§ 3.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies (Westhoughton)
I beg to move,That the Control of Engagement Order, 1947 (S.R. & O., 1947, No. 2021), dated 18th September, 1947, a copy of which was presented on 20th October, be annulled.It will be obvious to all hon. Members that this Motion is intended to challenge the right of the Government to choose their jobs for the unemployed, instead of allowing the unemployed to choose their own occupations. Six months ago this House gave support to the Government and passed the National Service Bill. I ventured to suggest then that, once the Government secured military conscription in peacetime in this country, industrial compulsion would follow almost automatically. I was, of course, treated with scorn and contempt because I prophesied that; but industrial compulsion has now become a fact. I venture, therefore, to make another prophecy that, unless Parliament puts a stop to these totalitarian tendencies, there will be a goodly number of our working class folk sent to prison under the new regulations. I have many cases in my file here of ordinary decent working class men and women who were sent to gaol during the war under similar regulations to the one which I am now challenging.
We are promised, of course, that this regulation will come to an end in December, 1948. I have no faith at all in that promise. I well remember the promises that were made about military conscription. I was here when we were told that conscription was needed only for the emergency; and, now, military conscription is practically fastened on the British people for all time. Consequently, I repeat that I have no faith at all in the promise that it will come to an end in December, 1948. I want the House to listen to the promise of the Minister of Defence when he said on All Fools' Day this year—that was very ominous:The Government, in spite of what has been suggested from both sides of the House from time to time, have no intention whatsoever of introducing, or supporting, any form of industrial conscription"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st April, 1947; Vol. 435, c. 1956.]Now, where is he today? If the right hon. Gentleman sincerely believed that, he ought to support my Motion in the Lobby this evening.
1344 I want next to challenge the new philosophy about industrial conscription that has arisen in our party. I have been preaching this same gospel for 50 years—and I preached it when some hon. Members on the Front Bench belonged to the Tory Party, by the way. This is the argument which I hear on all hands; people say to me, "If you are to have a planned Socialist society, you must accept compulsion of labour." But the gospel which I have preached all along the line—and I have done as much as most of my hon. Friends on the public platform—is that Socialism would provide greater personal liberty and freedom for the worker than capitalism. If hon. Members today will convince me that we cannot have as much individual freedom in a Socialist society as we could get under capitalism, I am opposed to a planned Socialist State. There is another point I want to make. I am told that we cannot very well raise objections to the compulsion of labour because we have accepted so many restrictions already. As we have accepted military conscription, it is said, we are logically bound to accept the direction of labour. What nonsense! It is just like saying that, if one member of a family suffers from infantile paralysis, all the rest of the household ought to be afflicted alike. I must make it clear that there is no absolute freedom, any more than there is absolute tyranny, hut that is no reason why, because there is no absolute freedom, we should restrict it and enlarge the scope of tyranny by Parliamentary action.
Let me say a word or two more about this new philosophy that is growing up inside our own party, but first let me thank both this Parliament and my hon. Friends for suffering a man like me to say these unpopular things. I am proud to say that, in my union, the National Union of Distributive Workers, which is the fifth largest in the country, the policy of military conscription and industrial compulsion are not very welcome. Of all sections of the working classes called upon to fight the battles of Britain, the distributive trades contribute a larger proportion than any other. Agricultural labourers, miners, engineers and some other classes of workers are exempt from military service, but the right hon. Gentleman seems to have developed a dislike 1345 of the distributive trades. Let him remember, however, that today there are 500,000 fewer people, employed in distribution than there were in 1939, and that in spite of rationing and all the headaches which shop assistants get in dealing with points and rationed goods.
Let me make my own position as a Socialist clear to my hon. Friends. I am in favour of harnessing, controlling and owning by the State or municipality of those inanimate things necessary for the life of the community, but I draw this fundamental distinction. I object to the State treating human beings as if they were things and inanimate material. That is a gospel which every Socialist used to preach in this country. It will be said, of course, that I shall get Tory support for this Motion. Why should I not welcome Tory support for freedom? The Government were delighted to have Tory support for military conscription, so I say, "tit for tat" to that. Let me make it clear too that, where personal freedom is at stake, I do not mind where support or where opposition comes from. I should have thought that the issue of freedom in this supposedly land of the free, ought to be above party considerations; that it ought to appeal to Members of all parties, because, in the end, it is the children of the future who will suffer under this tyranny if it is allowed to grow.
There are queues at every street corner, military conscription, food rationing, a scarcity of clothing, furniture and houses, and exceptionally heavy taxation. It is no use the critics blaming the Government for the shortage of houses and all the other restrictions that are imposed. The fact is that this nation to which we all belong has squandered its substance on two wars until we are hopelessly bankrupt; and no Government of any kind would do better than this one in relation to food and housing, and right hon. Gentlemen opposite know that perfectly well. But why should we add this additional direction of labour on top of all the other restrictions? Why not try freedom for a change? The most ridiculous argument of all that I have heard in relation to this, and one put forward by my own colleagues, is that the imposition of this direction of labour by a Labour Government will not be as cruel as if it were imposed by the Tories. 1346 That is nonsense too. I have said before that a pair of handcuffs are no easier to wear because they happen to shine with a Socialist solution. They are still a pair of handcuffs; and when this regulation leaves the Department of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, little does he know how it will be administered in the employment exchanges. He will have very little control over it at that lower level.
Some of my hon. Friends are very happy about this regulation because they believe that it is going to catch the rich, that it is going to deal with those whoToil not, neither do they spin.They are all wrong. This regulation will not touch the rich; it will deal only with the wage earners, when they become unemployed and attend at the employment exchange. They are the only people who will be dealt with under this regulation, and all the talk about "spivs, drones, eels and butterflies" is simply used to camouflage the real issue. This regulation is akin to the line which the Nazis took in Germany and the Fascists in Italy when they were faced with an economic crisis. I have just been in Germany, and I have seen the havoc done to a great people through accepting this sort of political philosophy—the easy way of tyranny and direction. Dictatorship is, of course, very easy; one does not need to argue with anybody; you simply give them orders. That is what they did in Germany, and I know what has befallen that great nation for not nipping dictatorship in the bud. Let my right hon. Friend remember the history of all the tyrants from the Pharaohs down to the Tsar. The Tsar himself thought that he was a decent and kindly fellow. All the tyrants think alike; they all think they know what is good for their people. But once the attack on freedom is begun, no Minister of State can stop the tyranny that follows.
The Control of Engagement Order applies to the coal mines today, and I will tell the House what I think is part of the problem of the coal industry. Some people in this House think that they are better bred than the miners. I am sure that no hon. Member in this House would send his own son to work in the pits. But when a boy enters the coalmining industry today under the Control of Engagement Order, he and his parents know that 1347 he is fastened to the industry until he is 50 years of age. For ten years I worked underground, but I came out of the pit and I chose my own job. I want to proclaim the gospel here that every other man ought to be entitled to choose his own job instead of having one chosen for him by a stranger. The difference between a slave and a free man is that the free man has the right to strike and the right to choose his own job instead of being told by a clerk at an employment exchange what job he must accept. The Government, the Coal Board and, if I may say so, some trade union officials forget the truth that man does not live by bread alone. The intangible spirit of man must be taken into account in all this; and the soul of the decent workman is offended when he is ordered about as if he were one of a flock of sheep. The "Bevin boy" experiment ought to be enough to convince the Government that compulsion will not avail them. That experiment, surely, was a failure. Although the people of this country submit to compulsion for the purposes of war, when there is an enemy at the gate, they do not submit so easily to compulsion in peacetime. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] More than that, one may take a horse to the trough, but one cannot make him drink.
I have every reason to believe that all this "spiv" business is part of a campaign to cover up the real issue. What is a spiv, a drone, an eel, or a butterfly anyway? It just depends upon one's point of view. In my view, every man and woman in the world dressed up in military clothes is a drone living on the rest of society.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies
Because my hon. Friends might be quite as stupid on this issue.
The puritan regards all those employed in music-halls, theatres, films, dog-racing, football pools, breweries and public-houses 1348 as spivs. The philosopher looks upon everybody engaged on our penny daily newspapers as eels. The Government, apparently, regard everybody employed in the distributive trade as if they were just butterflies. The anarchist, on the other hand, regards every Member of Parliament as an anachronism, and the republican thinks the same of the monarchy all over the world. According to report, those employed in the film industry are to have special dispensation under these regulations. I do not want to offend that industry, but I am told that there are more spivs, eels, drones and butterflies in the film industry than in any other. But those have been exempted. I hope my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour will not be offended when I say that in his list of trades liable to direction there is not a word about his own printing trade.
If these regulations are allowed to pass, the next stage will be an attempt to convince the people that tyranny is good for them. They will be taught to like the chains that bind them. I have no illusions about what can happen in this connection. There are many responsible people, however, who do not agree with my right hon. Friend and who have come to the conclusion that this direction of labour and this business about spivs is all humbug. Listen to one of my right hon. Friend's chief officials, who ought to know as much as the Minister about the matter. I refer to Sir Godfrey Ince, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, who spoke at a conference recently. According to a report,he ridiculed the spiv business. He made it plain that the spiv was important psychologically, but relatively he was insignificant. He thought that it would require more officials trying to catch them than the total number of spivs in the land.That is my right hon. Friend's principal official. Sir Raymond Streat, President of the Textile Industry Institute, one of the most important people in the cotton industry of Lancashire, objects to direction of labour because he does not think that directed is as good as voluntary labour. He is right.
See how this tyranny grows, little by little. The first indication we had of the intention of the Government to direct labour was in a speech delivered by the Minister at Carlisle at the end of August. He then said that a mild form of direction 1349 might become necessary, but that nobody would be sent away to work from his home town. Later on, when he met the Joint Consultative Council for Industry, he promised that these powers would be used sparingly. The Minister also said that he would not use this direction for the men at the bottom and let the men at the top go free. But in his long list of exemptions from direction, all the men at the top are free and all the men at the bottom are to be directed. Listen to the exemptions: Accountants, actuaries, architects—including town planners—auctioneers, adjusters and underwriters, barristers and solicitors, buyers, clerks of works, commercial travellers. There is a long list, and in that list of exemptions journalists are also included—that is ominous—and, of course, political secretaries. These are among those to be directed: Clerks and supervisors other than those with executive responsibility, distributive workers and domestic workers. It is proposed to exempt auctioneers, dentists, opticians, solicitors and barristers, but domestic workers, shop assistants, engineers and textile operatives are to be directed.
There is still a little more to say on this subject. This is what my right hon. Friend said at a Press conference:People will be given a range of jobs to choose from, but if they are going to be 'sticky' we shall say to them, 'You will have this one whether you like it or not.'He then came down to the real fact of the case; he might have added that if they do not accept that one they will go to gaol. That is what will happen.
This crisis, we are told, is upon us in part because of lack of manpower. Yet we have a million men unemployed in this country, wearing military clothes and doing absolutely nothing. Why does my right hon. Friend not use those men to do some work at home?
§ Mr. Davies
Let my hon. Friend cheer it, then. Let us see how this thing works in the mining industry already. This is what I saw reported in the Press the other day:A number of colliery workers will leave South Wales today to try to identify miners who are believed to have left the pits to work in the hopfields of Herefordshire. The names of any miners found will be passed on to the Ministry of Labour who may take proceedings 1350 against them under the Control of Engagement Order. Officials of the Coal Board and the Ministry of Labour, it is stated, have already interviewed some miners in the hop-fields.I have not spent 50 years in this movement to see my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench ordering sleuths to search for miners in the hop-fields. The day of reckoning arising from this interference with freedom will come—to them. My right hon. Friend may feel that he is doing the right thing, but once this regulation is out of his hands he will not know what will happen to it. Let me read a case from my own constituency. If one case like this can come to my notice, I would not be the least surprised if there are thousands of others which never come to light. Let the ex-miners present listen to this one:
My daughter married a young man from Scotland in April this year, and we thought that he would have no trouble in finding a job in the Wigan coalfield, where we all reside. I took him to Victoria Colliery and they could not find him a job. We then went to Alexander Pit and we got the same answer. We then tried Leyland Motors; they would give him a job if he could get a green card from the employment exchange. He failed to get a green card at Chorley because he lived at Blackrod. Then Blackrod advised him to go to Horwich for a green card, but he could not be supplied with a green card at Horwich because his prospective job was at Chorley. Horwich, however, could offer him a job at a local paper mill, but as they needed miners at Atherton they could not give him a green card for the Horwich job. We then went to Chaunters Pit at Atherton but the under-manager was off sick, and his deputy told him to wait a few days when he would be likely to start at Atherton. We then went to the area officer at Kirkless site, Aspull, to be told to go to the Victoria Pit. In the end, he started work at Alexander Pit, up to his knees in water, and gave it up in disgust and returned to Scotland.
That is how it works. The Conservatives opposite allege that this Government are creating class hatred. I do not know whether that is true or not but I know this much: that if this regulation comes into operation the Government will create divisions and hatred within sections of the working class themselves. It will result in neighbour spying upon neighbour; workers telling tales against their comrades; and informers and denouncers will grow like mushrooms.
When the Prime Minister received the freedom of Birmingham the other day, this is what he said:
We believe intensely in freedom, in democracy, and in the acceptance of the validity of moral values.
This regulation destroys all that sentiment. It is an offence against a statement of that kind. The Minister for Economic Affairs, surely, ought to know all about this as well as anybody. On 23rd October in a speech here he said:
It is easy enough, perhaps fatally too easy, to call for compulsions of every kind to cut short the methods of democratic consultation—but not in that way shall we save the fundamental freedoms enshrined in our democracy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd October, 1947; Vol. 443, c. 294.]
§ What annoys me above all things is this. I have been here longer than most. I have been here 26 years. I have seen Governments and Prime Ministers come and go. I will make this statement now, whether it offends anybody or not. If a Tory or a Liberal Government did what our Labour friends are doing today we should howl them into silence. Everyone on these benches would fly to the rostrums and denounce the Tories or the Liberals as the tyrants of the day. More than that, I should not be a bit surprised if the Minister of Health, with his great Celtic eloquence, and especially the Secretary of State for War, with all the speech at his command, demanded a general strike against this regulation. I shall be taunted, of course, that the Tories are supporting me on this Motion. Mr. Speaker, I am 70 years of age, I have seen tyranny at its worst, and freedom at its best. Having seen what tyranny has done to other nations, I care not, where freedom is concerned, who opposes me or who supports me. Some people argue that we ought to have a Coalition Government to get over this crisis. What I think we need is a. Labour Government to return to the simple principles that we used to preach on the Socialist platforms. That is what we need to clean up the whole of all this foul thing called directing people to certain jobs.
§ I shall be asked, of course, what alternative there is to direction. That is a fair question. What I want is this. Let us make it clear above all that this regulation will apply only to the unemployed men and women. That is all. They cannot catch the spivs. What about the 20,000 deserters in this country? They cannot catch one of those either. When I am asked what is the alternative, I reply that 1352 it is a fairly simple one. Why not go back to the Employment Exchange practice we used to enjoy, for which the employment exchanges were established? The unemployed man walked to the exchange, found out what vacancies there were, and decided for himself what job suited him best? Surely, the Workman knows what job suits him best—better than a clerk behind the counter at the employment exchange. That, in my view, is the simple and effective alternative.
I am pleased to say that I have the Minister for Economic Affairs on my side. When he was speaking at a Labour Party rally the other day, a question was put to him whether people in non-productive work could be put to work in productive work. The Minister replied:
I am personally against conscription of labour.
That is the answer, and if that answer is not good enough, let us see what the Government themselves said when we were on the brink of this economic crisis. In the White Paper "The Economic Survey, 1947," it is said—and nothing I say today can equal the eloquence of that annotation on the problem of the direction of labour:
There is an essential difference between totalitarian and democratic planning. The former subordinates all individual desires and preferences to the demands of the State. For this purpose, it uses various methods of compulsion upon the individual which deprive him of the freedom of choice. Such methods may be necessary even in a democratic country during the extreme emergency of a great war. Thus the British people gave their wartime Government the power to direct labour. But in normal times, the people of a democratic country will not give up their freedom of choice to their Government. A democratic Government must therefore conduct its economic planning in a manner which preserves the maximum possible freedom of choice to the individual citizen.
That is what I am trying to say now in another form.
§ Finally, I shall be told, of course, that I am embarrassing the Government over this Motion. I am a Member of Parliament. I have been elected eight times. I have championed this freedom all my life, and I shall continue to preach it. Freedom will prevail when those who talk lightly about it have gone down to the dust. The soul of the British people is behind what I am saying today. Let those who tell me that this might bring the Government down remember this, my 1353 last word on this issue—better that the Government should meet their doom than that individual freedom should perish in the British Isles.
§ 4.8 p.m.
§ Mr. David Grenfell (Gower)
I beg to second the Motion.
I have not spoken in this House often of late, but I am very glad that I have been given this opportunity of speaking in support of the Motion put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) with such eloquence and conviction. I am surprised that some colleagues of ours on this side should raise objections because hon. Members on the other side cheer the sentiments of my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton. After all, the hon. Member for Westhoughton and some of us here in this House have preached this gospel for a quarter of a century and even half a century. I have preached Socialism for half a century. I believe it possible to render greater personal service in freedom by being a Socialist. That is why I am a Socialist. The words of the hon. Member for Westhoughton were true to the gospel to which we were dedicated many years ago. I do not object to the applause of the hon. Members on the other side of the House. It shows that we have not spoken in vain. In the world today we have a clash of forces; we have a spiritual clash, an industrial clash, a clash of politics. We have come to this House today almost united in our determination to tell the Government that the Government have made a mistake, and to tell them in this House to undo it. The applause from hon. Members opposite shows that my hon. Friend has not spoken in vain in urging the Government to undo their mistake. There is support for that plea. I compliment "the ranks of Tuscany" upon their applause of the speech of the hon. Member for Westhoughton.
I have myself been a firm believer in personal freedom. I have watched this great movement of ours grow. I was in it before there was a beginning of social reform. I was a member of the Labour movement more than 50 years ago. I have preached these things, and I believe today that there is no advantage to be gained by trying to coerce the working classes of this country to enter or to leave 1354 occupations at the will of the officials of bureaucracy, of the Government now in power, or of any other Government. And let me warn my colleagues that they are here fashioning an instrument for others who may follow. I have been in this House for 25 years, and I have seen many changes. I sincerely hope that there will be no further change in this country until we have got through the very grave crisis in which we are now involved. It is a crisis beyond the power of immediate solution, but I believe that this Government and this party can make a larger contribution than any other to the world machinery which has to be built up to give economic and political security to the peoples of the world.
This afternoon I speak with very strong feeling, because I believe that the best work can always be obtained by permitting the individual to do the job he wants to do. There is no liberty so valuable to the individual as that which permits him the opportunity of working at a job he likes; there is no personal satisfaction and no State reward so dear as that which comes from work well done by a willing worker. I can speak with much knowledge of workers. I have worked very hard all my life, and there is not one man in this House who knows more about hard graft than I do. I began work at 11 years of age, and I went underground at 12. I have been through the mill to an extent that very few other people have experienced. I have learned from experience that the best work is done by the man who loves his job.
Let people not assume that men cannot love their work, for it is the biggest passion in men of high quality. I have known men whom I am proud to call my friends, tinworkers, who worked in sweat and snot for eight hours at temperatures of 90 or 100 degrees; and those men who have built up our tinplate industry are prouder of their work than most other men. Anyone going there to see them work would wonder why men would do such a job, why they would perform such labour and at such cost. The answer is that they are proud of their work. Then there are the coalminers. I am prouder of my skill as a mineworker than of any other thing in my life. I have done infinitely more skilled work in the mines than in this House of Commons. I have always tried to do my duty, but my first love was the pits.
1355 I know from experience that men can be induced to take up occupations which appear to be obnoxious and dirty beyond measure, but now, after these generations of work, when we have given our people an elementary taste of the higher education, we cannot try to keep them down by compulsion. I remember the wages which were paid to us and the struggles we had when I began to work underground. There were not even the beginnings of social legislation; not a pennyworth, or even a farthingsworth of compensation for injuries sustained in the course of employment. That came six years after I started work. After long struggles we had old age pensions, limitation of working hours, health insurance and unemployment insurance. I saw all this come in, but I welcomed perhaps more than anything else the establishment of national insurance offices in the towns and villages of this country. I regret that that institution and its offices have to be put to the use to which they are to be put.
I appreciate the advantage of a workman being able to go to an office where figures can be kept and records of employment opportunities filed; I realise that that may afford a selection of advantage to a man who wishes to change his occupation on information supplied to him by this institution, so well represented heretofore by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour. But, I despair of the future if my right hon. Friends on the Government Front Bench are allowed an instrument of this kind, and I beg the House not to give them this instrument. By doing so we should be doing a great wrong to these men in the work they have to do for years to come. They have very great work indeed in balancing the claims of one industry against another; in advising and training men as they have never been trained before, with the assistance of the State, for occupations of national importance.
I am sorry the Minister of Health is not here at present. I have watched much labour legislation in this House. I have seen the passing of 40 separate pieces of legislation dealing with unemployment insurance which have come before the House for approval, some very good, but others not so good. Some of it has been disadvantageous to the workers, but none of it has been as bad as this. The 1356 Minister of Health made his career in this House preaching and arguing against all the experts, all the lawyers now holding high positions in the legal machinery of the State. When he was a Private Member he defended the men who were denied their benefit because they were supposed to be not genuinely seeking employment. In those days of hardship, when unemployment came upon a man he went to the employment exchange to choose; he was not directed. He went to look for work, and also to look for bread. That is why a man went to the exchange. I do not like these terms, but I think there are more spivs in some of these administrative jobs than anywhere else in this island. It is no use arguing economics to a man who knows nothing at all about the general industrial circumstances, but who wants bread. We had to fight that in this House, and I shall always remember with gratitude and appreciation the great fight put up by the present Minister of Health in the interest of men who had lost their jobs and had to go to the exchange for benefit.
The national insurance scheme dealt with people who were unemployed, and it offered not alternative employment but some employment—lucrative employment, which meant bread for men who had no work to go to. But this order is an entirely different thing. This does not wait until a man goes to an employment exchange to look for work. This says to a man already in employment, "You are not wanted in this employment." [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes it does; or if it does not now it will soon. I challenge any hon. Member to tell me what the final definition will be. This is compulsion; and it is compulsion exercised on men already in employment, not on men who are sent to the exchange to get a job. That is what I see contained in this order. We are now extending the control to men in employment.
I warn the House that this order is not merely intended as a means to advise men what job they shall take in substitution for another in the national interest. When a man is caused to change his job under compulsion, he is also caused to leave his home under compulsion, and he may be forced to part with and break associations he has maintained all his life. After all, is a man to be looked on simply as a number on an employment exchange file? Are we to degrade our people to that extent? 1357 Are we to tell them what kind of company they shall keep, where they shall spend their time, and to what distant places they ought to be removed?
This is the sort of order to which I have objected during the whole of my time in this House. I believe in personal freedom. It is not for me to speak against the Minister; we are members of the same party; but my belief in freedom prompts me to do so today. As long as I am here, believe me, I shall do nothing which will introduce industrial or military compulsion in peacetime against the people of this country. I believe in freedom. I believe the best citizens are obtained by the training of the body for industrial service, the training of the mind for useful political service, and the teaching of political and moral duties. I believe in the highest form of influence the State can bring to bear to train our people for a higher place in society, and to weld together all the individual units in building good will for the furtherance of good deeds in this country of ours. I do not believe that you can compel a man to take up employment which he does not like, or to do a job for which he is not fitted. This method of compulsion will destroy the skill and the heart and soul of our workers.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ The Minister of Labour (Mr. Isaacs)
I have listened with great interest to the eloquent speeches of my hon. Friends, who in relation to this matter stand where they have always stood. I hope to show that they have misread this order, misunderstood its intentions and misinterpreted the real position behind it. I do not propose at this moment to deal with the points they have raised. I may have time to deal with one or two matters later in my speech, but my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will be available to answer any specific questions later in the Debate.
I should like to set before the House the true position as we see it, which I trust will remove some of the misapprehensions. Sometime in August, the Prime Minister told the House that it would be necessary to bring about some form of control of labour. He made it clear then, and I want to make it clear now, that it was the intention to use guidance rather than compulsion. I am convinced that we shall succeed to a very 1358 large extent with guidance, without having to make use of compulsion. Although the order has been in operation only a few days, there are indications of the willingness of our people to do the jobs which are necessary in the interests of the State, although they may not be exactly the jobs they would themselves desire to do.
§ Mr. Isaacs
The right hon. Gentleman must not expect me to make my whole argument in two sentences. If only the right hon. Gentleman will have a little patience, perhaps I may be able to prove even to him that there is a need. I do not want to be controversial, but to state the facts. I am anxious to give the House the fullest possible information on any details that arise, because unless this is accepted as being really necessary, we shall leave all sorts of loopholes for people to avoid playing the game. The Control of Engagement Order relates only to those people who come to seek employment. It is clear—
§ Mr. Grenfell
Does it not mean, in the case of a person already in employment, that he cannot leave that employment?
§ Mr. Isaacs
Perhaps my hon. Friend will give me a chance to make my case. I know someone may ask: "What are your ultimate intentions?" If things get much worse, other things may have to be done; we do not know what may have to be done? But there is nothing in this Order and in its present intentions to enable us to get hold of a man and say that he must leave his job and go into another.
§ Mr. Grenfell
That does not answer the question I asked. Is not a man denied the freedom to leave employment unless he gets consent?
§ Mr. Isaacs
No. [Interruption.] There are so many hon. Members trying to answer. Perhaps I may be allowed to have a try. A man in the mining industry cannot leave the industry, but he can leave his pit and go into another. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] That is the Order. It has been there all the time. The miners' representatives—and my two hon. Friends have spoken very eloquently for the miners—have not made a fuss. They have 1359 accepted it as necessary under the existing conditions. There is the condition that while they may leave their pit to go into another, they are kept within the fence which surrounds the particular industry, and that will continue for the time being. No one wants this order, and if we could do the job which has to be done without it, we should not have to come here and ask for it. Before we did this, we consulted the representative organisations of employers and workers, with the National Joint Advisory Council. I am not going to say that they were enthusiastic in its support, but they recognised that in the circumstances it was necessary for some control to be exercised to secure the flow of workers into jobs which are essential in the nation's interest when these people come to need employment.
Therefore, this Control of Engagement Order, S.R.O., 1947, No. 2021, was made on 18th September, came into force on 6th October, and ceases to have effect on 1st January, 1949. It has been said today that now we have started it and have said it will be for a certain time only, it will be continued. I have a very strong feeling, however, that Parliament is still paramount and that the House of Commons will have a right to say whether or not it shall continue. It will not be merely the will of the Minister; it will be for the House of Commons to deal with the matter as it is being dealt with now. The Order is made under the Defence (General) Regulations, 1939, as having effect by virtue of the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, 1945, as extended by the Supplies and Services (Extended Purposes) Act, 1947. That sounds a pretty awful rigmarole, but it is the authority under which we work.
The Order provides—and I wish to put this carefully on record, so that not only hon. Members, but others who read our Debates, will have it clearly and exactly set out; they may not get full information from the order itself—that employers shall not engage for employment men between the ages of 18 and 50, and women between the ages of 18 and 40, or seek to engage such persons, except through the Ministry of Labour exchanges—that includes appointments offices as well as labour exchanges—or through approved employment agencies. 1360 There are a number of approved employment agencies which operated during the war, trade unions and various other kinds of organisations, and those approved during the war will almost certainly secure approval how. Therefore, we shall be making use of the organisations which were very successful in this way during the war years.
There are a number of employments excepted from the order, and I will give a full list later if hon. Members so wish. The main employments are dock work and the Merchant Navy. That is because there are other means provided for recruitment for both dock work and for the Merchant Navy. Other exceptions are women's Services, fishing, part-time or unremunerative employment, and employment in a managerial, professional, administrative or executive capacity.
§ Mr. Isaacs
No, Sir. No definition is laid down, but our instruction to the employment exchanges and to our managers is that doubtful questions like that shall be referred to a higher official with more responsibility. Actual managerial and executive responsibility must be proved to the satisfaction of the Ministry. Therefore, any manager of a firm who brings in his only son and dubs him a manager, must show that he exercises managerial responsibility. Persons of this type are also exempted from the order because employers do not come to employment exchanges to ask for managers of departments. It might be done through the appointments offices but we are not operating in that field any more than in the case of barristers, doctors and people of that kind who are not compelled to seek employment through the exchanges.
§ Mr. Benn Levy (Eton and Slough)
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether that operates in the field of barristers and lawyers?
§ Mr. Isaacs
They are in the class I mentioned. We do not want, for instance, a man who desires to set up in practice as a dentist. As to whether we should operate in that field, is not a matter that is before us at the moment. In fact, this order is made in such a way as to deal only with the normal kind of services that 1361 are dealt with by the Ministry of Labour. I have mentioned agriculture and coal mines. Workers cannot leave those industries without permission—permission is often granted for various reasons for a man to leave an industry—but they can leave one job and go to another in the same industry.
The order makes provision for exemption certificates, and there is a class of people who can get certificates of exemption and who are not, as employer or employee, tied to the exchange—people who are working on an individual personal line who may be able to find employment by direct negotiations and for whom we do not usually cater. Therefore, permits will be granted in that way. Neither will disabled persons be called upon to act under this order. They will be exempt, and there will be opportunities for disabled persons to obtain employment in the usual way and for employers to take them in the usual way.
I mentioned that we discussed this with the trade unions and the employers' organisations. The trade unions, like everyone else—I am sure that it applies to the Government and especially to the Minister—do not like this order. No one likes it. If it were possible to get the work of the nation carried through without asking our people to take various jobs, other than those they particularly wished to do, this would not be necessary. It is, of course, because we want people to go into the undermanned industries, and because there is not a sufficient supply of labour available to provide the men we may want, that we have to ask those who seek a job to take a job which they, perhaps, would not otherwise have wished to take.
Then there is the question of the women's Services. They are exempt. Neither will there be any call on men who leave the Forces during their period of leave. They will be free to take a job anywhere they think fit. After their period of leave, they will come to us for a job, and they will find themselves subjected to such directions as are necessary. Ex-Service men have reinstatement rights. Those rights will not be interfered with. A man has the right to go back to his old firm, however unessential it may be in the national interest, and he will not be interfered with once he gets there.
§ Mr. Bossom (Maidstone)
How can he go back to his old job if the old job does not get the necessary raw materials to carry on?
§ Mr. Isaacs
The answer is quite simple. If the man has reinstatement rights, he can go back to his old job, and there will be no attempt to interfere with him. If he has not a job to go back to, he goes to the employment exchange and they will do what they can for him.
§ Mr. Isaacs
I have said that a man who has reinstatement rights will not be interfered with. Otherwise, he will go to the employment exchange, and will be treated like everyone else, in a way which I will explain a little more fully later.
We have come to the conclusion that this order cannot be made effective unless there is, in the long run, some power to enforce its application. If we were to rely exclusively on the power of persuasion, we should have a great deal of difficulty. When a man or woman goes to an exchange, he or she will be offered a choice of jobs. Where it is possible, the person will be offered a job in our list of priorities, which will change, possibly, from week to week, and that person will be given plenty of time to make up his mind whether he will take it. These people will be given a job in their own industry if there is one going, or they will be offered a job in some other industry for which their skill fits them. In the long run, there will be offered on an average, four different jobs of an essential character. If they still take the view that they will not take a job which is essential in the nation's interest because they want a job which from their own point of view is more valuable to them—I do not think that the question of freedom and principle comes into this; what a man who goes after a job looks for is how much money he will get at the end of the week—
§ Mr. Isaacs
I have these questions all before me. I said that the main thing a man is concerned about is how much money he gets at the end of the week. [Interruption.] I will not go into it. I know that many men take a pride in their jobs and prefer to do a job for which they have the skill and in which they want to develop their own ideas; but at the end of it, a man does want a wage, and if we can offer him a job and a reasonable wage, we think that we are doing the right thing by him. As to the question raised by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hale), we have the power to provide a medical examination, so there will not be a risk of sending a person into a job that is likely to be dangerous to his health especially if he can show that his health condition is not suited to it.
So far as textiles are concerned, this is the most vital of all our industries and the one which, until two or three weeks ago, was proving most difficult to man. People in this industry will be offered a choice of jobs in it, as to whether they wish to go to Messrs. Brown, Smith or Robinson. They are the very people we do not wish to send out of their own industry. I submit that if a skilled worker in that industry comes along and there is a job of the right type waiting for him, it would be a great mistake if some effort was not made to induce him to take that job, rather than to be a bookmaker's runner or something of that sort.
Single men or women without family responsibilities will, so far as possible, be offered employment in their own areas and within reasonable daily travelling distance. It may be necessary, if there is essential work beyond that distance, to ask them to go further afield. I feel satisfied that the majority of our people who seek work will fall into line with this order without a great deal of trouble. In no circumstances will a woman under 20 years of age be directed away from home. A man with family responsibilities will not be directed to take employment which means his living away from home unless 1364 there are some very special circumstances.
Again, there is the question of the man with special skill. If there is work in another area for a man with special skill and he has to live in that other area, we shall endeavour to induce him voluntarily to take a job and he will get a maintenance allowance as long as he is working away from home. I should like to make this a little more detailed to the House. Every effort will be made to place skilled men on essential work in their normal occupation.
§ Lieut.-Commander Clark Hutchison (Edinburgh, West)
Before the Minister leaves that point will he make one aspect clear? Is a married woman under the age of 40, without children, liable for direction or not?
§ Mr. Isaacs
I am coming to that. If I omit anything, I shall be glad to answer a question later on, but I am getting away from the points which I think ought to go on record. That point is dealt with later on.
Here is a point I want to make quite clear. If after a period of 14 days a worker still remains unemployed, he or she will be offered suitable employment in some other occupation on essential work. I do not know if it is really necessary to give such workers 14 days to make up their minds, but it is intended to give them a chance to think it over. I want to assure the House that this is not a question of men walking into the exchange, saying, "I am out of work," and being told, "Pack up, you are going to this job straight away." I should like to make this further point clear—we offer these men or women four jobs and we will say to them, "You must take one of them or we will direct you." If a man or a woman says, "I will voluntarily take one of these jobs," he or she is not directed. [Laughter.] I am not sure if the laughter comes because as a Cockney I have dropped a brick somewhere, or just because I have stated a simple fact.
Let me put it to the House again. There is a difference between the situation of a man directed and one who will accept employment. If a man is directed he must stay in that job for six months and he must not leave without permission, but if he takes a job voluntarily he is not tied to it for six 1365 months. He can leave it at the end of a week or a fortnight if he thinks fit and he can go back and ask for other employment. There is nothing to laugh at in that. That is what we shall do. A person who is directed will be given an opportunity of appealing against direction to a local appeal board, so that it will not be the whim of the exchange manager which sends him into a particular job.
§ Mr. Walter Fletcher (Bury)
What is the form of the local appeal board? Will it be on the level of a regional board or just a town board?
§ Mr. David Griffiths (Rother Valley)
It will be a better sort of board than was set up when the hon. Gentleman's party was in power.
§ Mr. Isaacs
The local appeal board will be very similar to that used in past periods. It will be mainly local in the larger towns but in the smaller towns it may be grouped with some other groups. However, the actual position of the boards is kept under review and I will see that the House is informed of any important development.
We have power to call for a medical examination under Defence Regulation 8ob, and we intend to avoid what happened in the case referred to by the hon. Member for Westhoughton when a man was unfortunately badgered from pillar to post and from mine to mine, and he only chucked up the job when he found that he would have to work up to his knees in water. Lots of people have to do it, but we do not want to have a man working under conditions which are liable to be injurious to his health. Therefore, we take the power to have a medical examination. Let me recite to the House—I hope I am not wearying the House with these details—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—the classes to which directions will not be issued. Men and women outside the respective age limits, that is, the lower age limit of 18 for men and women, and the upper age limit of 40 for women and 50 for men, will be outside the scope of direction, as will be women with children of their own under 15 years of age living with them; men and women released from His Majesty's Forces and women's Services in Class A while on paid resettlement leave; men and women discharged from His 1366 Majesty's Forces who have reinstatement rights which they propose to exercise at once or within a short period; and registered disabled persons. I have already mentioned these on an earlier occasion but I went a little bit out of my stride.
So far as the interests of directed persons are concerned, they are fully safeguarded and will continue to be safeguarded under this new Order. The existing Control of Employment (Directed Persons) Order provides—this is the difference between direction and accepting employment voluntarily—that an employer may not dismiss a directed person while the direction is in force; the directed person or his employer may apply to the National Service officer for the direction to be withdrawn so that the employment may be terminated. If there is a clash between the employer and the worker and they cannot get on, then it can be mutually terminated. A further safeguard is that where a directed person applies for withdrawal on the ground that he is stood off by his employer without wages, the national service officer, if he is satisfied that this is a case, must withdraw the direction provided that the application is made within seven days. We are not going to have a man directed to a job where there is no work for him and the employer retains that man without wages. Frankly, I cannot imagine an employer wanting a man to stand about in his firm, unless the idleness was due to lack of raw materials which might come the next week and so enable the work to go on.
A directed person or his employer may appeal to the local appeal board against the decision of a national service officer to withdraw or to refuse to withdraw the direction. A directed person may appeal to the local appeal board against dismissal for serious misconduct, and if the charge is unfounded the national service officer may direct his reinstatement. There is another important safeguard here in regard to the rates of wages, and what is more important, directed persons are safeguarded by the existing provisions.
The broad effect of that is that the wages paid for the work should be the rate for the job, and that the conditions of service are the standard conditions, so whoever is directed to a job gets the rate of pay for that job and takes the em- 1367 ployment at the standard conditions These conditions must be satisfied before we can send a man to a job.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Combined English Universities)
It may be that the right hon. Gentleman will deal with this point shortly, but I should like him to inform the House what is the position about direction to an employment in which it is compulsory to join a particular trade union? Is that part of the conditions of the job to which a man may be directed?
§ Mr. Isaacs
It depends upon the terms and conditions of industrial agreement in the industry or in the firm concerned. If the employer says, "I will for the sake of peace, employ only persons who belong to a certain trade union," the man directed will be told of those conditions. Quite definitely, I can give the categorical assurance that when such things are known, we shall take every possible step to avoid sending to the job a man who is going to upset the whole apple cart when he gets there.
§ Mr. W. J. Brown (Rugby)
Surely, the Minister is not logical in what he says. Is not the logic of it this—that any man can drive a coach and four through the Control of Engagement Order by the expedient of refusing to join a trade union in any particular place to which he does not want to go?
§ Mr. Isaacs
That is quite true, but on the other hand, other people are driving a coach or having a hand on it. It might be more suitable for a man to take a job there and fulfil the conditions of the employment, than perhaps have an alternative job which might not be so pleasant for him in other circumstances—[Interruption], I quite appreciate that some hon. Members opposite will at once see a threat or an implication in that, but we must not have our quart measured by someone else's bushel. We have a man for a job and maybe he says that he does not want to join a trade union. Very well, we will endeavour to find a job where no trade union problem arises. I cannot deal with hypothetical cases at the moment. I am endeavouring to explain what we shall do, and we shall handle these matters in such a way as to avoid questions of that kind cropping up and upsetting the harmony and good will 1368 which exist in firms. There will be no attempt made to push people into those jobs just for the purpose of creating trouble. We shall do all we can to keep them out of those jobs, to avoid any trouble.
I must make this point clear, that any joint industrial agreement or any decision by a joint conciliation board, or similar body, must prevail and operate for the person directed as well as for the person who has gone into industry in the ordinary way, so that there will be absolute equality. Another point with which I want to deal is that mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell). There is no provision in this order for removing from their employment and transferring to essential work those who are already employed in work which makes no contribution to the national effort. If a man is in a job, there is no intention under this order of lifting him out that job and saying, "You must leave that job and take this." [Interruption.] Earlier I could not help referring to my Cockney origin. We have a way of saying, "Wot's the good of anyfink? Why, nuffink." First of all, this order is too hot for hon. Gentlemen opposite, and then it is too cold. First it does too much, and then it does not do enough.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
The right hon. Gentleman has told us so much about the exemptions under the order that I would like to ask him to tell us whether any estimate has been made of the number of men and women who are likely to be affected by it.
§ Mr. Isaacs
I will, at a later stage, give some information about that point. I must admit that at the moment I cannot give a definite estimate. The order of priority will change from week to week and from locality to locality. Before the order became operative at all, in the months gone by, we used to have some 200,000 placings per month through the employment exchanges. We expect that that will continue, but until we have had experience we cannot give any figure. I will undertake to give the House regularly, in monthly periods if the House wishes, reports about what is happening. I will give the House in a minute a report of what has happened in the last fortnight. If we get the same experience fortnight by fortnight, we shall be very happy indeed.
§ Lieut.-Commander Clark Hutchison
Will the right hon. Gentleman make, it clear whether married women are liable to direction under the order?
§ Mr. Isaacs
No married women will come under this order, unless they go to the exchange and ask for a job. If a married woman goes to an exchange and says, "I want to go to work," we will say, "All right, take one of these jobs." If a person comes forward like that who has been out of the field of industry, efforts will be made to meet her requirements and to fit her up as soon as possible.
As to the estimated number of people employed in manufacturing industry, in the metal and engineering trades the numbers have gone up by more than half a million, or 24.4 per cent., over 1939. The numbers employed in the textile industries have gone down by 167,000 or 20.9 per cent. As regards non-manufacturing industries, coal mining is down by 17,000, but transport, shipping, building and civil engineering, and entertainment and sport are all well above their pre-war figures. Agriculture and fishing have substantially more workers than before the war, but still more are required to replace prisoners of war and to meet the needs of the new agricultural programme.
There have been changes in the past year. In the 14 months up to August I think it is—we cannot bring them right up to date—out of a net increase of 1,300,000 in the total number in employment—this is the calculation for which some hon. Members were asking me—representing mainly men who have returned on demobilisation, no fewer than 174,000 were in building and civil engineering, 160,000 in the distributive trades, 191,000 in other consumer services and 45,000 in entertainment and sports which show the largest percentage increase over the year. Coalmining shows a net increase of only 20,000, and agriculture and fishing only 17,000. The increase in textile figures was proportionately greater than in some other industries but it leaves these vital industries very much below their prewar figure. I will give the House in a moment some figures on that aspect of the subject.
I am sure that everybody, even the mover and seconder of the Motion, will 1370 agree that the Government, as much as anyone else, dislike the making of this order. It is not made just out of caprice, but after a survey of the situation. We feel that it is necessary in view of the economic crisis with which the country is faced and that we must re-deploy our labour force to see that it is used on necessary things. We had a very much more rigid control during the war. Experience has taught us that we cannot wait upon the play of economic forces. I know there are some people with the kind of mind which believes that the play of economic forces can put this thing right; in other words, let high wages in one industry, induce people to go into that industry, and unemployment force people out of other industries. Even though economic forces could redress the balance, we think that would be too slow a motion, and that we must get our vital, undermanned industries manned as soon as possible.
§ Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, King's Norton)
Will my right hon. Friend say what made the Government change their mind after 20th May, when the Labour Party conference preferred by an overwhelming majority a wages policy to the direction of labour?
§ Mr. Isaacs
Just exactly what that question has to do with my statement on the control of labour, I do not know. The hon. Gentleman asks me what made the Government change their mind. I might ask the hon. Gentleman himself a similar question. He has changed his mind.
I am sorry if I am taking up too much time. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I thought that if I put before the House our intentions in this matter, discussion might be facilitated later on. It might make it possible for more questions to be asked—and as the Parliamentary Secretary will have to answer the questions, I do not mind how many hon. Members ask. It is hoped to secure a substantial redistribution of labour by the exercise of persuasion. We do not expect that much direction will be necessary. I should like to give to the House an experience which will support what I say.
I have been visiting some of the regional offices of the Ministry over the week-end, and I had been in contact with them earlier. Everything shows that as soon as the statement came out in regard to 1371 this order, the number of voluntary returns to employment from people who had gone out of the field of employment has been simply amazing in every area. Let me give what has happened in the textile industry. During the six months before the order came into force, the average weekly placings in the cotton industry in the four main textile regions—the Northwestern, East and West Ridings, North Midlands, and Scotland—were: men 159; women 217–a total of 376. The average number of weekly placings in the week ended 15th October, after the order came into force, were: men 387; women 872–a total of 1,259. That is twice the number of men placed in cotton after the order came into operation, and four times as many women.
Again, in the woollen and worsted industry, the average for the six months before the order came into force was: men 144; women, 136–a total of 280. In the week ended 15th October, after the order came into force, the placings were: men 455; women, 515–a total of 970, or three times as many men and four times as many women. Taking all textiles, the average weekly placings during the six months before the order became operative were 892 men and women. The average after the order came into operation was 1,214 men and 1,680 women, a total of 2,894. That was three times as many men and four times as many women.
In no solitary instance was direction given or even threatened. I have here, if the House should wish to have it, the kind of instruction that we give to the employment exchanges. It is asked, "What do the clerks at local offices know about labour requirements?" The manager of a local office, not the clerk at the counter, usually knows as much about the industries in his area as anybody, and he will be guided by instructions and directions sent out from headquarters as to the line which he is to take. He will be told from time to time which industries will lose their first priority and which others will come up in their place.
The basic fact is that if we are to survive as a nation we must get our industries going. On that matter I would like to comment on one or two things my hon. Friend said. He said that this order would create hatred in sections of the working class. Having made frequent 1372 contacts with working-class people in the last few weeks, I say that those who in the name of freedom shirk their responsibility to the State create more hatred. We have to weigh between creating hatred and bitterness by drawing attention to the fact that somebody is dodging the column and creating hatred and bitterness because the State goes without the service it should be given, through people dodging the column.
The hon. Member for Gower said—I agree with him up to a point—that the best work is done by letting men do the work they like because they then love their work. Everybody agrees with that. But there are many thousands who will be willing to do other work because they love their country as well as their work. That is what we have to face. We say to the people, "Your country is in need. Certain work must be done. It is not only a question of your freedom. Will you surrender your freedom to choose your work and take another job which will not put undue hardship on you?" If many people prefer their right to freedom and refuse to do this, children will go without food. We believe that the country will be behind us in this matter. It is a regrettable necessity but a necessity which must be faced, and it is a policy which the Government intend to pursue.
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ Major Sir David Maxwell Fyfe (Liverpoole, West Derby)
After the speeches to which the House has listened I do not think that any hon. Member will underestimate the importance of the matter we are discussing. I do not think the Minister can avoid the criticism and inquiry which arises on this Motion by saying, in the traditional words about the maidservant's baby, that it is only a little one. The order does three important things. First of all, it cuts definitely and clearly into the freedom of choice both of the worker to work as he wants and of the employer to engage him. It is clearly, from the manner of expression of the right hon. Gentleman, only the herald of further steps towards the conscription of labour, and it is the thin edge of a wedge which will determine not only our industrial but our spiritual future as a nation.
The right hon. Gentleman has sought to placate criticism by giving an exposi- 1373 tion of how this order will work, but all he says cannot disguise that it has these necessary features. When the man goes to the employment exchange, an offer of work judged to be essential will be made to him. It is said that whenever possible he will be given a choice, but it is clear from the interjections and from all that has been said that in many cases in practice no choice is possible and he must accept that job under pain of direction. The right hon. Gentleman has prided himself on the man being given some time—I think about a fortnight—to reconcile himself to the decision that was made or the offers that were open. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) quoted the Minister's words as, being thathe would have this chance unless he proved sticky.My recollection was that the right hon. Gentleman said "saucy." Whether it was "sticky" or "saucy," it was quite clear that there is compulsion here and that he has to take the job under pain of direction, and that in principle no one except mothers with young children and now women under 20 are free from the possibility of being sent away. The only definite assurance that has been given, apart from the age limit, is that people who are sent away will not have to live in army huts.
That is a position which must make anybody, wherever they sit in the House, think gravely as to whether it is right and whether it is necessary. I put it to the right hon. Gentleman—no word of his has dissipated this doubt and trouble in our minds—that the army out of which he is seeking to recruit for the essential industries is the army of the unemployed. The people who will really be affected by this are those whom either economic pressure or some personal difficulty has put out of a job. Two results inevitably follow. In the first place, where we have non-essential industries we are putting a premium on those which are large and are able by their financial resources to carry their labour in the hope that they will reach a busier time. Secondly, we are causing people to stick to non-essential jobs because of the uncertainty with which they will be faced if they lose their jobs and come into unemployment.
I ask the right hon. Gentleman seriously to face this question: How long 1374 can a Socialist Government discriminate against the unemployed; how long can it go on doing that without facing the logical alternative—that is why I say that this fear must loom large in all our minds—of industrial conscription in general? The first point I make is that this is and must be a discrimination against the unemployed, and it must be a leading interest of the Government, if that line of policy is to have any effect at all, to cause more unemployment, with the result which I have stated. The next question we must all ask ourselves is: Will it do any good? On that point I have fortunately some pieces of evidence which the right hon. Gentleman will agree is the best I could procure, and therefore I ought in all fairness to quote it to the House. I refer to the right hon. Gentleman's own speech at Brighton some 15 months ago. He said:We believe that a man who is forced to go into a shop which he dislikes is not going to be very much use to his shop, his fellows, or himself, and therefore the first thing to do to get better production out of our people is to make them willing workers.The right hon. Gentleman went on:The Government no longer wishes to have the power to direct men and women.I accept that he did not wish to have the power when he made that speech, but the essential statement with which he prefaced it was either true or false. I believe it is true that a man or woman who is forced to go into a shop which he or she dislikes will not be of very much use to his shop, his fellows or himself. The first way to get better production is to get willing workers. These were the views of the right hon. Gentleman. He has not said one word, or uttered one sentence, in the speech in which he addressed this House, which shows any reason for altering the views he expressed in Brighton in the summer of 1946.
The right hon. Gentleman knows very well, from his great experience, that even with the best will in the world, it will in many cases take a long time and difficulty to train the person who has been directed to work to which he or she is not accustomed, for the new job. During the war that "best will" existed because the object of our common effort was practically universally shared and clear to us all, but this time I say to the right hon. Gentleman that you do not get that "best will" because you have a large number 1375 —and Saturday's election results have shown what an enormous number it is at the present time—who honestly believe that the reason for this compulsion being set upon them in September, 1947, is not the action of foreign tyrants but the inefficiency of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues in their responsibility for the economic position in which we find ourselves now.
The right hon. Gentleman must face that point, that an inevitable result will be a hanging on to unessential jobs and a fear—which again he has done nothing to dispel—of the difficulty and complexity of the position with regard to trade unions in which the directed person will find himself under the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. What is the position if he is directed to an industry where the closed shop obtains? Has he to abandon such rights as he has had in his trade union in his present job? Is he going to be accepted, or compelled to change and become a member of the other union? What provision has been made for that? It is really no use for the right hon. Gentleman to say, "We shall try to do our best with every difficulty as it comes up." Here is compulsion. Here is an actual compelling of thousands of men and women in this country, and here is a definite problem which must inevitably arise in many cases if they are so compelled. And the right hon. Gentleman says, "Well, it is a matter about which we will do our best when the point arises." That will not do.
§ Mr. Isaacs
When I was answering that point, I was dealing with the case of a man who did not belong to a union and went into a shop. The point raised by the right hon. and learned Member now is about a man in one union going into another. There are quite a number of agreements between unions accepting men who go from union into another.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
The right hon. Gentleman says there are a number of agreements. Of course, I accept that from him, as I always would any question of fact of which the right hon. Gentleman informs the House, but he will see that it is a really difficult point, and it is one on which I should have been glad to have information. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will inform us because, unless it does cover the industries likely to be affected, it is a point which may 1376 well cause not only great difficulty, but great loss to the persons who are affected.
As far as I can see, on the question of whether this will do any good or not, the only evidence that the right hon. Gentleman had was the anticipatory commendation which Mr. Arthur Horner gave to direction on Whit Sunday of this year. Apart from that, no responsible person I can find up to that time had commended the direction of labour in this House or seriously in the country. I put it to the right hon. Gentleman, because it is a material matter, that he is not alone in having expressed the view as to its uselessness, and, inferentially, indicated that he would not put it into operation. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Minister for Economic Affairs said as late as 29th March, at Bristol:There will be no compulsion of the individual in industry.Or, if he prefers the "Manchester Guardian" version of the same statement:So far as the Labour Party is concerned, we are not going to have compulsion in industry.Now, when we get the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour pronouncing against it, when we get the Minister for Economic Affairs giving that solemn promise that there will not be individual compulsion in industry, we are entitled to very grave consideration of why these promises should be broken. Madame Roland said:Liberty! how many crimes are committed in thy name!I think a more cynical, modern and realistic attitude would be,Liberty, how many promises are given in thy name and how few are kept.We are here today to ask—because we have had no explanation from the right hon. Gentleman so far—why these specific promises by the Minister for Economic Affairs and the implied promise which is in his own speech, are being broken now.
It did not stop there. During the Debate on the National Service Act, a number of hon. Members opposite objected to the Act on the argument that the Tories would use the precedent in order to introduce industrial conscription. I wonder how many of them—I hope we shall hear as the Debate goes on—expected that a Socialist Government 1377 would introduce the first steps of industrial conscription? I am glad the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) is here, because it was in answer to a speech of his, that the Minister of Labour said these words:The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) … said that if we believed in compulsion for National Service, we could not object to compulsion of labour. That is a long question to go into, but we say there is a difference."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd May, 1947; Vol. 437, c. 2612.]That was his view at the time. There was a difference. He has not shown us today why that difference in principle has been changed, and why he has thrown over the principle which he then expressed.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
What does the right hon. and learned Member say is the difference?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
Finally, to complete these references, I would remind the House of what was said by the hon. Member for Kings Norton (Mr. Blackburn), who said:If we had told the electors that Socialism meant the direction of labour, I doubt whether we would have won the General Election.There never was a truer or clearer word said.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
These things must be met, and what we say with great conviction and seriousness is that when you break pledges, when you are going back on policies solemnly stated, importance attaches to how you do it. Here we are discussing an order that was made while Parliament was taking an enforced holiday, and which it was impossible to discuss before it came into operation. We have never had an opportunity of discussing the principle, why this change of policy was brought about, and how it was going to apply, before the order was made and came into effect. I say that if there were no other point, this point alone is worthy of the consideration of a legislature such as ours, and that such a change ought not to be made until it has been justified generally, until every aspect of it has been discussed, clause by clause, and, if necessary, line by line. It touches so nearly the liberties of the people that no legislation dealing with a subject like 1378 this should be made in some Ministerial backroom, or behind the back of Parliament and the House.
You, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, have been much longer, but I have been some considerable time in this House. We know the practical position which results when an order is made, and a Prayer is set down. Any Government, irrespective of its party, having made an order, is going to stick to it if any criticism is made from the Benches opposite. The sin of pride, or whatever one cares to call it, begins to operate, and they will not retreat from the position they have taken up by the publication of the order. That means that any Debate of this sort is bound to be different in its scope, in its purpose, and in its result, from a Debate when legislation is placed before the House for the first time and discussed before it comes into force. We say that a discussion of this sort, where we have a short time given to a general Debate on the effect of the order, is grossly inadequate to a subject of this legislative importance. Take, for example, the very sanction which applies to people who break this order. The amount of imprisonment to be inflicted on workers who are caught by it is not in the order, but is obscurely included in a bundle of Defence Regulations which are not even in up-to-date print and available to hon. Members.
§ Mr. W. J. Brown
Is the right hon. and learned Member aware that if any considerable number of men decline to comply with this order, it will be quite impossible to apply the sanction of imprisonment, because the gaols are already not only full, but in some cases are accommodating three persons in a cell, and therefore the only thing to do would be to institute a collective release immediately as the only solution?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
The point I was making, and with which I do not think the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) would disagree, is that anyone affected by the order cannot find the sanctions in the order, but has to 1379 go to a collective bundle of Defence Regulations and look them up. We all know they are out of print, and not even available to hon. Members. That is an intolerable position. It is really immaterial on that point what the state of our gaols is. What I am concerned with is that working men and working women are going to be sent to gaol for non-compliance with an order of this kind without the House of Commons ever having the opportunity of discussing whether—
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
The hon. Member can say that, but if he had any knowledge of the Defence Regulations—and I will lend him a copy, as he seems to be in grave need of one—he would find, as the Lord President of the Council admitted the other day, that they are not available. If he thinks it is a proper thing for people to be brought within criminal penalties without a discussion in this House, I say that I thank heaven his idea of freedom and liberty falls so far short of that which I hold.
§ Mr. Solley
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I would like to put this to the right hon. and learned Gentleman in view of what he said—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
I understood the hon. Member was going to address a point of Order to me. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman give way?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
As the hon. Gentleman took me up, I did rather answer him and, therefore, thought that I ought to give way.
§ Mr. Solley
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that what he said in reference to this specific Order applies to thousands of Statutory Rules and Orders affecting almost every activity in the commercial and industrial world, and if that be so, why should he pick out this particular case?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
It is very evident that one should always give way at the earliest opportunity. If the hon. Gentleman will consider the difference between the Price of Peas and Autumn Growth (Regulation) Order and an order which affects anyone who may fall out of work in industry today, as to the number of people who are affected, the kind of people affected, the chance of these people getting information of their criminal responsibility for non-compliance, then I think, with very little more diligence than he has shown in his interruptions, he will find a complete answer to his own question.
I come, as the hon. Member for West-houghton (Mr. Rhys Davies) came, to the question which the right hon. Gentleman the Minister might properly put, What is your alternative? I can, of course, refer to that only in the broadest terms, because one must not enlarge the field of the Debate. We say, again with all the force we have, that we do not believe that the planned direction of labour is necessary—I use the words of the Foreign Secretary:if our working people are to evolve as they have the right to do.There is a fundamental difference between the hon. Member for Westhoughton and myself on the one hand, and the right hon. Gentleman on the other. We believe that the working people—to evolve as they have the right to do"—ought not to be subject in time of peace to the planned direction of labour. We believe they will be able to evolve along the lines of liberty and freedom and spiritual decency if they get a chance of making the conclusion themselves. The Parliamentary Secretary may smile, but I ask him to consider these two aspects of the matter. The right hon. Gentleman relied, first, on the position of labour at the present day. The right hon. Gentleman and the Parliamentary Secretary will remember that in March of this year, I initiated a Debate on the distorted position of the labour force, and at that time I dismissed as being beyond the purview of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues any question of direction of labour. I did say, and I put before the House on that occasion, the methods by which I suggested that distortion could be cured.
Apart from that, all of us who take a point of view against this order believe that there is, and must be, in our country 1381 a great residuum of people who are prepared to work for their country by their own choice. We believe that if the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues had put the truth of the situation before them fully and ruthlessly, as the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Economic Affairs belatedly attempted to do some ten days ago, he would have had a greater response. We also believe that just as there are millions of our fellow countrymen who believe that it is a moral duty to recognise the need to work for freedom, so they also have a belief that that duty is only moral if it is self-imposed and self-chosen. I apologise to the House for going to that depth of philosophic approach, but it is the belief that we have, and we say that if the Government will try the way of truth and the way of freedom, they will be amazed and gratified by the response that they will obtain.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland)
I do not intend to follow the remarks of the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe). In view of certain recent events, I do not expect that I would be very persuasive in that quarter. I wish to turn to the Radical and Liberal section of the people, and incidentally I wish to give an explanation which may afford some solace to the Government Whips. It has probably not escaped their attention that I was an absentee one evening last week. I was not altogether a voluntary absentee; I was directed by Transport House to debate with my hon. Friend the Member for Merioneth (Mr. Emrys Roberts) before a Liberal audience, under the chairmanship of the son, of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies).
§ Mr. Willey
Perhaps not entirely, but substantially Liberal. The result was satisfactory to me, for when the voices were counted I understood that I had a majority. I must in fairness say that the hon. Member for Merioneth also came to the conclusion that he had a majority, so we decided to call it a draw. For that reason, I am quite hopeful that whatever I may say may have some result on the Bench of true Liberals below the Gangway.
1382 I wish to deal shortly with some of the arguments and points raised in our discussion, as I think they indicate some of the misgivings among Radical opinion in the country. First, there was some talk—I do not think it was any more serious talk than we have had today—about tyranny. That falls on stony ground so far as I am concerned. I live in a part of the country that endured tyranny between the two wars. We had direction by starvation. Direction of labour is not something new to the people who lived in what were called the distressed areas. We had direction by the withdrawal of the right to unemployed relief if the applicant did not take what was very often euphemistically termed "suitable work." That is the sort of thing which we are now trying to avoid. At any rate, we in the Development Areas are willing to try an alternative to that sort of direction which we have experienced before.
The second main line of argument is one to which I would especially like to direct the attention of the Government Front Bench. It was stated in many quarters that either the present economic crisis is not of sufficient gravity, or alternatively its gravity is not sufficiently well understood by the man in the street, to obtain willingness to this sort of order. My experience is that there is a good deal to be said for that. My experience is equally that wherever the gravity of the present situation is explained, this order is willingly accepted. I do not want to press this argument too far. I do not want to induce the Government to resort to propaganda which can become political propaganda. That is a dangerous thing to advocate, and I do not wish to advocate it. I do, however, want to call the attention of the Government to the fact that the man in the street is far too often unaware of the crisis through which we are going. I would appeal, and I think I can appeal to all quarters of the House, at least to call attention to it, wherever they can, even if they do it in a political context, so that this matter can be argued and threshed out. I would appeal to the public Press. I would also ask the Government to consider again what; steps they can take, ever bearing in mind the danger, which I am sufficiently a Radical to appreciate, of the Government giving economic facts which can be easily translated into political propaganda.
1383 The third major argument has been touched upon this afternoon. It was said fairly widely that the trouble about this order is that in any case it does not give sufficient powers for direction. To enlighten myself I obtained from the Ministry of Labour the "quiz" explaining the order. It struck me very much as a quiz for spivs. I agree with the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) that one can drive a coach-and-four through the order. How has that come about? It is because the Government have properly sought to obtain the support of both sides of industry for the steps which they have taken. The step towards direction of labour was discussed in this House before the Recess, but I understand from the Minister of Labour that the order was not framed until the approval of both sides of industry was gained to its guiding principles. I am afraid that there are conservatives on both sides of industry. Mr. Charles Dukes, as he then was, said at the Trades Union Congress in 1946:There are strong conservative instincts in the trade unions.What does the House want the Government to do?
§ Mr. Willey
No, not to withdraw the order, but to go as far as industry is at present willing to go. That is what they have done. My right hon. Friend has said that he has very reluctantly resorted to direction. I am only dealing with this particular argument about the limits of that direction being circumscribed by the willingness of industry on both sides to accede to it.
§ Mr. Blackburn
As my hon. Friend has quoted Lord Dukeston, may I quote what the noble Lord said on 28th May this year?I think we have got to have an overall plan, and we have to start that plan with the knowledge that attraction and not coercion or direction is the method we are going to apply.
§ Mr. Willey
I was quoting him as he then was, Mr. Charles Dukes. It may well be that now, in the light of circumstances, he has revised his opinion once more.
Finally, I would like to deal with what I think is the crucial argument on this 1384 question, that is, that in any case we cannot secure the objective we desire through this machinery. I think that the case was put as plainly as it could be put—as I have said, I am appealing to the Radical quarters—in the "Manchester Guardian" of 17th September, when it began its editorial by saying:The essential industries will not get much out of the Government's measures for controlling labour unless the Government can create quickly a large volume of unemployment. That it does not yet want to do and it would meet resistance among its own followers if it did.I fully agree with the "Manchester Guardian." The paper goes on to say that the limitations of the scheme are patent and that the Government prefer creeping paralysis to the electric shock of drastic measures to cut down our luxuries. It concludes by saying that the Government, it is to be feared, have set their feet on a very slippery slope. In fairness it has to be said that the machinery of direction is not onerous in itself, the safeguards and opportunities for delay are endless. But it must be doubted whether, as the Government propose to work it, it is going to be worth the trouble.
The editor concludes by asking the Government to rely upon the old economic incentives. That is the issue as it presents itself to me, particularly as a Member coming from a distressed area. I appeal to the House to try this experiment and not to resort to the drastic remedy, if it be a remedy, of unemployment. That remedy can never again be a drastic one unless we are willing to sacrifice the advances we have made in the field of social insurance. At any rate, let us try these alternatives to the inhuman remedy of vast unemployment presenting a great reservoir of labour which may be transferred. Many arguments have been raised which are narrow, legalistic and technical. I speak as a lawyer. I remember the words of Burke, that what he was interested in what not so much what the law said he might do, but what courage and common fairness said he ought to do. I am sure that if the people of the country realise the purpose of this order, they will realise equally what common fairness and justice demand of them.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Byers (Dorset, Northern)
I am glad to have this opportunity of 1385 intervening in order to do what I can as a Liberal, as a Radical, to get this order annulled. I appeal to hon. Members opposite to give most serious consideration to the practical possibility of annulling this order tonight. The Minister has told us that Parliament is paramount. He told us that if at the end of 1948 we did not like this order we could get rid of it. Hon. Members know that we can get rid of it tonight—because Parliament is paramount—if they have the courage of their convictions and decide to tell the Government in no uncertain terms that they will not support this order. I do not think that they ought to support it and I think that the Minister, when he reads his speech tomorrow, will realise the reason why. The biggest point he made during the whole of his speech was when he quoted the figures showing what had happened in the first two weeks of its operation. He said, "Look at that—all that." We have got all these people into the textile industry, into the woollen and worsted industry. We have done all that without any compulsion whatever." What were employment exchanges doing before 6th October? They have done all that by guidance, so we are told—
§ Mr. Isaacs
I hope the hon. Member will permit me to remind him that what I said was that these people were right outside our scope. They were never on our books. They came forward voluntarily for work. We could not contact them before. We did not know they were there.
§ Mr. Byers
That shows there was no necessity for compulsion. It is something other than this order which has brought in these people. It is no use the Minister trying to take credit for this order on those figures. Those people have responded to the various appeals which have been made. They realised that the country was in a jam and they have done what we always prophesied they would do—they have offered their services voluntarily. That has nothing to do with the Control of Engagement Order.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
What the order does is to compel those people to go to the exchanges. That is precisely what is happening.
§ Mr. Byers
So, in fact, it is not guidance; it is compulsion. Now we know that it is compulsion, and I can go on with my speech. I wish to say to the Minister that it will be a sad day for this country if the ordinary men and women accept the philosophy of life which he put forward today when he said that this had nothing to do with freedom or choice of a job, and that the only thing a man is interested in is the money he takes back at the end of the week. The Minister has done himself an injustice. If that is the mentality of the members of our Cabinet, no wonder the country is in a jam.
§ Mr. Isaacs
Please do not misquote me. I do not say it was the only thing that mattered. Please do not put these words into my mouth.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Does not the hon. Member realise that he makes all the difference in the world to the Minister's statement by interposing the word "only"?
§ Mr. Byers
We will see that in HANSARD tomorrow. The question of personal liberty and personal choice is involved in this matter. Direction of labour is the infringement of personal liberty whether we like it or not. Hon. Members opposite have said that it is not a civil liberty, it is a common liberty, a thing which one ought to give up in times of emergency. In times of grave national emergency it may be necessary to infringe personal liberty in order to preserve our other liberties. I would remind the Minister that his own Prime Minister, speaking as Leader of the Opposition, when opposing the Military Training Bill on 8th May, 1939, opposed that Bill on the ground that: 1387Behind it all looms the spectre of industrial conscription. In the name of defence of liberty our liberties may be destroyed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1939; Vol. 347, c. 152]That is the view which the present Prime Minister expressed in 1939. The Minister of Labour says that he does not like this. The Minister for Economic Affairs says that he is not in favour of conscription. The Minister of Health fought all these sort of orders during the war. What hypocrisy! Not one of these people has had the courage or the guts to resign.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
May I ask the hon. Gentleman what authority he has for the statement that the Minister of Health opposed all these orders during the war? I think he is quite mistaken. I may be wrong, but I usually took the same view as the Minister of Health during the war and I cannot remember that we ever opposed any of these orders.
§ Mr. Byers
It was a different point. I say, quite frankly: "What hypocrisy"—and it is hypocrisy. If the hon. Members above the Gangway—and I hold no brief for them at all—had been the Government today, there would have been a tremendous row in this House. This is the sort of thing which does lower the dignity of democracy itself. Let hon. Members look at the quotations which we have had today saying, "We shall never go in for industrial conscription." We have had, I think, over 12 quotations today from various Ministers who said they would never tolerate it.
I am not prepared to support the infringement of personal liberty when there is no guarantee that it will achieve the desired object. It is much easier to destroy liberty than to regain it, and I believe that persons do matter. It is important that people should stand up for personal liberty, and I should not support the infringement of personal liberty unless I could see that it would achieve the object in mind. What is the object? I do not think the Minister has got it clear. The object of this order today should have been to get maximum production. Those 1388 who argue for the direction of labour base their argument on a fundamental fallacy. Do they think that direction of labour gives increased production? It does not; it only gives increased numbers, more people in an industry. Increased production is another stage altogether, and that is extremely problematical.
We might well lose more from having unwilling workers directed into industry than we might gain. Take the case of the mining industry. I see that the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) is in his place, and I do not think anybody would deny that the hon. Member knows what he is talking about when he speaks of the mining industry. This is what he said in the Debate on the state of the nation, and this is the testimony of a man who has spent more than 30 years of his life in the mines:The men directed to the mines under the Bevin Scheme hated the very sight of the pits. The result was that those of us who had to handle these men in the pits found that they did not care whether or not they came to work. They used to take Monday and Friday off and sometimes they took other days as well. Absenteeism started to increase, This system of direction caused an increase in absenteeism.Then again:The direction of labour to the mining industry is no solution. It is no good sending a man or a boy to the pits if he hates the pit before he gets there. He will not make a good workman."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th August, 1947; Vol. 441, c. 1534.]That is testimony which I would accept, coming from a man like the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring, and it is something with which, perhaps, the Minister of Labour does not agree. Perhaps, the right hon. Gentleman thinks the hon. Member is wrong about the mining industry. If, however, that is true of the mining industry, it is equally true of a number of other industries where conditions of employment were shockingly bad between the two wars, and still are bad.
§ Mr. Edward Porter (Warrington)
Would the hon. Gentleman allow me? In Lancashire, at the present time, according to the "Manchester Guardian" and trade union officials, there are 43 cotton mills now stopped. They want 10,000 operatives, and the Ministry of Labour, the Joint Board of the Cotton Trade Unions and the employers have advertised in all the papers, and the hoardings of Lancashire are covered, with 1389 appeals to people to go into the cotton industry, which is the main industry of Lancashire. The only people interested in these 43 cotton mills are foreigners, who want to buy the machinery to transport it abroad, but we cannot get any operatives into the mills, because of the shocking condition they are in. What is the hon. Member's answer to that?
§ Mr. Byers
I am glad the hon. Member has made his speech. I was coming to that other question of the alternative, but let me answer him straight away on that important point. I understand that, in a number of these areas, there are two different factors. There may be a mill and also a factory, making, shall we say, ladies' handbags for export. We find that all the women are going into the handbag factory and none into the mill, because conditions and pay are much better in the factory. Are hon. Members opposite now going to accept direction of labour, which means that they will retain the bad conditions in the mill? Why did they go in for military conscription? To get an Army on the cheap. They are doing a disservice to the people working in the textile industries by accepting those conditions and using the cowardly method of directing the people because they will not improve the bad conditions. [Interruption.] Hon. Members have had two years already; they have another three to go, but the less support they get in the country, the longer they will want to hold on. Instead of working to improve the conditions in these industries, the undermanned industries—and it is the case that practically all the undermanned industries are those where conditions are bad—instead of that, they sit back and accept direction of labour.
I now want to say something on the question of agriculture. Direction or no direction, the limiting factor in getting agricultural workers is housing accommodation and rural amenities. The Government are up against that problem, even with direction. Has the Minister been able to place all the European voluntary workers? There was a time when he could not place them because there was not the accommodation. Direction of labour is not going to solve the problem of the agricultural worker. That problem will only be solved by providing increased houses for them. Accommodation is also a problem in the mining areas. We have also 1390 to consider this order in relation to the power to dismiss. If men resent being told to go into a particular industry, they may think they can get out of it by being continually absent. There was a very interesting case not long ago. The Miners' Union got busy, saying that these chaps were never there, and they decided that they ought to be dismissed What was the reaction of these men? They said, "Why, we have been- trying to get out of the industry for the last four months." The Government cannot retain the power of dismissal and the control of engagement at the same time.
What will happen? They will prosecute the men. They will warn them first, and somebody will write a report on them, and an enforcement officer will go along to the men and warn them. These chaps merely say that they are not interested and they are going to continue being absent. The enforcement officer then says that, because they are dodging the column, he will take them to the court. They are taken to court and fined, and taken to court again, and so the whole thing goes on. Is that increasing production? No; on the contrary, it is occupying a lot of other people, who might have been usefully employed in production, and taking them away from their own jobs. The administrative overheads of trying to enforce an unenforceable order like this are absolutely tremendous.
There is much talk of spivs and drones. Who is going to define what is a spiv or a drone? If we do not know how many there are, and how many we have to deal with, how can anybody say what the administrative costs will be? I believe it will be absolutely fantastic. When we have caught these people, what are we going to do with them? Place them in industry? Would any employer welcome a bunch of spivs landed on him? Let us be sensible about this. It is all right talking at street corners about the idle rich, but, as for the idle rich whom I have seen, I do not think there are any whom I would employ. Hon. Members should go round some of these hotels and see them there. Are they the sort of people we want to send into our factories? I hope the trade union movement, which has created a really fine atmosphere in industry, will not destroy that atmosphere by introducing these unwilling workers. [Interruption.] Well, we can go on threatening, but that does not mean we get increased production.
1391 Talking about class hatred, I must say that I object to the class discrimination which is shown in this order. I do not think that one can laugh that off at all. It is, in fact, penalising the most unfortunate section of the community, namely, the man or women who loses his or her job at the very moment of losing it. What about the effect on the individual himself? At the age of 15 he leaves school and goes to a dead-end job because he is going to be conscripted at 18. That is happening already. Employers do not want to take on these boys because they are going to lose them in three years' time and because they do not want to have to reinstate them afterwards. These boys are under military orders from the age of 18 to 26, and they have only one breathing space when they come out. If they fail to get a job, they are directed.
It is no use saying that this regulation is going to end in 1948; it was brought in because the country was in an economic difficulty, and it is going to remain while the country is in that difficulty. According to the speech of the Minister for Economic Affairs last week, we are not going to be out of this difficulty by 1948. Not on your life. This is going to become a permanent feature of our lives, because we are going to have so many people trying to enforce this direction of labour, which, in any case, will not give us increased production, that our economic difficulties will get worse because of it. We are fastening something on ourselves which will keep us in the position which we thought justified putting it on in the first place. When things are getting worse, the Government, instead of saying, "We wonder if we are on the wrong track," will say, "No, we have not been strong enough," and so they will bring in a stronger order, and the result will be this vicious circle. Before they know where they are, they will have wrecked the economy of this country, and, in so doing, will have destroyed the freedom of the individual. For that reason, I and my hon. Friends will vote for the annulment of this order.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Daines (East Ham, North)
I want to return to the arguments that were put forward for the Opposition by the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell-Fyfe). It seemed to me that he made two points of real 1392 substance, points which, I think, demand the attention of the House. His first point was that the order, as drafted, made for discrimination against the unemployed man. I think the House will recall that his party, above all other parties, used the weapon of discrimination by unemployment between the two wars, and, when he was challenged as to alternatives, he calmly referred to another speech that he had made in this House. What, I think, the critics who support this Prayer have to do is to show what should be done in the light of the circumstances today and not in the circumstances of many months ago. I get rather appalled at the way in which, in all our Debates, we get the "Battle of the Quotes." One right hon. Member once said that we could always go to the unfailing reservoir of all quotations, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). It is all very well arguing that consistency is a virtue, but this is a rapidly changing world, where men have to adjust their ideas to the revolutionary times with which we are faced today.
Coming back to the point of unemployment, it is all very well for the official Opposition to say that they are fighting for freedom; but what about their mentors, their powerful intellectual figures behind? We had the organiser of the Conservative Party, Lord Woolton, referring to "too full" employment. What exactly is meant by that?
§ Mr. H. Strauss
What Lord Woolton said had been stated at a Press conference on 20th August by the Lord President of the Council. He used those identical words "overfull employment" in describing our condition.
§ Mr. Daines
Yes, I have heard that argument before, but let us go a stage further. Hon. Members opposite repeatedly quote the "Economist" as their source of intellectual background. Dare they deny that the "Economist" has consistently advocated that a margin of unemployment should be created in order to effect direction?
Let us take the second point of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument. He said—I will be frank and admit that I have a considerable amount of sympathy with his point—that if the right kind of appeal had been made at the right time—and I will add a bit more to it and say, 1393 been backed with the right sort of publicity—we might have avoided the situation with which we are faced today. With that, I am in a certain amount of agreement. He then said that if the right form of moral appeal were made, the gaps in the labour force could be filled. I have a strong recollection that that was not the argument employed when military conscription was before the House. If that argument has real point and substance in this situation, then, equally, it has the same force when applied to the question of military conscription.
To me, this Prayer, coming from my own Benches, seems to savour too much of political irresponsibility. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am entitled to express my own point of view, and I repeat that, to me, it savours of political irresponsibility. The Order, as I see it, is very velvet gloved and very limited in its action; it is largely a question of guidance rather than of direction. I cannot help wondering when I review the discussion so far, how far, in fact, this House recognises the stark situation which faces the country. The right hon. Member for Woodford echoed the sentiments of the whole House the other week when he said that we faced the fact that 50 per cent. of our food had to be imported. I contrast this political irresponsibility with the fact that, whatever Government is in power, in the next months and years it will be a veritable question of the survival of our people, even on the standard that we have today. We have to get the right sort of exports, whether we like it or not; we have to make the goods which can be exchanged for food in order that our people can live.
I was waiting to hear from either the Liberal or the Conservative benches what their real alternatives are. Are they proposing to pay the men in the pits, and anybody else who will go into them, sufficient wages to attract them? Is that the proposal? Already, when I dare to suggest that to Labour meetings, I find my own comrades beginning to talk about class discrimination. Are they proposing that we should effect a substantial margin of unemployment in order to be able to direct our people? I would ask my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), who is a member of my own trade union, how he is proposing to solve the problem. If we have to choose between deliberately manufactured 1394 unemployment and this, or similar orders, is he going to tell me that my trade union will choose unemployment?
§ Mr. Daines
I appreciate that point, but the reason I am against this Prayer, among others, is that I look upon this order as of a limited type which will be followed by a further order to deal with the wasters, the rentiers and the spivs who according to the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers) do not exist. Unless the Minister is prepared to deal with them drastically, I can assure him that he will have serious opposition from many of us on this side of the House.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies
My hon. Friend has been good enough to mention that we are both members of the same trade union, but it so happens that I have been preaching the policy of my union and he has not.
§ Mr. Daines
After all, it is a democratic trade union. The fact that my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Westhoughton is more vocal in that circle does not alter the fact that I am a member of that union. Many hon. Members, when speaking in the House, if they feel rather strongly about a point, always say, "I speak for the people" and declare that the people are considerably roused about the subject. I have not the slightest doubt that hon. Members who will follow me will say that the workers have a considerable feeling about this subject. I mix with the workers. I am a worker. I never pretend to be anything else. To me it is the highest rank that a man can have, and I am proud of it. If I may say so with all respect to the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby, I was busy on Saturday among the workers, and I think he will agree that we did not do so badly when I tell him that we swept the board completely, and took all the Tories off the council with the exception of one.
I have yet to find that the ordinary working people are really concerned about this order. What worries the man who is 1395 doing the real job is how much longer the wasters are going to be allowed to get away with it, while he is doing a real job of work. That is the authentic voice of the working man. He says, "Why should So-and-So, who lives up the road, go to the Stock Exchange? What is he doing? What is he actually producing?" We shall find more and more—and this question will arise whatever happens to this order—that in the changing circumstances we cannot afford to maintain a superstructure even of so many distributive workers, let alone the social parasites who fasten upon us. So the Jolly Roger has been nailed to the mast, and the clarion cry has gone forth, "Free the people."
I remember when it was denied that a Coalition was even being thought of. But we never thought that the new Coalition would begin to take shape. Here this afternoon for the first time we have had substantial unity between the official Opposition, the Liberal Party and some Members on these benches. One can almost imagine my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton looking across to the Opposition and calling them "comrades." I would like to recall to my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton and his comrades what the right hon. Member for Woodford called them in the conscription Debate. On that occasion he called them "crackpots." With all due respect to my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton, Conservatism is not solely the prerogative of the party opposite. There is a residue of it below the Gangway opposite and a very vocal part of it on the Labour benches too. We must face the facts as they are, and also as they will arise. I suggest to my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton that his motto is, "The time has come when we should go forward with our backs to the wall." In the circumstances of today, we on these benches accept the responsibility of government, and at the right time in the Division Lobby tonight we shall turn down this Prayer in no uncertain way.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Langford-Holt (Shrewsbury)
The hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Daines), spent a considerable time discussing the question of facing facts. I have seldom heard in this House a speech which was so divorced from facts and so 1396 coloured by prejudice. The hon. Member also said that he was opposed to quotations of any sort. I hope that the hon. Member was here the other evening when the Prime Minister was winding up in a very important Debate—
§ Mr. Langford-Holt
I am very glad to hear the hon. Member say so. I myself do not intend to make any quotations, unless the hon. Member or others draw them out of me. During the last few months there have been repeated and emphatic declarations by right hon. and hon. Members opposite that no form of industrial conscription will be enforced in this country. If we and the country as a whole are to have any faith in ministerial statements, presumably we are to take some notice of what right hon. Gentlemen opposite say. There is a saying which is well known in this country, thatHell is paved with good intentions.I am beginning to think that the road to slavery is paved with ministerial declarations.
Let us look at the order which we are discussing. It came into effect on 6th October, 1947. It has now been in effect for, the best part of a month, and it is being debated in this House on 3rd November. We have heard this afternoon from the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour that Parliament is paramount and sovereign. Is this his method of showing us exactly what Parliament is intended to do, by bringing us an order which was put into effect a month ago, so that we may debate whether it shall be annulled? The hon. Member for East Ham, North, described this order as being very mild. I think he intended to convey that there was practically nothing to it. But one only has to look at Section 3, paragraphs (a), (b) and (c), to see that with the exception of those categories of persons which the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers) mentioned, it covers everybody. A man cannot change his job. The moment he leaves a job the right hon. Gentleman or one of his underlings will tell him where to go. I do not think that will produce the answer. I do not approve of this order, and I do not think it will work. Its main defect is that it will not work in 1397 practice. If the right hon. Gentleman must produce an order like this, for goodness' sake let him produce one which will be effective, although I would far rather he did not produce it at all.
There has been a lot of talk about "spivs, drones, eels and butterflies." They will not be caught by this order. They are not really so stupid as that. Only a week ago I was in Soho, and in the street, I am absolutely certain without telling a lie, there were 200 men sitting around on the pavement throwing dice. One of them actually came up to me and said, "Excuse me, are you the bookmaker?" They are not going to be affected by this order, and the right hon. Gentleman need not think they are; yet they are the spivs and drones he is talking a lot about.
I should like the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary later on to explain the rather extraordinary dictionary that has been included in this order, and which begins:Unless the context otherwise requires, the following expressions have the meanings hereby assigned to themOne definition is this:'Coalmining industry' means the industry in which coalmines are worked and carried on.Does that strike the right hon. Gentleman or any other Member of this House as being a really coherent part of a coherent order? It is fatuous. Section 6, subsection (e) mentions the permits which the Minister can give in certain circumstances. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary, when he replies, to be more specific about these permits than anyone has been hitherto. Here again, I must refer to a quotation which was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Fuel and Power. He quoted somebody as saying about petrol:Give us a gallon or two and we will fiddle the rest."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th October, 1947; Vol. 443, c 1034.]All that anyone need say now is, "Give me a chance and I will fiddle a permit." That is what is going to happen unless the right hon. Gentleman is extremely careful.
The problem, as the hon. Member f North Dorset said, is not to get numbers into industry but to get output from industry. It is very doubtful whether compulsory direction is going to produce out- 1398 put. A man, broadly speaking, will work only in a job of his own choosing. He does not wish to be compelled, either economically or by Statutory Rule and Order No. 2021. I am not satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman looked at every possible alternative before he resorted to this. There are positive direction and negative direction. I have not the facilities he has, nor the records to go into, but I sincerely hope he is quite clear in his conscience that he has done everything in his power to seek an alternative. I do not think he has, quite honestly. This measure, despite what the hon. Member for East Ham, North says, is not mild. It is very nearly a 100 per cent. slave order. That is what it means, too, in peace time. In wartime people were willing to subject themselves to such orders, but in peace time, the right hon. Gentleman and Members opposite ought to know, they are not prepared to do so.
I object to this order, first, because it is wide open to abuse; second, because of the method by which this direction was given to us; and third—and here is the most important reason—because it is bad in principle; because it is infringing the rights of the people of this country for which we fought for many centuries—and it is infringing the rights which hon. Members opposite have claimed for the last 40 years as being theirs solely. The danger today—and it is not only in this order but in every other sphere of the Government's activities—is that there are people alive today who have forgotten what true freedom is; and there are children being born today who will never have the chance of knowing. Twenty-five years ago a President of the United States, Mr. Woodrow Wilson, said something which is as true today as it was then, and in conclusion I should like to quote what he said:Only free peoples can hold their purpose and their honour steady to a common end, and prefer the interests of mankind to any narrow interests of their own.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Solley (Thurrock)
I am very pleased that the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) has come back into his place because I should like to refer to certain aspects of his speech. It was typical of many of the speeches which we have had recently from the Opposition Front Bench. It was by way of being destructive criticism of 1399 the Government's case—and very bad criticism at that—without the slightest evidence of any alternative to the Government's policy. The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows as well as anybody in this House that whatever may be the causes of the present crisis, whatever differences there may be on his side or on our side as to how we can bridge the dollar gap, it is a fundamental factor in the solution—the temporary solution, at all events—of our troubles to get increased production; and he must know that, in order to get increased production, it is essential to man the industries which are of the greatest importance to our export plan at the present moment.
There is a Tory policy in respect of this matter, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman thought it better not to refer to it here in the House of Commons, since the publicity it might thereby attain would do no great credit to the Conservative cause in the country. The policy, was put forward by Lord Woolton, chairman of the Conservative Party, on the very eve of the re-opening of Parliament. On 20th October, in a speech which he made at Stoke-on-Trent to the Chamber of Commerce, he put forward that remarkable and ancient remedy of the Conservative Party—a pool of unemployment as a solution to our present crisis. He said that such a method, such a pool of unemployment—and here I quote his actual words—is infinitely more acceptable to British habits than the State direction of labour.There, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, you have the true and real alternative of the Tory Party—mass starvation; not, if you please, direction of labour, limited though it be, put into operation as it is by a sympathetic Labour Government, and subject to control by way of the democratic criticism of the trade unions of this country—
§ Mr. H. Strauss
I thought the hon. Gentleman was going to quote the exact words of Lord Woolton in the same or next sentence, namely—"over-full employment." That phrase was used on 20th August.
§ Mr. Edgar Granville (Eye)
On a point of Order. Is it in Order for the hon. and learned Member to put into the mouth of my hon. Friend words which he never used at all?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
That is not a point of Order. Perhaps if the hon. and learned Member were allowed to put his point we could continue more quickly.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
Mr. Deputy-Speaker, the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Solley) yielded to me, and I then yielded to a point of Order. I do not want to prolong the proceedings, but I had only yielded to that point of Order, which you have now ruled is no point of Order. Therefore, I was really on my feet at that moment. I have but two sentences to say and then I shall have made my point.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I think it would be to the advantage of the Debate if the hon. and learned Member would say his two sentences and not make a speech.
§ Mr. Parker (Dagenham)
On a point of Order. Is it in Order for an hon. Member to rise to make a point on something which he thinks another hon. Member is about to say?
§ Mr. H. Strauss
The point I make is quite simple. That phrase which the hon. Member for Thurrock has just accused Lord Woolton of using was used by the Lord President of the Council at his press conference on 20th August of this year. Whether what Lord Woolton said was right or wrong, he was merely saying that which the Lord President had said two months earlier.
§ Mr. Solley
The hon. and learned Member, as always, is completely and utterly wrong, and is speaking poppycock. The speech made by Lord Woolton was on 20th October to the Stoke Chamber of Commerce, and had no reference whatsoever to any utterance, alleged or otherwise, by any right hon. Member of this Government. The specific words used by Lord Woolton, which I here quote again, and which have no reference to the phrase referred to by the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss), were: 1401A pool of unemployment is infinitely more acceptable to British habits than a State direction of labour.That is the opinion of the chairman of the Conservative Party of this country.
The right hon. and learned Member for West Derby gave us an exhibition of shedding crocodile tears when he told us of the terrible fate awaiting the British working class. He wanted the British working class to evolve "along a path of spiritual decency." But between the two wars, when the Tories were in effective control of the Government of this country, how did they treat the working class from the point of view of taking them "along a path of spiritual decency"? They chose the means test as a method of breaking up family life in order to secure the Tory conception of spiritual decency.
The right hon. and learned Member complains how awful this order is, and says it is a discrimination against the working class. If that is so, I invite the right hon. and learned Member to remove this discrimination. He can go to his pals of the F.B.I. and say, "We need not have this order, gentlemen. We will offer such wages and conditions in, for example, the textile industries that there will be such a terrific flow of workers into those industries that there will be no question of having"—to use his phrase—"discrimination against one section of the working class." Alternatively, he could go to his Tory friends—and I am quite sure my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour would welcome this—and say, "We are not going to object if the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the next Budget does a little soaking of the rich, because that will result in removing this discrimination." It is up to the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby, here and now, to say that he is in favour of the removal of discrimination against the working class by these practical, effective and concrete steps, without all this blah-blah of rhetoric which does not mean anything to us.
Another practical method by which this alleged discrimination against the working class could be avoided was referred to by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), who moved the Motion. I, personally, disliked his speech, the implications of which I do not accept, but in respect of one matter he 1402 hit the nail on the head when he said that there were one million unemployed in Army uniform, and that we should do something about them before considering the direction of labour. But I did not notice the right hon. and learned Member opposite or any of his supporters cheering that statement of my hon. Friend. On the contrary, that is the one thing they would hate—to see any alteration in our Armed Forces. That is an alternative programme which could be put forward to take the place of this order, if, as the Opposition allege, it is such an onslaught on the personal liberty of the subject.
To the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby I say, frankly and bluntly, "If you honestly believe this order is contrary to fundamental conceptions of the liberty of the subject, why do you not stand up and say, 'We will call back the troops from Palestine; we will call back the troops from Greece; we will call back the troops from other parts of the world where they are not wanted by the local inhabitants, and where they are not doing us very much good, and then we won't have any need for this order'?" That is what the right hon. and learned Member could say if he really wanted to put forward an alternative plan. I hope that in the short time at my disposal I have shown the fatuity, the absurdity, and, if I may say so, the typical Tory dishonesty of the arguments put forward from the Opposition benches.
The hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Langford-Holt) spoke about the possibility of this order being subject to wide and open abuse. Theoretically, he is perfectly right, but he is forgetting that this is not an order which has been brought into existence without any reference to the concrete economic facts which face us, and to our social structure as it exists today. He has overlooked the fact that we have a strong and united trade union movement, and, indeed, a strong Labour movement. He has overlooked the fact that if any Government hereafter would dare to create wide and open abuses of this order—if it were to continue in force—such a Government would be met with the united protest of the organised trade union movement. In this connection, I should like to put to the hon. Member for Shrewsbury what was said to me by Mr. Evzen Erban the general secretary of the trade union move- 1403 ment of Czechoslovakia, because in my submission it is material to this point. I had a conversation with him last year in Prague, and he told me that the entire Czech trade union movement was supporting the Government; that it was almost indivisible from the Government, I asked him, "What will happen if the sacrifices which your trade union movement is making today are put in jeopardy by the return of a reactionary Government?" He replied, "No Government can exist in Czechoslovakia today without the backing of the trade union movement." Therefore, I say to hon. Member's opposite that we in the trade union and Labour movements will see that there is no possibility of wide and open, or any abuse, of this order.
No one on these Benches welcomes this order. As my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Daines) said, it must be considered in the light of subsequent legislation, by way of the Budget for example, and future orders whereby the parasitical rich—I am not going to distinguish between spivs and butterflies—and, those elements in our economy which are not fulfilling the tasks that are essential for any decent citizen to fulfil today, will be sought out and directed to the jobs which they ought to fulfil. I do not regard this as being an isolated order. I have confidence in the Government that, with the backing of the trade union movement, this order will become part of a general scheme whereby the working-classes will not suffer unilateral conscription, but will be enabled to play an essential and all-important part in overcoming our crisis and rehabilitating our economy, and making the sort of England the people of this country want, and not the sort of England hon. Members opposite have had in the past and would like to see us return to today.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)
The hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Solley) directed most of his argument to the very agreeable subject of Conservative policy, and confined his references to the Control of Engagement Order to the irreducible minimum required by the Rules of Order. As I understand such part of his argument as he addressed to the order, it is this: that the order was, of itself, a kind 1404 of mystical cure for unemployment. That is a novel and stimulating argument, but it was not the argument by which the right hon. Gentleman commended the order to this House. I hope that the hon. Member will acquit me of discourtesy if I do not follow him up that diverting bypath, but try to deal with one or two of the points the Minister put in support of the order. I think that all hon. Members had some sympathy with the Minister this afternoon. He so manifestly disliked this order, and his whole approach was one of natural and justified reluctance. Where the Minister did fail was in producing any evidence to support the necessity for what is, after all, a complete reversal of the policy of the Government of which he is a Member.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) referred to the Economic Survey, which as recently as February of this year mentioned direction of labour only to dismiss it. The policy of this order is a departure from previous Government policy, which is not necessarily a condemnation of it; nevertheless, it is a complete reversal, and the House is entitled to hear a great deal more as to why it has been considered necessary to reverse this policy. The right hon. Gentleman, so far from producing any suggestion that it was necessary to reverse the policy, prided himself on the fact that the placing of men in vital industries was going well without compulsion. He quoted figures, for as recently as the middle of last month, as being perfectly satisfactory without this compulsion. If that is so, and the present machinery is working adequately, what is the sudden need for compulsion?
The Minister, I am sure inadvertently, misled the House on one particular point in replying to an intervention by an hon. Member who put the point that a man might suffer medically if directed into a particular trade. The right hon. Gentleman sought to reassure us by inviting attention to Defence Regulation 80B. What he did not make clear to the House is that that Defence Regulation, while giving the Minister power to order a medical examination where he so desires, does not give a corresponding power to the individual concerned to demand one. It is, therefore, no protection for an individual who, rightly or wrongly, thinks 1405 that his health may be damaged if he is directed into a particular trade. It merely gives to the Minister a chance, by medical examination, to get that argument overruled. I am sure that inadvertently the right hon. Gentleman, in responding to that interjection, misled the House to some extent. It is a point that should, therefore, be made quite clear.
Whatever the merits or demerits of this proposal, I should like to make my protest about its being done in this way. Whether hon. Members like this order or not, it is an order which raises a major question of constitutional importance. It raises the question of the right of the State, in time of peace, to control the places and employments in which its subjects work. That is a matter of major importance, and it is surely quite deplorable that wartime emergency powers should have been abused for this purpose. This is a matter which, if it were to be done at all, should have been done by the procedure of a Bill. After all, it affects far more people than the Government's compulsory military service proposals. Cannot the House envisage the disturbance there would have been if the Government had sought to bring into effect their military service proposals by Statutory Rule and Order? There would have been an outcry on every side. This matter covers far more people. It covers virtually the whole of the working population.
Surely major matters of this sort should not be dealt with by orders which come into effect before they can be discussed in this House, and have the further defect that they cannot be amended. Taking the analogy of the Government's compulsory military service proposals, as the right hon. Gentleman knows they were fully discussed, involving an all-night Sitting, which he well remembers, and when the hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman), whose little finger has more weight than the loins of the Minister of Defence, raised that little finger, a very important Amendment was effected. But we are now faced with the alternative of voting to annul the order or of supporting it, because of the procedure the Government have deliberately adopted, and it is not possible for hon. Members on both sides, who may have strong views on certain aspects, to express these views by way of Amendments.
1406 I think it is wholly wrong, and a matter for protest, that the Government have done this in this way. I ask hon. Members opposite, some of whom agree, however misguidedly in my view, with the substance of the order, to consider whether they should not support the Prayer on the ground that this is not the right way to carry out important matters. It is a very damaging precedent. Hon. Members have to look to the future, and it may be that this precedent will be followed by other Governments of different political complexions. Surely, any protest by hon. Members opposite against a Statutory Rule and Order, affecting large constitutional changes and the liberty of the subject, would be stultified in advance by the knowledge that they had supported this Government in doing precisely this on this occasion.
It is not by any manner of means purely from the point of view of the liberty of the subject that I and a good many others feel passionately strongly on this subject. We feel that it is a very great change in our national life, a change which it is impossible adequately to discuss, and a change whose effects will be profound and prolonged. Even were the moral aspect of it to be put aside—and I do not think it can—this is an extremely inefficient way to do what the Government are aiming at. My right hon. and learned Friend has quoted the very words which the Minister used at the T.U.C. conference last year.
These words, which I am sure are in the recollection of the House, were an argument not on the moral question, but on the expediency of this order. The right hon. Gentleman was there, with his own great experience of labour questions and the trade union movement, making it clear that in his view you did not get increased efficiency and output in industry by a process of conscription. Although it is possible to use the machinery of the courts and of the law to drive unwilling men and women into trades in which they do not wish to work, not all the machinery of the courts and of the law can get out of those people a full and efficient day's work once they are there.
I recollect, some 18 months ago, hearing a very wise and experienced Metropolitan magistrate dealing with an application by the right hon. Gentleman's Ministry to send back to the pits a miner who had sought to evade the provisions 1407 of the Control of Engagement Order, as it then affected the mining industry. The magistrate put to the representative of the right hon. Gentleman's Department this question: "If I order this man back to the pits, can you guarantee to me that he will put in a hard day's work when he is there?" I was sorry for the right hon. Gentleman's representative. Quite obviously he could not answer that challenge. Yet, that is precisely the challenge which is now presented over the whole sphere of industry to the right hon. Gentleman and his Department. Does he really think that he will get from men who have been compelled to work at work which ex hypothesi they do not wish to do, and who would rather be working elsewhere, that wholehearted co-operation with others, that all out effort, which the industrial problems of this nation so compellingly demand at this day and hour? That surely, is the point.
It may be possible by the use of this machinery to make the statistics of the right hon. Gentleman's Department seem more impressive; to make it appear that the labour force has been got into the right places, and thereby reflect great credit on the administration of the right hon. Gentleman, but unless, once that has been done, output per man in the affected industries rises, there will be apparent the flaw in the right hon. Gentleman's calculations, and it will be apparent that what has been said tonight from this side of the House is true—that it is the wrong method to seek increased industrial output by the use of the machinery of the law courts and the threat of imprisonment. The issue is, as the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers) said, an example, willingly or unwillingly, of class legislation. It is a proposal which affects only certain sections of the community and leaves others free. It is to that extent quite different from the war-time proposals in which all classes of the community were subject to military conscription or direction of another sort. Therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman wants, as I know he passionately wants, a good spirit of co-operation in industry, surely he is going the wrong way about it, if he brings to certain people in industry the feeling that he is compelling them in one direction while others are free to seek employment where they wish.
1408 There is one more fundamental issue. The effect of this order must be to keep in their particular jobs or trades people who have in them the power and capacity to rise. If this order had been in force at the material time, Lord Nuffield would be repairing bicycles at a shop in Oxford today. It is true, too, that had it been applied in other ages, Shakespeare would have been dragged from the poaching which was congenial to him to work as an agricultural labourer. It is a fact that if we interfere, with the best will in the world—and I am sure one credits the right hon. Gentleman with that—with the freedom of people to choose their own work in their own way, we are inevitably preventing those people who have exceptional capacity from using that capacity to the full, or, indeed, at all. That is an affront to the whole tradition of our life in this country, and it is a decision which seems to me to show surprising ignorance of the spirit of this country. There have been no convincing grounds given, and no particular grounds given, for taking this step.
I think that we are entitled, therefore, to know whether it is the last step or not. An hon. Member below the Gangway said with the greatest confidence that this was but the first order and another and more drastic one was to follow. We are entitled to insist on being told by the Parliamentary Secretary whether that is true or not. Hon. Members opposite who are being asked to support this order should know before they give that support whether they are supporting it as a final instalment or as a first instalment of a deliberate policy. We are entitled to know, because it seems to many of us that the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway was right, and that this is but a first step in a whole series of these orders. Many of us believe that the Government, unwillingly and with the obvious and manifest reluctance which the Minister has shown, are being driven by their own policy and the effects of their own policy along the path of ever-increasing compulsion and coercion. The ordinary price mechanism has been put out of gear by a deliberate policy. Inflation, plus a series of controls which have been consistent only in their inconsistencies, have been imposed, and have distorted the distribution of the labour force of this country and given rise to the problems with which the right hon. Gentleman is feebly grappling. While that policy con- 1409 tinues, this distortion, which is its consequence, will inevitably continue.
I prophesy that the right hon. Gentleman, if he proceeds on the path of coercion, will find that this order represents inadequate coercion, and, before long, he will be asking hon. Gentlemen behind him to support him in further measures of control. We are asking: is this the last order or is it not? Do the Government think they have gone far enough in the policy of coercion? That should be on record, one way or another, in order that hon. Members may be quite clear in their conscience as to whether they will support this order or not.
I say in conclusion that I believe this order to be the logical consequence of the Government's own policy. I do not believe that it has a rap to do with the immediate emergency. I believe that on the contrary, it is an inherent part of the Government's policy as forecast many years ago by the Minister for Economic Affairs, and I believe that we are here tonight at a parting of the ways in the party opposite, between those who, like the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), represent a very fine part of the Radical spirit of England, and the new brand of Socialist intellectuals who are believers in compulsion, believers in totalitarianism and believers in a State in which orders are given to all, and initiative belongs to none. That is the challenge which we have to meet tonight. I ask hon. Members opposite, before they cast their votes, to reflect, not only on the immediate merits of this order, but on the whole long dreary prospect of controls, orders and State interference which lies along the path over which the Government, with hesitating steps, are inevitably being led.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
I have a good deal of sympathy with what the hon. Member for Kingston-on-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) and the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers) have said about the unwisdom of trying to force people to work in jobs which they have not chosen. But I think that both hon. Members really proved too much. If all that the hon. Member for Kingston-on-Thames said is true, then the system of labour control which we worked during the war could 1410 never have been effective at all. The lessons of the wartime system showed that, by relying on more normal measures of persuasion, supplemented by compulsion in the background, one could accomplish a great deal. I think that in challenging the whole of that argument, the hon. Gentleman was carrying his case too far.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
The hon. Gentleman has held out as an example of what can be done the policy of wartime control, but how does he reconcile that with the fact that almost as soon as the Control of Engagement Order was applied to the coal mines, the output per man year began to drop steadily year by year?
§ Mr. Jay
I was holding up the wartime experiment to show that if the hon. Gentleman's argument had been correct, it would not have worked during the war. I think that the subject that we are discussing tonight is exceedingly important from the point of view of civil liberty and economic recovery. Therefore, I would like to try to discuss it in as objective a manner as possible. I myself, in a speech at the beginning of July on the balance of payments, advocated a number of measures to deal with the situation, and one of those I advocated at that time was a renewed Control of Engagements Order. But the Control of Engagements Order which the Government have actually introduced is rather different from what I had in mind. I should like to explain the difference. I think what we must keep in mind—and this was the weakness of the argument of the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe)—is the exceedingly serious economic situation with which the country is faced. Clearly that situation has turned against us in the world in the last six months, and as far as I can judge the position is likely to turn worse against us in the next few months. Nevertheless, in my view there is a possible middle way in this matter, by which we can achieve what I would call, not direction, but the steering of labour or—to use the words of the Minister himself—the guidance of labour which would alleviate our economic difficulties without infringement of personal freedom.
What we should keep in the background of our minds in the matter of liberty is the distinction which seems to me to be fundamental, between what has been called personal freedom in this Debate 1411 and what I would call economic freedom. The hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) last week—he is not here today—was good enough to quote a passage from a book which I published recently and in which I made that distinction. He asked me if I still stood by those views. I could assure him if he were here that I still stand by that distinction and by everything that I said in that particular passage. I would define personal freedom as one's right to do as one likes with oneself, with one's own abilities, and with one's own services. To my mind that has always been one of the most precious of human rights and I must say that with the tide of totalitarism growing in the world today, I think we should value it more highly than we ever did before.
I believe, if we carry control of labour to the point of saying to a man, "You shall not leave this specific job you are in," or alternatively, "You must take this specific job on the pain of being sent to prison if you do not," we are infringing personal liberty. In contrast, I would define economic liberty as a man's right to buy or sell, to own property, to employ or discharge someone else, and so forth. It seems to me that the State in these times, in the course of its economic planning, has the right to infringe to some extent this second type of liberty. I believe that if we go this far in devising our labour control, and if we merely limit the range of choice which a man has, we are infringing not the real fundamental personal freedom, but a secondary form of economic freedom.
The answer to this puzzle, I suggest, therefore—the crux of the whole matter—is that we should still preserve freedom of choice for the worker within a certain range, but the State should step in and say, "We are going to set some limit to that range." After all, all sorts of external factors, such as unemployment and other events all over the world, are all the time limiting the range of choice of any man in accepting a job. That is the substance of the argument put forward from this side of the House, that unemployment has always and cruelly directed workers into jobs. By the method, I am advocating, you would say to a man, "Here are 6, 12 or 20 essential jobs; you can choose freely between them; but it happens that the 1412 football pools, the dog track or the Stock Exchange is not one of them."
It may be said that that would be a very ineffective way, as one hon. Member argued in an interjection to the Minister of Labour when he said: "What is the good of the order, because you are dealing with so few people and nothing will be achieved." I think that objection springs from a misconception of how the actual process of recruitment in industry goes on and how these movements of manpower occur. It is a fact—we should keep this in mind—that in a factory, a mine or an office in this country something like.5 of one per cent. of the labour force leave every week. If there are 10,000 people in a factory, 50 leave it every week. Or to put it another way, in any industrial establishment nearly 50 per cent. of those employed at the beginning of the year have left it by the end; that is to say, about five million persons change their jobs in this country every year, or 100,000 a week.
Two things follow from that. The first is if we want to reduce the strength of the unessential factory, there is no necessity to start using compulsion on the individuals in that factory. We have only to say to the employer, "You are not to take any more workers in the next 12 months without permission of the Ministry of Labour," and the labour force drops by perhaps 40 per cent. in a year. The second factor is this. If there is a turnover of something like 100,000 a week or upwards, I should have thought it was very doubtful whether the Ministry of Labour, efficient though it is in these matters, could handle any greater number of workers than that. It is also very doubtful whether employers and the personnel engaged in taking on workers in the coal industry and in the cotton mills could really handle the number of recruits at a weekly rate much greater than that. So I do not think we need be much deterred by the argument that reliance on normal turnover is going to make this sort of order ineffective.
This also weakens the argument which we have heard from the other side of the House that this is discrimination against the unemployed. Persons who normally leave jobs in industry and go to the employment exchange to look for a new job have not ordinarily been unemployed for long periods. For one reason or another, they wish to leave 1413 where they are and they are seeking a new job; so that I do not think that this is very great force, in this argument. To give one example of how effectively we can use this sort of method, in the case of the cotton spinning industry, which is one of our most notable bottlenecks, it would only be necessary to place a competing engineering firm on the black list, if one might call it so, and not permit it to engage extra labour for a certain period, and the flow of labour into the cotton mills would be increased immediately. The same argument could be applied to the coal industry.
I must say that I would have wished myself that the Minister had introduced an order which would have worked wholly on this principle; that is to say, he could have omitted the provisions for any positive direction at all; he could even have omitted the provision which compels every worker to register at the employment exchange, and relied entirely on building bit by bit, in a scientific way, a black list of firms which were not permitted without specific Ministry of Labour approval to take on more workers.
§ Mr. Ungoed-Thomas (Llandaff and Barry)
Before leaving this interesting point, would my hon. Friend the Member for North Battersea (Mr. Jay) tell us how he would get the labour for the coalmines. Perhaps that is rather a special case?
§ Mr. Jay
I left out that point, because I wanted to be brief, but the obvious answer is that labour for the coalmines would be got by removing from the list of essential jobs any competing industry in the coal areas. This would divert a flow of labour into the coal industry. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend asks whether it would do so.
§ Mr. Jay
Because that is the method which we largely used during the war. The point, however, I was trying to make was that I should have liked to see the Minister introduce that kind of method originally and try it out before we took this further step towards fuller control. Nevertheless I believe that it is the Minister's intention, although he did produce this scheme in this rather more thoroughgoing form, to use it, in fact, in that spirit, largely by the method of steering rather than direction, by limit 1414 ing the range of choice and allowing a considerable freedom within that range. I must say that I cannot persuade myself that to keep a power of direction in the background—while we would all prefer not to see it there—in the circumstances in which the country is placed today, when really our whole survival as a free society is in question, for reasons that we all know, though regrettable, is, in present circumstances, indefensible.
§ Mr. Blackburn
I would like to congratulate my hon. Friend on his speech and to say how much one agrees with most of it. I would like to put this point to him: the Government have stated that they are going to take power artificially to create unemployment by withholding steel and raw materials. Then they have the power under this order to direct wherever they like, and to particular employments, the people who may have been artificially made unemployed persons. Is not that the real intention?
§ Sir Arthur Salter (Oxford University)
Does not the hon. Member agree that it would be better for him to proceed on the basis of the powers which the Government have taken, and not upon his own speculations, in deciding what are the Government's intentions?
§ Mr. Jay
I believe the Government will use this order in a particular manner. I am urging them to do so, and I am prepared to give them my support tonight on that assumption. I think I am entitled to say that. I hope that the Minister is going to use the specific powers of compulsion, which is where we do touch on the real matter of personal liberty, very sparingly and very much in the background. I would have been pleased if he could have given us an assurance that no-one will be directed away from his home. I am sure from experience that the numbers so directed will be so small as to make very little difference to the economic situation of the country.
Finally, if the Government succeed in operating the order by reliance on steering and guidance rather than on direction, and if the order is administered in 1415 what I should regard as the humane and efficient fashion for which the Ministry of Labour got a reputation during the war, I think it will make a contribution to the country's economic recovery and will not result in any real infringement of personal liberty. If the Government do that, we shall have shown that democratic planning in these matters is possible, and that will be of great benefit to many other countries besides ourselves. I hope, therefore, that throughout the administration of the order the Minister and those who serve him will bear in mind the paramount importance, particularly in these days, of maintaining the essential personal liberties of the workers.
§ 7.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Marshall (Bodmin)
I am grateful for the opportunity to intervene in this Debate for a few minutes, but I shall not follow very far the arguments used by the hon. Member for North Battersea (Mr. Jay). So far as I can make out, he thinks the order is unpleasant and he says, "I don't like it, and I must request that the Minister will not use it to a very great degree." That appeared to me to be part of his argument. I believe such an argument to have a fallacious basis. I do not want to misrepresent the hon. Member. If he cares to interrupt—
§ Mr. Marshall
I am glad the hon. Member interrupted. I would like to make myself clear on one point, which is that there is still left the impression that the hon. Member really hopes that the Minister will not use compulsion to any degree. There is a certain amount of trust between the hon. Member and the Minister as to how the Minister will treat people under the order, but I would remind the hon. Member that when this order is agreed to here we have to disregard the intentions of the Minister and to look at what is actually in the order. That is the important point.
I thought that the hon. Member who opened the Debate made a magnificent speech in reference to this order. I do 1416 not propose to refer to what has been said in the past on any side in this House, but I wish very briefly to say how exactly I feel personally about the order. It seems to me to be really a challenge of principle. The arguments advanced on the other side of the House amount to this, that circumstances have arisen in which it is necessary to operate this order, although it is a great pity, and so forth. All Governments have used that argument at all times as to why direction must be introduced. It has always been essential at the time in their opinion.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Ness Edwards)
The hon. Member made a statement just now that we should confine ourselves to what is in the order. Will he indicate where he finds direction in the order?
§ Mr. Marshall
If hon. Members will turn to page 3 and paragraph 3 of the order—I certainly will not weary the Minister by reading it out, because he knows it as well as I do—I think they will find the answer. Surely, the substance of the order is that when anyone is unemployed, goes to an employment exchange, and is offered a job which he does not take, then he is to be directed. Is that wrong?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member again, but he did say that we should confine ourselves to the order. There is nothing in the order, and he has not shown it to us so far, by which any person can be directed.
§ Mr. Marshall
I suppose I should be out of Order if I asked the Minister why, in that case, he is introducing the order at all. The Minister might like to interrupt me again to tell me. I listened to the right hon. Gentleman earlier in the Debate, and so far as I could gather, the reason for the introduction of the order was so that in certain circumstances he could direct men and women to certain industries. No doubt the Minister will have ample opportunity tonight when he comes to the Box to explain that there is no direction in the order and that in no circumstances will he direct a man or woman. I shall listen to such a statement with delight.
To go on with my argument: I feel that it is entirely a matter of principle as to 1417 whether or not in any circumstances, other than being attacked from without By an enemy, a foreign Power, it is right to direct people. That is the principle before the House tonight. I believe it to be wrong. I believe that the individual has a right to select which job he shall do and a right to move from that job. That is something even more than a material question. It is a spiritual approach involving the individual.
From the material angle I do not believe that the Government will have any success with this order. This nation will not stand for direction. I believe that this great nation of ours has literally been built up on that fact, that we will not stand for direction, other than during war. I believe that direction is a fundamental principle of totalitarian rule, opposed to the spirit of this peculiar and rather lovely democracy of ours. I use the words, "peculiar and lovely," because the word, "democracy," has had so many strange and odd meanings attached to it in different parts of the world just lately. I came into this House at the Election in 1945. At no time will I ever feel more convinced, than I am standing for what this nation stands for, than when I go into the Lobby tonight to vote against this order. I am utterly, completely, and absolutely opposed to it, and I shall be very interested to note whether the Parliamentary Secretary, when he replies, will be able to say, "There is no direction in it; I cannot direct anybody, because it is not the intention, of the order." I believe it is very unlikely that he will be able to say that, and that when he steps to the Box he will feel as I feel, that he has no mandate for this order.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Mr. James Glanville (Consett)
I have spent a good deal of time listening to this Debate, in which I have heard barristers, lawyers, and representatives of the so-called intelligentsia, of whom I cannot cannot claim to be one. I speak neither as a barrister nor a lawyer, but as an honest working miner with 40 years' practical experience behind me. I must confess that tears came to my eyes when I heard Members opposite bemoaning the lost freedom of the British working man. I wondered how much the British working man had been free during Tory rule. I can remember well that the weapon they relied upon was not the mere direction of 1418 labour; it was the creation of an army of unemployed, the direction of labour through empty stomachs. We know that it was not so many years before the recent war that thousands of unemployed were going to employment exchanges, begging to be directed to jobs. They said, "Send me anywhere—give me any honest work—and I will go to it, no matter where it is."
§ Sir A. Salter
Is the hon. Member saying that any Government has deliberately created a great pool of unemployment?
§ Mr. Glanville
Yes, they are, and they will continue to do so. Their sympathy, welfare, and keen interest in the well-being of the British working man, touches me to the quick. What did working-class freedom consist of during Tory rule? It was a free country, but if a man's children did not have any boots and stockings, they were free to run the streets barefooted.
I have great respect, and I admire in many ways, my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), who opened the Debate against this order. His attitude was entirely in keeping with his general make-up and the principles which he adopted during the war. If all the people in this country had been like my hon. Friend, Hitler would have been here now, and we would not have had the privilege of speaking in this Chamber. Nevertheless, I respect my hon. Friend for his logical attitude. Members opposite say that no one can tell how far this order may go. I can understand their qualms. Its provisions might ultimately embrace some of their class, who have lived in privilege and luxury since they were born. If I had my way, this order would have included them. Indeed, the only fault I find with it is that it ropes in only what are known as spivs and drones, but not the sons and daughters of the privileged classes, who have for so long lived on the backs of the workers.
It is said that no man should be directed to a job to which he does not want to go. I say that a man has not only a duty to himself, but to the rest of the community. He has to perform a useful service, not only a service which will bring 1419 him a comfortable livelihood, but one which will contribute something to the welfare of the rest of the community.
§ Mr. E. P. Smith (Ashford)
Does the hon. Member realise that the objection some of us have on these Benches is that this order is not more universal?
§ Mr. Glanville
I ask my right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to take note of that remark. I do not need notes with which to refresh my memory. My experience tells me what to say on occasions such as this, and I say now that when we are trying to build up a Socialist State we must have a social contribution from every able-bodied man in the country. We cannot afford to carry passengers in the ship of State which we are trying to steer successfully through troubled waters. We cannot afford to carry hangers-on. We must try to increase the standard of living of every man, woman and child. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Members opposite groan, but if the Tories, instead of this Government had been in power, then the working people of this country would have been begging for crusts today—
§ Mr. Glanville
If they had been in power I would have been sorry for the people who had put them there. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I have already told the House what things are like under Tory rule. Many of us have been directed all our lives. There is nothing new in the direction of labour—
§ Mr. Glanville
We are directing labour in order to build a Socialist State. None of us likes this regulation, but in a time of dire necessity and in the serious position that confronts us, if we are to get out of the morass we are in, it is absolutely essential that every man and woman who is able to work shall work, because those who do not work live on the backs of those who do.
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris (Carmarthen)
The hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Glanville) said that he does not like the order. I gathered from the very able speech of the hon. Member for North Battersea (Mr. Jay), that he, too, does not really like the order. When he tried to draw that fine distinction between the liberty of the subject and the economic liberty of the subject, there was a distinction which might satisfy a debate, but I do not really think it satisfied the hon. Member. I do not believe that this order is efficient to carry out its purpose. Agriculture, which is one of our main industries, is outside this order because it is already regulated. How does the regulation work in the case of agriculture? I will give one illustration. A young man who had worked for years on a farm passed an examination which entitled him to pursue a university course in agriculture, that is, to improve himself for the industry in which he was engaged. When he applied to the Ministry of Agriculture to be released to pursue his university course, the Ministry of Agriculture replied that he could not be released because men were needed on the land. Fortunately, I was able to go to the Minister of Labour, in the same Government, and he readily released the young man who is now pursuing his agricultural course in the university. Note that it was a matter of pure luck which Minister I saw. Why should that young man's fate rest purely on the question of which Minister happened to get the application.
§ Mr. Attewell (Harborough)
Surely it is the Minister of Labour and not the Minister of Agriculture who should have the final word?
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris
I agree, but I was fortunate that the last word lay with the Minister of Labour and that the Minister of Agriculture was not the Minister of Labour. The moment we depart from the rule of law and put the fate of people in the charge of departments we are entering a reign of tyranny. There comes a time in some of the Debates in this House, and this is one of them, when a man has 1421 to speak what is in him and tell the House what he really believes, rightly or wrongly, about the issue. Most hon. Gentlemen opposite have been engaged most of their life in fighting for the liberty of the individual. Now they are saying, in substance, that circumstances have come where the industry is more important than the men engaged in it and that the industry is the measure of the man. The hon. Member for North Batter-sea referred to coal. That is making the coalmine more important than the workers engaged in it. It is the old Athenian test—
§ Mr. Ungoed-Thomas
Would the hon. and learned Member say whether it was quite wrong to conscript labour during the war? Does he not agree, as has been said by the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers), that there is no distinction in principle between conscription for war and conscription for peace, and that it is entirely a matter of degree?
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris
I have very great respect for the hon. and learned Member, but there is no parallel whatever between war and peace conditions. From the very beginning war is a wrong, and we may have to resort to certain circumstances to preserve our liberty. It was not that war was right when Hitler inflicted it on Europe; that was a wrong to be resisted. To refer to the peace situation, this is not building up the Socialist State unless one means by the building of a Socialist State the restoration of something analagous to the Athenian democracy.
§ Mr. Glanville
The hon. and learned Gentleman has said that we are in a state of peace, but is not our present situation directly due to the war, in which he says that conscription was justified?
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris
But are we in peace to preserve the war conditions and to reduce our men merely to automatons and agents? The one issue confronting men lies between the Grecian democracy or the Roman law status. In this order there is nothing but status. This is the restoration of status after a great progress through Western civilisation during which social institutions were based upon the conception that they were to fit the individual man and that industry was to fit the individual man. We are now turning round and saying, "Let us restore the law of status," and inquiring who is to go first to the employment exchange.
§ Mr. Ungoed-Thomas
This is tremendously important. It is fundamental to the issue. For the sake of argument, will the hon. and learned Gentleman assume that this country is faced with starvation unless it has direction of labour. In that event, what would his view be upon the direction of labour?
§ Mr. Speaker
These arguments are very interesting, but we have got rather far away from the subject.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris
I do not want to go far from the subject, but the point is that behind this order we are really changing the whole outlook of our country. We are changing the position of men. With regard to the point about starvation, there is something which is much more important to a man than whether or not he starves. There is one way in which he is almost certain to starve, and that is if he is made a slave. The thing that makes a worker a real worker is that he has his heart in his work and is interested in his work. Convert him into a slave, and he and the country are reduced to poverty. I see in the modern world the elimination of contract upon which Western commerce and civilisation has been built up, based upon the agreement of two individual wills, equally free and equally well informed.
In this order is the restoration of the Roman law status. Modern Europe is tending to go back to it, and it is creeping into this country. Because of that, I am grateful, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity of intervening in this Debate and, on this particular issue, to speak, whether it is agreeable to the House or not, what I really believe; also, to warn, as far as I can, of the danger threatening this country of losing its spirit in pursuit of material wealth.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Kinley (Bootle)
It would be an advantage if the speakers who take the Floor would begin, as I must begin, with the recognition of the fact that what is at issue is the question of whether Britain shall survive or not. Because of that, I, who stand quite clear on this order, will support the Government and do it wholeheartedly, because I recognise the imperative necessity of manning up every industry upon which the salvation of our country depends. If it must be done, then some way must be found of doing it, and 1423 if there is any better way than the one now before the House, I for one would be grateful if those who oppose the making of this order would kindly tell us of it.
§ Mr. Blackburn
May I tell the hon. Member now? It is because the Government have failed to carry out the method which the whole of the Labour Party without a single dissentient accepted only five months ago, namely, a freely negotiated wages policy. It is because the Government have failed to do that, that they are now introducing the direction of labour.
§ Mr. Kinley
That is not before the House. What is before the House is this order or the annulment of this order, and if the other matter ought to have been debated, then those who believe so should have put it on the Paper in the form of an Amendment.
§ Mr. Kinley
The ingenuity of Members of Parliament is virtually unlimited—but I want to speak briefly. I was particularly interested in the speech made by the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) because I myself belong to Liverpool. I was born there and I was one of those who suffered from that economic freedom of which he spoke so eloquently this afternoon. I want to tell him that the history of the working class in Liverpool does not show any economic freedom anywhere and I, who now stand here, in the absence of being able to find employment in the great city of Liverpool, have had to leave it over a dozen times in order to go to other towns hoping to find emplyoment there. I have been doomed, as men until quite recently have been doomed when unemployed, to go hunting from place to place and from street to street and from district to district. It was a very cruel wrong. There was never any need for it, and it could easily have been prevented by some machinery similar to this. If I had been able to go to any place and discover where my labour was required, no one would have been happier than I to have been directed there, rather than to be left hunting like a lost dog all over the town looking for a bone that did not exist.
§ Mr. F. Byers
Does not the hon. Member realise that all he is doing now is to make a grave reflection, possibly unintentionally, upon the employment exchanges? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Could it have been solved by direction? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."]
§ Mr. Kinley
In spite of what has been said against this order today I ask the Minister to bear some points in mind. First, I want him to inform the staff at the employment exchanges that when they are dealing with any applicant there is a human being and a British citizen on both sides of the counter; that the applicant has the same rights of courtesy as the civil servant. Further, I want to suggest to him that some thought ought to be given to districts such as Merseyside where, at this moment, there are hundreds of men hunting for direction of labour. They want to be directed to some place where they can get work because they are unemployed. I want to know why it is that young men, unemployed for a long time, who have filled in a form at the employment exchange and signed to the effect that they are willing to accept direction, that they volunteer to be sent elsewhere to get employment, nevertheless are still there month after month. There is something wrong when one set of workers is to be subject to an order such as this, while others simply cannot, although they wish to do so, find shelter under such an umbrella. We have many hundreds who earnestly wish to be sent wherever they can be usefully used, and they will be left to develop a professional unemployment mentality unless they can be rescued soon. I hope the Minister will apply himself to that task.
There is another point. A young man who has served six and a half years in the Forces comes out and spends his six months to which he is entitled looking around. Then he begins to hunt for work, registers at the employment exchange and keeps on a register there. Then he reads in the paper that volunteers are asked for by the textile industry. He goes to the employment exchange and says, "You cannot give me anything, so I will volunteer for textiles." After a while he is summoned to appear before a committee. The committee question him, discover what he has done, then send him out of 1425 the room while they make their decision. They call him back and calmly inform him, "Your application is declined." I suggest to the Minister that neither the employment exchange nor those committees have any right to keep that man in that position without giving him an explanation as to why he has been rejected.
The employment exchange, if it cannot find him a job, ought to explain to him why not. The committee, if it cannot accept his offer, ought to let him know why, so that he knows where he stands. He tells me he is seriously thinking of going back into the Forces as no one wants him at home, and that others of his friends who have come out of the Services have had similar treatment and have rejoined the Services. There is something wrong when we treat our unemployed men like that. They ought to know what is the position, and if there is no work for them they ought at least to be able to find out why, and whether they can equip themselves for whatever work there may be. I hope the Minister will give these points his close attention, because there is need to let these men know the position.
§ Mr. Isaacs
Will my hon. Friend be good enough to let me have particulars of the cases he has mentioned?
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Combined English Universities)
I think, as do many hon. Members who have already intervened, and some who have not yet intervened, that this is perhaps the most important Debate we have had in this Parliament. I first wish to reinforce what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) when he said what a scandal it was that this was being dealt with in the form of an order, and not in the form of a Bill. The hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Kinley), who made several points obviously based on his experience, asked why we did not propose an Amendment. Apparently he did not know that it is completely impossible to amend what is now before the House. My first protest, therefore, which I shall not develop further, is that this enormously important matter is being dealt with, not by a Bill, to which we could have made a contribution and which could have been justified, 1426 if there were any justification, Clause by Clause, but by a short Debate on an order.
I wish to make two points about this order. The first is admittedly a difficult one to argue, because one either feels it, or one does not, and argument is unlikely to affect hon. Members. I believe that this order is morally wrong. If I am right, that for me, and for anyone who takes the same view, is sufficient to make us vote for its annulment. I also believe that not only is it morally wrong, but that it is quite futile economically, and that it will not produce any of the good results for which the Minister of Labour hopes. Perhaps he would let me say in passing that, strongly as I disagree with the order, I should not like him to think that I in the least doubt his own humanity or good intentions. I do not do so for one moment. It is a tremendous step to take, to interfere with these fundamental freedoms with which we are interfering by this order.
I am glad the hon. Member for North Battersea (Mr. Jay) is here. He made an extremely thoughtful speech, and dealt seriously with what he recognises, as we all recognise, to be a serious subject. I cannot think that it is possible to put the case against this order much more strongly than it is put in two passages in his book. I concede the ingenuity of his speech this afternoon, but I am going to read to the House two short passages from his book, which I bought with pleasure and am now reading, which I think are very directly in point. I think one has already been quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) in another Debate, but I am not sure whether the other has yet been quoted. What I would ask the House to do is to consider whether, when the hon. Member wrote the words I am about to read, he could have contemplated, in time of peace, supporting the order which I imagine he is going to support tonight:Any sort of compulsion on the individual in his choice of a civilian job in peacetime involves an infringement of essential human liberty which is utterly incompatible with the fundamentals of democracy and Socialism.That is the first quotation, and the second is this:For one absolute limit must be set to the extension of planning in normal times and that is the point at which it infringes on personal liberty as opposed to economic freedom. Per- 1427 sonal freedom means the right of the individual to do what he likes with himself, to work for whom, for what, when, and where he chooses.Is there any hon. Member sitting in this House who can believe in that and still support the order he is asked to support tonight? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] If they can, all I can say is that I find it absolutely impossible. I believe that, if that proposition is true, the policy embodied in this order is wrong.
§ Mr. Jay
I thank the hon. and learned Member for his advertisements of my book. I still stand by that statement of the objectives and liberties we ought to preserve in any society; and I also, as I explained in my remarks, advocate the preservation in the working of this order of complete freedom of choice between a large number of jobs which might be offered to any man. I think that fulfils the essential condition.
§ Mr. Strauss
I have read the words and given my view, and the hon. Member has given his. I must leave it to the House to judge. I personally find it quite impossible to reconcile the views embodied in those passages with support of this order tonight.
Several hon. and right hon. Members have said that nobody likes this order. The Minister said "Nobody likes this order." Unfortunately that is not true. Of course, it is perfectly true that the right hon. Gentleman does not like it; I accept entirely the sincerity of his statement, but I can tell the House who does like it, and who advocated it, and said he liked it. That was Mr. Horner at Margate on Whit Sunday. What is interesting is to remember two other things he said he liked on the same occasion. Perhaps the House would like to be reminded that those two things were the prohibition of foreign travel and the abolition of the basic petrol ration. Those were the other ideals in the tripartite policy of Comrade Horner. Perhaps the hon. Member who opened the Debate was not far wrong in thinking that this order was not quite in the tradition of democratic Socialism, but he will find it perfectly in the tradition of totalitarianism.
A good deal has been said about unemployment, but of course this order only operates on the unemployed. Until a man 1428 is unemployed, he is not brought within this order at all. Therefore, I thought those hon. Members who tried to drag in a speech by Lord Woolton were really being extremely rash, unless they were prepared to explain a previous statement by the Leader of the House and the Lord President of the Council. I have made this point in public correspondence, it has been made already in this House, but there has been no reply whatsoever from the Government Front Bench. Therefore, since the point has now been made repeatedly by the right hon. Gentleman's own back benchers, I ask the specific question once more, the same question, which, incidentally, the Chancellor of the Exchequer put to Lord Woolton. The Leader of the House; at his Press Conference on 20th August, referred to our situation as one of "overfull employment." Let me put to the Lord President the question of his colleague, the Chancellor of the Exchequer—does he desire a little more unemployment? Perhaps we shall get an answer in due course, or at least back benchers opposite will stop trying to accuse Lord Woolton of something of which they could more rightly accuse their own Cabinet, something which was the declared policy of their own Government two months before Lord Woolton spoke.
I come to one or two points on the order itself. [Laughter.] I hear laughter on the other side of the House, but I think it would be hard to find anything in what I have said which was not germane to the order which we are discussing. Sometimes an order can, by its use of language, rather emphasise, though unconsciously, what a tremendous thing we are doing if we pass it. If hon. and right hon. Gentlemen would turn to section 3 of the order they will find, in Paragraph (b), these words:no person shall engage any person for employment unless that person has been submitted to him by a local office or an approved employment agency.It may be said that that merely means that the name has been submitted. It may be so, and I do not wish to make too much of a point of drafting. I would not do it at all, if it were not being accepted in so many quarters as a matter of course that in time of peace, we should, for the first time, subject our people to the deprivation of a liberty which has so long 1429 been held in every country that values liberty to be essential to human freedom.
I believe that what the Government are doing is profoundly unwise and foolish, even from their own point of view. I need hardly say that I agree with those hon. Members, on whatever side of the House they sit, who say that we are faced today with the question of survival. I do not differ at all from anybody who has painted the present position in grave language. It is precisely because our position is so desperately serious that the Government have been wildly foolish in doing away with what is the greatest motive power of free men, the greatest thing to urge them on, namely, the preservation of their freedom and the devotion of their energies to the public good. The right hon. Gentleman himself said that he is doing a great deal by appeal, but he thinks that to have this power in the background is useful to him. I tell him the resentment caused by his having the power in the background will prevent him from getting the enthusiastic co-operation in bringing about our survival which otherwise he might get.
It is really one of the mainsprings of the actions and the energies of Englishmen to feel that they are free, and that their liberties are not being taken from them. The hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last from the Liberal Benches said what was absolutely true: It really is a fact obvious to any student of law and constitutional matters, that to enact this order now—I know we can find wartime precedents for this and that—is really to do something quite revolutionary, and in my opinion profoundly unwise. It is to show contempt for freedom. It is to bring in that totalitarianism that is profoundly obnoxious to our people. This order is morally wrong, it is economically futile, and that it should have been brought forward in the form of an order which we have a few hours to discuss, instead of in the form of a Bill, is a national scandal and a sign of the contempt with which this Government treat the House of Commons.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Swingler (Stafford)
The hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss), like many other hon. Members on that side of the House and some on this side, has 1430 treated this order as if it was an order introducing the wholesale regimentation of labour. If I accepted that interpretation I would vote against this order, but on the Minister's explanation of the contents of the order, and agreeing too, with the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for North Battersea (Mr. Jay), I do not accept the interpretation that this is a measure introducing the wholesale conscription of labour. Nor do I accept the argument which has just been put forward again vehemently by the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities that it is an infringement of personal liberty on a large scale. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for North Battersea that this is an order for the control of engagement. It is, in the first place, an order for guiding people into certain kinds of jobs, because it is Government policy to have a considerable transference of labour from some industries into other industries. I agree that there is the sanction of compulsion behind this order, but I accept what has been said by the Minister—his interpretation of the way in which the order is to be operated, and its purpose.
I would like to say a few words about the purpose of this order, because I do not believe we can get a proper view of it without considering that purpose. This order has, after all, been introduced because of the serious position, much more serious than it was six months or nine months ago, in the essential undermanned industries. I believe that nobody who is considering this matter today should get away from what I regard as the stark facts in the essential undermanned industries, which may jeopardise the whole of the production and export programme of the Government. Last week the Minister for Economic Affairs, whose speech made such an impression on the opposite side of the House; gave some figures to a Press conference. It is a fact that during the next six months we need to recruit another 90,000 new workers to the coalmining industry in order to achieve the manpower target. Another 60,000 new workers must be found for agriculture if we are to be successful in developing our policy there. Thousands of new workers are wanted for the iron foundries up and down the country and, in addition, there is a grave position in the cotton industry.
This position, which was diagnosed last February in the Economic Survey for 1947 1431 to which some hon. Members have referred, is far more serious than when it was diagnosed, but what is more serious today is that we still have not approached a solution to the problem. When there is full or relatively full employment, a policy must be produced to recruit new workers into dirty, dangerous and disagreeable jobs. That is something which was diagnosed in the Economic Survey for 1947, but the White Paper propounded no solution. What there was in that survey was a certain amount of wishful thinking about the possibilities of increasing the size of the working population in order to recruit additional workers to the labour force. Hon. Members will recall that there was set out the possibility in this year of recruiting an additional 100,000 workers to the labour force by persuading more women to return to industry, by absorbing a certain amount of foreign labour in some industries, and by getting those who would normally retire to remain at work. But none of these appeals could really affect the position in the essential undermanned industries.
In the West Midand region of the Ministry of Labour, there are 67,000 unfilled jobs. More than 1,000 of them are in the iron foundries of the Black Country and this may cause a bottleneck in engineering. More than 2,000 vacancies exist in the coalmining districts there. That is the position which must be faced. Those who have argued that when Parliament has given the Government sweeping powers to deal with the economic crisis they should not have used these powers to introduce this order in this way, but should have waited and introduced the power in some other way, are disregarding the fact that in dealing with this situation speed is of the essence. If the policy itself is justified, it is certainly justifiable to get on with the job and to apply it as quickly as possible.
It is absolutely vital to produce a policy which will get a transference of manpower into the essential industries. Earlier, on the lines of the economic survey, the Government suggested some possibility by increasing the total size of our working population. It was suggested that with measures such as that the Government might be able to solve this problem of undermanning inessential trades upon which the rest of our manufacturing and export industries depend. But we know 1432 today that owing to increased use of manpower in other respects—the fact, as hon. Members opposite are so fond of reminding us, that we have 670,000 more people in the administrative services than we had before the war, and, more important still, 700,000 more in the Armed Forces—these gaps in the manpower budget cannot be stopped by any increased recruitment to the total labour force.
Therefore, the job must be tackled, it it is agreed that it must be tackled, by transferring workers from one kind of job to another. There are only three ways in which that can be done. The first is by positive direction by the State, a system of positively directing persons from the jobs in which they are now to other jobs in the essential undermanned industries Some hon. Members opposite have suggested that this order is designed for that purpose. If it is designed for that purpose it is a most inefficient order. I accept entirely what the Minister has said—that it is not an order designed to carry out a policy of positively regimenting labour in order to stop the gaps in the manpower budget.
The second policy that could be pursued is what I would call the negative direction of labour, that is, displacing persons from jobs in which they are now engaged by cutting down the supply of raw materials to unessential trades, and leaving it to chance as to what jobs these people go into. This would produce the anarchic state which is sometimes called "a pool of unemployed," it being left to chance whether these people went in to fill essential jobs or not. The only other way in which this problem can be tackled, I believe, is by getting people voluntarily to leave the jobs in which they are now engaged and to go to essential jobs, jobs more essential in the undermanned industries, which can only be done by tackling at its roots the question of incentives to do dangerous and disagreeable jobs. The most striking thing to me about the whole picture is that, when one looks down the list of the average weekly earnings in various industries and trades in this country, and tries to compare them one with another, one has to look a long way down the list to find iron founding and cotton.
But this is not only a question of incentives, about which, as the Lord President told us, a lot of bunkum has been talked by some people; it is not only a question of 1433 creating well-paid jobs, but it is also a question of directing the housing drive in certain ways in order to provide accommodation in certain areas, as, for example, in the Midlands, where there are these jobs. It is also a question of various other amenities in connection with the jobs, to overcome the fact that there is the disincentive of the dirty, dangerous or disagreeable character of the jobs themselves. It is because, in my opinion, the Government have not produced a relative wages policy, or what should be a profits and wages policy, and are merely seeking to control the process of engagements, that they are compelled to fall, to some extent, between two stools, and to produce this order to control the flow of labour which is going to be displaced from industries for which there is not a sufficient supply of raw materials, or which are considered unessential by the Government. It comes down to this—guiding the flow of labour into essential trades the control of engagements, but, at the same time, offering certain choices of jobs.
I believe, therefore, that this order is not a substitute for a policy of manning-up the under-manned industries. I believe it is a purely temporary expedient, and it cannot but create some hostility from those who may be threatened with direction, and that, unless it is supplemented and eventually replaced by a policy of incentives in relation to these industries, there will be no solution and the situation will remain critical. On that basis, and accepting the assurances of the Minister in regard to the choice of jobs to be offered and the way in which it will be administered, I shall vote for this order.
§ 8.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Carson (Isle of Thanet)
I do not intend to follow the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Swingler), except to say that I think he is wrong to follow, as he did, the question of interpretation and of the way in which the order we are now discussing should be operated. I do not think that is the question. I think the question is what is in the order itself, what will be done under it and what may not be done. The hon. Member made a certain amount of play on the subject of unfilled jobs. I would remind him of the Economic Survey for 1947 issued by the Government, which, in paragraph 131 on page 30, states categorically: 1434Now that direction of labour has been abandoned, there is no single measure which the Government can adopt to bring about these adjustments.We were very definitely perturbed by this order when it was laid, and our perturbation has not been allayed by the speech of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Motion for its annulment. It was most definitely increased by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour. But it was even further increased by the speeches made by hon. Gentlemen opposite which seemed to show that they regarded this order as being only one of a series; that this order, in itself, fulfilled very little, and that there would be other orders to come.
The Minister has given us no assurance at all that will mitigate the harshness of this Order. But, to do him justice, I do not think that he has the smallest idea as to what he is doing in this order, or what are the powers which he is putting into the hands of his officials throughout the country. For instance, he has given us no assurance that married men will not be directed very far from their homes. I hoped that he would. [An HON. MEMBER: "He did."] He said that, in certain circumstances, this might be necessary, and he talked, in that respect, about a maintenance allowance which would be granted. What use does he think that is? It is no use at all.
I will quote, for example, my own constituency, although, until the Minister answers a Question which is still on the Order Paper about the unemployment figures in my constituency, I do not know what those are, because, apparently, his local officials are not empowered to give those figures without his consent. However, I think I am right in saying that last winter the number was in the neighbourhood of 4,000. What does he propose to do with those men? He cannot direct them within the area because there is nowhere to direct them. In the summer, he can direct them to agriculture, but farmers do not want labour at this time of the year. They want casual labour in the summer, but at the moment they cannot take them, and they cannot house, them, which is a very important point and one which was raised by the hon. Member for North Dorset (Mr. Byers).
If the Minister is to get any good out of this order, he must direct them to other parts of the country, and, to do 1435 that, he must direct them by themselves, apart from their families, because I am pretty certain that in the areas where they are really needed he cannot provide houses for them and their families. He may be aware that, in an interesting pamphlet issued by his party entitled "Fifty things Labour has done," it was claimed by the Labour Party, in Item 41, that they had increased the birthrate. I give it that; perhaps it has. People have married enormously since the war, and have produced children. A great many of the 4,000 unemployed in my constituency have families, and they will not agree to direction unless their families can go with them. I do not believe that the Minister can guarantee that at the moment His Majesty's Government have the houses to which to send them.
What does the right hon. Gentleman propose to do? Does he propose to send those people, and many like them in other parts of the country, to work in other areas without their wives and families? If he does, I assure him that he is doomed to disappointment, because they will not go; I think it is fair to say that they would rather go to prison. They have spent a good many years during the war away from their wives and families, and if they are now to be separated again for long months, and possibly years, they will not do what the Minister suggests or demands, orders or no orders. The answer, one of the main answers, to the shortage of labour problem, which is the reason for this particular Measure, is to produce houses. If the Government were to do that, they would not want this order. They would find that people in the country would move willingly if they had somewhere decent to live, if they could preserve the ordinary decent sanctity of family life. If they cannot, then the old adage, "You can bring a horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink," will still apply.
There is another point I must make about this order. By it, workers who are at present employed in industries classed as non-essential are being tied down to their jobs because they do not want to be directed. In cases which have come to my notice, people are being forced to put up with a great deal more from their employers than they would tolerate in ordinary times when they could change 1436 their employment as frequently as they wished. Since this order applies only to people who are unemployed, it will mean that people in non-essential industries will cling to their jobs at a good deal of personal discomfort and possibly wage cutting and disadvantage to themselves. This order is bound to cause an enormous amount of suffering and hardship, and it does not matter to which class that suffering and hardship applies.
A great deal of play has been made by hon. Members opposite about the fact that one class will be affected and that it should be another class, that the order will be directed to the working class and that it should be directed to the rich. We on this side of the House do not agree. We believe that it does not matter to what class the hardship will apply. The Government of a country should consider the country as a whole, and not a single class in that country. To consider one section's interest as opposed to the interest of the whole country is wrong. It is sufficient for us on this side of the House that it will produce hardship; we are not concerned with what class. When stock is finally taken, the amount of suffering and hardship which will have been caused by His Majesty's Government in this connection will be taken into account and the amount of human suffering and human hardship that they have caused, will be the measure of their failure and their shame.
§ 8.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham)
In the 120 seconds which are now left to me, I wish to make one observation and ask one or two questions. I do not think anyone in this House will dispute that the conscription of labour in peacetime is fundamentally opposed to our standards of Socialism, to our ethics of liberty, and to our belief in the dignity of human freedom. But that, of course, is not the decisive factor. If the ship of State is buffeted by unprecedented economic storms, if it is faced with the imminent danger of shipwreck, there is an overwhelming case for the captain calling on the passengers to battle with the storms and save the ship. The objection I make to this order, and with which I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to deal, is that we do not call upon one single passenger. We leave the stewards carrying the provisions round to the passengers; we leave the passengers in their cabins untouched and unharmed; 1437 we do not call upon them, and they are in full possession of their liberties.
I am going to vote for the Government. I shall do so with no great enthusiasm, but I have one or two reasons. As the junior Member for the most important town in the North of England, I do not normally surrender my judgment to anybody, but I have a sincere regard for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, who is a great trade unionist, a great Minister and a man of great sincerity who, I know, has as much misgiving about this order as I have, and who would not bring it forward unless he was sincerely convinced of its necessity. At the same time, I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary for one or two assurances. The first is this: The Minister has talked about hardship tribunals, appeals and rights. Let me quote one example. I was persuaded very reluctantly to vote for conscription for the Armed Forces in peace time. [An HON. MEMBER: "Shame."] The hon. Member says "Shame," and for the first time I am inclined to think that there is substance in one of his interjections. In Oldham a month ago there was the case of the family of a man who was crippled and disabled in the last war. He was bitterly crippled; his wife tended him, and went blind in the process, and died. He had two sons, the eldest of whom was killed in the "Prince of Wales," and the youngest of whom, training as a teacher, had just reached manhood when he was to be conscripted. He went before the hardship tribunal and was laughed out of court. I asked the Minister whether he could interfere and he told me that he could not. I do not think that is a justification for the type of tribunal which we are going to have.
I have one minute left, if you will look at the clock at the other side of the House, Mr. Speaker. I went to talk this matter over with the trade union concerned, and I was rather surprised that they had no objection to the order. They accepted it. They said it gave them many benefits in protection and in security, and in standards. But the questions they all asked were, Who is going to direct? How is appeal to be made? What are the health provisions? They ask this question because in the textile industry—I ask the right hon. Gentleman to remember this—there are the most important questions of bissinosis and lung disease and bron- 1438 chitis, which are paramount. As I understand it, there is no really safe medical protection for the directed persons.
I hope my constituents will realise that there were many things I wanted to say but cannot for lack of time. I hope the Minister will realise that the support I am going to give him in a very nearly unqualified fashion would have been given subject to a few more limitations if I had had time to express them. We shall have to watch the administration of this order with some fear. I do appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to say that he has still measures in his mind for dealing with the spiv, the idler, the waster, the parasite, the man who is still living a lavish life in these times of distress, and who is still untouched by the Government's measures.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller (Daventry)
The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hale), as he so often does, has said a very great deal in the shortest possible space of time and thereby set us a good example. I was, indeed, interested to hear his observations, and to hear his justification for having progressed so far since the Debate on the National Service Act, in the course of which, I well remember, he said:If the Government are going to ask us to accept a measure of industrial conscription in this Bill, I say definitely that, as far as I am concerned, I have gone so far as I can go."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th May, 1947; Vol. 437, c. 612.]Now the hon. Gentleman appears to be quite willing to go just that one further step, relying as he does this time not upon his own judgment, but upon the judgment and soundness and commonsense of the right hon. Gentleman who is responsible for this order which is under discussion.
I do not think that anyone who has sat here throughout the greater part of the Debate could fail to have been impressed by the fervour and courage of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) in moving this Prayer and by the sincerity of the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell). It must be an almost unprecedented occasion for them to find themselves opposing their own Government and receiving at the same time the support not only of the Liberal Party but also of the Conservative Party; and on this occasion I feel confident that the action that they have taken has been 1439 entirely right. It would, indeed, be very wrong if a law were made having a great effect on the lives of the majority of the people of this country without any discussion in Parliament. In my belief there is no question of greater importance for discussion in Parliament than the freedom of the individual, and any question of compulsory service, be it in the Armed Forces, be it in coal mining or agriculture or any other sphere, is a question which deserves very full consideration.
The hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter), in the course of an excellent speech, and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) drew attention to the fact that this compulsory service is put forward and made law not by a Bill but by an order. I think this Control of Engagement Order is far more far-reaching than the National Service Act on which we spent so much time as well. That was a Bill merely to deal with 12 months' service of young men between 18 and 26. That Measure was considered, and properly considered, in detail; and I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that as a result of our discussions it left this House a better Measure than when it came in, save in one important particular. What happens here. This Order is made applying to all men between 18 and 51, and to all women between 18 and 41. They are not called National Service men and women; they are not called industrial conscripts: they are just "persons between relevant ages," who may be sent anywhere by a Ministry of Labour official. I do not think anyone will dispute that this is indeed a very far-reaching Order. And how does it come to be made? The right hon. Gentleman told us it was made under the Supplies and Services (Extended Purposes) Act, passed last August just before the House went into Recess; an Act which gave the Government dictatorial powers; and I am certain that this is the first time that His Majesty's Government have acted under that Act so as to affect so seriously the liberty of the individual.
What is the case for this order? We are told by the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Swingler) that the position is far more serious today than it was a few months ago. With that I entirely agree, 1440 and I fear it is likely to go on getting much more serious while we have the present right hon. Gentlemen occupying the Government Front Bench. What is the case for this Control of Engagement Order, and for the reversal of the pledges given by His Majesty's Government? We are told the object is to fill the undermanned industries. I accept the necessity of filling the under-manned industries, but is this the way to do it? Will this order do that? One thing which is quite clear is that this particular order infringes individual liberty. It is assumed by hon. and right hon. Members opposite that if only manpower can be directed into particular directions, then we shall get production and the required exports. I wonder whether we shall get the numbers we want in the undermanned industries by this order?
The Minister was asked about numbers. To that interruption he gave no satisfactory answer. He told us about the figures in the textile industry, and how they had improved since the beginning of September. But it would be wrong, would it not, to conclude that it was merely the effect of the making of this order? In the course of his speech—when I do not think he was very comfortable—he did his best, I agree, to explain to us the contents of the order. He said that he was not at all happy about it, or words to that effect. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman liked his task at all. He did not say from what particular areas or from what particular sources he would get the increased manpower wanted in the coal industry. He did not say how he would solve the problem of the necessity for increased manpower in agriculture—and far more than just direction of labour is required to solve that problem.
One thing is clear. If by reason of this order we get the numbers wanted in the undermanned industries, then this Government, which prides itself on full employment, will have deliberately to create unemployment. That, I think, must be recognised on both sides of the House on a careful perusal of Section 3 of the order. It means, as I understand it, that anyone leaving school and wanting employment will be subject to this order; anyone who wishes to change his employment will be subject to this order; and anyone released from the Forces will, after he has had his leave and if he has no reinstatement rights which he can 1441 exercise, find himself subject to a new kind of control and direction. The right hon. Gentleman said that they will have four choices. He was rather vague about that. Did he mean choice of industries, or choice within a particular industry? Does he mean that if he found a young man, among the 4,000 mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Carson), who might make a coalminer, he would be given an opportunity to choose between coal mining, the textile industry, or agriculture? The right hon. Gentleman was not at all clear about it. What he was clear about was that behind these choices which are offered there comes this power of direction. It is all very well for the hon. Member for North Battersea (Mr. Jay) to say that he does not like the power of direction. We do not like it, and it is because it is there that we are opposed to this order. When the hon. Member made his speech, I could not help recollecting a passage in the speech he made on nth August on the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Bill. He said:I happen to have had the job of administering these powers of direction and so forth for three years or so during the war. On the basis of that experience, I believe that it is possible to say how these powers ought to be used in the present emergency. I would also say on the basis of that experience that I am totally opposed to the use of labour direction in peace time in almost any circumstances. I think it would be doctrinaire to say 'in absolutely any circumstances, 'but I say 'in almost any.' I say that for two reasons. First, because I think such direction is unacceptable in principle, and, second, because I believe on the basis of experience that it will be clumsy and ineffective in practice. I believe that it is unacceptable in principle because compulsion of this character on the individual in respect of the job which he either wishes to accept or leave is an interference in what I would call personal freedom. It is really confusing to discuss this question on the basis of whether we direct capital, on the one hand, or whether we direct labour, on the other."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th August, 1947; Vol 441, c. 2020–1.]I do not think that speech is easily reconcilable with what he said today.
§ Mr. Shurmer (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman deny the fact that between the two wars, when there was a large army of unemployed, the direction of labour was starvation, or the taking of a job at lower wages?
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
The hon. Member is very fond of interrupting, but that interruption does not in any way follow from my argument. I am not going to stand here and subject myself to cross-examination, apart from the thread of my speech from him, because if I did so, I should take up much more time.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
We are told that there is to be more guidance than direction. I have no complaint about that, because I hope that there will be a good deal of guidance. I think we are all agreed that young and old people who want employment should be told of the sorts of employments which are most suitable in the national interest, but it is the threat behind, that if they do not do what they are told and pick one of the alternatives, then they will be directed. I do not know whether the Minister has any recollections of nights in London after the boat race, but when he made his speech in this connection, he reminded me of what the policemen sometimes used to say on these occasions: "If you do not come along quietly—." I think that what the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Daines) said is true—it is the iron hand in the velvet glove.
The right hon. Gentleman has also been asked several times whether this is the last order. I think that I am right in saying that the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities asked that. There has been anxiety expressed about that on both sides of the House. In the course of his speech, the right hon. Gentleman said nothing one way or the other about it, but I hope that the report in today's "Daily Telegraph" is not inaccurate. It said that the right hon. Gentleman said at a meeting in Wiltshire during the weekend that he would probably disclose to the House of Commons early in the week plans for dealing with "independent gentlemen." I suppose that he has thought better of it, but I think that it is unfortunate if we have to determine the 1443 course of conduct for this country piecemeal. It creates an impression that the Government have a plan which they know would shock the population if it were not revealed drip by drip, and so gradually absorbed.
I agree with the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities when he said that he thought direction of labour was morally wrong. I think that it is wrong in many other respects as well. I cannot believe that it is any solution to our economic troubles to destroy in part or in whole individual freedom. I think the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Glanville) rather let the cat out of the bag when he said that he supported the direction of labour, if it was to build a Socialist State, and not otherwise. I think that if this country becomes a Socialist State in the sense in which he meant it, he would find that there was very little free labour and nearly everyone was directed. The hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Solley) said that any further order would be met by the united opposition of the trade union movement and the labour movement.
§ Mr. Solley
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman, but I said exactly the reverse. I said that I hoped that this would see the commencement of a system of legislation which would not mean unilateral conscription, but throw the burdens of industry, etc., on the rich as well.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
The hon. Gentleman may have said that, but I am told that he also said that any further order would be met by united opposition of the trade union movement and the labou movement.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
We shall see in HANSARD tomorrow. I did not hear what the hon. Gentleman said, but I am informed that he said that and, of course, if I am wrong, I will gladly withdraw. We shall watch with interest to see whether any further proposals are brought forward affecting the liberty of the individual, and what attitude the Labour Party take about this, having regard to the many pledges which they have given about it in the past. I said that I did not think direction of labour could be 1444 morally right. I do not believe it to De in the national interest that people should be compelled to do what they do not want to do. There is no assurance in this order as to the limit of the service which they will be compelled to do. We had a long Debate as to whether it should be 12 or 18 months' National Service, but here, once one becomes subject to direction, that directed employment may, apparently, continue for a period in excess of 12 months. I do not believe that it is any solution to our present troubles to seek to bolster up our economy, which has been so grievously undermined by Socialist administration, by forced labour on the part of a section of the community. What we really want is an incentive to increase production, to increase output, and not just transfer of bodies from one part of the country to another.
The Government had no mandate at the General Election in 1945 for any direction of labour. The Government in 1946 made it quite clear that they had no desire or intention of directing labour. They have no mandate now. If they want to, they can now try and obtain one from the country. Perhaps I put it too high in saying they have no mandate: they have only a mandate from Mr. Horner. I cannot believe that if the Government really desire—as I think they do and as I am sure the country does—increased production that this is the right method. If the Government really want increased incentive, the best incentive to this country at the present time would be a change of Government
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Ness Edwards)
We have had a Debate today very much of which does not arise out of the Control of Engagement Order, which is the subject of the Prayer before the House. Before dealing with the general argument I want to deal with information points that have been raised from many sides of the House, as perhaps the most convenient way of dealing with the matter. In the first place, I want to give an undertaking to my hon. Friend the junior Member for Oldham (Mr. Hale) that it is intended very shortly to bring in an order to deal with those people who are not helping the ship of State at this time. It is not intended that the burdens now shall only be cast upon the industrial 1445 workers and those who are engaged in useful employment, but, to use a vulgarism, those who are dodging the column will, under this new order, have to perform some useful social work. After all, we are not directing our attention against one set of the community only, but we are concerned that all sections of the nation should come in and help on with the job.
§ Sir Ian Fraser (Lonsdale)
Might I be allowed to put an important question? The hon. Gentleman said he was referring to people not in gainful employment. Is that the only test, because there are a very great many people who engage in work for which they are not paid but which is of very great value to the community?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I quite agree and the House will be given ample opportunity of discussing this new order which will see to it that everybody is making a social contribution on an equitable basis. I come to the next point raised by my hon. Friend the junior Member for Oldham and that is how the appeal tribunal will function. Persons who are directed—but not under this order—will have a right to go to the appeal tribunal on a number of grounds. First, there is the question of physical fitness, then of availability, accommodation, domestic responsibilities and a number of questions of that sort. These will form the basis for the right to appeal to the local appeal tribunal, and in making that appeal a person can be accompanied by a friend or a trade union official as the applicant may decide. The person, who will be directed—but not under this order—will have certain protective rights, and we hope and expect that these cases shall be so conducted that the workman will have a fair chance of putting his case. We shall keep general supervision over decisions when they are arrived at by the tribunal.
§ Mr. S. O. Davies (Merthyr)
Would my hon. Friend clarify a most important point which he is now making. I cannot understand what he means when he says "not directed under this order." If a person is not directed under this order, under what order which now exists can he be directed?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
No person can be directed under this Order. He can only 1446 be directed under Regulation 58A. He is not directed under the Control of Engagement Order. In that sense, the Control of Engagement Order does not confer on my right hon. Friend the authority to direct any person. I hope that is being made quite clear. There is a difference between direction and the control of engagement.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
Will it be possible to appeal to the appeal tribunal, not only against an order of direction, but against the decision of the right hon. Gentleman's Department, under this order, refusing to allow a man to take up employment which he desires to take up?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
There can be no penalty imposed upon a man for refusing to take up any job offered to him by the Ministry of Labour. The penalty arises only if he is directed, and the purpose of giving the direction enables the man to exercise his appeal rights.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
I think the right hon. Gentleman misunderstood my point, which was whether an appeal will lie against a decision of his officer under this order, declining to allow a man to take up employment which he desires to take up? There is a penalty there, not by the courts, but by the man's inability to do the job he wants to do.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I cannot answer that offhand, but my impression is that if a man is refused it would seem that he is entitled to go to the ordinary tribunal. I would, however, like to check that up, and hope the hon. Gentleman will not blame me if I happen to be wrong.
I was pleased to note that the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) admitted the necessity for manning up the undermanned industries. Figures have been asked for, and our best estimate is that there must be the re-deployment of 250,000 workers, men and women, in order to achieve the target set by the Minister for Economic Affairs. It is to that degree that we shall want to re-deploy labour. My right hon. Friend was chided about the results already obtained. He gave figures for the week ended 15th October, and pointed out that the number of people who had gone into the cotton industry was thrice the number in the period when we had 1447 no Control of Engagement Order, and that the number of people who had gone into the woollen and worsted industry was three times the number compared with the period when there was no Control of Engagement Order. These figures were proof of the fact that the Control of Engagement Order has already produced results in the undermanned industries. But the important thing is that not one direction has yet been issued in the textile industry. When the Government are criticised for having made a great onslaught on the personal liberties of the workers of this country, I would remind the House that not one direction has yet been issued.
§ Mr. Blackburn
The figures which the Minister rightly quoted prove that there is all the difference in the world between simple guidance and guidance under the threat of compulsion.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I wish that were altogether true. To some degree it is true, but there are some people who will not accept guidance. We must put ourselves, although we do not do it in this order, in a position to see that people who readily accept guidance are not put in a worse position than those who refuse to accept it. I come to the next point that the hon. and learned Member raised. He said that everybody leaving school would have to register. Of course, he was quite wrong. [Interruption.] That is what I put down as coming from him.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I did not say that everybody leaving school would have to register. I said that everyone entering employment would have to do so.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
No one needs to register for employment and no employer needs to employ him. However, all I am concerned about is that we should put it right so that the nation and the House shall understand the position. The hon. and learned Member wound up by saying that he was opposed to the order because the power of direction is there. That is what he said, but the power of direction is not there. Would he now withdraw his opposition? The power of direction is not in the Control of Engagement Order. [An HON. MEMBER: "Its equivalent."] Or its equivalent. I challenge hon. 1448 Gentlemen on both sides of the House to find anywhere in the Control of Engagement Order a provision giving the Minister power to direct a man or woman into employment.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I do not propose to repeat my statement. The short point is that the hon. and learned Gentleman made it a condition of his opposition that because the power of direction was here, he was opposing the Control of Engagement Order. I do not want to quibble The simple point is that it is not there. Shall we leave it at that? Then I was asked whether this is the last order. I have given an answer on that point and I think I can leave that there.
I come to the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe). He raised a number of points, and I was rather surprised at them. In the first place, he said that no choice is possible. That surely is quite wrong, and manifestly wrong. My right hon. Friend has said that before he will direct any person that person will have the choice of four jobs. My right hon. Friend has said it repeatedly here and outside the House, and again in the speech he made earlier in the day. Therefore, perhaps, the right hon. and learned Gentleman will accept the undertaking of my right hon. Friend that a workman, before he is directed, will have the right of choice of four jobs. Now I come to the next point.
§ Commander Galbraith (Glasgow, Pollok)
Is it four jobs in the same industry or different jobs in different industries?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
We want to meet the House and the workmen as well as we can. We want to treat the workman or the person coming under the Control of Engagement Order as generously as we can. If there are four different industries in the area in which the man becomes unemployed, every effort will be made to offer him four jobs in four different industries. When we come to areas in which there are not four different industries, we shall try to offer him as many jobs as there are essential industries up to four. When we come to the same industry and there is no alternative, he will be offered four jobs in four different establishments in the same 1449 industry. It is right that if the skill a man has acquired in a certain industry can be used in that industry, in which it will be of value to him and the country, if should be so used.
I come now to a question to do with trade unions and the closed shop. The hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) is extremely interested in this and has raised this matter a number of times, as have other hon. Members. The question is whether the job offered to a man will be a suitable one if the man is an anti-trade unionist and the job is one in which trade union membership is a condition of employment. I must answer this fairly and squarely. I have no desire—I am quite frank about it—to protect the non-unionist. I have not the legal right to drive or to penalise a non-unionist for not joining a trade union in the job to which he is directed. If he is an anti-trade unionist—let us face it squarely—and the job is one which is a closed shop and he says, "I object to going there because I am against joining a trade union," we can direct him, and when the employer says, "join a trade union" and the man says, "No," the man will report back to the exchange and we shall cancel the direction. That is the sensible thing to do because if an antitrade unionist goes into a closed shop industry it will cause more upset than it is worth.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I thought the challenge from the other side was, "Let the men have freedom to decide their own destiny." Now I am being told to interfere with the freedom of a body of men. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] We are not tonight discussing that wide issue except in relation to this order. Suppose a man is a trade unionist. He cannot then resist a direction on the grounds of conscience. We should offer him a job. In the majority of cases there will be no direction. When offered a job, he will go to it and transfer to the other union. I do not think any dispute can arise in circumstances of that sort.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
The right hon. Gentleman constantly imagines a man objecting to being a trade unionist. A far commoner case is that of a man who objects 1450 to joining a particular trade union. What does the right hon. Gentleman say about that?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I should be guided very much by what the umpire has said. The hon. and learned Gentleman is aware of the decisions made by the umpire on this matter. We are prepared to accept the guidance of the umpire in the decisions he has made—under an administration which was not ours—in deciding which jobs are suitable and which are not suitable. The hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that that is a very fair position to take up. If the hon. and learned Gentleman accepts that, I will not quote the decisions to show what the various shadings of decisions are in relation to the different circumstances. The third point is that a man will not be directed to a closed shop or to join a union under the powers that we have.
Let me come to some of the other points. The hon. and learned Gentleman also charged us with this: that this order was brought into being although the principle had never been discussed in this House, but I thought the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) made a most powerful speech about it, before it was introduced, in the Supplies and Services Bill. It was discussed at very great length, and what astonished me was that my hon. Friends who moved and seconded the Motion both voted for it in the Supplies and Services Bill and in debate on the Gracious Speech.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I had armed myself with the information, and my right hon. Friend will probably find it amongst the miscellaneous collection of papers I have. However, my hon. Friend can accept my assurance that he did vote for it in the Supplies and Services Bill when this matter was under discussion and it was most bitterly contested on both sides of the House, and he voted to give the Government the authority to issue the order.
§ Mr. Grenfell
May I inform the House, Mr. Speaker, that I have no recollection of having heard the discussion on this point, and taking part in a Division in this House.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
No, Sir. After the Debate, in which the right hon. Member for Woodford made a very powerful speech on the infringement of personal liberty, a Division was taken. I have not the exact points, but I have gone to the trouble of looking up this and found my hon. Friend's name.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
If I am wrong, I will certainly apologise to my hon. Friend, but I am quite satisfied that I am right on this point.
Coming to the general argument, I would have thought that the crisis we are facing, the way in which the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Economic Affairs described the situation last week, and the way it was received by hon. Members on all sides—I thought that in itself ought to indicate that special measures are necessary in the present situation. In order to reach the targets as he said, there must be this re-deployment of labour. On both sides of the House there was general agreement that the targets we set were reasonable and were such as were necessary in the present economic circumstances. Now having willed the ends, we must have the means to achieve the ends. We have to admit that this is an infringement of personal liberty. We have to admit it. This is taking something away, and I do not for a moment wish to run away from that position; but I would point out to the House that unless we can re-deploy the labour in this country, not only are we sunk, but the liberty of this nation will be at stake.
We are charged first with being dependent on America. We are charged elsewhere with being dependent upon someone else, and there is this pull from both extremes. But, if we are to be independent, and retain the liberty of this 1452 nation, we have to stand on our own feet. We can only do that by manning up the under-manned industries, and by getting more men into the mines, more men into the textile industries, more women into agriculture and the other basic industries. Unless we can do that, we are finished. I have listened very carefully to what is being said from the other side of the House. There has not been a single alternative which can be put into operation by this Government. Not a single alternative suggestion. What has been suggested? [HON. MEMBERS: "Another Government."] We are told first of all, give more liberty to everybody. Give more liberty to people to leave the basic industries, is that the position? Give people liberty to let this country sink, that is the position. I have listened very carefully, but have not heard from anyone on that side of the House any suggestions which would enable us to do the things which must be done to man the various industries.
Let me quote the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby. This is what he said:But, apart from direction by voluntary encouragement something should be done to improve the transfer from the development areas for this critical period.And, he said:We should develop systems of transfer."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th March, 1947; Vol. 435, c. 422.]
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
Apart from direction, but that is all that this Control of Engagement Order does. Now I come to the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies). This is what he says:I would make it as difficult as possible for anyone to employ people in non-productive labour by taking away many of the materials which they require in order to give the employment. I would give every encouragement to men to go into productive labour, but I would direct no one."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th August, 1947; Vol. 441, c. 1718.]
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
Up to this point under the Control of Engagement Order we are in agreement on both sides of the House, because under the Control of Engagement 1453 Order the workman goes to the exchange, and an attempt is made to put him into the right job. If he does not like "A", he is offered "B"; if he does not like "B", he is offered "C"; and if he does not like "C", he is offered "D".
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
In the vast majority of cases it will be agreed that the people of this country will respond. As far as we know, in a fortnight's operation of the Control of Engagement Order not one person has been directed, so this order is being effective in the task we have undertaken. Up to this point we have carried with us both the Leader of the Liberal Party and spokesmen of the Opposition. I take it that the spokesman for the Opposition agrees that we should attempt to guide people into the most essential jobs. Of course he does. He does not believe that we should encourage them to go into the less essential jobs, does he?
§ Mr. Peter Thorneycroft (Monmouth)
Would the hon. Gentleman, in the course of his speech, make a few observations on the system which got all these men into the wrong jobs to start with?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I remember being in an essential industry myself, and being driven out by the hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I asked the hon. Gentleman, whether, in the course of his speech, he would make a few observations on the system inaugurated by His Majesty's Government—
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not wish to intervene, but this discussion is not, after all, quite a Vote of Censure, and that point would be slightly outside the scope of the order.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
Now that I know the point of the interjection, I am extremely sorry that you have given that Ruling, Mr. Speaker. Let me come to some of 1454 the points which were raised by the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
Before the hon. Gentleman does so, may I remind him that he has not dealt with a point which is of interest to all parts of the House—the remark of his right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, that a man who is forced to go into a shop which he dislikes is not going to be much use to his shop, his fellows and himself. Does he agree with his right hon. Friend?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
We know that the man who voluntarily goes into a job will probably give a far better result. The question, however, is that we cannot allow these jobs to go undone, otherwise this nation is sunk. That is the situation we have to face, whether we like it or not. Unless these industries are manned up, this nation becomes a dependancy of some foreign Power.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I should have thought that it was plain enough that if this nation cannot maintain itself, it will have to rely on someone else.
One point put by the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames, to which he is entitled to a reply, and which was also made by the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby, was that the Control of Engagement Order tends to keep people in the lower strata of the industry. I have been looking at that point. It is one of the things about which we are concerned, but I should be astonished if the man who stays in the industry longest is the man with the least opportunity of promotion. I should have thought that the man who sticks to his industry is the man who will climb. The man who will not climb is the fellow who is always running from job to job. I am not at all certain that there is any real substance or danger in that point, and I do not think we need be worried about it too much.
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing (Weston-Super-Mare)
Could the Minister say if that same argument applies to the Government?
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
I should have thought it would have applied much more in 1940. I thought my hon. Friend the Member for Consett (Mr. Glanville) 1455 put the position very clearly. We have to re-deploy the labour of this country. We have to man up the essential industries if this country is to come through. In order to maintain the freedom and liberty of the nation as a whole, we are, in some cases, making men go to industries or go to new jobs which, perhaps, they would not go to if there were an open choice. That is quite true. I have yet to hear of an alternative method to deal with this problem. Mr. Walter Higgs, well known to hon. Gentlemen opposite, ex-Member for West Birmingham, has been speaking lately. He said this, and it seems to be the policy of the Opposition:
Empty bellies are the one thing that will make Britons work. Empty bellies will force the miners back to the pits.
§ [HON. MEMBERS: "Work or Want."] We would rather have an ordered redeployment of labour than be directed by poverty which is the policy of the Members of the Opposition.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. William Whiteley)
rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 257; Noes, 137.1457
|Division No. 9.]||AYES.||[9.28 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Daines, P.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Alpass, J. H||Deer, G.||Janner, B.|
|Attewell, H. C.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Jay, D. P. T.|
|Austin, H Lewis||Diamond, J.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Dodds, N. N.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs B||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)|
|Bacon, Miss A||Dumpleton, C. W.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)|
|Baird, J.||Dye, S.||Keenan, W.|
|Balfour, A.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Kenyon, C.|
|Barstow, P. G||Edelman, M.||Key, C. W.|
|Battley, J. R.||Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Kinley, J|
|Belcher, J. W.||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.|
|Benson, G.||Evans, A. (Islington, W.)||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Berry, H.||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Leslie, J. R.|
|Beswick, F.||Evans, S N. (Wednesbury)||Levy, B. W.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Ewart, R||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Bevin, Rt. Hon. E. (Wandsworth, C)||Fairhurst, F.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M|
|Bing, G. H. C||Farthing, W. J||Longden, F.|
|Binns, J.||Field, Capt W J.||Lyne, A W.|
|Blenkinsop, A||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||McAdam, W.|
|Blyton, W R||Foster, W (Wigan)||McEntee, V. La T.|
|Boardman, H.||Freeman, John (Watford)||McGhee, H. G.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Mack, J. D.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Ganley, Mrs C. S||Macpherson, T. (Romford)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Gibbins, J.||Mallalieu, J. P. W.|
|Bramall, E A.||Gibson, C W||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)|
|Brooks, T J (Rothwell)||Glanville, J. E (Consett)||Marquand, H. A.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Gooch, E. G.||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Buchanan, G.||Greenwood, A. W. J (Heywood)||Messer, F.|
|Burden, T. W.||Grey, C F.||Middleton, Mrs. L.|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Grierson, E.||Mikardo, Ian.|
|Callaghan, James||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E R|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Griffiths, Rt Hon J. (Llanelly)||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Chamberlain, R A||Gunter, R J.||Monslow, W.|
|Chater, D.||Guy, W. H.||Moody, A. S.|
|Chetwynd, G R||Hale, Leslie||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Cluse, W. S||Hall, Rt Hon. Glenvil||Morley, R.|
|Cobb, F. A.||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Hardy, E. A.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)|
|Coldrick, W.||Hastings, Dr Somerville||Moyle, A.|
|Collindridge, F||Haworth, J||Murray, J. D.|
|Collins, V. J.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Comyns, Dr. L||Herbison, Miss M||Neal, H. (Claycross)|
|Cook, T. F||Hewitson, Capt. M||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N)|
|Corbet, Mrs F. K. (Camb'well, N W.)||Hobson, C. R||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)|
|Corlett, Dr J.||Holman, P||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)|
|Corvedale, Viscount||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||O'Brien, T.|
|Cove, W G.||House, G||Oliver, G. H.|
|Crawley, A.||Hudson, J H. (Ealing, W.)||Paget, R. T.|
|Crossman, R H. S||Hutchinson. H L (Rusholme)||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)|
|Daggar, G||Hynd, H (Hackney, C.)||Paling Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Pargiter, G. A||Smith, C. (Colchester)||Viant, S. P.|
|Parkin, B. T||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)||Walker, G. H.|
|Pearson, A||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Peart, T. F.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Perrins, W.||Solley, L. J.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Platts-Mills, J. F. F.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Popplewell, E.||Stamford, W.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Porter, E. (Warrington)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||West, D. G.|
|Porter, G. (Leeds)||Strauss, Rt. Hon. G (Lambeth, N.)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Proctor, W T.||Stross, Dr B.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Randall, H. E.||Stubbs, A. E.||Wigg, George|
|Ranger, J.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith||Wilcock, Group-Capt C. A. B|
|Rees-Williams, D. R||Swingler, S.||Wilkes, L.|
|Reeves, J.||Sylvester, G. O.||Wilkins, W. A|
|Reid, T. (Swindon)||Symonds, A. L.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Robens, A.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Williams, D. J (Neath)|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Royle, C.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Sargood, R.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)||Williamson, T.|
|Scott-Elliot, W.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Shackleton, E. A. A.||Thomas, John R. (Dover)||Wise, Major F. J|
|Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Woodburn, A|
|Shurmer, P.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||Wyatt, W.|
|Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.||Thurtle, Ernest||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Titterington, M. F.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Tolley, L.||Zilliacus, K|
|Simmons, C. J.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Skeffington, A. M.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Skeffington-Lodge, T C||Ungoed-Thomas, L.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Skinnard, F W.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.||Mr. Snow and Mr. George Wallace|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Gates, Maj. E. E.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cir'nc'ster)|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Neven-Spence, Sir B.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Armagh)||Glyn, Sir R.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Grant, Lady||Nutting, Anthony|
|Astor, Hon. M||Granville, E. (Eye)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Grimston, R. V.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Beechman, N. A||Haughton, S. G.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Birch, Nigel||Head, Brig. A. H.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Boles, Lt -Col D C. (Wells)||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Raikes, H. V|
|Boothby, R||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Ramsay, Maj. S|
|Bossom, A. C||Howard, Hon. A.||Renton, D.|
|Bowen, R.||Hudson, Rt Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Bower, N.||Hurd, A.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. C. (E'b'rgh W.)||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Kendall, W. D.||Sanderson, Sir F|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col W||Lambert, Hon. G||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Langford-Holt, J.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Linstead, H N.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Butler, Rt Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Lipson, D. L||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Byers, Frank||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Challen, C.||Low, A. R. W.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Channon, H.||Lucas, Major Sir J||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Clarke, Col. R. S||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Macdonald, Sir P. (I of Wight)||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R A F|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||MacLeod, J.||Touche, G. C.|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (B'mley)||Turton, R. H.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Vane, W. M F|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Wakefield, Sir W. W|
|Digby, S. W.||Marlowe, A A H.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Drewe, C.||Marples, A. E.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Duthie, W. S.||Marsden, Capt. A.||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon Walter||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Erroll, F J||Maude, J. C.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L||Medlicott, F.||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Mellor, Sir J||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.||York, C.|
|Fraser, Sir I (Lonsdale)||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)|
|Fyfe, Rt Hon Sir D. P. M||Morris-Jones, Sir H|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T D||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Studholme and Major Conant.|
Question put accordingly,
That the Control of Engagement Order, 1947 (S.R. & O., 1947, No. 2021), dated 18th September, 1947, a copy of which was presented on 20th October, be annulled.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 144; Noes, 252.1461
|Division No. 10.||AYES.||[9.38 p.m.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P M||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cir'nc'ster)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Armagh)||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D||Neven-Spence, Sir B.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Gates, Maj. E. E.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P|
|Astor, Hon. M||George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Nutting, Anthony|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Glyn, Sir R.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Graham-Little, Sir E.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H||Granville, E. (Eye)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Beechman, N. A||Grimston, R. V.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Birch, Nigel||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Blackburn, A R.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col D C. (Wells)||Haughton, S. G.||Raikes, H. V.|
|Boothby, R||Head, Brig. A. H.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Bossom, A C||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Renton, D.|
|Bowen, R.||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Bower, N.||Howard, Hon. A.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Hurd, A.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. C. (E'b'rgh W.)||Sanderson, Sir F|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Kendall, W. D.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sit W.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T||Lambert, Hon. G.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Langford-Holt, J.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Byers, Frank||Linstead, H. N||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Carson, E.||Lipson, D. L||Studholme, H. G.|
|Challen, C.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Sutcliffe, H|
|Channon, H.||Low, A. R. W.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A F.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Touche, G. C.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||MacLeod, J.||Turton, R. H.|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (B'mley)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Wakefield, Sir W. W.|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Digby, S. W.||Marples, A. E.||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Drewe, C.||Marsden, Capt. A.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Duthie, W. S||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Maude, J. C.||Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Medlicott, F.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Erroll, F J.||Mellor, Sir J||York, C.|
|Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Foster. J G. (Northwich)||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||Mr. Rhys Davies and|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Blenkinsop, A||Coldrick, W.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Blyton, W. R.||Collindridge, F|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Boardman, H||Collins, V. J.|
|Alpass, J. H||Bottomley, A. G.||Comyns, Dr. L.|
|Attewell, H. C||Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W||Cook, T. F.|
|Austin, H Lewis||Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Corlett, Dr. J.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B||Bramall, E. A.||Corvedale, Viscount|
|Bacon, Miss A||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Cove, W. G.|
|Baird, J.||Brown, George (Belper)||Crawley, A.|
|Balfour, A.||Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Crossman, R. H. S.|
|Barstow, P. G||Buchanan, G.||Daines, P.|
|Battley, J. R.||Burden, T. W.||Davies, Edward (Burslem)|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S. W.)|
|Belcher, J. W.||Callaghan, James||Deer, G.|
|Benson, G.||Castle, Mrs. B. A.||de Freitas, Geoffrey|
|Berry, H.||Chamberlain, R. A||Diamond, J.|
|Beswick, F.||Chater, D||Dodds, N. N.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Chetwynd, G R||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)|
|Bevin, Rt. Hon. E. (Wandsworth, C.)||Cluse, W. S||Dumpleton, C. W.|
|Bing, G. H. C||Cobb, F. A.||Dye, S.|
|Binns, J.||Cocks, F. S||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C|
|Edelman, M.||Lipton, Lt.-Col M||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Longden, F.||Skinnard, F W.|
|Edwards, N (Caerphilly)||Lyne, A. W.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||McAdam, W.||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||McEntee, V La T||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S. W.)|
|Evans, A. (Islington, W.)||Mack, J. D.||Solley, L. J.|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)||Soskice, Maj. Sir F|
|Ewart, R||Macpherson, T (Romford)||Stamford, W.|
|Fairhurst, F.||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Farthing, W. J||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Field, Capt W J.||Marquand, H. A.||Stross, Dr. B|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Mayhew, C. P.||Stubbs, A. E|
|Foster, W. (Wigan)||Mellish, R. J.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Messer, F.||Swingler, S.|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Middleton, Mrs L||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N||Mikardo, Ian||Symonds, A. L.|
|Ganley, Mrs C. S.||Millington, Wing-Comdr E R||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Gibbins, J||Mitchison, G. R.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Gibson, C. W||Monslow, W.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Moody, A. S||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Gooch, E. G.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Morley, R.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Greenwood, A. W. J (Heywood)||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Thomas, John R. (Dover)|
|Grey, C. F.||Morrison, Rt. Hon H. (Lewisham, E.)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Grierson, E.||Moyle, A.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Murray, J. D.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon J. (Llanelly)||Naylor, T. E.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Gunter, R. J||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Tolley, L.|
|Guy, W. H||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Hale, Leslie||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Ungoed-Thomas, L.|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||O'Brien, T.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.|
|Hardy, E. A.||Oliver, G. H||Viant, S. P.|
|Hastings, Dr Somerville||Paget, R. T.||Walker, G. H.|
|Haworth, J||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Pargiter, G. A.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M||Parkin, B. T||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Pearson, A||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Holman, P.||Peart, T. F.||West, D. G.|
|Holmes, H E. (Hemsworth)||Perrins, W.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|House, G.||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Popplewell, E.||Wigg, George|
|Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Wilcock, Group-Capt C. A. B|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Wilkes, L.|
|Hynd, J B. (Attercliffe)||Proctor, W. T.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)||Randall, H. E.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Ranger, J.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A||Rees-Williams, D. R||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Janner, B.||Reeves, J.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Williams, W. R (Heston)|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Williamson, T.|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Robens, A.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Royle, C.||Wise, Major F J|
|Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Sargood, R||Woodburn, A|
|Keenan, W.||Scott-Elliot, W.||Wyatt, W.|
|Kenyon, C.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Key, C. W.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E||Shurmer, P.||Zilliacus, K|
|Kinley, J.||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)|
|Lee, F. (Hulme)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Leslie, J. R.||Simmons, C. J||Mr. Snow and|
|Lindgren, G. S||Skeffington, A. M.||Mr. George Wallace.|
Question put, and agreed to.