, and has a geographical meaning, and whereas I admit that a fishing "area" is likely to produce fish, I am not quite sure that "locality" quite covers the point. I have in my own constituency, for example, a famous firm which manufactures sausages and meat pies, which are also perishable, and it is a question as to whether they—quite a small portion of the city of Bath—are really a "locality" within the meaning of this provision.

6.45 a.m.

I would like to go back to the important hypothetical case of moving a friend or a mother-in-law. This is what the Minister calls the machinery for the tests for the purposes of definition and there will be literally hundreds of hauliers who are genuinely short-distance hauliers who will, in exceptional circumstances, have exceeded the 25 miles and may even have gone over a long-distance to move a friend who has a house and it is very important that he should be moved. The Commission would need to have the power to call that small haulier a short-distance haulier notwithstanding that he had once or twice gone a very long distance. If the Minister is relying upon this particular Clause, then I am afraid that it is not wide enough, and that the word "locality," being a geographical term, is restrictive. I think that my hon. Friend has raised a matter of importance.

Mr. McKie

I am more attracted by the words "affecting the locality," at all events so far as my own constituency is concerned, than is the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), whose apprehensions I share as regards the lack of specification. I was very surprised with the hilarity when my hon. Friend was speaking, exhibited by the hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Shurmer). I should have thought that in this matter affecting the livelihood of so many, anything that makes for better distribution would have a more ready and better hearing from the hon. Member for Spark-brook. I see from his assent that he thinks better of it and will no doubt give a better hearing again. I represent a rural district in Scotland, where conditions are very different from those obtaining south of the Border. Over wide sparsely populated areas road transport plays an important part indeed. In Scotland there will be no executive body. In England and Wales there will be something like five or six executive bodies to assist the Commission—

Mr. Speaker

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is going back to what we have already discussed.

Mr. McKie

I apologise, Sir. I would merely say that in Scotland there will be no body such as in England and Wales. The Commission will have a much more difficult task there in taking into consideration the special conditions which would obtain within a locality than it would in England and Wales. That is why I join with my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Lt.-Colonel Elliot). If this Measure reaches the Statute Book—[HON. MEMBERS "It will."] It might not, but when that fatal day almost inevitably arrives, a direction may be given to the Commissioners at all events as to how they should receive special conditions obtaining in any locality which this Amendment, perhaps not too precisely worded, aids.

Mr. J. S. C. Reid

From this short discussion it is obvious that these words are extremely difficult to interpret. I find it difficult to interpret them, and I venture to put before the House what seem to me to be the difficulties. Then perhaps the hon. and learned Solicitor-General will favour us with his interpretation, because it really it not fair to expect the House to accept the Amendment when it is quite clear that nobody really knows what it means. The word which bothers me is "locality." I will leave aside for the moment the other points which I think are of some importance. The Commission is required to take into consideration the needs of the locality in which is situated the operating centre I should have thought that they would take into account the needs of the people just outside the fringe of the radius in which the operator would be allowed to operate if he did not have a permit. If one takes the word "locality" in its ordinary meaning, surely it means either a town or village, or a town with its suburbs if the suburbs are outside the municipal boundary. It means a comparatively small district.

I should have thought that, generally speaking, it would be difficult to apply the word "locality" to anything more than five or ten miles across That is my understanding of the meaning of the word "locality." "Local" means any local place. Strictly speaking, it means quite a small area. Taking a broader view of its meaning, I would say that it might be an area five or ten miles across But surely, what ought to be considered is whether the people outside the radius of 25 miles are going to get a proper service if a permit is not given. I do not repeat the other point about the needs of the operators; I am thinking now of the needs of the public which will not be served if a permit is refused. These people to my mind, cannot possibly be understood to be in the locality in which the head office is situated.

There may be an easy explanation of this. I assume that the right hon. Gentleman has his mind directed in the first place to the public reed, and in the second place to the needs of the operators themselves, and that those are the two main considerations. I say nothing about the second one. On the first point, with regard to the public, I would like to be assured that in this phraseology the needs of the people outside the permitted area who could benefit from the permit are taken into account. I do not see that they are. It is true that they may be directed to take into consideration the needs. They may be directed to consider some other ground altogether if they want to. But after all, a direction of this sort is very limiting; such directions are generally taken in a limiting sense by those who are to carry them out, because they say that Parliament has directed specifically their attention to certain points and they ought not to go beyond those points, apart from exceptional cases. It is the point which tends generally to be the only one which receives consideration at all. In that case, half the object of this definition will fail altogether, while the other half will be left in a very sketchy position. For myself, I think I would almost prefer the Clause as it stood. But perhaps we can discover what the Government intends this to mean.

Mr. Barnes

If I may have the permission of the House, I would like to say that, after having listened to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, I am wondering if I am doing the right thing in moving to agree with this Amendment. Throughout all the stages of this Bill I have had emphasised to me the need for at least an indication to the Commission that, in granting permits, which, in a general way, will be given on a practical basis, it is necessary to remember that there are coastal towns. Furthermore, hon. Members from Scottish constituencies will recall the way in which the "town across the boundary" was spoken of some hours ago. There should be provision for special needs, and it is in the desire to meet that that the Government has put in this Amendment; but if it is not appreciated I am satisfied with the original wording, and I will withdraw it. After full consultation with another place, I felt that this was the best position which could be devised. I think it ought to go in, but I am not pressing it.

Mr. Assheton

I should be obliged for the advice of the learned Solicitor-General on one point. What troubles me is whether the words proposed to be put in, do not limit rather than enlarge the powers of the Commission.

Mr. H. Strauss

May I put one point? If the wording is to be reconsidered, the point I should like the hon. and learned Solicitor-General to consider is this: whether the difficulties felt in all quarters are not caused by the words, "provided that." It is customary, surely, in drafting for these words to give some limitation on what has gone before. What goes before here is that the Commission shall have full power in their discretion to grant or refuse. What should be made clear is that, in exercising their discretion, they shall take certain things into consideration, but it is not intended to be a proviso at all. The improvement which the Government seek to secure is really vitiated by the faulty opening words.

The Solicitor-General

I do not feel that the Amendment limits the discretion. A full discretion is given by Subsection (2) of Clause 52. That gives the Commission power to consider everything—the needs of what have been termed as the "immediate localities," and the areas outside those localities, and other needs. A completely unfettered discretion is given, and without the proviso, one would not have had to consider these things. But we now say that one will exercise one's discretion and at least consider those things in the proviso, together with anything in one's discretion.

7.0 a.m.

Mr. H. Strauss

Would it not mean exactly the same thing if the words "provided that" were left out?

The Solicitor-General

I do not think so, because the words "provided that" are necessary, otherwise there is an apparent contradiction. There would be discretion which would enable the Commission to make an order on the matters specified in the proviso, and go on to say, provided that in exercising their discretion they shall be obliged to do things specified in the proviso. It leaves the Commission tree to take everything else into account besides those things specified in the proviso.

Mr. Pitman

Would the word "community" instead of the word "locality" not meet the case?

Question put, and agreed to.