§ [SIXTH DAY]
§ Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [27th October]:
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows:
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
§ Question again proposed.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
We have now reached the final stage of the debate on the Address. As has been recognised in the course of the discussions on the Address, this is a somewhat unusual occasion, because we are not only engaged in what has been described on many occasions as the grand inquest on the condition of the nation, but we are also to some extent taking a backward glance at the results of the Genera] Election. Perhaps it is inevitable, therefore, that those two things will be intermingled in what I have to say.
I would like, first, to make a reference to the results of the General Election in what I hope will prove to be a non-controversial spirit. I recall an incident in the life of Abraham Lincoln, when somebody made charges against him of being concerned in some army contract scandals and an officer serving under him asked leave to surrender his commission in order to allow him to give evidence before the Congressional Committee. Abraham Lincoln replied, in characteristic manner, "My dear young friend, if the mercy of Almighty God falls upon our banners and we are victorious, I shall require nothing but that to defend me; but if, on the other hand, He frowns upon us and, in His infinite providence, we are defeated, ten thousand angels pleading for me will not suffice." There has been no evidence of any angels rushing to our defence on this occasion. On 861 the contrary, there has been an enthusiastic rush forward of a number of little devils turning us around on a spit to make quite sure that we are done well on every side.
In addition, the air has been full of advice from those who worked hard to bring about our defeat, advising us how we can win on the next occasion. It has, therefore, been suggested that we ought to spend time in saying what we should do about our defeat. We shall discuss that in other places and, probably, the discussion will be prolonged and penetrating. I suggest, however, to the House at the beginning of this Parliament that there is another question and one which is even more important: that is, what the Government party does with its victory. It must not be thought that a party victory is necessarily a national victory.
It must not be understood always that the success of the party opposite has been consistent with the national well-being. The party opposite has won victories before and the consequences for the nation were calamitous. It won in 1931 and its massive majority here presided over massive industrial decay in the country. The party opposite won in 1935 by a very large majority and made its peculiar contribution to the policies that led to the Second World War. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I had not thought it necessary to arm myself with the quotations, because I thought that the speeches of the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) were familiar to Members on both sides of the House. I could also have armed myself with the speeches of the present Prime Minister. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If hon. Members opposite are so thin-skinned in victory, how thin-skinned might they be in defeat? They might listen to my arguments with the equanimity which comes from self-satisfaction. I am merely pointing out to them today what, I should have thought, was quite obvious: that they should be asking themselves my second question, what do they propose to do with their victory? A heavy responsibility now rests upon them.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the way in which the party opposite uses its victory and the large Parliamentary majority that it now commands 862 may be responsible for the future of democratic government in the Western world. There is no reason whatever why we in this House should be complacent about the situation. Democracy is not very powerfully established in Portugal or Spain, and in France it could hardly be described at present as a classic form of Parliamentary government. I ask hon. and right hon. Members opposite, therefore, to reflect about how they are prepared to use the power which the electorate has conferred upon them.
There is one important problem facing representative Parliamentary government in the whole of the world where it exists. It is being asked to solve a problem which so far it has failed to solve: that is, how to reconcile Parliamentary popularity with sound economic planning. So far, nobody on either side of this House has succeeded and it is a problem which has to be solved if we are to meet the challenge that comes to us from other parts of the world and if we are to grout and to buttress the institutions of Parliamentary government in the affections of the population. Therefore, although hon. Members opposite are entitled to their pleasure at the electoral results, nevertheless responsibility falls upon them now to justify their success.
I would describe the central problem falling upon representative government in the Western world as how to persuade the people to forgo immediate satisfactions in order to build up the economic resources of the country. Let me put it another way. How can we persuade the ordinary men and women that it is worth while making sacrifices in their immediate standards or forgoing substantial rising standards to extend fixed capital equipment throughout the country? This is the problem and it has not been solved yet.
We failed to solve it. We frankly admit that. In the years immediately after the war we made very great efforts to build up fixed capital equipment and sacrificed our Parliamentary majority. Our name became identified with greyness and dullness, frugalities, shortages. Hon. Members may not agree at all with the measures which we took, but I think there are very few people indeed in any part of the world, especially here, who would say that any Government who 863 had the responsibilities of immediate post-war construction were entrusted with a popular job. We spent five years in doing what we thought was right, holding back present consumption, holding back immediate satisfaction, holding down the standards of living, to canalise and divert resources into building up the economy.
Hon. Members may not agree at all about how it was done, but I think that there is no one on that side of the House who would deny that it was necessary to do that somehow. It would not have been possible—I am sure that I am stating an obvious truism—in the years immediately after the war to have handled the affairs of a bankrupt nation, as it was described by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford, and, at the same time, given immediate satisfaction to the wants of the people at that time; and if any hon. Member takes the contrary view he is not fit to represent his people in this House, because all that would have happened after the 1939–45 war would have been a repetition of the catastrophes which happened after the 1914–18 war.
I thought that I was stating something very obvious indeed. I am not attempting at all at this moment, because it would be repetitive and wearisome, to defend the policies that we carried out. All I am saying is that it was absolutely essential that personal consumption at that time should hold back so that we could try to build up the resources of the nation.
So the problem for us today, as it is the problem for right hon. and hon. Members opposite, is to try to reconcile popular representative government with setting aside sufficient of the national income in order to expand productive resources. I say at once that the party opposite has failed as signally as we failed because its Parliamentary majority has been consistent with industrial stagnation. It has solved half the problem. It retained political popularity at the expense of the industrial resources of the nation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Certainly. This is the problem. It is the problem of persuading people to hold back personal consumption. If hon. Members do not want to believe that, let them read the 864 speech of the President of the Board of Trade last Wednesday, in which he pointed out that now production is rising, as, indeed, it should rise after having been held back two or three years. The problem is: how can we prevent increased consumption from being entirely used up in rising personal consumption? That is exactly what he said, as I am pointing out today, and it is the dilemma for modern representative government, and it is a very difficult one.
It is especially difficult for other nations which have adopted democratic constitutions and are not enjoying our industrial resources. For nations like India, for example, and Pakistan it is a cruel problem. As a result of attempting to solve it, democratic government in Pakistan has collapsed, and democratic government in India, faced with exactly the same difficulties, is assailed by enemies from without and from within. It is, therefore, a very, very cruel dilemma that representative institutions have to face, especially in backward parts of the world.
Therefore, we ourselves in this House, in the coming five years, have to face this problem, and I shall be interested to see the way in which the Government are prepared to face it, because so far we on this side of the House have seen no evidence whatsoever that they have any special ideas or new plans to meet the dilemma.
Personally, I think that one of the problems is democratic education. One of the most remarkable differences between the climate of opinion, for example, in the Soviet Union and in Great Britain is the extent to which economic education has proceeded there as against here. Whatever its defects—and there are many—there are very few citizens in the Soviet Union who are not aware of the relationship between personal and public consumption and who do not realise, grimly and oppressively, that it is necessary, if the economic foundations of society are to be expanded, that the basic industries must first have their share of the national income before personal consumption can rise very much.
That process of education has not gone very far in this country, and in the last few years I am afraid that it has not 865 proceeded to any extent at all. Indeed, there has been recently a disposition on the part of the people as a whole to take the cash in hand and waive the rest. Therefore, I suggest to hon. Members that this is the main problem we have to face.
I know that it will be said that a certain amount of expansion can and will take place and that political popularity will not be very much affected by if but I am not speaking about pedestrian expansion, I am not speaking about a very small percentage added to the national industrial equipment. I am speaking about a degree of expansion and a degree of scientific application to our resources which will, in the course of the next five to ten years, meet the challenge which we are to have from other parts of the world. As the years go by that challenge will increase, and that is why I suggest that it is first a problem of education, and I want straight away to offer one or two observations about that.
It was said last week that there was a considerable gulf growing between this House and the nation. I believe that to be absolutely true. There is a lessening interest in our discussions. We are not reaching the country to the extent that we did. It can no longer be argued that the national newspapers are means of communication between the House of Commons and the public. The fact is that Parliamentary reporting has become a sheer travesty. Apart from a few responsible, solid newspapers with small circulations, the debates in this House are hardly reported at all, and such reports as take place are, as hon. Members on both sides know, a complete travesty of our proceedings.
I am not making a special attack upon the newspapers. It may be that the demands of circulation make it impossible for them to report our proceedings at any length. I am merely calling attention to the fact that there do not exist at present in Britain the normal processes of democratic education that make the people aware of the problems which lie ahead of us, and of their own responsibilities.
The same can be said of the radio and even more can be said of television. Recently, and not only recently but for some years now, there has grown up 866 what I consider a most humiliating state of affairs in which Members of the House are picked out to take part in television broadcasts at the ipse dixit of the bureaucracy at Broadcasting House. In fact, there has been nothing more humiliating than to see Members of Parliament in responsible positions selected by unrepresentative persons to have an opportunity of appearing on the radio and the television.
In my opinion, there is something essentially squalid—I use the term "squalid"—in Members of Parliament beginning increasingly to rely upon fees provided by bureaucrats in the B.B.C. [An HON. MEMBER: "And I.T.V."] Yes, and I.T.V. [An HON. MEMBER: "Speak for yourself."] It is no use speaking for myself. I rarely appear and do not want to appear too much, and for many years I did not appear. I am only saying this and hon. Members know in their private hearts that what I am saying is correct. It is also, I believe, inconsistent with the dignity of a democratic procedure that such a state of affairs should be allowed to continue.
Also, what is almost worse, political alternatives are not placed before the people in a realistic fashion because of the selection of speakers that takes place. I have complained about this on many occasions. I wish, therefore, to make a suggestion. I have not consulted my right hon. and hon. Friends about it. At the beginning of this Parliament I am going to suggest that a serious investigation takes place into the technical possibilities of televising Parliamentary proceedings.
§ Mr. Bevan
I know that hon. Members shake their heads, but why should they be so shy? Would it not be an excellent thing if, instead of speeches being made in comparative obscurity, and, in fact, never heard at all except by the few Members who assemble here to hear them, they were heard by their constituents? I am not saying for a moment that the electoral results might have been different. Indeed, they might have been confirmed or might have been reinforced. I do not know. All I am suggesting is that in these days when all the apparatus of mass suggestion are against 867 democratic education, we should seriously consider re-establishing intelligent communication between the House of Commons and the electorate as a whole. That, surely, is a democratic process.
I have never looked at television very much, but I have looked at it recently and I have been impressed by it as a medium of communication. There is no doubt at all that it is a very powerful medium, but I think that the time has come when people should be able to switch over to a Parliamentary debate. After all, they are not compelled to listen to us. There ought to be a special channel that they can turn on and listen to us at any time. I am not arguing that we should have only special debates televised, but that there should be a special channel for the House of Commons itself, and, so that its position may be consolidated in the public esteem, there is no reason why the other place also should not be televised.
I therefore throw that out on my own responsibility. I have not consulted my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition about it at all—for one good reason that when one makes a suggestion, either here or there, it passes through the interstices of the party machine so slowly that by the time it emerges it has only a meagre resemblance to its former self. It seems to me, therefore, that the time has come for us seriously to consider this suggestion. I know that it is not novel. It has been mentioned before, but has been brushed aside as something so unorthodox and unconventional that we ought not to think about it at all. But I suggest that the time has come when we should give it serious consideration. I hope that the Prime Minister will look at it seriously and take technical advice and, I imagine, appoint a technical committee before we decide the principle, so that we can find out what are the scientific and technical possibilities.
I now come to the main theme of my address. I suggested earlier, and I come back to it, that we have not seriously faced the problem of how we are to have expanding production, stable prices and, at the same time, an equitable distribution of the national income. I have been making some investigations into past debates on the Address, because I recollect 868 very well that when the Prime Minister was on the back benches he used to make a series of very interesting speeches. I have a copy of one here. I can remember listening to it. It could almost have been said in relation to the present Address.
On 14th November, 1938, speaking about the party to which he belonged—I am not certain whether he had not resigned from it at that time—[An HON. MEMBER: "Speak for yourself."] No, I was chucked out; I was never guilty of such treachery—the Prime Minister said:From 1931 to 1937 they"—that is, hon. Members opposite—trusted to the stimulating effects of tariffs, of currency depreciation, of the normal rise of the trade cycle, and did not think it worth while to bother about doing very much. It has been what I might call 'the slag-heap period' of our policy."—Even then the right hon. Gentleman had this touch—A few minor Bills, little tinkering Measures, to deal with the problem of the Special Areas and the unemployed were considered to be sufficient,"—
§ Mr. Bevan
The Prime Minister then went on:and the chief anxiety of those Ministers has been directed towards not carrying out the recommendations of their own Commissions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th November, 1938; Vol. 341, c. 590.]The right hon. Gentleman was speaking of the Rushcliffe Report. That is a very good speech. It completely describes the Measures which the right hon. Gentleman has suggested in the present Gracious Speech.
§ Mr. Bevan
The Prime Minister has just interrupted me to say, and I want to give the House the benefit of his interruption, that there were then 2 million unemployed. Well, of course, there were, but in a statement which he made at that time, speaking on 24th June, 1938, he said:A properly organised system, under whatever party, whether capitalist, Socialist, or a mixture of both, should be able to see that the necessary reserves of unemployed labour for industry should not be 13, 15 or 20 per cent., but something like 5 or 6 per cent., 869 or 7 per cent. at the highest figure. I cannot believe that after this Debate the House will not demand as serious application to these problems as we are giving to others in the realm of Defence and Foreign Affairs."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th June, 1938; Vol. 337, c. 1442.]In other words, even in his most radical mood, when he was a rebel inside his own party, the right hon. Gentleman still thought that it would not be bad if we has an unemployed reservoir of 1½ million. That is what he said. I am not speaking at the moment about what the percentage is today. I am saying that the Prime Minister said at that time that the unemployed reserve should never be more than 5 or 6 per cent. or 7 per cent. at the highest figure.
§ Mr. Bevan
Of course, we know that it is not 2 per cent. The hon. Member really must try to follow the argument. I am merely pointing out that the Prime Minister, in his most radical moods, did not think that 7 per cent. was excessive. We now, therefore, are faced with the problem of how we are to deal with the situation created by the fact that there exists a Parliamentary majority and production is rising, and how we are to meet the challenge I have mentioned.
The right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) made a very interesting spech last week in which he pointed out that one of the main challenges to Western democracy coming from the Soviet Union was economic and social. I have said in this House over and over again that I regard the challenge from the Communist world as not being primarily military, but social and economic. I believe that to be more true today than it was then. The expansion of the Communist world is proceeding forward dramatically, and we have to ask ourselves how the Government propose to met the challenge.
We have had one instance of it today. I am quite certain that when Mr. Khrushchev heard that Lord Hailsham had been made responsible for the British answer to the Russian scientific challenge, a chill went right through the Kremlin. Here, at last, we have found the answer. The Prime Minister's choice fell upon the obvious person—a man of detached judgment, of objective thinking, with his emotions under control 870 all the time, able to appraise in a mood of cold austerity the claims of science. We are not quite certain what it is he is going to do. We are not quite certain who he is going to do it to. If I may be allowed a colloquialism, the Prime Minister's suggestion for the organisation of science in this country read like a dog's dinner. I never heard of such a muddle. I understand why—because he is not really serious. The Prime Minister has an absolute genius for putting flamboyant labels on empty luggage. Of course, we are able to guess what is in his mind. He had to do something with Lord Hailsham. He had to do something with him during the General Election. What was he to do with him afterwards? It is a problem that he is in the process of solving.
I remember a similar problem facing Mr. Baldwin, as he then was, when Prime Minister. For some reason, he detested the family of Cecil almost as much as the Prime Minister appears to do. He had not included Lord Eustace Percy in his Government, and I remember the noble Lord making a series of speeches from the back benches which impressed his own colleagues very much. He did not impress me very much, but he impressed his own colleagues. He had a Churchillian command of English, if he did not have any ideas. Then, it was suggested to Mr. Baldwin that a job ought to be found for him; that, after all, he ought not to have his talents wasted. Mr. Baldwin listened to the advice—
§ Mr. Bevan
—and he was appointed a member of the Cabinet.
When Mr. Baldwin was asked to describe his functions, he said that he was "Minister for Thought". His special job was to produce new ideas. He had no Department, but, of course, he did not want to have a "Department for Thinking". I believe that a cartoonist at the time caricatured him by drawing him in the rôle of Rodin's "The Thinker"—and he went on thinking for about six months. Then, I believe, he resigned, even before the normal period of gestation had expired.
I warn Lord Hailsham that that is the fate reserved for him, because he is a man without function, a man without a 871 Department, a man without precise responsibilities, who will be flickering from Department to Department, interfering with everybody, making an enemy of every Minister in every Department in turn and, when he has covered himself with sufficient unpopularity, will either resign, or the Prime Minister will remove him as a piece of useless Ministerial rubbish—such is the malignity of Prime Ministers.
The fact is, of course, that the world of science and scientists is deeply disturbed at present by the extent to which scientific resources are wasted in this country. There is a duplication of scientists doing the same work and a duplication of apparatus. I draw the Prime Minister's attention to a leading article which appeared in the New Scientist last week, speaking of this particular appointment, and saying that it did not consider that the scientific resources of Britain were at present utilised to their full by present organisations.
We on this side of the House—and, I think, hon. Members opposite—see no prospect whatsoever of a more coherent organisation of our scientific resources under the scheme which the Prime Minister has announced to the House today. Therefore, we say here at once that if we are to make our contribution to our own technical development and the assistance that the Western world ought to be giving in increasing measure to the uncommitted nations, then our scientific resources ought to be better organised than it looks as though they are being at present.
There is another aspect of this matter that I want to put to the House. The election called our attention to a very significant change in the atmosphere of British political life. I believe that it is now said by every student that the electoral campaign itself hardly changed any votes. It is now beginning to be accepted that elections harvest votes already determined, and that the political parties themselves probably wasted a considerable sum of money in trying to persuade the people who had already been persuaded.
In other words, the elections are determined in between elections. This has not gone unnoticed. It has not gone unnoticed 872 not only on this side of the House, but also by the industrial population of Britain, that for many months, if not years, employers' organisations, associations and their employees in high places have conducted intensive and expensive political propaganda. In fact, the limitations which the law sought to impose upon election expenses to try to bring about some equality between the parties in the State have been completely nullified and rendered nugatory by huge sums of money which have been diverted from the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the interests of the return of the Conservative Party.
I say that this has not gone unnoticed and that it will have a very important bearing upon industrial discipline. Hon. Gentlemen opposite must face the facts. I know some of these are unpleasant, but they will have to face the facts more and more. Industrial organisations all over the country, and the membership of the trade unions in particular, have taken their own note of what has been happening. If employers are entitled, in effect, practically to set aside the law of electoral expenses then they themselves are entitled to hit back in their own way.
I am bound to say it. I know it is unpleasant. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is nothing new."] But there will be something new in what happens, because the fact is that it is the function of democratic politics to try to raise the stresses and strains of society to a level where they can be solved politically. But if it does not represent them adequately, if representative institutions fail, if the Opposition fail to bring to the Floor of the House of Commons the stresses, problems and strains of contemporary society, people will seek to solve them elsewhere.
If Parliament itself lacks vitality, then those problems will not remain silent, they will be articulated elsewhere. They will find expression in other directions, and they will essentially find expression in this country in attempts to raise the standard of living by direct action by the trade unions themselves. It is no use hon. Gentlemen opposite frowning. These are the ineluctable features of the situation.
Unless some efforts are made, unless some action is taken to improve the climate of opinion, we must expect a period of considerable difficulty. I say again that if Parliamentary institutions 873 fail to bring industrial problems in contemporary society to the level where they can be solved, attempts will be made to solve them elsewhere. We have before us today the picture of a steel strike in the United States that has gone on for fifteen weeks. It is one of the most ruinous strikes in American history. In other words, what we have got, because of the political failure of parties to represent the alternatives in the community in a realistic fashion, is a species of syndicalism. We do not have Marxism, we have surrealism. We have people attempting to solve their problems in their own way by such means as lie nearest to their hands.
Therefore, it is essential, if we are to solve our central problem, if we are to persuade the industrial population to exercise sufficient self-restraint so that we may do our national job, to create a climate of opinion in which that becomes possible. Indeed, we have passed to the trade union leaders an almost impossible task. Therefore, I will make one or two suggestions to the party opposite.
It is no use speaking about wildcat strikes unless some of the major problems are intelligently tackled, and there is one contribution the party opposite can make at once towards sweetening the whole atmosphere. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have got their power, they have got their victory. No one will suggest that the electorate in this country really elected the party opposite, with its great Parliamentary majority, in the belief that old-age pensioners ought not to get an increase. Do they really think that? Would it not be a gesture of magnanimity, as well as of political prudence, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were able to announce in the first debate of a new Parliament that the prosperity which they claim has been produced should now be shared by the weakest members of the community? This would go a very great way indeed towards sweetening the political climate.
It is financially possible, so we are told. It really is rather monstrous that we should have a continual appreciation of equity shares on the Stock Exchange, an overworked Stock Exchange, a boom without parallel in the history of the institution we are informed, and yet, at the same time, members of the community are suffering quite unnecessary privation. If hon. Gentlemen opposite 874 wish to assist trade union leaders in maintaining discipline inside their own ranks, they could make a real and substantial contribution towards that by announcing today that they will use their political power in this House to give justice to the old-age pensioners and those on social insurance.
Furthermore, I am convinced that we shall not be able to manage our resources, or to expand them, unless we are prepared to take unconventional action. I will quote again from the Prime Minister. I am hoping that the right hon. Gentleman will read his own speeches and writings, because there he will find a great deal of inspiration. He stated:The economic policy of a nation cannot be made up of a conglomeration of policies pursued by separate units of industry, commerce, or finance operating in isolation from one another. However well organised the separate units may be they can only contribute to general welfare and stability, on which they themselves depend, if each of their plans or policies is modified by a knowledge of what others are doing. The next step forward, therefore, in our social thinking is to move on from 'piecemeal planning' to national planning—from the consideration of each industry or service separately to a consideration of them all collectively. But before we can pass on to a consideration of the different lines of action which will be necessary to extend the principle of rationalisation from single industries to the general economy, it is necessary that we should formulate some theory of the society of the future.This was a very interesting quotation. I could give a number more, but I do not want to weary the House. I will give just one more, to show how far the Prime Minister went in thinking in his rather freer days:I believe there is an increasingly important contribution which private competitive enterprise can make in new industry and in all those enterprises where great risks are taken; but. I believe equally"—Hon. Members should listen very carefully to this—that for the purpose of obtaining stability, order and co-operation in the new society, we shall have to place the organisation of the great basic industries and great basic utility services under some form of public control. That is the first object at which we should aim—the organisation of the production of goods and services upon the most effective methods open to us."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd March 1938; Vol. 333, c. 1312.]I think that the Prime Minister was right I believe that what really separates us from the party opposite is the fact that 875 we believe that the rational organisation of economic activities in society demand that the nation should have the control of the commanding heights of the economy, and that otherwise we shall be unable to solve our main problems.
Indeed, the Prime Minister called attention to one of them with which we are living even today. In the House of Commons, in my presence, he made a statement about the drifting of industry from the North and West to the South and South-East, pointing out that Metropolitan London was a great ulcer sucking in the vitality of the rest of the country, and giving lists of industries established here, as against the North and the West. In those years which ha spoke about, the population of the South and South-East of England increased by 12 per cent. as against the rest of the country.
We do not want to interfere with the movement of private industry. We do not want to plan, but leave it free for everybody, and today we have not interfered with them, but anybody who goes out into London in the rush hours and sees the pallid faces of the workers who spend two or three hours in getting to and from their work, and sees the complete stagnation of traffic that occurs today in our great cities, must realise that these are the fruits of failure to plan the movement of industry in the inter-war years. In the South and South-East of England, we are only meeting the consequences of the behaviour of hon. and right hon. Members opposite when they commanded great Parliamentary majorities. I am not saying this to go back over the past too much, but these are the consequences.
The congestion in the South and in London is a direct result, partly, of the migration of workers and industries from the North to the South, and we expect, therefore, that the statement in the Gracious Speech referring to the direction of industry shall be tackled realistically. After all, it does not depend so much, as The Times pointed out, upon legislation, but upon the vigour of the Administration. To what extent are hon. Members opposite prepared to interfere with private enterprise in order to plan the location of industries? Are they prepared to stand 876 up against private vested interests to secure the intelligent ground plan for the economy of the nation as a whole? If they are not, then we shall have an aggravation of the problems, with all the social and economic consequences involved.
Unless we plan our resources purposefully, unless we are prepared to accept the disciplines that are necessary, we shall not be able to meet the challenge of the Communist world. As the years go by, and the people see us languishing behind, trying to prevent the evils of inflation by industrial stagnation, trying all the time to catch up with things because we have not acted soon enough—when they see the Communist world, planned, organised, publicly-owned and flaunting its achievements to the rest of the world—they will come to be educated by what they will experience. They will realise that Western democracy is falling behind in the race because it is not prepared to read intelligently the lessons of the twentieth century.
I beg to move, at the end of the Question, to add:but humbly regret the omission of any effective proposals for achieving continuous industrial expansion without rising prices; for dealing adequately with the problems of industries facing special difficulties such as coal mining, cotton and shipbuilding; or for assisting old people and widows, those who are sick, disabled or unemployed and others still living in poverty and hardship.
§ 4.36 p.m.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Derick Heathcoat Amory)
Right hon. Gentlemen opposite will forgive me if I say that the criticisms advanced in this Amendment come ill from that Bench, with such a dismal record of performance in this same field when in office. I thought that, to adopt the metaphor of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), 10,000 angels cannot erase that record.
I think that we all found the speech of the right hon. Gentleman an interesting one; certainly we listened to it with attention. With the problems posed by the right hon. Gentleman at the beginning of his speech, I personally have no quarrel at all. These are two of the most difficult and important problems with which we are faced—how to attain a high rate of investment and how to secure expansion without rising prices. I 877 think that the right hon. Gentleman admitted that his party had not been successful in solving that problem.
If the right hon. Gentleman looks at his speech, he will see, I think, that he went rather wider. When right hon. Gentlemen opposite were in office their policies went far to kill incentive to earn and to save, and in reply to what the right hon. Gentleman said about the General Election, I would ask him which party promised the most to the consumer.
We were also very interested in the right hon. Gentleman's quotations from some of those far-seeing speeches made before the war by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. Of course, what my right hon. Friend was referring to is something that we all believe in here—the advantage and importance of strategic planning—and the kind of body which easily comes to mind is the Iron and Steel Board.
We believe in strategic planning, but we believe that the tactical execution is far better left to private enterprise. Have hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite forgotten that when they were in office their economic policies of expansion were wrecked by rising prices, and that during that period the old, the sick and the unemployed suffered a continuous reduction in their standard of living, in sharp contrast to their more fortunate experience during recent years?
I propose to devote most of my remarks to the first half of the Amendment. In spite of what the right hon. Gentleman said, I did not think that very often in his speech he got at all close to it, but I make no apology for confining myself largely to the first part of the Amendment, for I am sure that the strength of our economy is basic to the security of our social services. That, of course, is one of the things that right hon. Gentlemen opposite omitted to remember when they were in power. I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will deal faithfully with the other parts in the course of his speech.
878 The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues failed because so often they got their priorities wrong and forgot the importance of a firm base and the essentials of a sound economy. I wish to remind the House of what I think are those essentials. For Britain, at any rate, they are a sound balance of payments, a reasonably stable price level and a high rate of savings. With all those things forming a secure base, it is then possible to plan with confidence for full employment, a high rate of national investment and expanding production, but not otherwise. Without that solid foundation those three main aims are not for long maintained.
I wish to make very clear at the outset that I do not regard our present position and problems with any sense of complacency. There are plenty of formidable problems ahead, but I believe that we can contemplate them with a feeling of robust confidence because our present economic position is certainly stronger than it has been for a generation. We have got ourselves into a better posture, and with good sense and good will, and sound and careful policies, we can continue to thrive. But there are no grounds for sitting back and taking things easily. That was the note which I tried to sound throughout the recent election.
First, the balance of payments. In framing the Budget I had, of course, to satisfy myself that the considerable expansion of purchasing power which it involved would not threaten the satisfactory position on the external side. Looking forward at that time, last April, it seemed likely that we should continue to earn a respectable surplus on our current balance of payments, though we have reason to expect some falling away from the figures which resulted from the abnormally favourable circumstances of 1958. It also seemed likely that the position of the outer sterling area would improve with the revival of world activity and trade which was already then in progress.
Expansion at home would, we knew, increase our bill for imports, but I judged that we could afford this and, indeed, that it was our duty to make some contribution to the increase of world purchasing power and so to recovery in other countries including our sterling area partners. Broadly speaking, 879 these expectations have, so tar, been borne out by events. Our imports have increased quite sharply this year, but our exports also increased well in the second quarter, and if we allow for seasonal factors, they are still doing pretty well.
The out-turn of the balance of payments in the first half of this year was published last week in a White Paper. The results were satisfactory. The reserves rose by £37 million, after allowing for large gold and dollar payments totalling £129 million which we had made to the International Monetary Fund. The sterling holdings of overseas countries showed little change and the surplus on current account in the first half of the year is estimated at about £140 million. The reserves have continued to rise in the third quarter of the year, although, in the past, that period has usually been a season where it has been normal to expect a fall. This strengthening of our position has enabled us to make an early repayment to the Export-Import Bank, which was announced last week, amounting, with interest, to £91 million. There has been a corresponding fall in the reserves last month of substantially the same amounts.
The same White Paper gave revised figures for 1958 and earlier years. The most important revision was a reduction in the estimated surplus on current account by about £100 million, which, I agree, is a very big adjustment. For the most part this was due to new information coming in about shipping earnings, which showed that previously these had been considerably overestimated. This, as hon. Members know, is a case where we have to work on estimates and not, as it were, on bookkeeping figures. These revisions were published in the United Kingdom quarterly balance of payments on Thursday, 1st October. However, I can well understand that the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) was at that time too busily concerned with more desperate matters to notice this.
I am glad to say that these revisions do not make any important difference to the view that we should take of our balance of payments for 1958. The important and reliable figures are the 880 monetary reserves and liabilities, which are unchanged; and these improved in 1958 by £200 million. The reduction in shipping earnings has, therefore, to be offset by an increase in the item which represents the unknown part of the balance of payments. We still know that we improved our position by £200 million, but we know less about how we did it. As I informed the House last April, further steps are being taken to improve our knowledge by asking for more information from trade and industry.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
Will the Chancellor clear up this point? As I understand, despite the qualifications which the right hon. Gentleman has introduced, the fact is that the surplus of our balance of payments was £100 million less than he originally estimated and to that extent we are worse off. Will he confirm that?
No, it is not quite as simple as that. The fact is that we do not know the composition of this £100 million. Therefore, we do not know what part of it is represented by the resulting current transactions and how much by capital movement. All we know is that our reserves and our monetary position was improved by that amount. What it comes to is that part of this amount—what part we cannot say—may be represented by capital movement and not current earnings.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
In rough terms, is it not the fact that figures published earlier in the year showed a surplus on current account of about £450 million last year and that the later figures, which were published a few days ago, show not £450 million, but £350 million, as a surplus on current account?
The point I am making is that it still remains an estimate and we are still faced with the position that we do not know the composition of this very large balancing item.
The period of normal seasonal pressure on the £ has caused us no anxiety so far this year, despite the fact that it coincided with the election campaign, so at present the external position may, I think, be regarded as sound.
§ Mr. H. Rhodes (Ashton-under-Lyne)
When the Chancellor was interrupted he 881 was on the point of saying that he proposed to ask for information from elsewhere, but he has not had an opportunity to say from where. May I ask him where this information is to come from?
We are asking for more information from industry and commerce generally to help us, if possible, to reach a more accurate assessment of current earnings as against the overall result.
Now let me turn to the cost of living. The stability of prices which, at Budget time, had lasted about a year has now lasted for eighteen months. Some prices have been falling, though as yet not as many as I would have liked to see. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Huyton is always talking as though price stability was merely the automatic effect of the drop in import prices. I have always acknowledged the important contribution that lower import prices has made, but alone that would not have sufficed. The average import element in the final price of consumer goods is only about one-fifth, so that a drop of 10 per cent. in import prices would account for only about 2 per cent. in the final prices paid by consumers.
A far more important element is the impact of home costs. The main factor in the rising cost of living has been the rising prices caused by increases in money incomes, and particularly in wages, far in excess of increases in production. A very considerable factor in the achievement of greater stability in prices lately has been the fact that money incomes have not been rising so fast in relation to production.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
The right hon. Gentleman referred just now to what I said last week. As he will recall, I said that the main element in price stability was the fall in import prices. The exact words that I used were a direct quotation from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman when he opened his Budget on 7th April last.
I agree that in his speech the right hon. Gentleman quoted me. In the early part of the period I think that that was so. The reduction in import prices was then the main part. It has become a less important part as time has gone on.
882 Another error of the right hon. Gentleman is his tendency to imply, as he did on Wednesday last, that, because the reduction in our import bill was about equal in the aggregate to the increase in the surplus of our balance of payments, therefore it was the sole cause of that surplus. The right hon. Gentleman forgets that if import prices had not dropped our level of exports to the countries supplying those imports would almost certainly have been higher, and during this period might well have been 4 to 5 per cent. higher. The fall in import prices has certainly been an important factor in our improved position, but that is quite a different thing from saying that it was the direct cause of the improvement in our balance of payments.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
By what percentage have import prices fallen over the past eighteen months?
Very little indeed. Without notice I could not say exactly how much, but the percentage has fallen almost insignificantly over the past eighteen months. However, I will write to the right hon. Gentleman and let him know the position. Before that, there was a very substantial fall.
I come now to the third of the three requirements for a sound basis for the economy. What about savings? I agree that this certainly is the real factor behind the problem that the right hon. Gentleman posed to us earlier. It is very difficult to over-estimate the importance of a high rate of saving. So far this financial year National Savings have continued at a very satisfactory level, and a level which has exceeded our expectations. If they continue in this way we hope that they will do as well as they did last year, when the result was excellent. Other personal savings, too, seem to be maintaining their recent buoyant level.
I am allowing for the fact that the hire-purchase debt has been growing. I am talking about net savings after allowing for that growth in the hire-purchase debt.
Yes. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, until the end of the year comes we are never able to calculate precisely the total net figure of personal savings as a whole, but there are many indications of the rate that it is going at and the level that is being achieved. The trend of savings is encouraging, and, as I have said, it is very difficult to exaggerate its importance.
I turn to full employment and production. When I analysed the economic situation last April I called attention to the existence of unused resources of manpower and capital. It was a basic assumption of the Budget that the physical possibilities existed for an appreciable increase in production. To fake advantage of those possibilities the Budget provided a substantial stimulus to purchasing power through the accelerated repayment of post-war credits and the reductions in Income Tax and indirect taxes. The effect of those measures has been seen in the period that has elapsed since the Budget. They have not been acting alone, of course, because other measures of an expansionary kind were taken well before the Budget, in particular the decontrol of bank and consumer credit and the acceleration of the public sector investment programme.
In addition, the recovery in exports that we had expected would occur as time went on came rather sooner than we anticipated. All these forces, working together, produced a rise in demand which has called forth quite a striking increase in output. The Index of Industrial Production, which reached its low point at 105 in the third quarter of last year, rose to 111 in the second quarter of this year and to 113 in August. On the basis of the partial information so far available, it is expected that the figure for September will be about 112 or 113. I think that the House will agree that this is a satisfactory trend.
It was 100 in 1954. As the hon. Gentleman knows, it continued to 884 grow and then levelled off for part of the year and has since risen again.
The increase in industrial activity has brought about a welcome reduction in the number of registered unemployment of 95,000 over the year and of 202,000 between January last and the present month. The unemployment percentage is now 1.9 per cent. compared with 2.8 per cent. in January and 2.3 per cent. a year ago. That is an improvement in which I know we all rejoice.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
As the unemployment figures of last year were put up by the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman is a member, will he now say how the present unemployment figures compare with those of two years ago before the Government put them up?
I have no doubt whatever that the security of those employed is better today than it has been for many years.
In the country as a whole. There is still great unevenness in the incidence of unemployment in different parts of the country and the Government intend to ask for additional powers to bring about a solution of that problem.
It was our expectation, and, indeed, our hope, that the expansion of the economy would bring with it a considerable rise in productivity, and this is now occurring. In the industrial field the increase in production since the third quarter of last year has been about 7 per cent. while the increase in the numbers employed has been less than 1 per cent. So far the greater part of the growth in production has come from an increase in output per man. An increase in production brought about by this means is a valuable thing, because it means a real increase in our national wealth which can be shared by all sections of the community.
We are now reaping some of the advantages of the big industrial investments of the last four years, and also, I am confident, the fruits of the necessarily unpopular measures which my predecessors felt bound to impose during the period when the investment boom was at its height. It is true that not all industries have shared in this recovery. In particular, coal and rail transport are 885 suffering from an insufficient demand, while the prospects for shipbuilding are cloudy. No doubt my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will have something to say about these industries later.
On the whole, then, the hopes and expectations of the Budget have been fulfilled so far, with production and productivity rising, unemployment down, the external position continuing strong and prices remaining stable.
Now what of the future? Some of the forces which have been stimulating consumer expenditure—and that has been the biggest element in the recovery so far—will probably lose some of their strength from now on. The rate of increase of hire-purchase lending must be expected to decline as the volume of repayments increases, and the addition to purchasing power resulting from the Budget was higher in the last few months than it will be from now on.
In the field of investment, public sector investment expenditure should continue to increase somewhat, but probably not at the same rate as in the last twelve months, while in the private sector investment expenditure looks like remaining stable.
For our sins—not for our sins, but owing to our misfortune—we have responsibility for rather more of it than we should like to have.
If I could be relieved of a big part of my responsibility for the public sector, my job would be a great deal easier.
There are various signs that an upward trend in private industrial investment is beginning to develop, though not at a spectacular rate so far. We have there provided incentives for expansion by the various actions which we took last year, including the restoration of investment allowances.
One of the greatest unknowns, as always, is the future movement of stocks, 886 and a sharp acceleration in the rate of investment in stocks is the most likely way in which the total pressure of demand could be built up to excessive levels. But, allowing for a continuing upward trend in exports, it seems likely that the total demand will go on increasing in the near future, but at a somewhat lower rate. That seems about right.
We have been expanding recently at a rapid rate, and we must at all costs be careful to see that demand does not reach a point at which it again overloads the economy. In particular, we must see that home demand does not interfere with exports or create an increase in imports heavier than we can carry. So I shall continue to keep a very close watch on this development and on the volume of available productive resources, and if the need arises I shall not hesitate to take action to check the build-up of an excessive demand.
I should perhaps mention here that since we last met we have had the Report of the distinguished Committee, under the chairmanship of Lord Radcliffe, about the operation of monetary policy. No doubt hon. Members are studying that Report with the careful attention which it deserves. We hope to find an early opportunity for a general discussion of this important Report, so I do not propose to deal with it today.
I hope that exports will continue to respond to the general world recovery, with an expansion in our sales to the sterling area countries and other primary producers without losing the gains which have already been made in trade with the industrialised countries, especially, of course, the United States. We also expect the fortunes of the sterling area countries to go on improving. So with one vital proviso, that we remain competitive—that is the most important thing of all—in price and in delivery, the immediate outlook for our external monetary position and for the reserves seems sound. That, of course, is by far the most important sector of the whole field.
As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told the House last Tuesday, we have been devoting a very large proportion of our overseas earnings to investment and aid within the Commonwealth and to playing our part in 887 strengthening the resources of the international financial institutions. We have agreed to participate fully in the proposed International Development Association. It is our strong desire to go on giving all the assistance we can, particularly to the less developed countries of the Commonwealth.
The point I want to emphasise today is that our ability to do so will be proportionate to our success in further strengthening the essential bases of our own economy. Trade alone can provide the means for aid.
§ Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)
Can my right hon. Friend say anything about the proposal for a Commonwealth Bank, a matter raised last year and which appears to have been shelved ever since?
That matter received some further discussion at the recent Commonwealth Finance Ministers' meeting, but the general opinion was that in present circumstances it still does not afford a means for increasing the resources available for total investment in the Commonwealth.
It must, therefore, be the right policy for us in the United Kingdom to do everything we can to help promote the highest possible level of international trade. It has been our policy since 1952 to work steadily towards the full convertibility of sterling and the removal of discriminatory restrictions on trade. We have made many advances towards that goal over recent years.
In view of the increase in our export trade to North America we have been able, in particular, to make several moves in the direction of ending dollar discrimination. I was very glad recently to be able to announce the removal of restrictions on expenditure on foreign travel. I am pleased to tell the House that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade proposes tomorrow to announce the removal of quantitative restrictions on a substantial list of imports. This will include many goods the import of which has been restricted or totally prohibited from dollar sources.
We are very glad to be able to make this further very practical contribution towards expanding world trade and to the fulfilment of the policies agreed on 888 at the Commonwealth Economic Conference at Montreal.
It is right, I feel, that we should take this opportunity once again of paying a tribute to the invaluable help that we and all other countries in the free world have received from the United States in economic aid during the difficult postwar period. I hope that we shall never forget that good neighbourly attitude and how much it has meant.
Summing up this assessment of our prospects, I believe that our primary needs for the future are these. First, a substantially rising trend in our exports. That is really the prerequisite of all progress. Its importance is paramount. Without it we should be bound to restrict the rate of our expansion, and, therefore, it must be our first priority. The key to success here is that our costs and prices should be competitive. That, in turn emphasises the importance of stable internal prices, and that, in turn, the importance of avoiding inflationary increases both in wages and profits.
So our second need for the future is stability of costs and prices. It may well be that before long, if world economic expansion continues, the prices of raw materials and some foodstuffs may rise somewhat against us. A more important determination, however, of prices will still be the movement of internal costs, and that is something which is within our own control.
The responsibility for price stability lies on us all. I should, therefore, like to say something to all those concerned in industry who determine prices and the costs that lie behind them. We have as a country, as a result of a combination of good fortune and good management, at last managed to reach a position that every party and every Government have been striving for ever since the war—a stable cost of living. Let us now stop arguing about how it has come about and devote our efforts to ensuring that it continues. Everybody wants it to continue. It is a matter largely within our own control. All that is needed is that we should all behave sensibly, realising that if we throw away this opportunity it may well be long before we get another anything like as favourable.
As everyone knows, there are technical reasons which make the growth of productivity very uneven as between various 889 kinds of activity. Broadly speaking, it rises most slowly in services and most rapidly where there are the biggest technical improvements, which are in manufacturing. It follows that stable prices can be assured only if there are price reductions in the field where progress is fastest; that is to say, if the benefits of progress, for which the whole community is responsible, are shared by the community. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that where output is rising and costs are falling the gains should not be taken entirely in higher wages or bigger profits, but should also be shared far more widely in the form of lower prices.
The present time must surely offer great opportunities for this. As I pointed out earlier, industrial production is now running at about 7 per cent. above the level of a year ago. Productivity per man is also rising in many industries, import prices have shown little change, and the index of wage rates is little more than 2 per cent. above the level of a year ago.
The conclusion seems to me inescapable that there is now some margin for price reduction at both wholesale and retail levels. I am well aware that a number of firms have made such reductions, and I am glad to recognise the excellent example which they have set. I look forward with confidence to seeing their lead followed by others who are in a position to do so.
I know that people are apt to get impatient when Ministers lecture them, and, in particular, when they are pressed to do things which seem to them to be contrary to their own economic interest, but in this case I have no hesitation in making an appeal for moderation and a special sense of responsibility, because, in doing so, I am convinced that what I am urging is in the true long-term interest of everyone concerned.
Some businessmen may feel that it would be wrong to neglect a possible opportunity for cashing in on a firm demand for their products. Some trade unionists may feel the same about using their bargaining power in relation to a strong demand for labour. But short-term 890 interests are often a bad counsellor, and the exploitation of temporary advantages is seldom good business.
What I am asking for is nothing less than a combined effort on the part of businessmen and those employed to turn the present exceptionally favourable circumstances to good account for the future. We ought, I am sure, between us all to be able to consolidate our recently achieved stability in a way that will put full employment and a rising standard of living on a far more secure basis than ever before. I ask businessmen, first, to continue to give an absolute priority to export business, whether that is immediately the most profitable course or not, because in the long run it will be good business to do so. I ask them also to use any increases in profits primarily for two purposes: for strengthening their business through investment for still more efficient production, and for reduction in prices to their customers.
I ask those concerned with the negotiation of wages on the employees' side to remember the importance of not defeating the mutually desired objective of price stability. I am not saying that there ought to be no increases in wages and salaries. I am not proposing a wage freeze. The truth is that the safe rate of expansion will depend on two things—the rate at which exports can be increased and the moderation with which demands for higher money incomes are pressed; and the two are closely linked together.
But the Government could not possibly be indifferent to a recurrence of the situation in which there was any danger either of our pricing ourselves out of our international markets or of creating an inflationary pressure of demand. If these dangers appear, then the pace of expansion would have to be abated.
The third essential if we are to succeed in our object of combining expansion with price stability is vigorous competition. The Government have shown the importance which we attach to such competition by the introduction of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, while the Monopolies Commission also remains in being. I hope that the House will not forget the excellent work which my right hon. Friend the Member for 891 Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) did in this field when he was at the Board of Trade.
That, then, is the picture which I have to give today of our present economic position, and I believe that if we continue to manage our affairs with care and a sense of common purpose it is an encouraging one.
§ Mr. Arthur Holt (Bolton, West)
The Chancellor said that the Monopolies Commission was still in being. Has he nothing further to say? Some of the decisions of the Restrictive Trade Practices Court have tended to encourage some firms to choose amalgamation amounting very nearly to, if it is not actually, monopoly, so frustrating the original purposes of Parliament. Has the right hon. Gentleman nothing to say about monopolies and how he intends to curb this?
I have no time to go fully into the points raised by the hon. Member. I would however, remind him that our view is not necessarily that monopoly itself is a bad thing, but it is a bad thing if it abuses its powers as a monopoly. That is what the two Acts are intended to deal with.
I was proposing to refer to—I shall not now owing to lack of time—the various problems which have shown themselves in certain cases in events connected with companies. I would only say in that connection that the Government, as the President of the Board of Trade has made clear, propose to set up an inquiry into the Companies Act which will cover questions of fraud. We shall also introduce legislation to deal with building societies, and here I should like to say once again that a very big majority of building societies conduct their business in a thoroughly respectable way and earn well of the country. Thirdly, there is the question whether the interests of depositors will require any further protection. Again, we think that that is a subject which justifies examination, and that examination has been in hand for some time.
The Opposition Amendment regrets the omission of effective proposals for helping the old and needy. I shall refer to that very briefly indeed. The Gracious Speech states that the Government will 892 give close attention to social welfare, and we are entitled to claim that those words are backed by the weighty authority of a good record. I do not intend to go over this well trodden ground which members of the Opposition like to forget, or to remind them of our record which they vainly try to belittle. I simply remind the House that under our policy since 1951 pensioners and other beneficiaries have not only had the purchasing power of their benefits maintained, but have shared in the increase in national prosperity.
This remains a key feature in our policy and we intend to ensure that as our prosperity increases pensioners and others will continue to have a share. I remind hon. Members opposite once again what the facts have been. During the last five years when they were in office the cost of living rose 30 per cent., but pensions were raised only 15 per cent., and then only for some pensioners. Since we have been in office—
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)
If the right hon. Gentleman intends to make a comparison with when we were in office and hon. Members opposite were in opposition, ought he not to take the whole period? What he is doing at the moment is to start the Labour Government's record in the year 1946. That is to omit from its record the major step it took to improve the position of old-age pensioners.
Yes, but it was agreed by all parties that after the war a major step forward was justified—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I do not mind. I would pay any tribute they like to hon. Members for that step. What I am criticising them for is that, having taken that step, they allowed the ground gradually to come away from that time onwards from under the old-age pensioners.
Here I am only comparing records. In those five years, from 1946 to 1951, the position of the old-age pensioner was allowed to deteriorate. Against that position since we have been 893 in office we have increased the pension three times, and each time by more than the increase in the cost of living, with the result that the pension buys today for a single person 11s. a week more than it did in 1951 Let us not forget that the best help of all that can be given to the elderly is to stabilise the cost of living.
Finally, it is right that I should stress the fundamental economic aspect of social welfare. None of these services I have mentioned—cash or kind—can develop in real value unless sustained by a soundly managed national economy. This is a lesson which members of the Opposition refuse to learn. Their thinking on social welfare is not a policy, but an aspiration. The Opposition learn nothing. Hon. Members will remember the dismal forecasts they made in 1951 about what would happen to the social services with the Tories in power. Precisely the reverse occurred. Under the Conservative Government the social services have developed steadily, with better service and the value to the public and to beneficiaries. A larger percentage of the national income is being devoted today to social services than in 1951.
Now members of the Opposition, in their black despair, are falling back on the same melancholy predictions with even less chance of getting the country to pay the least attention to them. The fact is that we on this side of the House are proud of our record and have every intention of continuing to live up to it in the future. The difference between us and hon. Members opposite is that we believe in action rather than in promises. The truth is that members of the Opposition are in a hopeless state of confusion in the economic field and have no agreed policies to put forward. They know this. We know it and the country knows it. Until they can make up their minds whether or not they want to be the good Socialists they thought they were, they have no effective advice to offer.
The most painful differences appear to exist between right hon. Members opposite. The right hon. Member the Leader of the Opposition declared, after the election:At the end of it all I am more than ever convinced that the policies on which we fought are the right policies for Britain.894 But the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale said:We lost because our policies measured up too closely to Macmillan's Now there will have to be some changes.The right hon. Gentleman, of course, does not invariably make the right forecast—the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale I mean—because he is also reported as having said, on 5th October:It looks as though the Election is in the bag. Of course, I may be wrong. I may be forming a wrong estimate of the intelligence of the British people.It really is as when Horatius kept the bridge:But those behind cried 'Forward!'And those before cried 'Back!'Most serious of all, the trumpet of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale gives forth "an uncertain sound". In those circumstances who, indeedshall prepare himself to the battle?In the meantime, while these burning issues are being fought out upstairs and at Blackpool, and casualty after casualty is carried through the stricken field, we shall go forward with our policies united and fortified by the approval which the country has so clearly given us.
§ 5.27 p.m.
§ Mrs. Judith Hart (Lanark)
I hope the House will be kind enough to exercise its usual tolerance to a speech from a new Member. It is with very real humility that new Members like myself rise to address the House for the first time, conscious and keenly aware as we all are of the traditions and the history both of this place and of the constituencies which have sent us here.
I hope I shall not strain that tolerance too much or for too long. I am sent here by a Scottish constituency and it is, as I think hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree, rather difficult for a Member representing a Scottish constituency to take part in a debate on this subject without appearing untraditionally controversial. After the speech made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it is particularly difficult to observe the usual courtesies of being uncontroversial. I shall, however, do my best to remain moderate.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer made a great case for saying that the nation had recently been reaping the 895 advantages of industrial investment. He went on to say—and he repeated this several times, as, indeed, many hon. Members opposite have been doing—that on the whole things are much better now than they were some months ago. I cannot understand the logic of a position where it is claimed that because only a minority are suffering from injustice it becomes less necessary to take social action necessary to protect that minority. In Scotland we are amongst the minority which has suffered from the injustice of the last few \ears and we are among those who hope very much that the Government, having won this election, are not going to be satisfied only to reap further popularity by inactivity, but are going to take very seriously their responsibility towards the people of those areas where unemployment has been growing.
In my constituency, we have two very different kinds of community. In the constituency of Lanark, there are mining villages and a new town. The underlying problem of both these types of community is exactly the same. The mining villages are very much afraid of what may happen as a result of the next pit closures soon to be announced. We have suffered very grievously from one pit closure in the last year and, since our villages are on a declining coalfield, we are afraid of what may happen in the future. I beg hon. Members opposite to consider, in relation to the future of the mining industry, not only the salvation of the individual miner, which to some extent can be achieved by moving the miner away from his former home to a new and developing coalfield elsewhere—although there are growing fears that even this may no longer be possible in the next twelve months—but also what will happen if the whole social fabric of community life is grievously disturbed. We must think in terms of communities and not just of individuals.
In the mining villages of Lanark, there will be a threat of decay to the community if miners are moved away from the area when a pit closes. Young lads of nineteen or twenty are moved into lodgings and away from their families. That cannot be regarded as a good thing. If elderly grandparents are left alone, to 896 fend for themselves without the care and protection of the sons and daughters they brought up, that is not a good thing.
The miners in my constituency, as all over Britain, know exactly what they want the Government to do. They know that fundamentally the problems of the coal industry cannot be solved unless, instead of merely talking about achieving a higher rate of industrial expansion, the Government actively pursue the social and economic policies which will achieve this aim. They also know that if that is done there will still be a need for a rational, integrated fuel policy. Many of them find it very difficult to understand how we could have reached this point of crisis in the mining industry without having had a national fuel policy long ago.
The miners in my constituency go beyond that and know precisely what they want the Government to do for them. They want to see—and I hope that they will see, as a result of the Government's new Bill on local unemployment—economic aid given to their area, and new industries brought into an area where industry is declining, by means of an industrial estate in Lanark serving the needs of all the mining communities there. I suggest to the Government that as a measure of their determination to act rather than merely to talk, they should give us that industrial estate as soon as possible and demonstrate their good faith.
We know what we want on that estate. We should like to see the kind of industry of which Scotland is in such great need—industry based on science and on modern technological developments. I have no need to say this to hon. Members, for the claims were so frequently made in the last Parliament and are constantly being made by people outside Parliament, but it is well known that Scotland needs the lighter, modern industries, such as chemicals and plastics, in order to balance its dependence on heavy industries. We want that kind of lighter industry in the Lanark area.
I suggest to hon. Members opposite that they should not be doctrinaire in their attitude towards the provision of new industries. I venture to suggest that where private enterprise is unable or unwilling to move rapidly enough to those places where it is needed, they 897 should consider publicly sponsored industry on a small scale as a means of solving the problem.
Elsewhere in my constituency we have a very different kind of community—a new town. The Prime Minister said in the House last week that perhaps we ought to stop calling the new towns "new" and to regard them in the same way as we regard other towns. I hope that this in no way indicated that he believes that the period of hard thinking about the future of the new towns has passed, because, if the new town of East Kilbride, in my constituency, is typical of the other new towns of Britain, I am certain that we are entering a period in which a great deal of hard thinking must be done if we are to avoid a crisis threatening their whole future development.
The theme is just the same: it is one of providing employment where it is needed. Here, however, we are not considering people displaced from a declining industry but thousands of boys and girls growing up and leaving school. I do not want to elaborate this point, although it is one in which I am very interested, but there has been much discussion of the lack of balance in the populations of our new towns. I believe that a great mistake is being made in the attitude taken towards the lack of balance. It has been generally argued, frequently by chairmen of Development Corporations and others interested in the subject, that the lack of balance concerns social classes and occupational groupings, and great efforts have been made by some of the new town development corporations to bring in more and more white-collar workers, middle-class people, with some effects which we have recently seen very clearly.
The balance of population which is important is not that of occupation or social class. There is nothing intrinsically virtuous in a new town which has a high proportion of middle-class people in it. The lack of balance which is important, particularly for the future, is a lack of balance in the age structure. This lack of balance in East Kilbride means that within the next ten to fifteen years between one-third and one-half of our population will be leaving school and needing jobs. This will provoke a recurring cycle of crises as these young people grow up, marry and have children.
898 The problems of the new towns are just beginning, but if they are to be solved, and if the new towns are to achieve their aim of being places where people go to live and to work, a tremendous move forward must now be made by the Government in planning to bring new industry into them at this time, when it is needed. I hope that they will do so. I hope that they will consider more adequately than they have in the past the need for much greater research about the future not only of the new towns but of all new communities and new housing schemes as we develop them. We need far more research to determine precisely what the problems are and how they can best be tackled. I hope that the Government will consider setting up a research unit in one of their Departments and that they will give money to the universities to sponsor research on these subjects.
There are many other aspects of the new towns on which I could dwell, but they are not entirely relevant to the debate. As the Schuster Report said a few years ago, planning is now a social and economic activity, and it is the economic aspects which in the years to come will be most important for the new towns and for the old communities. Early in his speech the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that we on this side of the House had tended to get our priorities wrong. We are quite certain that our priorities, in so far as they concern people first and foremost, have never been wrong. They are certainly not wrong today. We hope that we can persuade hon. Members opposite to share our point of view that dynamic social action must be taken in the next year if our people are to be saved from economic disaster.
§ 5.39 p.m.
§ Mr. R. H. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
Making a maiden speech in the House is always an ordeal. Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of that ordeal is to be stimulating without being provoking. The hon. Lady the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) has, with little difficulty, managed it extremely well. I should like on behalf of the whole House to congratulate the hon. Lady upon her success. We on this side of the House look forward to the day when she can speak without inhibition and can be both stimulating and provoking.
899 The hon. Lady talked about the problem of new towns. I want to talk about a rather similar problem which no Government have yet tackled and that is proper accommodation for elderly people. Old people want a front door of their own, not a place in an institution. It would be a very good thing if the Ministers involved put up that saying at the entrance to their Ministries in the same way as Lord Woolton put up the slogan, "We not only cope but we care," at the Ministry of Food. I am afraid that that aspect is forgotten far too often.
We do not yet know, and no Government Department knows, how many old people are living behind their own front doors, nor do we know how many people would so live if the front doors were provided. One of the first questions I want to ask the Leader of the House is whether an effort is being made to discover by a proper survey how many old people are living behind their own front doors and how many would so live if they were available.
I remember that in 1956 the present Minister of Aviation, when he was Minister of Housing and Local Government, initiated a survey of the housing of old people. We have never had a view of the report of that survey. I do not know what the results were. They have been kept extremely quiet. Perhaps it was an unsatisfactory and incomplete survey. If so, there should be another one.
We must work on the census Report of 1951, which is now eight years out of date. That showed that at that time there were 550,000 people of pension age living alone, and there were 1 million married couples who were pensioners. Since that date, the number of people of pension age has risen. By 1961 there will be 800,000 more, and by 1971 there will be a further 1¼ million. That is the size of the problem which we must tackle. I am told that it is estimated that at present there are 100,000 one-bed-roomed flats which were built previous to the war and that in the fourteen years since the war 180,000 one-bed-roomed flats or bungalows have been provided. That makes a total of just under 300,000 for a need which I put at what I believe to be a conservative estimate of 550,000 today, and of 1¼ million in 1971.
900 That is the problem which we face today. It is quite true that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government has done all he can to encourage the building of more dwellings suitable for old people. It is true also that in 1945 we were providing for old people merely 5 per cent. of the total building, whereas in the second quarter of 1959 that proportion rose to 21 per cent. I warn my right hon. Friend not to overlook the fact that the overall figure for those fourteen years is still only 8.8 per cent. of the total houses built; that is, 1 in 12. Old people are now 1 in 7 of the population. In a short time they will be 1 in 6.
Percentages distort the problem. The figure which counts is the number of one-bed-roomed bungalows and flats being provided. Last year the figure was, I think—I am allowing a little for Scotland—22,000. I should like the Leader of the House to tell us when he replies to the debate what he estimates the figure of completions will be for 1959. If my estimates are right—that we want by 1961 800,000 and by 1971 1¼ million—we should be building not at the rate of 22,000 per year, but at the rate of 75,000 to 80,000 a year.
This argument clearly hinges on how far I am accurate in my figures. I will try to explain them not only from the work I know outside my constituency, but by quoting the case of a normal rural market town in my constituency with a population of 6,000. It happens to have a rather good record for old people's housing, but that does not make any difference, except that it gives the true value of the waiting list. That authority has built 50 old people's houses or bungalows since the war. It has a waiting list of 35. That shows that my figure of a national total of 600,000 is just about right.
The other factor to be noticed is that this local authority finds that it is impossible to build an old people's bungalow or flat with the help of a £10 a year grant without overcharging the pensioner on his rent or subsidising old people's housing out of council house rents. All of us on both sides of the House agree that it is undesirable to subsidise the rents of old people's houses out of council house rents. It may be fair to do it out of the general rates, 901 but not out of council house rents. It is, therefore, necessary for this local authority to combine its old people's housing with slum clearance and thereby to qualify for the £22 a year grant. That is obviously a reasonable thing to do, but I do not believe that from the Government's point of view it is desirable. The drive to provide suitable housing for elderly people should not be mixed up with a slum clearance plan. It may well be that in certain areas there is not the need for slum clearance, but there is a great need for old people's housing. Why in those areas should old people's housing be starved?
It is noticeable that in Scotland the grant for old people's housing is £24 per annum, as compared with the grant in England of £10 per annum. The time has now come in the economy of the country as a whole when it would be a wise policy to increase the grants to local authorities for one-bed-roomed dwellings for old people in order to deal with this major problem.
Old people require not only accommodation, but companionship. That is why it is very important that old people's houses should be built either near council house estates or, in the case of older parts of a town, by taking one or two houses in a street and converting them, as the Abbevfield Society has been doing in its experimental work in Bermondsev. This has the dual advantage of enabling old people to be visited by their families and neighbours and of retaining them in the community. We do not want them segregated in rather the same way as that in which, in the last century, people segregated those suffering from mental illnesses. We want the old people right in the community.
That brines me to the very valuable provision of the 1948 Act by which there is a maximum grant of £30 per annum for caretakers' houses in groups of old people's bungalows or flats. I am quite certain that many local authorities are making full use of that provision, but more should be done to bring to the attention of all authorities the valuable work that can be done by providing a caretaker for those old people who have not a family near them or who sometimes need emergency attention.
902 Accommodation for old people is not, of course, purely a matter of providing old people's flats or bungalows. What accommodation are we giving to those who are very frail and old, or ill and old? First, we have to look at what are called the Part III homes. There are 60,000 people of pension age in those homes and 35,000 of them are living in large old buildings inherited from the Poor Law—buildings that are completely out of touch with all modern conception of where old people should live. Of those, 10,000 are living in institutions where there are more than 200 beds.
That brings me right back to the beginning: old people want a front door of their own, not a place in an institution. I beg the Government, when considering the frail old people—some of whom should certainly be in some small homes—to review the whole question of the Part III homes. There must be a complete divorce between those homes and National Assistance. We must realise that, as the years go by, the old people who are in those old homes will be more frail than the type of person who was there some ten years ago. In other words, we must ensure that in those homes these old people get, not merely attention, but simple nursing.
Both the Part III homes and old people's housing have an effect on the problem of old people in hospital, about which I want to say just a word. It is quite clear that the position of old people in hospital has not yet been solved by any Government. At the moment, there are 125,000 people of pension age in hospitals—about a quarter of them all. In mental hospitals, the figure is as high as 40 per cent.
Why are so many old people in hospital today? I wish to quote from the Ministry of Health publication "Survey of Services available to the Chronic Sick and Elderly." The author, Dr. Boucher, writes, in page 19:…it was clearly established that the inability to discharge patients no longer in need of hospital treatment resulted in beds being blocked and a mounting waiting list.The cause of this large proportion of our old people being in hospital is that we have not sufficient one-bed-roomed dwellings for them, coupled with the fact that, at the moment, the Part III home is not a satisfactory or proper alternative to hospital. Therefore, we have not only 903 to tackle the two problems that I have already mentioned but that of the old person in hospital.
When old people are acutely ill it may well be wise to send them far from home and family to be looked after under a consultant and to get the best treatment in a central hospital, but when they are convalescent, or chronically ill, I believe it to be a very grave mistake to send them far from their homes and environment. Where they should be then is in small wards, in small hospitals, near their own homes, and under the care of the family doctor. I do not believe that, as at present constituted, the National Health Service can provide that sort of treatment for the old people—
§ Mr. Turton
It is very difficult. Not only that but, in many cases, such treatment is very expensive.
For the convalescent, and the chronically ill elderly people, we need to get back much more of the spirit of the old cottage hospital, where they were looked after by their own family doctors, and where there was the interest of all the neighbours. That is what we lack now. I know that some regional boards are trying to recapture that spirit, but the Ministers responsible should see whether we do not need some new machinery to deal with the needs of old people.
I have talked on these three aspects because I believe that they are probably the most important of all in that field. But I have been dealing with a problem that concerns two separate Ministries, though it is quite clear that it is interconnected and inter-related. It is a great defect in the machinery that the accommodation of the elderly should be under two Ministers of the Crown, but also in many areas of the country we have three authorities dealing with the matter, and when we come to the wider problem of the care of the elderly we find the responsibility fragmented among five different authorities.
I beg the Government, in the lifetime of this Parliament, to get the machinery necessary for looking after the old people properly coordinated—I never know, at present, how old people know to whom to turn to deal with their many difficulties. I also hope that, in the life-time 904 of this Parliament, many more old people will be living happy and healthy lives—behind their own front doors.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Mapp (Oldham, East)
Addressing this House, as I do, for the first time, I ask hon. Members to extend to me that indulgence that I gather is traditionally afforded on such occasions. It may be that some previous experience of local government and magisterial work will help me the more quickly to fall in with the procedure and routine of the House.
The constituency of Oldham, East includes the small urban district authority of Lees, where textiles and paper manufacture are the main industries. Of course, nine-tenths of the division is part of the township of Oldham, where textiles, in particular, are a conspicuous industrial product. I shall return to textiles in a moment or two.
Oldham is a typical early industrial town, one of many, as it were, cradles of the Industrial Revolution. The town today bears many scars, and here and there one sees much beauty in a town like Oldham. Trying to analyse the conflicting impulses in our mixed society, I see a struggle going on all the time in the life of the old order, the old industrial and social arrangements being pressed forward, with great handicaps, to attach themselves to the new conception. As I see my task in this House, it is constructively to help so that the transition period in Oldham and other similar old townships shall be short and effective. There is considerable leeway to be made up.
Although, as I said, my remarks will principally be devoted to textiles, I heard with great interest the comments of the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). I felt that, to some extent, he captured in his discussion of the position of the elderly my philosophy and approach to the problems of old-age pensioners. The Chancellor spoke of statistics and figures in justifying the existing arrangements for them. I have spent a good deal of my life working with figures, in management and so forth, but I believe that there are some things in life, and one of them is poverty, towards which we must never condition our thoughts in terms of statistics.
905 I gather that each of us here has, within the last few weeks, had the experience—my own experience in this respect has covered many years—of going into homes where this small increment comes in each week, where there is perfect cleanliness and the greatest dignity, but where, underneath, there is all the evidence of poverty. I suggest to hon. Members opposite that there are certain things, and this is definitely one, which cannot be subjected to the cold analysis of accountancy. If we were to go to an old couple, a Darby and Joan, and put before them the kind of reasoning we hear here about the relative advance of old-age pensions between 1945 and 1959, they would probably say, "And what next?" Most of them do not understand—perhaps it is a good thing that they do not—the technicalities of figures, but they do understand what a good society should be. I beg the Government to consider the matter in that way and not always to approach it in terms of figures.
In Oldham, the problem of the old town and its old housing is, perhaps, the most heart-breaking problem facing the local authority. I have been a member of a local authority for some time, and I am acutely aware of the difficulties which local authorities have in regard to the decisions which the Chancellor has already made. One of the questions to be decided in the future will be whether usury as such should have an equal application for social purposes as it would have for ordinary commercial purposes. A very powerful case can be made for the preferential hiring of finance when it is used for social purposes, and at some later date this will have to be borne in mind.
I am, however, primarily concerned with the unfolding of the reorganisation scheme for the cotton industry. We are now told that £50 million or £60 million is involved. I do not wish to be unduly discourteous—I have tried fully to understand the basic arguments in favour of the system of private enterprise, and I can see here and there that there is some merit in those arguments—but I can never bring myself to believe that, if, on the one side, the gains of private enterprise are legitimate, we should, on the other, ask the social conscience to accept and carry the losses. One thing in the Cotton Industry Act which has 906 appalled me is that, generally, on the Government side of the House, the approach has been to ask the social purse to cover up the omissions of the industry.
After all, the Measure now unfolding is first-aid treatment for the cotton industry. I am concerned with what is happening now. I have in my hand a list of 24 mills closed during a recent period. Six thousand people are involved. I was told two or three days ago that, for the majority of mule spinners, it will not be possible to find employment, and this number will be approximately 1,500. Further, in connection with other sections of the trade, I am told that it is expected that about 25 per cent. of the workers will be absorbed into the industry as a result of shift work and existing vacancies.
Mule spinning is now practically nonexistent in the Oldham area. Twelve months ago, there were over 100 mills with mule spinning, and there will be approximately 30 when the reorganisation scheme is completed. The majority of spinners employed at these mills will have great difficulty in obtaining new employment because their average age is 54. That is one of the problems.
Reference has been made this afternoon to the understandings come to between the Cotton Board and the trade unions. At a meeting of one trade union in the textile industry in Oldham a few days ago—I shall not give the name—the question of compensation was raised, and it was stated that the workers at a certain mill in Chadderton, which is in Oldham, West, which had ceased working twelve weeks ago and at another mill in Lees which had ceased working ten weeks ago, had not yet received compensation although it had been said that workers would receive compensation within a fortnight of the mills closing.
I ask that, in one way or another, the President of the Board of Trade should make an early interim report to the House so that the operatives in the industry may be able to share the knowledge which is now available to one side of the industry only. The situation is creating unnecessary anxiety. If public money is involved, I believe that there should be some accountability of how the Act is unfolding in the areas concerned.
907 When reading an Oldham newspaper dated 31st October I was disturbed to see that in his annual statement the chairman of one of the major mills said:The number of spindles submitted by the group is 153,108 out of a total of 367,712 and when settlement has been made it is expected that the cash resources of the company will justify a special distribution to the stockholders.This seems to me to be an alarming state of affairs. This House is endeavouring to effect first-aid treatment for one of its oldest industries, yet one of the major minds in the industry, within a matter of a few weeks, is thinking in terms of increased dividends, which is a rather disappointing arrangement.
I am concerned that in the first-aid treatment that the Act is rendering there should be greater consultation, but I want now to direct my remarks to the principle with which I am mainly concerned. On the one hand, we have an old industry, fragmented in hundreds of directions, horizontally organised, fossilised if one likes, with each stratum keen on belonging to combinations of its own to preserve its trading arrangements and with none of them ever anxious to develop amalgamations in order to give prosperity. On the other hand, there is the Cotton Board without, in the main, any major powers and purely advisory. In addition, the industry has no purchasing agency in connection with its major raw material and no sales policy in regard to its output. I should like to direct the attention of the House to the question whether these sets of arrangements, having effected first-aid treatment to the cotton industry, are such that in future the industry will be able to do its job.
I cannot see, fair though I want to be, that the industry, as now organised, will repay to the nation through this House the investment that we are making in order to get it over its temporary difficulties. I urge the President of the Board of Trade, in so far as he can without legislation, although I would welcome legislation, to ensure that the cotton industry is urged to reorganise itself in whatever way it thinks fit. There are other possible ways that I will not discuss today. I invite the President of the Board of Trade to let the industry take advantage of 1960 methods of organisation, of management and of 908 policy in connection with purchase and sales.
To wind up, I beg the industry to get off its knees in terms of the public purse and to remember that the utility which it develops is unexpendable. There is no point in having first-aid, of which I had some knowledge some years ago, unless the patient, in a serious injury—and there is a serious injury in the cotton trade—takes advantage of the surgical and the hospital treatment which is available to him.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. David Webster (Weston-super-Mare)
It gives me great pleasure to congratulate the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Mapp) on a most successful maiden speech. Throughout his measured and thoughtful contribution he discussed with great feeling and considerable thought the grave problems which he sees in his constituency, and he went beyond mere statistics to the human problems.
At the same time, I should like to pay a tribute to the hon. Member's predecessor, who sat on a different side of the House. He was a most courageous politician and never modified his words to court popularity. I can see that, although probably their opinions would differ on the grave matters which we discuss in this House, there is the same determination to speak up and to get issues thoroughly cleared.
The hon. Member gave no sign of the ordeal which it is to all of us. One is told that the first speech is the worst, but I do not know whether that is the general consensus of opinion in the House. I took great interest in the problems of transition which the hon. Gentleman discussed, and, if I may, I should also like to discuss problems of transition.
I welcome the reference in the Gracious Speech to the Bill which, with commendable promptitude, has been presented to the House to help to cure local unemployment, to make these powers anticipatory and to give to local authorities powers to clear sites in order to build. It is right that the first major Measure of the new Parliament should be to prevent local unemployment becoming a chronic problem.
909 I think that we should go a little deeper into the causes of localised unemployment, apart from the transitional problems which the hon. Gentleman discussed as they apply to his own constituency. Many of the pockets of unemployment, as they are known today, although some of them are now so big that I would prefer to call them sacks, contain industries which we all know are of a most cyclical nature. Today, there are many aspects of the steel industry in which there is expansion. The expansion of need and of production has grown greater than the capacity, but there is one part of the steel industry, namely, that supplying the needs of the shipyards for heavy steel plate, where the capacity is much greater than the need at present. Every time that freight rates rise slightly, it means that more vessels are taken out of the estuaries where hitherto they have been laid up. As long as these vessels remain unremunerative, one cannot see any increase in the number of orders on the order books for the shipyards. Therefore, people in the North-East and in Scotand, where they are used to the tradition of feast or famine, do not want the famine to be too prolonged and want to get back to feasting as quickly as possible.
I think that the problem is likely to persist if we do not go further than the steps set out in the Bill. I cannot discuss the Bill, because I would be out of order, but there is a great need for many of the products of the heavy industries of the North-East and Scotland and there is today a great threat to one of our traditional types of trade.
Very few people seem to be aware of the nature of this threat. It is that the great trading centres of Western Europe will take away from this country a traditional British trade, shipping and transport into and out of Europe. As one sees the Rotterdam—Rhine—Meuse water and pipeline network and docks build up, it is absolutely essential that those who in this country are responsible for the docks and for communications leading to and from them should get a move on and modernise equipment and all the ancillary services which are required. If they do not get on with this problem immediately, they will find that they will be competing in the most adverse way with the trade and competition from overseas. A major drive to 910 modernise these port installations would take up a considerable amount of slack in the heavy aspect of British industry and go a long way to curing many of the problems of local unemployment.
In the more remote areas, one would wish to do something to help the pockets or sacks of unemployment. We heard the hon. Lady the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) describing eloquently the problems of her constituency. While one would wish to help Scotland, one would not go quite so far as to suggest that a strip mill should be set up in the constituency of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), the Leader of the Liberal Party, although, possibly, the hon. Member might welcome a few extra radical thinkers into his constituency.
The core of the problem, which so far has not been mentioned, is the high cost of the transport of materials and of the finished article from the sources of supply and back to the markets. Until that problem is tackled, all these other methods of transitional subsidy and aid deal only with the problem at the periphery. What we must do is to drive as hard as we can to improve our communications, including road, rail and bridges, in the remoter parts of the country, because until we do this we will never get rid of the fundamental problem which lies at the root of this unemployment condition.
To talk about my own part of the country, I found it rather ironic when in Cornwall recently to recall that about a year ago it was declared to be a D.A.T.A.C. area. At the same time, however, the Ministry of Transport cut down the major road improvement grants to the area. It is a complete fallacy to suggest that the South-West is only an area where people go for their holidays. We would not direct industrialists to set up industries in Cornwall any more than we, or hon. Members opposite, would direct labour to various parts of the country. We do not, however, see how any industrialist would consider it economically feasible to set up business in an area in which communications are so extremely poor. When one thinks of holidays and realises that this area is a major gold and dollar earner for the country, when one thinks of the communications to the area and 911 of the annual funeral procession to the South-West as we see it for four months of the year, it is high time that something was done about this drastic problem. We should be careful to ensure that the goose that lays the gold and dollar eggs is not strangled in the highways and byways of Somerset.
I welcome the activities of my right hon. Friend the new Minister of Transport, and his predecessor, in all that is being done in the development of transport and the building of roads and I wish the maximum speed to my right hon. Friend's efforts. It is, I consider, altogether a good thing that Miss Jayne Mansfield opened the Chiswick flyover. It gave the occasion a bit of publicity and introduced a controversial note. Now, Mr. Dayton has made the matter even more controversial. It is right that these matters should be brought before the public eye and interest concentrated upon them.
One of the activities of my noble Friend the new Minister for Science should be to consider the science of road building, in which art we are far behind European standards, as many of us who visited Germany recently have discovered.
At the same time, I did not think that the remarks of the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson), when he referred to a certain lady whom I have mentioned, were particularly flattering, either to himself or to the West when he was comparing the aims of the West and of Russia. Our function as politicians is to ensure that when we leave this House, we leave the conditions of the people better than we found them when we came in. Although we may not yet have put a sputnik round the earth or a lunik round the moon—we might yet be able to do these things—it is true to say that we have improved the conditions of the people to a stage very much in advance of conditions in Russia today. It is a paradox that in Russia, with its tremendous scientific developments, so little has been done to help ordinary people.
There is, however, a danger that we might be beguiled simply by material things. What we want to cherish and maintain is a spirit of voluntary service to the community and a spirit of voluntarily 912 giving up one's spare time to get education to improve our ability to serve the community. When we have to compete with States which have compulsory powers, as there are in Russia and China, it is essential that this individual spirit and desire to serve should prevail. As long as we maintain and insist upon these things, we will ensure that we compete successfully as a free nation against the competition of others of an alien type of thinking.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Ifor Davies (Gower)
I am not unmindful of the generous consideration which this House extends to its new Members, and I am deeply conscious that I, too, need the indulgence of the House. Remembering that I am the first new Member from the Principality to speak in this House this Session, I trust that I shall receive special indulgence.
The Gower constituency, which I have the honour and the privilege to represent, has been associated in this House with another name for thirty-seven years. I refer, of course, to the name of Mr. David Grenfell. I should like to pay tribute to him for his great services to this House and to its debates and discussions and also for his contribution towards those movements leading to world peace. He also achieved another distinction in becoming the Father of the House. Whilst I cannot hope to follow him in that direction, I can—and indeed, I shall—always endeavour to the best of my ability to follow his example in his great regard for Parliamentary democracy and also for his love and affection for the traditions of this, the Mother of Parliaments, the greatest legislative assembly in the world.
The Gower constituency is also well-known to hon. Members for another reason and that is its natural beauty. In 1949, this House passed the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, which led in 1956 to the Gower Peninsula being recognised as an area of outstanding natural beauty. Indeed it was the first area to be so designated in the country. It has been a great pleasure for me to meet many hon. Members in the Lobbies who have confessed to me that they have been invigorated and have gained new health to return to their arduous labours here 913 after a holiday in that beautiful part of the country.
My home looks out upon that natural beauty, but it also looks out upon another view. It look out upon obsolete mills and exhausted pits, a view which some of my hon. Friends know well. I can see the villages of Gorseinon, Pontardulais and Pontardawe, which have been household names in the tinplate industry in South Wales, and I see the mining communities of Cwmllynfell and Gwauncaegurwen, where the miners are facing a grievous situation. Indeed, the National Coal Board, in its revised "Plan for Coal", refers to the probability of further pit closures in the South-Western Division.
To these areas, I would remind the House, the fears of insecurity have returned, not recently but a few years ago. The Leader of the Opposition, I am sure, will vividly recall his visit to the Pontardawe obsolete mills earlier this year when I had the opportunity of accompanying him. In these areas the unemployment figures are three and four times, and even more, higher than the national average, and the problem of youth is also a very grave one indeed.
The Gracious Speech now promises urgent attention to areas such as these, but the Amendment rightly states that there has been a failure to deal adequately, and, indeed, to deal in time, with the problems of these industries.
I was very glad to hear the hon. Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) emphasise the importance of community life. I too live in the centre of these communities where so many old people, as the Amendment says, are living in dignified poverty and extreme hardship. I would draw the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to this point, having regard to his remarks today. I hope it is not yet too late in the day possibly for an announcement to be made that something will done very soon for these old folk. But I must not, in accordance with tradition, be controversial today, so I must content myself with reminding the House that action at all times speaks louder than words.
These communities to which I refer are very rich indeed in cultural activities. Indeed, the Festival Hall of this capital city has heard great music sung by the Pontardulais and Penclawdd choral 914 societies, and the trumpets have sounded here, too, of the Ystalyfera brass bands. The valleys, too, have produced their scholars, their poets and their bards. These communities, I would say with great respect, must not be allowed to die, and their vigour must be restored, and it is, if I may say so, the responsibility of the Government of the day to see to it that new industries are brought to these valleys.
Despite their economic difficulties, however, these people are not Luddites. They are ready to co-operate in technological developments and the onward march of automation, but in return they demand the right to work. I commend their urgent needs particularly to the attention of the Minister for Welsh Affairs, and I hope he will respond to this appeal on behalf of these communities. I would ask this new House to remember Milton's great invocation in the Areopagitica which, I personally believe, is still up to date:Consider what Nation it is whereof ye are, and whereof ye are the governours: a Nation not slow and dull, but with a quick, ingenious, and piercing spirit, acute to invent, suttle and sinewy to discours, not beneath the reach of any point the highest that human capacity can soar to.Indeed we had an example of this national characteristic at the Box today by the deputy Leader of the Opposition.
If I may have the indulgence of the House for a few more minutes, I would refer again to the Gracious Speech which also recognises the place of science and technology in the modern world. But I should have liked to have seen also equal recognition of and emphasis on the importance of human relations in industry. This is one of the most urgent tasks confronting the industrial world. I recognise that much has been done. The T.U.C. has consistently advocated the introduction of joint consultation in the real sense and the Minister of Labour's personal Management Advisory Service has also rendered good service, and, again, the Duke of Edinburgh's Oxford Conference on human problems in industrial communities was a most notable recognition of the gravity of this matter, but we have touched only the fringe of the problem. Industrial disputes are constantly in the news. It is not my intention today to analyse 915 the causes of industrial discontent, but I would respectfully urge the need for a more human approach to our industrial problems.
As one who has been connected for many years with industrial relations I have met in industry many people who have displayed a remarkable intelligence when the problems concern machines but who are pathetically unintelligent when the problem concerns human beings. It must be realised that industry is only a means to an end and not an end in itself. It is people who come first. Their life in and out of working hours is the only really important thing, particularly in a country which professes to be democratic. Science and technical efficiency, though essential in modern industry, should be used as the servant and no amount of it can in any way be a substitute for a profound interest in and understanding of the individual and his industrial problems.
Man has simply got to remain in charge of the industrial monster which he is building. I hope, therefore, that the new Minister referred to in the Gracious Speech, entrusted with the task of co-ordinating and promoting developments in research and other scientific activity, will make sure that science and technology remain the servants of man and not his dictators.
I thank the House for its indulgence.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ Mrs. Evelyn Emmet (East Grinstead)
It is my privilege, and one I accept most gladly, to thank the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. I. Davies) and congratulate him upon his maiden speech. He showed what we would expect from somebody born amid the valleys and mountains of Wales, a great sense of beauty. He is a patriot—we would always expect that from the Principality; but, above all, what struck me and I am sure must have struck the House was his real sincerity and the way he spoke from the heart, and that, in this House, is always the most acceptable quality of all.
I cannot follow him into Wales and I would, therefore, like to turn to the question of pensions and pensioners, which has been touched upon earlier today. I should like to take it up from a different angle. I would draw the attention of the House and the Government to the 916 necessity of studying this matter of old-age pensioners in a far wider aspect, not limiting it to the question of housing or an extra 10s. or an extra £1 a week. The Gracious Speech touches upon the relaxation of the earnings rule, and it is that point I should like to enlarge upon for a short while.
In March we had an interesting debate on the re-employment of the elderly, and the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour said:I fully accept the need for further research and greater contact between research workers and industry. It is really a question of deciding what is the best machinery to adopt … I believe that the best means of providing a link between the research departments, on the one hand, and industry on the other would … be … from time to time, to call a conference."—[OFFICIAL REPORT: 6th March, 1959; Vol. 601, c. 837.]In his speech when he opened his Budget about a month later, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said:It must be our unceasing endeavour to get every person we can into productive employment without putting at risk the stability of the foundations of our economy on which the prospects for full and steady employment must rest."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th April, 1959; Vol. 603, c. 41.]My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Dorset, North (Colonel R. H. Glyn) and I felt very encouraged by those words. I am anxious to recall to the mind of the Government, now that they have been reorganised, what was said at the time and I want to enlist the interest and sympathy of new Members in an inquiry as to what can be done to re-employ elderly people and so put off the pension problem.
By all means let us start with a conference, but do not let us stop there. Publicity is enormously needed on this question, both among the potential employers and among the potential employees. I would differ from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour who spoke just of getting into touch with industry. I believe that local and government authorities have possibilities of offering elderly people employment which have not been explored. I know that there is the difficulty of pension schemes, but I think that it should be overcome.
As to the potential employee, we must get our old people out of the desperate outlook and the feeling that they are heading for the rubbish heap. We have an 917 ageing population. The expectation of life and the expectation of health in old age are increasing very rapidly. We must face competition with the United States and with the U.S.S.R. with a very small population, and I was struck by the sentence spoken by the deputy Leader of the Opposition when he said that the expansion of the Communist world is proceeding dramatically.
I believe that to be true. I believe, therefore, it to be equally true that we should use to the fullest extent our capacity for work at every age. Something could be done at the labour exchanges in specialising in re-settling elderly people somewhat on the lines of the Youth Service set up to help the young when they first begin.
A very wide look at this subject is necessary. Interesting research is going on and the Nuffield Trust has published certain interesting conclusions. If we do not take up this matter very radically and examine every possibility we shall find in the next twenty years that three-fifths of the population has to support the other two-fifths. I understand that the Beveridge Report expected that by 1979 there would be between 8 million and 9 million elderly people in this country.
Tied up with the employment of middle aged and elderly people is the question of restrictions on earnings. It is time that these restrictions were reconsidered. I know that that is foreshadowed in the Gracious Speech and I am very glad. They were originally instituted for economic reasons and in order to encourage people to retire. I believe that that attitude now is disastrous. I do not think that we should encourage people to retire. If we could encourage them to remain at work we could save a great deal of ill-health and unhappiness in old age.
Quoting from memory, I believe that the cost of abolishing these restrictions on employment would have been about £100 million a year ago. I am convinced that the greater productivity which would result from keeping elderly people in employment, the economy on the higher pension rate and, above all, the increased happiness of our old people, which would contribute to better health, would make a very big dent in the £100 million which we are told this would cost.
The Nuffield Report states that many 918 workers stay on up to 70 years of age in jobs for which they are totally unfit. It would be very much better if they could be transferred to an easier job, with the old-age pension at an earlier age. Also the present Regulations, as we all know, lead to evasion and cheating. I have always found it a great difficulty to explain to an old-age pensioner the difference between the Service pension or the civil pension and his old-age pension, and why the civil pensioner can work without restriction on earnings whilst the old-age pensioner cannot. Old-age pensioners cannot understand this and they do not like the explanation when it is given to them.
At this stage, I should like to make a special plea for complete relaxation of the earnings rule as applied to widowed mothers. They should be exempt from this rule altogether. One of the greatest disasters that can befall anybody is for a woman to be left a widow with young children to be brought up. It is an immensely hard task and there is always the haunting fear of what would happen to the home if she were ill or incapacitated. If we can encourage her to earn as much as possible, and even perhaps put aside something for a rainy day, that is the least that we can do for such a case.
I am confident that the Government will implement the promises which they have made about the relaxation of these restrictions but, quite frankly, I should like them to abolish them altogether the moment it is economically possible to do so. They would not only earn the gratitude of the widows and the approval of elderly people but, far more important, they would greatly increase the happiness of the older generation by doing this and also encourage them to stay at work for which they are fit.
As an hon. Member opposite has said, sometimes in examining these social problems we take the matter in too piecemeal a fashion and tend to think too much of the pounds, shillings and pence and forget the mental and spiritual side of the people whom we are trying to help. If the Welfare State is to justify itself, it must think not only of the material side but of the character and spiritual outlook of the people for whom it is working. What a condemnation it is when we look at China in these days, 919 with its complete Communistic, totalitarian Government, a country which above all used to revere old age, where it was a privilege to be old and old age was esteemed. Now that has gone by the board, it has been all trampled on and thrown away in revolution and in the hard-hearted Communistic outlook.
We are a long way from Browning's verse, which all hon. Members know:Grow old along with me!The best is yet to be".The deputy Leader of the Opposition asked what we on this side of the House were going to do with our victory. I should like to think, and indeed I feel certain, that we will try to make our victory also a happy time for our older people, so that our Welfare State may reflect the picture, first of all, of a happy childhood, of thriving middle life, and then of contented old age. In that way our generation will have justified their work for the good of mankind.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Carol Johnson (Lewisham, South)
In rising to address the House, I am conscious of at least three disabilities. As a new Member addressing the House for the first time, like my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Mapp), I share the diffidence which is expected of one placed in this position, although this is, of course, offset by the knowledge that the House is kindness itself on these occasions.
Secondly, as the Member for Lewisham, South, I follow someone who is not only a great Parliamentarian but a national and international figure. All of us, I am sure, appreciate the very gracious reference the Prime Minister made to Mr. Herbert Morrison in opening the debate on the Address. Although I am very proud to be the Member for Lewisham, South, I am also gratified in following Mr. Herbert Morrison's steps. I am only sorry that he should appear to be engaged in something like a nomenclatural obstacle race in his passage to another place. Whatever title he may eventually assume, I am sure that he will make as distinctive a contribution to the life and work of another place as he made in this Chamber. Nevertheless, I have to recognise that for some time to come it may well be that references to the hon. Member for 920 Lewisham, South may cause some right hon. and hon. Members to look towards the third row below the Gangway where Mr. Herbert Morrison latterly sat rather than to the more humble place from where I am now addressing the House. I only hope that time will cure that disability.
I suffer from what I think is an even greater disability. For many years past I have worked in the Palace of Westminster, and I need hardly inform right hon. and hon. Members that there is a marked and significant gulf between them and the very large number of men and women who serve them in various ways. Of course, that does not preclude us from criticising. For many years past, I have sat as a stranger in a seat under the Gallery and seen the House in its great moments, and, need I add, on occasions when it has not been so elevating. I have often found myself muttering under my breath, "Why doesn't he say this" or "Why doesn't he do that." Now that I have passed beyond the Bar of the House and find myself on these benches—and I feel it acutely at this particular moment—I feel that there is an answer to those two questions. In any event, the House will appreciate why I feel that the invisible cloak of the "stranger" may in my case take a little longer to become invisible to me, and meanwhile I feel that I should keep a weather eye open for the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg).
While my memory of working on the fringe of Parliament is still fresh in my mind, I hope that right hon. and hon. Members will not think me presumptuous if I remind them of a large number of people who in various ways play a useful part in keeping the Parliamentary machine at work. Some of the more important ones find a place in HANSARD, while, in the case of others a quirk of character or an outstanding personality attracts occasional attention in the Press. But, by and large, loyal and devoted service comes from many dozens of people who go on year after year unremarked and largely unknown.
Some of the older Members may recall the inimitable Christmas greeting cards which used to come year by year from Mr. Stanley Evans when he was the hon. Member for Wednesbury, and I think all who knew him will agree that he was 921 a very great loss to the House. In some of those cards he lifted the curtain on various sections of people who mostly provide a silent service and told right hon. and hon. Members a great many things about them which they did not know. Indeed, I have often felt that in addition to the Journals of the House there might well be a place for a House journal which would keep all of us much better informed about the personnel whose work is done beyond the Bar of the House. In this Palace of Westminster we are all part of a great community. When I think of the many speeches which have been made in this Chamber about maintaining good relations in industry, commerce and other undertakings and the need for all people engaged in a common purpose knowing all about each other's problems, I have often felt that the House might sometimes turn its attention a little nearer home.
There is one other matter which I should like to mention, and I hope that it will not be thought controversial. After a lifetime carrying on practice as a solicitor, working as a local government officer, or, more latterly, as a sort of political civil servant, I have had as a matter of course the normal facilities and help in carrying on these jobs, but in what is generally regarded as a much more important function, that of being a Member of Parliament, I am literally appalled not merely at the inadequate but non-existent amenities. I find that having moved from the facilities that have been provided for me in the past, I am now without a desk at which to sit, nor can I obtain any accommodation for a secretary, and when I compare that with what I have enjoyed in the past and with what I regard as essential, I think I am entitled to feel appalled. I hope that these matters will very early engage the attention of the House, because until that problem is solved it is impossible to expect the maximum efficiency from hon. Members in this House.
There is one other matter to which I should like to refer before I sit down. Whenever any part of the country is afflicted by some great disaster, such as the colliery disaster in Lanarkshire, to which reference was made in the Adjournment debate last night, the whole country identifies itself with the smitten community, not only because of the loss of life it has suffered and the personal 922 tragedies that result, but because we appreciate that such a community may never recover from such a blow. Although economic setbacks are not so spectacular or sympathy-inspiring, they, too, may have a vital effect upon the communities affected. However much we may disagree about the methods for dealing with these problems, I hope that at least we all agree that the economic health of every industry in the country and the social well being of all our people are two of the major purposes of Parliament.
There need be no apology at the opening of a new Parliament for the Opposition casting a searchlight on these two great themes, as we are doing in this debate today, and asking Her Majesty's Government to tackle them with urgency and great effort. The responsibility for so doing has been firmly placed on this Government as a result of the last General Election, and I feel that it is our task on these benches to see that the Government do so.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Marshall (Bodmin)
It is always a very great honour to be the first to congratulate an hon. Member making his maiden speech in this House, and I have much pleasure on this occasion in congratulating the hon. Member for Lewisham. South (Mr. C. Johnson) on his contribution to our debate. He is quite right in saying that those of us who have been fortunate enough to have been here for many years naturally miss the perky atmosphere with which the hon. Gentleman's predecessor, whom we all know so well as Herbert Morrison, always enlivened this House. Not only was it a pleasure to listen to the hon. Gentleman on this occasion, but the attention paid to his speech in all parts of the House shows that we shall enjoy hearing him many times more. Incidentally, this is the first occasion on which I have listened to a maiden speech from a Member who is not a stranger to the House of Commons. The hon. Gentleman made some pertinent points which may cause us considerable reflection.
We are now concluding the final stages of the debate on the Gracious Speech, and in listening to the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), who opened the debate this afternoon, 923 I thought that in some way his was a slightly puzzling speech. Not only did it contain great wisdom at moments but it pinpointed the problem which concerns us all, since the problem of a sound economic policy and the difficulty of combining that with popular Government must concern every hon. Member.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the events between 1945 and 1951 proved his point, and that no hon. Member who was in the House at that time would argue that the difficulties which confronted the Government of the day were not considerable. That is true, but he did not mention that instead of concentrating on our economic difficulties the Government concentrated on the ideology of nationalisation and so disrupted the economic life of the country. The period after a war must be inflationary, but if at the same time there is a policy of divesting certain people of certain things and paying for them then the inflation must be heightened and, indeed, must cause the difficulties from which we are suffering even now.
The right hon. Gentleman also mentioned certain speeches made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister at that time. It was a pity that he did not mention the book "The Middle Way". Most of us who have a great admiration for the Prime Minister, and who read that book in the 'thirties, found it very stimulating.
§ Mr. Frederick Peart (Workington)
The hon. Gentleman praises "The Middle Way", but does he realise that in those days his right hon. Friend was a keen critic of Tory economic policy? Is he now suggesting that he would criticise the Tory policy as "The Middle Way" did?
§ Mr. Marshall
The hon. Gentleman misunderstands me. The primary difference between the Conservative and Socialist policies is that the Conservative policy is not static. Consequently the policy at one period is quite different from that at another.
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said today that our economic position is better than it has been for a generation. He said that shortly we may be debating the Radcliffe Report. In this connection I make one 924 request to my right hon. Friend. I have read the Report, which is a voluminous one. Is there a possibility of producing a shortened version before the debate? This Report on monetary policy is extremely important, and I think my right hon. Friend will agree that it is fairly heavy reading.
The Chancellor also said something which, instead of giving me great pleasure, caused me a great deal of anxiety. It was that tomorrow we shall hear from the President of the Board of Trade about abolishing a large number of the present quantitative restrictions. Now the Chancellor is concerned, as are the Government generally, with certain pockets of unemployment, or certain sacks of unemployment as one of my hon. Friends put it. Although the proposed Bill will help in that connection, nobody really considers that legislation will solve the problem overnight. Consequently, in connection with areas which have suffered high unemployment it is right to draw the attention of the Chancellor to what might be termed the indigenous industries.
Consequently, I will grapple at once with a point which is causing me anxiety as regards south-east Cornwall in particular, although this applies also to the greater part of Cornwall. A large number of people there are engaged in the horticultural and fishing industries. Reference is made in the Gracious Speech to the promise of the Government that legislation will be passed giving grants to the horticultural industry in consultation with the National Farmers' Union. Now the protection of this industry is based upon the tariff and the Government gave a pledge on that point during the election. I do not know which restrictions are to be removed, but I want to make sure that under no circumstances will those removals affect that general policy about which the Government have given a pledge.
Secondly, there is the question of the inshore fishing industry which, in the part of the country where I live, is dependent primarily upon the canning of its products and their sale. Already it has suffered a great deal from something which we cannot avoid, the import of South African canned pilchards. That country, of course, is a member of the 925 Commonwealth, but shall we, by some abolition of restrictions, by some agreement within the Little Seven, produce a position that will be hurtful to an industry which, although small, provides men and material that, when this country is in danger, we are only too thankful to have? I trust the Chancellor will not forget that.
There are other matters which I wish to mention to the Chancellor in passing. First, I sincerely trust that he is looking into the whole question of the agricultural policy which the Government have put before the country. I hope it will not be forgotten that most hon. Members representing the area where the smaller farmers are are considerably worried and anxious about the pig position. I appreciate that no one can settle the problem overnight. It is a worry, and many of us believe that the solution lies in a Pig Marketing Board.
I also trust that the Chancellor will give the whole of our shipping industry very serious consideration. I hope he will remember that when the shipping industry as a whole is not making any money questions of flags of convenience in order to avoid our taxation do not really matter, but they do matter when profits are again being made. The shipping industry must be given the hope that ultimately ships can be replaced. The shipbuilding industry must always operate behind the shipping industry in time, but one is part of the other. This is a problem that we have to face so that the shipping industry and the shipbuilding industry can attain full capacity and also earn the invisible exports which are attached to both industries.
I hope that the Chancellor realises that there is something else which is very worrying in the areas of heavy unemployment, like Gunnerslake, where the figure has been as high as 15 per cent., which is an extremely heavy figure at any time. If one has not got light industry to take up the slack, it means that the unemployed and the employment exchanges must look for work at a distance. There comes a point, however, with bus and rail fares at a very high figure—they have just been increased—where it is doubtful whether a 926 man with a wife and two children is any better off by taking employment at a distance than he would be if he were drawing unemployment benefit and National Assistance. That is a problem which will have to be examined.
The last point that I wish to make is something which the Chancellor has heard from me from time to time, but that does not mean to say that I will not repeat it. I have already said that the great thing is to look at the natural industries in areas where we have unemployment and see what can be done. There is an absolutely fantastic situation in regard to tin. The word "Britain" comes from the Greek and means "Island of tin". Special circumstances existed when tin mining virtually stopped in Cornwall, such as the developments in Malaya, the question of costs at that time, and so on. Yet those concerned in metalliferous mining know that there is a goodly quantity of this metal lying hidden now in our hills. Experts estimated that the total sum per annum which could be obtained from tin mining would be about £400 million.
We are all anxious that the country's wealth should be harnessed to the greatest possible extent so that we can not only enjoy a rising standard of life but achieve the reserves which the Chancellor wants. It is an extraordinary thing that South Africa, Canada, Eire and Australia have all passed legislation which we had on our Order Paper in 1945 and 1946 with the object of giving an incentive to people to undertake mining, but that legislation has been consistently refused here.
I appreciate that the Chancellor cannot at the moment speak about his next Budget, but I hope that he will look at this matter again and allow a tax holiday, for three or five years from the time of production, for metalliferous mining. If that happened, capital could come into the country to extract the wealth which lies hidden in our hills. If that were the case, it would be a considerable sum. If it were not the case, the Treasury would lose nothing. It is now a great many years since any mining adventure has occurred here, for very obvious reasons. Yet what lies in our hills might enable the Chancellor to achieve more of the things that he wants to achieve.
§ 7.16 p.m.
§ Mr. John Morris (Aberavon)
It is with considerable trepidation that I rise to intervene in such an important debate. I stand in the same place as other young men have done in the past, and I can only hope that they did not do so with as much trepidation as I do. I hope that the House, in putting me in the balance and weighing me, will not find me unduly wanting.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Mr. I. Davies), I should like to mention my predecessor, Mr. W. G. Cove, who, while the political tides ebbed and flowed, for 30 years represented Aberavon in this House, and before that he represented Wellingborough. While the tides ebbed and flowed Aberavon stood firm, even in 1931, when Mr. Cove's predecessor, Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, stood in another light and, of course, for another constituency.
I should like in the few minutes at my disposal to deal with that part of the Gracious Speech which concernsthe development of a sound system of communications throughout the countryand the Government's intention to pressforward with their policy of building new highways and improving existing roads.It would be presumptuous of me, as a new, young and inexperienced Member, to try to paint a broad picture of the country's system of road communications. I shall try to devote myself to a part of the problem with which I have tried to the best of my ability to familiarise myself in the last few years, and that is the transport system of South Wales, and, in particular, of Port Talbot.
In recent years the problem of who will do something for the Port Talbot by-pass and for the inner relief road scheme for the town has been a burning question in South Wales. This is not a mere constituency matter. It affects the prosperity of the whole of South Wales. Indeed, whenever there is an international match in Cardiff, every sportsman in Wales has his own epithets for describing the Government of the day when he is held up at the Port Talbot bottleneck.
The Minister of Transport said yesterday that he was appalled at the standard of driving on the new M.1 road from London to Birmingham. My sincere 928 hope is that he is equally appalled at the hourly chaos which exists at the Port Talbot bottleneck. Here is one of the greatest bottlenecks in the country. Hour after hour private vehicles and the great vehicles of industry are held up there, causing a tremendous waste of fuel, time and money. I shudder to think of the annual amount of wastage caused by that single bottleneck. The worst period is between five o'clock and six o'clock in the evening. It has been reported that on a recorded occasion 1,278 vehicles crawled through that bottleneck between those hours.
The significance of the bottleneck is that while there is traffic from east and west, there is also traffic from north and south, and a railway crossing across that great highway. In the period between five o'clock and six-thirty it has been estimated that on recorded occasions the railway crossing gates have been shut for no less than thirty-five minutes. In any system of road communications I think that is a considerable time for the road between east and west to be closed.
No doubt the Minister is aware of the controversy which has existed regarding which of two proposed improvement schemes should be carried out, an outer scheme of relief, involving the demolition of 260 to 270 houses, or an inner scheme. It has been stated that the schemes concerning Port Talbot have had a "chequered career," but it has appeared to me to be more like a game of snakes and ladders, with no one winning. Even though the Minister decided as far back as November, 1957, that the outer scheme should be carried out first, not a single brick has been laid up to now and not a single inch of tarmacadam has been put down.
Local authorities have done their best to assist the Minister in this matter. I wish to stress that at the inquiry in November, 1957, the Minister did not decide against the local authority's scheme for inner relief; he merely said that he would not alter his order of priorities and that he intended to carry out the outer scheme first. But the problem of inner relief for the town still remains. On 10th March this year the local authority and the Glamorgan County Council resubmitted a scheme for the inner relief of the town. Even 929 on the most optimistic prophecy the outer scheme will not be completed before 1965, and, even so, it will deal only with 30 per cent. of the traffic which now comes through the bottleneck at Port Talbot.
Traffic is increasing year by year by 10 per cent. I shudder to think what a tremendous bottleneck will exist in 1965 even with the construction of the outer scheme. It is absolutely vital that the Minister should decide to do something at the earliest possible moment regarding the inner road. In May of this year the local authorities requested a joint meeting with the Minister, but he regretted that the future of the inner relief scheme must remain in abeyance until after the election, as he did not consider that he should take a decision which would commit a future Administration. Now that the joustings at the hustings have been completed, I hope that the Minister of Transport will see his way clear to meet the local authorities in this matter at the earliest possible moment.
There is also the question of re-housing the people whose homes are involved in the carrying out of the scheme. I said earlier that 260 to 270 houses will be demolished. I am informed that the Ministry has not encountered a demolition problem of this magnitude before, but the problem is one which eventually will affect the whole of the country. There are no houses for sale in this area.
The majority of my constituents are steel workers and at the moment they are members of the most prosperous community in Britain. Many of these people are old and their houses are worth only £700 or £1,000. Where are they to find equivalent accommodation with which to replace their present homes? Those who are tenants will be re-housed by the council which will get a subsidy in order to do that. But the problem of where owner-occupiers will go still remains. Will the council have to re-house these people? Will it get a subsidy to enable it to rehouse owner-occupiers who cannot find other accommodation?
This is a basic problem involving people who have worked all their lives and saved up to buy their house. Are they to be compensated with sums of 930 money which will not be sufficient to provide them with another house? There are no such houses available in modern housing developments. The cost of a new house would far exceed any amount of compensation which they might receive. Even were they re-housed in council houses, the £700 or £1,000 compensation which they might receive would soon be whittled away if they had to pay the economic rent of a council house, which amounts to £2 17s. a week. If they came within the differential rent scheme for council houses and the council received a subsidy for re-housing them, they would still have to pay a weekly rent of £1 6s.
It is no consolation to speak of National Assistance for such cases; indeed it would be tragic, because these people would have to use up the compensation they had received before getting any aid at all. There is a basic principle involved here because the life of a whole community is at stake and if we continue with great plans of road development, in a few years other people will be put in jeopardy in the same way. It will need the wisdom of Solomon to dispense justice in such circumstances.
How can we compensate people who have spent all their lives in a house of a certain type which cannot be replaced under modern housing conditions? Local authorities are anxious to obtain some indication of the attitude of the Government to these problems. Some of these houses are to be demolished as early as next March. The occupants are under notice, but the local authority has not yet been informed whether it is supposed to re-house those people.
There is a tremendous backlog of road work to be done in the country. In Great Britain there are 29 motor vehicles for every mile of road. We have the most congested roads in the world, and if the number of vehicles continues to increase at the present rate it is estimated that by 1962 there will be no fewer than 10 million vehicles on our roads. This means that there will be a motor vehicle for every 35 yards of public road or street.
Compared with twenty-five years ago the yield from motor taxation has gone up nine times, but the expenditure on roads today, even taking into account the 931 present plans, is running at only three-and-a-half times more. The fact that we have three times more traffic on our roads today than we had in 1939 is, in my opinion, convincing evidence of the growing dependence of our social and economic life upon road transport, and it has been estimated that road congestion already costs the country no less than £500 million a year. That amount accrues from delays, wastages, wear and tear and accidents.
South Wales, and South-West Wales in particular, has suffered some hard knocks regarding unemployment in recent years. Industrialists—and who can blame them?—shy away when faced with the tremendous transport problems which exist in South Wales.
After years of talk, of inquiries, of consultations and of conferences, the people of South Wales will hardly believe their eyes when the first part of any scheme for Port Talbot is completed. Good roads are the arteries of our economic existence. The developments at Milford Haven and Swansea and the bringing of new industries to Pontardawe and Llanelly are dependent on the development of a new life link to South Wales. The prosperity of the whole community of South and South-West Wales depends on a good system of communications.
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Kershaw (Stroud)
This is the first time that it has been my pleasure to compliment an hon. Member on his maiden speech. It has always been my fear that I should not be able to do so sincerely if the task fell to me. But I am sure the House will agree that the expert and eloquent way in which the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris) discharged his difficult task makes us hope that we will hear him often in the future. The eloquence and assurance with which the hon. Gentleman spoke, and the obvious knowledge that he has of his constituency, makes us hope that in future we will have many opportunities of debate with him. One point that the hon. Gentleman made about National Assistance I should like to debate on a more suitable occasion.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) and the hon. Member for East Grinstead (Mrs. Emmet) spoke about pensions. My right 932 hon. Friend spoke about housing old people. I want, with every force at my command, to re-echo the words that he used. Judging from my own constituency, I have the impression that, whilst the situation is certainly serious, if a determined attempt is made there is still time to shift the backlog in the provision of small dwellings for old people and find at the end of five or ten years that we have substantially removed this pressing and pathetic problem from the list of things that have yet to be done.
I echo also the sentiments of my hon. Friend the Member for East Grinstead about the earnings rule, principally the earnings rule for widowed mothers. I should like to see the rule abolished because, in spite of the arguments which have been so ably employed, the rule has outlived its usefulness. I hope that shortly we shall be able either to raise the limit very high or abolish the rule entirely.
I welcome also the economic facts set out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon, the implicit meaning of which was that the inhabitants of this country are now more and more able to make their own provision for the future. All hon. Members on this side of the House will agree that that in itself is a goal to which we should work so that everyone retiring may have the feeling that his own acts and qualifications have earned his pension.
Having said that, I wish to return to what has, during the last month or so, been discussed—what should be the amount of the retirement pension at the present time? I want to talk about cash. A blatant offer of cash does not carry a great deal of conviction, or did not seem to during the election. I think some retired people were rather affronted with the suggestion that 10s. was the price of their vote. I am not suggesting that hon. Members on the other side meant it that way. It just happened to coincide with the election and was taken that way by some people. Others, while they would like to have an extra 10s., were not certain that the Labour Party, as a Government, would be able to deliver the goods if it were elected.
Nevertheless, it is quite true, as the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said this afternoon, that nobody really suggests that the people of this 933 country are against the old-age pensioners having an extra 10s. There are a few people who object. After all, this money must be raised by contributions and there are some young people who will ask themselves whether, at the start of their careers and with the possibility of having to bring up a family—and people marry very much younger than they used to—they are in a position to have their contributions raised again to help people much older than themselves.
In considering this problem of the retirement pension we have these two possibilities. Are we to put up the retirement pension for everybody whether they need it or not, or should we help only those who need help most? Put like that, I am sure there is hardly anybody who would disagree when I say that it is desirable to help those who need it and not those who do not.
At first sight that answer convinces, but there are a number of difficulties to that. First, if we are going to put up National Assistance, however we may speak round it in this House, it imposes some sort of means test. I am not saying that the officers of the National Assistance Board are not sympathetic. I believe that they are amongst the most popular civil servants in this country. They are universally liked and everybody thinks that they do a wonderful job. They are most sympathetic, and the people with whom they deal have every confidence in the way that they do their job. Nevertheless, the bread of charity is bitter in the mouth. I believe that a lot of people who receive National Assistance take it unwillingly and regret that necessity compels them to do so.
If National Assistance is increased, the people who have by their own efforts and privations during their working lives saved a certain amount of money are in a worse position, they think, than the person next door who has never taken any thought for the future but receives National Assistance to make his income equal to that of those who have attempted to save. It is against thrift and it is also a disagreeable feeling to those who have done their duty.
On the other hand, we have the position that to give the old-age pension to everybody, rich and poor alike, wastes money and inhibits us from giving to 934 those who need it most as much as they should have. It is sometimes riposted to that: "But that is got over because of Income Tax. After all, if the gallant field marshal"—whom I can now call my noble Friend—"draws his retirement pension, he pays a certain amount in Income Tax, and so it is reduced." However, that applies to only a few people. The average person who received the increased old-age pension and was not receiving National Assistance would not pay tax. He would be below the level of Income Tax and above the level of National Assistance. We therefore do not get rid of the argument that to pay to all wastes money.
If we put up National Assistance, some people in need would not get as much as others. On balance, it would be wrong to think about raising National Assistance and not concentrating on pensions. We ought to concentrate on pensions and not National Assistance. I realise that they must to some extent go up in step but the pension is the thing and not National Assistance. I hope that is the way in which my right hon. Friend the Minister is thinking at the present time.
I am not going to say the amount by which the pension ought to be raised. At the beginning of my speech I condemned the promise that was made to pay a certain amount. We ought to go as far as the country can safely do and still guarantee that our industrial and inflationary position is as healthy as it is necessary to be to safeguard the savings of the workers. I hope that my right hon. Friend will co-operate with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and see what can be done from the resources of this country to raise this pension in the not so far distant future.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)
If I understood the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw), I think he was inclined to advocate the present system of pensions apparently with the idea that things at the moment are quite satisfactory because only 1 million people have to apply for National Assistance. I think he will admit, however, that where 1 million or so apply for National Assistance there is quite a possibility that at least another million have an 935 income much below National Assistance level but they do not apply for help. That is a tremendous weakness, as I think the hon. Member will admit.
Another thing I understood him 10 mean was that the difficulty of adding 10s. or even more to the pension is that in doing so we should be helping people who do not require it.
§ Mr. Kershaw
May I correct that? I did not say we should be helping people who did not require it, but that we should be helping principally the people who did not require it so much as those who receive a certain amount of National Assistance at present and who need help most. They are being helped, certainly, but the help is not going to the people who need it most.
§ Mr. McKay
It is a matter of degree in any case. What I was puzzed about was that, while that kind of argument is made in relation to the poorer section of the community, it is not applied in the economics of industry. Investment allowances are made to various industries, yet we do not distinguish between the companies which do not require assistance and companies which, perhaps, do require it. If they make the investment they all get the allowance. Why is this sort of ambiguous argument applied to the poorest section of the community as a sort of excuse for not increasing the pension when millions of pounds go to companies which could well do without that assistance?
§ Mr. Kershaw
I shall not interrupt the hon. Member again, but the tenor of my speech was that I want the pension to be increased and it seems rather unfair of the hon. Member to suggest that I do not want that.
§ Mr. McKay
If the hon. Member wants pensions increased, his Government do not, and he is loyally adhering to the Government.
That is not the purpose of my speech. I want to draw attention to the best of my ability to a rather difficult subject but one which, nevertheless, one ought to try to deal with. I want to indicate as best I can how I see the problem which exists. It appears that the Government of the day take up an attitude towards the coal mining industry which 936 in principle they do not accept for the country at large. If that be so the question is, why it should be. I want to try to indicate what I mean by dealing with some of the economic factors in the country as I understand them.
I was reading a book published by the O.E.E.C. on the question of free trade and agriculture and that drew my attention to some of the facts of the situation. We find that in actual practice in this country there is not a free-for-all but any amount of various methods whereby industry and especially agriculture are helped. People at large are not aware of that and I want to draw attention to some of these things and to indicate the general principle in the United Kingdom relative to industry and the attitude adopted at the moment towards the coal industry.
It is admitted that a tremendous subsidy goes to agriculture. I think about £272 million goes to agriculture and food. It is also admitted that, arising from that situation, a great benefit accrues to the country in so far as it helps the balance of trade because, as a result, production from agriculture has increased tremendously since before the war. Arising from that increase fewer imports of food are needed to meet the requirements of the country generally, and I think that represents £100 million or £200 million in the balance of trade. That helps the country in two respects. The country is prepared to subsidise to this great extent in order to help agriculture.
Recently, the cotton industry was getting into a bad economic condition and the Government and the country decided that something ought to be done, some reorganisation should take place. They did not leave the industry to itself and say, "Carry on. It is a free-for-all, get on with the job", but they said, "We will give you £32 million to help your reorganisation". I understand that when the Cunard Company begins to build great liners it is to be subsidised. That is not the only way in which industry is helped. I understand, according to the reports, that we are getting £110 million from protective duties. What does that mean? It means that indirectly, in some shape or form and in varying degrees, we are protecting industry to the extent that we get £110 million in the form of protective duties.
937 All those factors indicate that the Government do not leave industry alone but view it from a national standpoint and at times consider that something should be done about an industry. There are other points in which industry is helped. We are told that in initial allowances and investment allowances £19 million goes to the farmers, £29 million to sole traders and partnerships and, I understand, £362 million to companies as a whole. Initial allowances are to all intents and purposes an interest-free loan. Investment allowance is supposed to be a gift.
In all those directions we are helping industry because we think it expedient to do so. The question which arises is why at this time of great emergency in the coal mining industry we are not prepared to do anything for that industry? That seems rather peculiar when we are helping shipping and big companies which are to build the greatest liners in the world, when we are helping cotton and other industries. The mining industry within two years or so has become absolutely disorganised, not through its own fault but because of emergencies through which it has gone in the past three years and because of the policy the Government wanted to see pursued in the industry. The industry has been carrying on in accordance with the ideas and policies of the Government. Although it was organised and worked by the National Coal Board, nevertheless the Board was using industry to get coal because the Government wanted it to do so regardless of loss.
The Government told the National Coal Board, "Get every ton of coal you can. The country needs it. We want to expand the economy and to create more wealth, but we cannot do this unless the mining industry provides the coal." The Government wanted every ton of coal out of the earth because of national needs. This arose from national circumstances and not from the needs of the mining industry.
What had to be done because of this demand? The working of uneconomic pits had to be continued and more than £1 per ton was lost on the coal produced in many uneconomic pits. No private industry would have done it. Had the nation wanted it done in a private industry, the nation would have 938 had to pay. Because it was a nationalised industry, and because the National Coal Board were dealing with it, the Government said, "We want the coal and you must get it. Regardless of cost to the Board, it must be dug."
The Board lost £70 million on importing coal from America. Would any private industry have done that? Of course not. No Government would have attempted to compel private industry to bring a commodity into this country at a loss of £70 million. The National Coal Board tried to meet the needs of the country and lost £70 million on imported coal and far more on working uneconomic pits to suit the nation.
Suddenly, almost like something falling out of the sky, a change took place. Coal was no longer needed as much in this country and it was not needed abroad. We have seen that oil is beginning to replace it. The demand for coal has fallen enormously in a very short time. And the Government do nothing about it.
Are the Government justified in taking that attitude? Are they dealing with a class of men not worthy of respect, honour and help? The history of the mining industry since 1945 is a typical example of a patriotic group of men who are prepared to do almost anything for the sake of the country and to meet the country's needs. The miners did not take longer holidays after nationalisation. For several years they remained satisfied with one week's holiday. This was because of the need for the coal which they could produce by working, for the sake of the nation. They worked extra shifts on Saturdays, beyond their agreement. Why? Because the country needed the coal. So great was the need that foreign labour had to be imported.
Price control was exercised. It meant that because of price control imposed by the Government, the coal industry was often working at a loss when it could have demanded almost any price it liked for coal. As I have said, the Board worked many uneconomic pits at a considerable loss. American coal was imported at a loss of £70 million.
That being so, the question must be asked: is there any obligation on the country to meet the critical situation which has arisen so quickly and unexpectedly? 939 The greatest specialists on this subject had no idea that such a situation was likely to develop, but we have seen it develop. The demand for coal fell and continued to fall. Its replacement by oil increased and is increasing. The Coal Board had to begin to stock coal, because we were allowing a free flow of oil into this country. Fifteen million tons of coal has been stocked this year, which means a tremendous loss.
I have pointed out that subsidies and grants are provided for other industries. I have pointed to subsidies for shipping. I have pointed to the import duties. All these things indicate that in practice the Government make efforts to help industry generally when a case can be made for it. Is there a justifiable case, or are there moral grounds, which can be put to the Government to show that they should step in to help the coal industry to overcome this temporary but very critical period?
I have outlined the patriotic actions of the miners. What I have said cannot be denied. They took these actions to help the nation. This great and unexpected emergency has arisen. In all logic we should look at what has been done in other cases. If we do, we see that there is a clear case for the Government to help the coal industry over this temporary emergency. Men have had to be dismissed. Men of 65, who could work for many more years with satisfaction to themselves, are being compelled to cease work. To all intents and purposes thousands of them are virtually unemployed because of the present situation, although they will not be counted in the unemployment register.
Is this crisis being overcome? When we find that 15 million tons of coal is being stocked this year and that production is being reduced by 11 million tons next year, we can see how critical is the position. What I say may have no weight with the Government, but I emphasise that the position of the mining industry is becoming very serious. The Government will hear more about it. Something must be done about it. Opencast mining was developed largely on the Government's initiative, and it is still in operation in many parts of the country. The Government should seriously consider the future of opencast mining, because the miners are against it being continued. 940 If the Government recognise any obligation, they should recognise the duty upon them to try to take some action to alleviate, if not to overcome, these difficulties.
Should the Government deal with opencast mining? Should they say that it is something apart from the ordinary mining industry and was simply an emergency measure? The fact that opencast mining is producing 11 million tons per year is causing a decreased demand for deep-mined coal. Permanent men in industry are being reduced because of it. There is an obligation on the Government to take over the capital liability of abolishing opencast mining. They should discontinue it, thus giving an opening for deep-mined coal to be produced to the extent of about 7 or 8 million tons more per year. It would help to give the mining industry a little more time to work out the organisational necessities of the situation.
The coal mining industry should be placed in a position in which it can sell the coal produced without having to stock it and in which it can be worked on a profitable basis arising from increased productivity. If the Government cannot do that, it indicates that they have no feeling of obligation to the mining industry to try to organise the efforts of the country and provide a target for the consumption of coal by the various large industries. If the Government cannot do that, some effort should be made to meet and overcome the temporary difficulty in other ways, such as by having targets for gas, electricity and other large industries so that they would demand a given amount of coal for a given period, thus meeting a great national emergency.
I have tried as best I can to draw attention to the seriousness of the situation and to the obligation of Her Majesty's Government to try to find ways and means to alleviate the situation, to help the mining industry and a great number of patriotic people who, in a number of ways, have made many sacrifices in the interests of national needs. If there is not in this respect some national obligation I cannot understand where there ever will be.
§ 8.3 p.m
§ Mr. Grant-Ferris (Nantwich)
I am glad to have this opportunity so early in the new Parliament to draw attention 941 to what is perhaps, if not certainly, the greatest problem in my own constituency of Nantwich and is also still, I am sorry to say, a serious problem in many other constituencies, namely, the supply of rural electricity.
Everyone acknowledges that the Government have done a very great deal to ease the problem during the past few years. However, the problem has now reached a rather difficult stage, because the last 15 to 20 per cent. of connections have to be made. They are the ones which are the most difficult and the most expensive, and they probably produce the least revenue.
In my own case in the south-western area of Cheshire we come at the end of a pipeline. The Mersey and North Wales Electricity Board—M.A.N.W.E.B., as we call it for short—has, as everyone acknowledges, done a very good job with regard to rural connections and the supply of rural electricity during the past two or three years. The trouble is that its programme, like the programmes of so many other boards, suffered so drastically because of the cuts which had to be made to face the national situation with which we had to contend in the middle years of the last Parliament that it has fallen very seriously behind.
None of my constituents—and I am sure none of anybody else's constituents—will suggest that he should in any way jump his position in the queue. All that we ask is that the Government at this stage should try to do something to speed up the programme of the electricity boards. In particular I think that this is due to rural constituents.
Since the General Election I have had perhaps as many as twenty letters on the subject. Indeed, they are the only letters of any importance which I have received. People are feeling very desperate about this subject. I ask the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, whom we are all very glad to see on the Front Bench, to bring this matter to the attention of my right hon. Friends the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Power. I ask the Government to see if something can be done to speed up the programme upon which the boards have embarked.
I know that what the boards worry about as much as anything is that the present additional money being made available to them may be cut off. They need not worry very much about that, 942 because I do not think that it will be cut off. I say with all the emphasis at my command that action should be taken to speed up the programme so that people who are told that they will not be connected until 1963 or 1964 can see that they will be brought a reasonable amount further forward than that.
It is staggering that today a county like Cheshire, which is, after all, a thickly-populated county doing a splendid job in the agricultural sphere, should be without this service. I am continually receiving letters from farmers who do not know whether to renew their worn-out batteries, because they may be getting their supply sooner than they think. I am at a loss to advise them what is best for them to do. I hope that they may be given some assurances that the rate of connection will be speeded up.
I have intervened in the debate merely to make that appeal, I hope effectively and sincerely, with all the emphasis at my command. This is something which the Tory Party should take to its heart. These people are by far and away its main supporters and they should be shown that we appreciate the work they do in the country. They should be given these amenities, which today are regarded as absolute essentials of our life.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Alan Brown (Tottenham)
It is with no small feeling of temerity that I rise to support the Amendment; that I rise to speak for the very first time in the somewhat awe-inspiring surroundings of this most venerable Chamber. I cannot be other than conscious of the fact that in this most august assembly there are numbered the most talented, the most learned and, indeed, the most famous philosophers, politicians and orators in the land. Such knowledge of itself is, indeed, sufficient to exert a most sobering influence on any new Member. Conscious as I also am of a regrettable lack of experience of the workings, procedure and traditions of the House, I crave your indulgence, Sir, and that of right hon. and hon. Members.
I understand that it is customary that in his maiden speech a new Member should make some reference to the constituency which he has the honour to represent, and it is with the highest degree of pride that I speak of Tottenham. 943 It is a town of which I have the privilege to know a very great deal, born, as I was, within two miles of its boundaries, and living, as I do, in Tottenham today.
During the course of the debate on the Gracious Speech right hon. and hon. Members in their turn, and very rightly so, have paid high tribute to the important part played in our economic life of our country, by the great industrial towns of the North. I, in my turn, Sir, would like to extend that high measure of tribute to cover also the great industrial towns in the South, of which Tottenham is one. In fact, I should like to pay tribute to all our great industrial towns, wherever they may be. Each and all of them make a valuable contribution to the financial and economic well-being of our country. Each one manfully plays its part. In that, we have just cause for pride.
My mention of the word "play" brings me to something else that gives me pride in Tottenham. I refer, of course, to Tottenham's world-famous football team—the Spurs—whose brilliant record has placed it firmly at the top of the First Division. I seem to be one of the few hon. Members who is apparently allowed to mention his own football team. This fact gives me one point of advantage over all my right hon. and hon. Friends present here tonight, and as it is my only one, I trust that I will be forgiven for my blatant exploitation of this sole advantage, and for the intensity of the satisfaction which mentioning the Spurs gives me.
There has been talk of the value of leisure and recreation to the well-being of the people. May I, therefore, pay tribute to that admirable company of sportsmen, the Spurs, who have for so many years turned out with unfailing regularity in fair weather and in foul to delight the crowds, not only in Tottenham but wherever good football is played.
I have one disclosure to make about our famous football team which I know will highly delight hon. Members opposite. The records reveal that the Spurs were once defeated by the Old Etonians by 8 goals to 2. I am informed that not only was this defeat suffered on our own ground but that the visit of these gentlemen cost us a very handsome silver 944 cup. Lest I be accused of, perhaps, unduly raising Governmental hopes, I would add that this slip-up occurred very many years ago—in 1888. The moral, of course, is that we in Tottenham learned our lesson long ago, since when no Old Etonians, either singly or in a body, have been permitted to win anything in Tottenham.
Tottenham is an industrial centre, but it differs from many other industrial towns in that it is not a product of nineteenth century industrial expansion. It is an ancient parish, nearly as old as the City of London, and it is certainly known to have existed in early Saxon times. The independence of spirit and the courage of its people has not changed over the centuries. It has played an important part in the course of English history.
The chronicles recall that in those far-off days the inhabitants of Tottenham spent much of their time assisting the inhabitants of London to repel the invaders—the fierce and heavily-armed Danes and Vikings and the like. Their attacks upon London, launched mainly from Scandinavian places, took place with great frequency during the eighth, ninth and tenth centuries.
The last was an all-out attack in 995. In that year, a powerful fleet of no fewer than ninety-four ships sailed up the Thames, burning and pillaging. They attacked London, and bitter was the fighting that ensued. London appealed to Tottenham for aid as, apparently, was then the custom. This aid was at once forthcoming. I recount this little piece of English history because, in the first place, it illustrates the loyalty, courage and spirit of the Tottenham people, which has never changed. Secondly, I have always considered the manner in which the ancient chronicler described the event to be a gem of reporting.
I must here explain that London's call for aid came on a very cold winter afternoon. The army from Tottenham set off that same evening in a blinding snowstorm, and almost at once ran into the main body of the Danes, near Tottenham marshes and on the banks of the River Lea. What followed is, I think, best described in the words of the chronicler, who wrote:Under heavy snow, with the whistling wind gathering strength in the darkness, the battle was commenced.945It begun in twenty paces, as it were.We rose up mightily to stem the flood of the savage Danes.The cries of battle and death came quickly under the blinding snow. For an hour victory rested evenly between us. Near midnight, the Danes were fleeing.Hundreds were slain in that awful night, and the snow was red at Tottenham in the morn.I do not know whether there is any significance in the fact that close by the very site upon which this battle was fought so long ago there now stands our municipal piggery. Here we follow the more peaceful pursuit of pig farming, though not, I must point out, even now entirely free from Danish intervention. The industrious and hard-working people of Tottenham enjoy a very hearty breakfast, and bacon features high upon the menu—that is, when we can afford it.
It seems to me to be little short of a scandal that the housewife should have to pay such an exorbitant price for bacon, a commodity which used to be both plentiful and cheap. The Tottenham piggeries, in company with the other 150,000 pig producers of Britain, do their best to supply the British breakfast table, but, of late, they have received very scant encouragement. The Danes already have a 43 per cent. hold upon the British bacon market. Denmark's pig industry is rapidly expanding, the Danish output this year is likely to exceed 8 million pigs, the highest on record. On the other hand, Britain's output will be down by 1½ million pigs this year.
Britain's producers were considerably discouraged by the reduction in subsidy last year. They were given further cause for anxiety by the Government's recent concession to the Danes, that they would undertake to remove the 10 per cent. import duty on Danish bacon within two years. The dropping of the tariff could well convince many British producers of the hopelessness of continuing pig production. Then, with the Danes firmly in control of the bacon trade, the British housewife could assuredly be held to ransom. I remember a similar situation once occurring in respect of Argentine beef. The British producers and curers urgently ask for an assurance from the Government that they will be able to compete with the Danes on level terms. I humbly plead that such an assurance will soon be given.
946 I turn now to certain aspects of the welfare service. I should like to see very much more residential accommodation provided for people who, by reason of age or infirmity, are in need of care and attention. The fact that there are about 600 persons in this category already on the waiting lists of Middlesex County Council, the county authority governing Tottenham, must surely be a matter of concern. Moreover, the fact that some people have, to my knowledge, been on the lists for as long as three years and are still awaiting admission is disquieting. The further knowledge that the future working of the Mental Health Act must inevitably add substantially to the number increases my anxiety.
More temporary and intermediate accommodation for homeless families should be provided. Nowadays, there is an ever-increasing number of families who, for a variety of reasons, lose their homes. Most of these unfortunate people look to the county authority to provide them with temporary accommodation. In Middlesex, about forty families per month apply to the welfare department for temporary accommodation. Of this average of 40 families only 10 are successfully accommodated, and then only on a day-to-day basis, thanks to the many voluntary welfare organisations on which Middlesex County Council so largely depends.
The county council has just not got the temporary accommodation to meet the demands now being made. Surely, we must all hate to see things done by halves, especially when welfare work is concerned. If it be right, let us do it boldly. If it is wrong, it is better that we leave it alone.
In conclusion, I should like to pay tribute to my illustrious predecessor. It is right and just that I should. For twenty-seven years, Sir Frederick Messer performed his duties in the House and in the constituency of Tottenham. Never was there a time in the history of the country when moral heroes were more needed, and never, in this respect, did Fred ever fail us. His life has been devoted to the service of others, particularly the sick, the aged and the physically handicapped. His sole ambition was the betterment of the lot of his fellow creatures. Of personal ambitions he had none. A simple back bencher 947 he remained until the time he retired. I am sure that right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House will wish Fred well in his retirement.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Hirst (Shipley)
I am sure that I express the feeling of the whole House when I extend congratulations to the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. A. Brown) on the speech he has just delivered. I am but a modest Member in the history of the House, having been here for about ten years only. This is the first time that I have had this privilege, and I enjoy very much the opportunity of exercising it, quite apart from the fact that I have learnt from the hon. Gentleman a tremendous amount about Tottenham which I did not know before. I doubt that many of us could give quite so much history about our own constituencies; I know that I myself could not. Also, I am sure that the House would like very much to record its own appreciation of the fact that the hon. Gentleman mentioned Sir Frederick Messer, who has always been very high in the affection of all hon. and right hon. Members on both sides.
We have been discussing matters of hardship, and I wish to mention one particular form of hardship. I know that other hon. Members wish to speak, so I shall omit a good deal of what I had in mind to say. The hardship to which I wish to direct attention arises from the existing rules governing compensation for property compulsorily acquired, notwithstanding the 1959 Town and Country Planning Act which was passed in the last Parliament. There has been some confusion in people's minds, and it has been thought that all was well. Indeed, all was not well, for two reasons, first, the date-line which the Act introduced, which was, I think, 30th October, 1958, and, second, the fact that compulsory clearance orders invalidated much of what it provided.
Speaking in the Third Reading debate, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government said:Though none of us claims that this legislation is necessarily perfect, I am convinced that it brings us a great deal nearer to doing justice.."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th March, 1959; Vol. 602, c. 1288.]I want to pay a tribute to him in that regard. It certainly does. It is only 948 exceedingly unfortunate that, in trying to bring about justice, we did not go further than we did on that occasion.
I have drawn attention, not only in this House but in some measure through the Press, to what is known as the Bingley case, which was confirmed before the date-line to which I have referred and therefore suffers from that difficulty, but, more so, it suffers from the difficulty with regard to the clearance order procedure. I tabled a very strong Motion before the House rose for the Summer Recess, which I will not read because of the time, but which is to be found in column 1528 of HANSARD for 23rd July, in which I asked for justice to be done by amending legislation. I looked forward to it in the Gracious Speech, but unfortunately it was not to be.
The property in question is quite substantial and consists of a number of offices and, in particular, two shops. That is a subtle point. The compensation which was offered for the whole of this property, which is on the main highway leading to Keighley and Lancashire, was precisely £200. For years, the rent roll had been in excess of £300. Moreover, £1,000 had been spent in recent years on improvements—five times the amount of the compensation. Even the 1958 valuation for Estate Duty was about £5,000, and, in fact, Estate Duty was paid on that figure. This, or most of it, can be recovered as a result of the confirming order, but it indicates only too clearly how far short of what we hoped the 1959 Act fell. I claim that this is one of the clearest and most unambiguous cases of wrongful classification under the rules that permit such legalised robbery, for legal it is, and therefore there was great injustice on that account.
Apart from the argument over the original nature of the office accommodation, which is debatable, it is clear that no one, except the Minister, disputes the fact that it has been shops for a great number of years—in fact, always. I think that that is a serious point in this matter to which I should draw attention.
In July last, I wrote a letter to the Minister in which I said:The question as to whether the whole of this property was 'houses' within the meaning of the Housing Act, 1957, is not, in your words, 949 'a matter of opinion' seeing that part of the premises in question have always been fully constructed shops.This sort of thing is going on all over the country where property, sometimes quite substantial, has been bringing in large rents, is taken over by a local authority under the rules, which I think come under Section 4 of the 1957 Act, which enable, by classification, injustice to be done on many occasions. I feel that this matter can be corrected fairly easily. There are one or two ways of achieving it. We could do away with the clearance order procedure, which I think was advocated by many of my hon. Friends when the 1959 Act was under discussion in the last Parliament, but I should like to put forward a much simpler way. If property has been rated for commercial purposes for a minimum period of, say, three years, it should receive compensation as commercial property and not as houses unfit for habitation, which is often the case. To my mind, that would be perfectly just. If it is considered that year after year rates can be obtained from a property for commercial purposes and that they are paid for that purpose, it is absolute nonsense to say that the property is not worth anything at all purely because of a technical classification.
I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has appeared in the Chamber, because I recollect well his kindness to me in the last Parliament in seeing me during the last few days in an endeavour to do all he could in this matter, but he could not do anything for the simple reason that the law as it stood made it impossible. I am sorry that he could not use his persuasion and great authority to underline the need for what I asked, namely, amending legislation in the Queen's Speech. I hope, however, that he will at least be able to say that the matter is not closed, because it is a matter of hardship up and down the country to people of very moderate means who have put their money into houses, who are not owner-occupiers and therefore do not benefit materially from the previous legislation and are treated most unkindly and in a way which I do not believe the Conservative Party would wish.
I hope that when my right hon. Friend speaks tonight he will be able to tell us that he will reconsider the matter. I 950 have been exceedingly short in the knowledge that my right hon. Friend understands the case so well, and his coming in at this moment has enabled me to cut my speech very materially. I know that my right hon. Friend has a kind heart. I hope that he will be able to tell us something which will give a little hope to people that this injustice, which I am sure the Conservative Party regrets, will have consideration in the near future.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
The hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) has raised an important issue which one would hope to pursue on another occasion when we have a debate specially concerning the matter to which he referred. I think that we all agree about the need to consider very carefully the law as it stands because it affects a number of people in the same position who suffer under that legislation.
In the short time at my disposal, I should like to direct the attention of the House to another matter on which, I believe, in this immediate post-election period, not enough has been said. Perhaps this is the best possible time to approach the problem of old-age pensioners, away from the election altogether. I should like to devote my remarks to a rather detailed examination of some of the problems which arise when one maintains close contact with old-age pensioners, as I am sure many hon. Members do. I am glad to see the right hon. Lady the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance on the Government Front Bench, and I hope that, with the new atmosphere that to some extent always seeps in when there are new personalities in office, we shall proceed a little further with some of the matters that I and many of my colleagues have at heart.
I was much encouraged by the speech made earlier this evening by the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw) when he insisted more than once that in spite of all the arguments to the contrary which have been put forward, there is now a good case for an increase in the basic old-age pension. I particularly welcomed the fact that that speech came from the other side of the House I am, of course, only a recent Member of the 951 House, but I have been for many years a student of its history. I have always found that the House of Commons has done its work best when, on a number of important policies, there has been pressure from more than one side.
I therefore welcome the fact that the hon. Member for Stroud dealt effectively with the important argument against us—by "us" I mean not only my political friends on this side of the House, but anybody, including social workers and people with no direct connection with political parties—and against an increase in the basic old-age pension, that is, the argument that we would be handing out money to people who do not so very much need it or who do not need it at all.
Surely, the whole basic principle which is the philosophy behind the social services that we have built up and of which we are so proud, is that we do not always use the services that are available. The National Health Service is based upon that principle. Is it not equally true that if we examined the percentage of people among old-age pensioners who today badly need an increase in the basic pension, we should certainly find that there was an overwhelming case for an advance?
I turn now to a personal experience over the last six years. From time to time, I have selected a number of old-age pensioners in South Yorkshire and have followed their fortunes. I have never published the results and I shall never do so; I am not entitled to publish them. I have followed the fortunes of this number of old-age pensioners because I felt that we must get away from statistics in this matter.
I have found that over these six years there has been no change in the major basic needs of these people. From time to time I have added a few additional pensioners to my survey, and I find it still to be basically true that the essential food requirements are the first main problem in many of these families. As most of us realise, the interim index, and now the permanent index, of the cost of living, which is useful in many other fields, is often not at all relevant to the outgoings of the home of an old-age pensioner. I find that there are still serious discussions, as there have been 952 in recent years, on the number of eggs that the family of an old-age pensioner can buy. I am certain that there is an immediate and absolute need for an increase.
The second major problem is that of clothing. Whenever a decision has to be made in the home of many an old-age pensioner, when the head of the family, for example the husband himself, needs an item of clothing, it is a matter of consideration for many months. Being in close touch recently with a great many pensioners as well as those to whom I have referred earlier, I have been deeply moved to learn what a problem it is for elderly people to decide on an item of new clothing. Many of them are precisely the kind of people who, whatever we might think about it, find it extremely difficult to go to the National Assistance Board.
The third item of need which I have found is anything that might be needed in the home. This is particularly relevant in those cases in which a move has taken place from a larger home to a smaller one. Often the furniture and other things that were useful in the old place are not suitable in the new place. This means the acquisition of new or, possibly, secondhand items involving additional expense and often, in the end, the decision has to be a negative one. This causes the kind of discomfort that is close to hardship. "Discomfort" is not really the correct term for it. An overwhelming case could be made for an immediate increase in pension on strictly humanitarian grounds for the large number of pensioners who are in this position.
I should like now to turn to a second and ancillary problem which arises out of the position of the National Assistance Board. Over recent years, I have often discussed with a considerable number of old-age pensioners their attitude to the National Assistance Board. I have found almost complete unanimity that an increase the Board's rates can never be a substitute for an increase in the basic pension. I do not say that there are not a great many people, in all political parties, and, indeed, in none, who in recent years have regarded the method of dealing with the position by an increase in the rates of the Assistance Board as socially useful. All I am saying is that the overwhelming majority of people— 953 in fact, almost all of them—are against an increase in the National Assistance rates as a substitute for an increase in the basic pension.
Over the years, long before I thought of being considered to represent a Parliamentary constituency, for altogether different professional purposes I frequently attended trade council committees and committees of that kind when an inquiry was being held into the conditions of old-age pensioners. I have sometimes appeared as the friend of an old-age pensioner when there has been a dispute between the pensioner and the National Assistance Board. The experience I should like to relate to the House is the extreme nervousness of the person concerned whenever an appeal had been made and an old-age pensioner was about to appear before the appeal tribunal.
When I had no experience of this at all I was always slightly shaken by the attitude of a man of 71 or 72 when he was about to face a tribunal. It took a great deal to reduce that nervousness. Once the man was before the tribunal, many of the members of the tribunal did their best to dispel that atmosphere, but I cite this experience—and I am glad that the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance is with us at this moment—because it means that a great many people never appeal at all.
The second point I want to mention in that connection is that there are considerable difficulties in many cases before an appeal is allowed. I think it is far too difficult for an appeal to be obtained. Sometimes there has to be considerable pressure before an appeal is allowed.
I want to raise a third point in connection with that, and I very much hope that the Leader of the House may find time to say a word about it when he replies to the debate. It is true in my experience that very often a National Assistance Board appeal tribunal wishes to give a favourable decision, but it has its hands tied by what it regards as the Regulations. The point I wish to put to the Minister is this. Has he given any instructions for these appeal tribunals to be liberal in their attitude? What is his view on the rigid figure which is sometimes trotted out at these tribunals, and which may be just 1s. the wrong side of a possible payment? Is there any chance 954 of getting a tribunal to reconsider the case and to be more liberal in its final decision?
I have deliberately dealt with the practical aspects of the National Assistance Board procedure, but I should like to say immediately that no matter what effort is being made in the Ministry to change the name, to change the form, there are a great many of our old-age pensioners who are not prepared to go to the National Assistance Board. I think it is essential to realise that there is here involved an element of elementary justice.
I turn to a general point which concerns the philosophy behind this disagreement. I do not believe it is at all necessary to come to large-scale agreements on the position of our pensioners at the present time. I do not think that it is altogether essential at this moment to expect that we shall suddenly completely change the attitude of the Government overnight, but I would plead for this sort of approach. Would it not be possible for the Leader of the House to make a start tonight by holding out some hope for the country that while the Government are reconsidering, as any Government are bound to reconsider, all their policies after a General Election, the policy of an increase in the basic pension will be allowed to enter the door? I can see no reason why that should not be so.
In the discussions, I think last June, when the Minister introduced the Bill containing the new National Assistance Board scales, I detected a certain unnecessary sense of achievement in the fact that we have now such a large number of people who use the National Assistance Board.
I had always thought that when we built our social services the National Assistance Board would be a last resort, and that the only important contribution which the Board would make would be in helping people who had fallen by the wayside or were in temporary difficulties, and perhaps a larger number of people who were in difficulties which might last a long time. I have spoken to many pensioners in recent weeks and months and I see a great danger of a new philosophy replacing that point of view, which would make us look more and more to the Board as an authority 955 to which elderly people are advised to go because they simply cannot make ends meet on the basic pension.
It is the Government's duty to dispel that. The best way of doing so would be for the Leader of the House to begin tonight by making some advance on the position which he has held in recent weeks and to give the House and the country some indication that an increase on the basic pension will be on the agenda for consideration when the new Cabinet gets to work on this problem.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril Osborne (Louth)
It must be wonderful to be a Privy Councillor and sometimes to be called to speak before a quarter to nine and not have to sit in the Chamber from half-past two. I hope that if I am lucky enough to be a Member of the House for a further fifteen years I may one day be called before this late hour and not be instructed by the Whips to sit down by nine o'clock and not dare keep another Privy Councillor waiting a moment.
In the nine minutes I have, there are three brief points which I should like to make on the Amendment. I am surprised that so few hon. Members have even mentioned the Amendment today. The Amendment, among other things, regrets the omissionof any effective proposals … for assisting old people and widows, those who are sick, disabled or unemployed and others still living in poverty and hardship.I do not deny the sincerity of the feelings of hon. Members towards old people. I readily recognise them, but hon. Members should bear three things in mind. The first is that there can be no substantial or quick increase in social services unless we have big cuts in our armament expenditure. When I talk of big cuts I am thinking in terms of £500 million a year. That, in turn, is not possible unless there is an easing in world tension.
I warmly congratulate the Prime Minister on his successful visit to Moscow. Mr. Khrushchev's speech only a few days ago showed that Anglo-Soviet relations have materially improved, partly as a consequence of my right hon. Friend's visit to Moscow. But one visit is not enough. I should like 956 to see all Ministers, and especially those representing the Board of Trade, the Exchequer, the Ministry of Power and the Ministry of Education, visit not only Moscow but Prague, Warsaw and East Germany as freely and naturally and as often as visits are paid to Paris, Bonn and New York. I should like to see Communist Ministers from those countries welcomed in this country as we welcome Ministers from the other Western Powers.
I should also like to see the Prime Minister, if the opportunity comes, go to Peking and also the Chinese Ministers invited to come to this country. It is unrealistic to pretend that the Formosa Government represents China. It does nothing of the kind. There can be no substantial cuts in armaments until we have Peking's co-operation.
Firstly, therefore, there can be no material improvement in the position of old-age pensioners unless we get a better understanding which would lead to real disarmament and thus save a great deal on our arms bill. Secondly, there can be no real improvement in the position of the old-age pensioners and sick persons unless the real value of social benefits is maintained by keeping inflation at home in check. If we allow inflation to return there is no hope of the old people getting really substantial benefits.
I would draw my right hon. Friend's attention to these three facts. There are ominous signs appearing on the economic front. The West German bank rate was increased last week. The Canadian bank rate is 6 per cent., the highest that it has been for years, and the American bill rate is today higher than it has been since 1931, all acts which result from the fear of inflationary forces.
If we couple this with the position at home, what do we find? The hire purchase debt has increased by £800 million since the credit squeeze ended, which should be a warning signal to us all. I wish to ask my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, through my right hon. Friend, whether, if inflation really starts again in this country—and I fear it—he will reimpose credit restrictions and increase the Bank Rate.
§ Mr. Osborne
If hon. Members will be fair to me, I have been saying this for the fifteen years I have been in the House. I ask the Government to take the steps necessary, however unpleasant, to defeat inflation even before its starts. I want to see the Chancellor take action too soon rather than too late.
There is a third point which I want to make regarding the old-age pensioners' position. There is no possibility of doing what hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite desire if they continue, as they do in the Amendment, to try to bribe themselves back into power by offering more for nothing to the old-age pensioners. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), who opened the debate—and the first part of his speech was the finest part of any speech I have heard him make since I have been here—said to both sides of the House that we have not solved the problem of how to keep popular favour and yet say to the electorate, "These are the hard tasks and sacrifices which we are going to demand of you." That problem has not been solved, and the prospect of offering something extra for nothing to the old-age pensioners was rejected at the last election.
I appeal to hon. Members opposite in this way May I put this to them and to the right hon. Gentleman? His party will never get the ear, the voice and the vote of the people of this country until it can recapture its earlier idealism. [interruption.] That is perfectly true—and until it can recapture the zeal which it had at the beginning of this century. A great many hon. Members opposite—and I hope they will forgive me saying this to them—want to give to the old-age pensioners something for nothing and then to play the international Good Samaritan without costing the people of this country anything at all. That just cannot be done.
They are always talking about international fair shares. They are going to help the underdog and help the coloured person. What they have to do is what the right hon. Gentleman said in his opening speech—tell the people of this country what it will cost to implement that good neighbour policy I will give two figures The United Nations, in its latest statistics, estimate the income 958 per capita in this country to be 780 dollars a year. India—to take one country in order to make a comparison—is estimated at 60 dollars. Thus, the Indian standard of living is estimated to be one-thirteenth of what it is in this country. Therefore, every shilling a person in this country is willing to give up to help the Indians will represent less than a penny to each Indian. If on the United Nations figures the wages of India and of this country were pooled, the wage level would be less than 2s. a week. I want hon. Gentlemen opposite to be honest with their own supporters and to say to the old people, "If we are to help our coloured, distressed brethren overseas, we cannot help you nearly so much."
Finally, since my time is up, I will conclude by saying that I hope both sides of the House will follow the wise advice given by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale in the opening part, the serious part of his speech, before he tried to play the game of the "crazy gang" with us. If we do so, we will tell the people who sent us here that we cannot help them unless some other section is prepared to make sacrifices, and that the old people and the unemployed in this country are a great deal better off than a man who works a full week for a full wage in a place such as India. We must say that to them. If we say that to them there will be some justification for this Amendment, but because until today I have never heard that said by any right hon. or hon. Gentleman opposite, I shall gladly vote against the Amendment tonight.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
This debate on the Motion for a Loyal Address has been notable for a great many maiden speeches. There were no less than fifteen, all from this side of the House. Why it was that hon. Gentlemen opposite did not make their maiden speeches, I do not know. If it was out of politeness to us, of course, we are grateful for it. If it was because the Whips had told them already to turn up and shut up, I deeply regret it and hope that they will soon break out into open revolt.
I should like to compliment all my hon. Friends who have made these maiden speeches. They displayed a wealth of experience and interest and 959 ability, covering many different subjects. One of my hon. Friends spoke about the National Health Service, another about industrial relations, another, in a notable speech, on agricultural matters, another about Africa. I was sorry to miss the last few speeches while I was desperately trying to prepare my own, but I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Mr. I. Davies) made a particularly impressive speech derived from his experience as a personnel officer.
It will not have escaped the notice of the Government that several of my hon. Friends from Scotland expressed great anxiety about the employment situation there, and that other hon. Friends of mine drew particular attention to the situation in the mining industry. I think this underlines the point we have tried to make in this debate, and to which I shall be returning in a moment or two, about the neglect to mention in the Gracious Speech certain of the major industries and the difficulties they are facing.
Another feature of this debate is that it has been a relatively quiet one. It may be that that was because there were so many maidens and they were so modest. It may be, of course, that it was just exhaustion after the General Election. Be that as it may, there was not much tendency to look to the past. I think there was a general inclination to look to the future, although that is not inconsistent with bringing up issues raised at the General Election, since the election was, at least in part, about the future as well as the past.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) took a special look into the future when he suggested that we might televise our debates. I have no very strong views on this matter. I do not think I should have argued with him at great length to try to persuade him not to say this, had he approached me. I was rather flattered when he suggested that I might have induced him to put the whole business through the ordinary channel of the party machine. I am not sure that I have so much authority as that.
However, it occurred to me as he was speaking that there was a difficulty, something that he himself referred to only the other day when he warned hon. 960 Members, and particularly new Members of the House, of the:… endless hours of infinite boredom, almost limitless stretches of arid desert …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th October, 1959; Vol. 612, c. 215.]stretching in front of them. I think it is a little unfair to unload all that on the general public. [HON. MEMBERS: "They can switch off."] I appreciate that they can switch off, but, after all, one wants to have something to which somebody will listen, and I do not think that "limitless stretches of arid desert" are very encouraging.
This leads me to say one other thing, if I may for a moment keep away from the Amendment. I detect in this new House a freshness, a feeling that we do not necessarily want to be tied down by all the conventions and the rules that we have had in the past. That came out very clearly in the debate the other day on private Members' time when the Home Secretary was good enough to take the feeling of the House and indicate that he would discuss the matter further, and we hope that results will come from that after Christmas. I noticed also that there was a considerable demand, to which the right hon. Gentleman also conceded a certain amount, that we should be able to ask questions more freely about the nationalised industries.
Reflecting on this, I could not help feeling that it was a pity that the Select Committee on Procedure met and reported in the last Parliament. I have the feeling that if it were meeting now it might produce a rather different sort of report.
The right hon. Gentleman is in the fortunate position of having a larger majority than he has had before. Let us at least get something out of this. I ask him to use the luxury which he has received, which he is enjoying, of this larger majority for a little experimenting in our procedure. I would suggest that he might give this matter some thought. What my right hon. Friend has said on more than one occasion is perfectly true In the last Parliament the situation was not satisfactory. The attendance was bad. People were not interested. The reputation of Parliament in the country was deteriorating. This is something which we must all consider pretty seriously.
961 There is another thing which I should like to put to the right hon. Gentleman. I hope that he will during this Parliament really make a great effort to improve the working conditions of Members of the House. I know that he is not unsympathetic to that idea, and I know, too, that even during the last Parliament some efforts were made, but, unfortunately, they did not come to much. I beg him to give this matter serious attention together with the question of procedure so that we may be able to do our work better and so that that work may be more interesting both to ourselves and to the general public.
I turn to the Amendment, and I should like to begin by referring to the passage which complains that the Gracious Speech has omitted the problems of some industries facing difficulties today. I have not time to mention more than one of these industries, but I think it would be right to pick on coal as the one which probably causes more concern than any other, taking the country as a whole. There is, I think, common ground between us that the trouble in the coal mining industry and the difficulties which it is facing are due to two things.
The first is the industrial recession from which we have been suffering these last two years, which has damped down the demand for coal by industry and by the power stations. We can only hope that the expansion which is now taking place, and about which I shall say more in a moment, will produce a certain cure for that.
The second reason for the difficulties in the coal mining industry is unquestionably the greatly increased consumption, chiefly by industry but also by the power stations, of fuel oil. We do not take the view that no fuel oil can be consumed here or that some rigid protectionist attitude should be adopted, but I think we are entitled to say two things and, in a sense, to ask two questions of the Government.
There seems to be no doubt that the price of fuel oil is extraordinarily low. I have had some figures given to me which quote prices per ton ex-refinery as being actually lower than the cost of crude oil. In other words, it is treated as purely a residue product. I have not had time to investigate whether this 962 falls within the definition of dumping, but I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that there is at least some danger that this situation may continue; and we should find ourselves in a very stupid position if, after having allowed a substantial contraction of the coal mining industry because oil was so much cheaper, it then became much more expensive. We cannot turn coal production on and off like a tap, it needs lengthy preparation and lengthy investment.
The second question I must put is the strategic one. I do not imagine that any of us really wish to be wholly dependent on oil and surely there is a point where the situation is liable to become dangerous. I do not attempt to try to answer the question, it is a difficult question, but I think that one has to bear these things in mind. We have borne them in mind in the case of other industries and we must do so in the case of coal as well.
It may be that even when these questions have been answered satisfactorily, some contraction is inevitable, as is indeed planned. I would say frankly that in itself, that may not be a bad thing. For there is one thing about the coal mining industry, that with a contraction in that industry, unlike certain other industries, it is virtually certain that productivity will rise and the cost per ton will go down. Naturally, we should be closing pits and seams which were least economic in the first instance. But while that may be so, and while that in a sense may be satisfactory, with far better prospects for those remaining in the industry, we should insist that if there is to be a contraction, it must be a properly planned contraction done with due care, and not in such a way as to render whole communities derelict and unemployed and destroyed.
I think we have reason for anxiety here because, as I read in the newspapers recently, unfortunately a very large proportion of the pits to be closed are in two areas alone, in Scotland and in South Wales. Therefore, it is particularly urgent that the Government's attempts—of which we shall hear more when we come to debate the Local Employment Bill—to introduce new industries into certain parts of the country should be dovetailed with the 963 plans of the National Coal Board, in conjunction with the National Union of Mineworkers, for the industry itself. Finally, I will only repeat my regret, in view of the very difficult situation facing the industry, and its immense importance, and the importance of the fuel policy generally, that the Prime Minister decided not to put the new Minister of Power into the Cabinet.
Of course, it is not only the publicly-owned industries which are in difficulties. We are continually being asked to find money and assistance for privately-owned industry. There is, I do not know how much it is, now being spent on the cotton industry—
§ Mr. Gaitskell
—and there is the large figure for agricultural subsidies. To morrow we shall be discussing a Bill to maintain and I think to extend subsidies to the fishing industry. Regarding the shipping industry there is much talk about the need, not only for a Government subsidy, but virtually for the Government to provide all the money to build two new liners. Finally, there is the aircraft industry which we all know perfectly well could not have survived without an immense amount of Government expenditure in the last few years—
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne) rose—
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I only wish my right hon. Friend to bear in mind that in the case of the cotton industry the money is to be spent not to provide increased production, but for destruction.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend and had I the time, I would gladly go into that matter.
I wish to make the point that it is quite wrong to assume that the nationalised industries are the ones which are always coming for help. Private industry is very much holding out its hand at the present time.
964 I now turn to the first part of the Amendment to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer devoted the greater part of his speech. The right hon. Gentleman criticised our temerity in questioning the ability of the Government to maintain at the same time full employment and stable prices. He said that when we were in power we had killed all incentive to earn. The simple answer to that is to compare the production figures when we were in power with the production figures since then. The increase in output was twice as fast between 1946 and 1951 than between 1951 and 1955, and some five times as fast as it has been between 1955 and 1959. If the right hon. Gentleman doubts that, I would refer him to the Report of the Royal Commission on Taxation which stated clearly that there was no shadow of evidence to prove that the taxation of earned income had a serious effect on output.
The right hon. Gentleman complained about our record on prices. I am perfectly prepared to set our record side by side with the record of the Conservative Government. While we were in power import prices doubled, and home prices went up by one-third. They have gone up by about one-third since 1951 as well, but during that period import prices have not been doubled; they have fallen. There is the difference.
I now come to the claim which was made by the Government during the Election and which was repeated by the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon, what is called "bringing off the double", that is to say, achieving both price stability and full employment. What exactly does this mean? So far as price stability is concerned, it is certainly true that for the past eighteen months the Retail Price Index has, broadly speaking, been stable. I admit that straight away.
What is the position about full employment? What does the right hon. Gentleman mean when he speaks about "bringing off the double" in the case of full employment? Does he mean that full employment has obtained during the whole of the last eighteen months? Does it apply when the figures in January, 1958, showed that 395,000 were out of work, or in April, 1958, when they had risen to 443,000; or in September with 476,000; or January, 1959, with 620,000; or even in April this year with 530,000; or in September with 420,000? We should 965 like to know what the right hon. Gentleman means when he claims that the Government have brought about full employment. Does he mean that that is the position now? I would willingly admit having gone through a recession, which in our opinion was largely created by Government policy, but the Government have now reversed their policies and we are getting out of the recession.
I admit that and go further. I think it likely that for the next two months expansion will continue and it is quite likely that it will be accompanied—and I hope and believe that it will be—by further expansion and stable prices for the time being. However, I do not think that we can leave the matter there. We cannot accept the invitation of the right hon. Gentleman not to inquire why there is price stability. That really is rather an obscurantist point of view. If we want to find out how to achieve these objects, surely we want to know whether this is an accident, or whether in some way the Government have found a magic formula for achieving what everybody agrees to be necessary.
I venture to say that there are two reasons why we have had price stability. First, there is not the slightest doubt that the fall in import prices by about 10 per cent. since 1957 has played the major part. It is absurd for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to deny that that is so. Of course there has been a time lag, because the fall was in 1957, but equally it has been affecting us ever since. Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that it would have made no difference at all if, instead of a fall of 10 per cent. there had been a rise of 10 per cent. in import prices? Does he think that there would be no difference if we woke up tomorrow and found that because of some world incident there had been a sharp increase in world prices? Of course these things affect us as a trading nation.
The other reason why I think there has been price stability is, quite frankly, the trade recession. We have never denied that if we have unemployment and damp down production there is a very real prospect that if we are prepared to make that sacrifice and pay that price we may in time get a certain degree of price stability. I do not deny 966 that probably the increase in wage rates has not been so great as a result of this. I freely admit, too, that while productivity first of all fell, as one would expect during the recession, in recent months it has been rising.
All that is perfectly true, but what is the lesson of it? Surely it is that at the moment we have a very favourable situation because we are recovering from the recession, because, therefore, productivity is going up, because we still have the benefit of favourable terms of trade and low import prices. But we have to face the question, how long are we to maintain the expansion without inflation as soon as we have got back to full employment again, because the problem is not just to get expansion to full employment, but to get expansion with full employment.
What do the Government think has really altered? They speak as though something fundamental has changed in the last two years which enables us to view the future with a great deal more confidence than we had in the past as far as this problem is concerned, but I cannot myself see that there is any reason to believe that underlying causes have been affected at all. Why should we, why can we, why dare we assume that as we come back to full employment, as the slack is taken up, costs will not begin to rise again? It is all very well for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to indulge in pious exhortations—which, incidentally, is a sign that he is not quite so confident of the situation as he appears to be. Pious exhortations no doubt are appropriate enough, but they are not sufficient by themselves. When the right hon. Gentleman begs firms to use their profits for reinvestment, I would ask him why he altered the system of taxation so as to encourage them to increase dividends.
The real key to this—and I am very surprised that he made no reference to it at all in his speech, or only a bare reference—is, of course, whether we are to have rising productivity. Here I must again remind the House how deplorable our record has been over the past years. I will give one quotation from the Financial Times of 16th January this year. It states:The problem still remains that the long-term rate of progress of the British economy is too low. Between 1953 and the third quarter 967 of 1958 industrial output per man-hour increased by 41 per cent. in France, 37 per cent. in Italy, and 32 per cent. in West Germany, but only 11 per cent. in this country.It cannot be denied, as hon. Members must see, that during virtually the whole of the last decade this country has been lagging behind almost every other industrial country in the world.
The key to this, I have little doubt, is a high rate of investment, and it is unfortunate that this is the feature where, I think, the Government themselves admit that the prospect is least good. The Board of Trade, as recently as just over a month ago, published a survey on investment intentions in private manufacturing industry, a survey which shows that business men expect to spend about 10 per cent. less in 1959 than in 1958, and their forward estimate for 1960 indicates a further fall of 5 per cent. in investment as compared with that in 1959. This is the Government Department's own survey. There is nothing amateur about it and the plain fact is, whatever hon. Members may say on the hustings, that if it had not been for public investment—and they are relying on that—we should be in a very much worse position today than we are.
We have doubts about the claims of the Government to achieve prosperity, expansion and higher investment without rising prices, unless they are prepared to adopt much firmer economic priorities and to give investment a much higher priority than it has so far had. We must also take issue with them over social priorities.
It is our view that the rest of us in the community have a special obligation to those who are living in less fortunate conditions than we are. I know that this was sometimes described in the Election battle as a bribe. I cannot see that. I can only say that in most of my speeches on the subject I simply put it that here are a minority who are decidedly worse off than the rest of us, for no particular reason, and that we therefore owe them a certain debt and should help them as one of the first things to be done. It has been estimated, by the way, to be a minority of about 8 million people; that is to say, between one-fifth and one-sixth of the total population.
I have no time to go into this in detail tonight and I will say only one thing 968 about one class: one of these classes of people living in less fortunate conditions than the rest of us are those who are living in bad housing conditions. Here I must point to the slow rate at which slum clearance is proceeding. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If hon. Members want the figures they can have them. The local authorities' estimate of the number of unfit houses was 850,000, and their plan was to demolish about half that number, 375,000, in five years between 1956 and 1961. That is at a rate of 75,000 a year. In the three years since this programme was started the rate has been not 75,000 a year but 45,000 a year. I can only say, as a Member who sits for an industrial constituency, that all of us in that position are tired of having to meet our constituents who have housing problems and to tell them again and again that we can do nothing for them. It is not good enough that the rate of council house building is falling steadily year by year. This afternoon we heard that the rate of fall is continuing even in the latest quarter of 1959.
There is also the question of the other classes specifically mentioned in the Amendment—the old people, the widows, the disabled and others who are suffering from some hardship. The Government propose to review the earnings rule. I am glad that they intend to do this, but let us have no illusions about it: out of 5,400,000 retirement pensioners, only 80,000 will be affected by this, and out of 386,000 widows, only 60,000 will be affected by it. In round figures, only one person of this class in forty will be affected by a change in the earnings rule.
That is, therefore, not the answer to the problem. Our view is simple. The more that hon. Members opposite talk to us about prosperity and the more they hold out hopes, which in the immediate future I concede are quite reasonable, that living standards will continue to rise, the more we shall insist that something better must be done for this large minority. I know that hon. Members opposite may think that it is enough if we raise the National Assistance scale, because that will take care of the people who are living in the most extreme poverty, and that we need not bother about the rest. We differ from hon. Members opposite on that. We certainly think that those who are living 969 in the worst conditions need help, but we also believe that the greater part of this large minority of 8 million people are living in circumstances so much worse than the rest of us that the whole level should be raised and not only that of those who are living at the margin.
My right hon. Friend this afternoon made a plea to the Government, which I reinforce, to do something about this. It does not matter that in a sense the election was largely fought about it and that at the time hon. Members opposite would not pledge themselves to make an increase. I hope that they will put that out of their minds and that they will approach this matter anew and look at the facts as they are. If we have this prosperity, as I think we can have and for the immediate future shall have, then I beg them to do something to ameliorate and improve the conditions of our fellow citizens living in these conditions.
I will not delay over the familiar argument on the cost. I will only say that everybody who has studied this question knows perfectly well that if we have anything like the rate of increase in production to which hon. Members opposite are themselves committed, there will be no difficulty about raising the revenue for this without any increase in taxation.
Hon. Members opposite have won the General Election; but, as my right hon. Friend said, they as well as we must look to the future. The great test which they face, as indeed do the Government of any democratic State today, is whether we under democratic conditions can achieve as rapid an economic progress as the Communist bloc is achieving and whether at the same time we can apply the right social priorities. This can be done only if we have both economic and social priorities decided by the Government. On our ability to do this, on our ability to jack the economy on to a higher level, on our ability to take care of those less fortunate than ourselves, we shall judge the Government; and I believe that history too will be their judge.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. R. A. Butler)
I am sure that the first thing the House will wish me to do before I mention the maiden speeches is to say with what 970 pleasure we listened to the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). If there is one matter upon which we can all be agreed as the result of the General Election, it is that by retaining the right hon. Gentleman in opposition we keep him free to make speeches of a high Parliamentary quality which he would be quite unable to make from the Government Front Bench. If I may look back on a very distinguished predecessor of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, Ernie Bevin, one of our great patriots and one of our great Englishmen, he once said to me after a few years at the Foreign Office, "Them tours d'horizon I cannot stand". If the right hon. Gentleman was obliged to make the tour d'horizon of a Foreign Secretary, the House of Commons would be a poorer and a cheaper place.
I shall be referring again to the right hon. Gentleman's speech, but before I do so I should like to refer to some of the maiden speakers. I am afraid that on this occasion I am unable in the tradition of the Leader of the House to refer to all of them, because there are so many. I should like just to refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. C. Johnson), whom we knew in our corridors before, who spoke from the other side and made a most graceful tribute to his predecessor, which I am sure we would all wish to endorse. I should also like to wish him well now that he is a real Member of Parliament. As to his reference to accommodation, which was referred to also by the right hon. Gentleman, by all means let us get together. There is a great shortage of accommodation, and sometimes that shortage of accommodation is spoken of in terms of a restriction on the accommodation provided for yourself. It is therefore a very controversial matter which, I think, we should look at together in the coming Parliament.
I should like to refer to the hon. Lady the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart), who made a speech in which she referred not only to the older parts of her constituency but also to the new town of Kilbride. I should also like to mention with what regret we notice that her opponent at the General Election is not now on our benches. We hope that at an early date he will find an opportunity 971 of returning to us. At any rate, the hon. Lady has the power of speaking freshly and without notes. We hope that she will take part in our debates again.
The hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. A. Brown) referred to the Spurs, and, I think, thereby gained his own spurs. I hope we shall hear him again.
I should like to refer to the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Gardner), who spoke in moving the Address on our side, but I am afraid that I cannot refer to all the other many maiden speakers who contributed to the debates on this occasion.
However, there was one speech made from our side of the House by my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst). I refer to it in the traditional manner, because he has an Amendment on the Order Paper. The abuse to which my hon. Friend refers was put to me and to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government before the election and since. My hon. Friend made a speech today on the subject. We have taken note of it. While it is difficult to find an immediate solution, we are glad that he took part in the debate, and we have registered what he has to say.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to this debate as being a debate on the state of the nation. This was certainly the position in the last century, and the first point I make is that on this occasion the state of the nation is pretty good. If we had listened, as many of us did, to the account given by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I think we should have been satisfied that the country was right in preferring a continuation of the policy of free enterprise, of increased savings, of more competitive exports, of expanding production, and greater hope for us all, on the understanding—I accept the view of the two right hon. Gentlemen—that we should accept our victory in a proper spirit of humility, take advantage of the occasion to serve our country, watch all tendencies towards inflation, and deal with the situation in the interests of all classes.
At the beginning of this Parliament, I must, as Leader of the House, take up some of the points raised by the two right hon. Gentlemen. We naturally desire the maximum freedom of opportunity for debate. My right hon. Friend the Patronage 972 Secretary and I have already noticed a certain freedom of expression amongst hon. Members, which does not frighten us, and of which we hope to take full advantage. We entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the House of Commons should be the centre of the country's important matters; that there is a gap between us and the public, and that there is a fault in public relations, of which we are well aware. Provided right hon. and hon. Members will respond occasionally to the bridle, if not necessarily to the whip—which is not a very good Parliamentary instrument—we will be able to occupy this Parliament by giving it a freedom of expression that perhaps was not present, at any rate in the last months of the last Parliament.
I would say this to all hon. Members in relation to private Members' time. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the last Select Committee on Procedure. It is quite true that that was at the end of the last Parliament, and I should like to invite right hon. and hon. Members to express their opinion in the next few weeks with a view to a proper assessment being made of the future of procedure before the time comes for laying any Motions which, as I undertook to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale, should be after the Christmas Recess. If hon. Members will accept that invitation, we may be able to improve the procedure of the House. We can only go bit by bit. It is a great mistake in Parliament to think that one can make a great revolution, but one can go bit by bit, and if hon. Members will get in touch we shall be able to discover their opinions.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the revolutionary suggestion, which has often occurred to us before, that Parliament might be televised. I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman's right hon. Friend was not consulted. The right hon. Gentleman very wisely said that this might involve a completely new channel. That is a fact that we must face, because one of the great problems that has always interested us in considering the televising of Parliament is the problem of who is to edit the business. If there is a completely independent channel to be turned on and off the public can do as they wish, but whether an independent channel is physically possible, I do not know. There are great physical difficulties 973 in this proposal. It will certainly be looked at in the light of what the right hon. Gentleman desires, but there are great physical difficulties, and it will be necessary to get voices from all sides of the House before we come to any conclusion—
§ Mr. Butler
I will add any new advice I have on these matters to the experience I have gained from contact with the friend of the right hon. Gentleman on this subject in our discussions hitherto. Then, perhaps, they will compare notes. But the right hon. Gentleman apparently wants to create a new channel for the usual channels and, therefore, in my future discussions with the right hon. Gentleman and his friends I will always preserve an independent channel for the right hon. Gentleman himself. Then, at any rate, absolute amity and concord may be started on the Front Bench opposite at the beginning of this new Parliament.
I wish to strike a more sombre note for a moment. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman's references to the possibility of direct action by the trades unions in certain circumstances are also an individual view of his own and are not an expression of collective irresponsibility by the Opposition. I consider that while the right hon. Gentleman in a free Parliament is entitled to say what he likes, it is important to stress what he said earlier in his speech, namely, that if we can amass and collect in this House the expressions of opinion of the country, no such threat or no such danger need meet the body politic in our country. Let us hope that that was the intention, and let us hope that that was the meaning of what he said.
§ Mr. Butler
There is one other small matter to which I wish, as Leader of the House, to refer, namely, the relationship of the House to the nationalised industries. This will be a difficult matter. I have before me the Final Report of the Select Committee on the Nationalised Industries. The Committee indicates the 974 difficulties of questions of any sort on the nationalised industries. We have our own Select Committee. While I have not time to go into this in detail tonight, I hope that if we do have conferences on it we shall realise the importance of the nationalised industries being allowed a degree of independence in the normal control of their day-to-day affairs. Otherwise, we shall have the greatest difficulty in finding the highest-class people to look after them. Subject to that, any reasonable Parliamentary interest in the nationalised industries ought to be encouraged.
With regard to nationalisation itself, I do not want to embarrass the Opposition further by making other references to it tonight. It is only right to make quite clear, however, that, in our view on this side of the House, we hope to concentrate in this Parliament on solving the problem of existing nationalisation and having no more of it whatever. We mentioned in our manifesto at the General Election that there may well be improvements by way of decentralisation and further opportunities for commercialisation in the organisation and structure of the nationalised industries. All I want to do this evening is to say that no such reforms should, in my view, be brought in without proper consultation with the interests concerned. If that be a feature of the new Parliament, then there must be consultation.
A word now about the future programme of Parliament. We have published several Bills. I shall in a moment or two, in answer to what the right hon. Gentleman said about coal, refer to the Local Employment Bill. We published a Bill yesterday on betting and gaming which, I hope, will keep us bright and occupied in the present Parliament. I have been asked by many people outside why we have not introduced a Bill to reform the licensing laws, which was referred to in our manifesto. All that is in a manifesto cannot be brought in in one Session of Parliament, and there is no question of introducing a Bill on the licensing laws in this particular Session. It must be kept for another Session.
We propose to publish a Bill and a White Paper on horticulture, a subject to which one or two of the maiden speeches have referred. Later on, my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General 975 will publish proposals for the future of the Post Office. The right hon. Gentleman has, in the past, referred to abuses in the private enterprise system. I would merely say that we propose to introduce legislation to deal with building societies and their problems, and we propose also to institute a thorough inquiry into the Companies Acts and various aspects of company law.
The Opposition Amendment regretsthe omission of any effective proposals for achieving continuous industrial expansion without rising prices.Let us look at the Amendment last year.
That referred tothe omission … of any measures directed towards the expansion of production and employment while maintaining stable prices.During the past year, since the Opposition moved their last Amendment, in terms almost identical with the present one, production has increased by 7 per cent. That is good. Over the past year, since they moved their Amendment, unemployment has fallen from 2.3 per cent. to 1.9 per cent. I presume that that is also good. When they moved their Amendment last year, the Index of Retail Prices stood at 109.8 per cent. Now it is 108.7 per cent., and that is better still. The moral of all this seems to me that the more the Opposition move Amendments the merrier we shall be. It is surely time, therefore, to get away from this endless complaint by the Opposition which each year is refuted by events.
I studied the sayings of the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) in the New Statesman of 17th October this year. He wrote as follows:In this era of Tory prosperity, a Labour Opposition has to run very fast in order to stay where it is. Each year which takes us further, not only from the hungry 'thirties but from the austere 'forties, weakens class consciousness. And if nothing is done to stop this national tendency, more and more Socialist voters turn first into don't knows and then into active Tories.I should like to ask right hon. and hon. Members opposite what is the interpretation of this article. Does the hon. Member mean that he wishes to revert to class consciousness or to torpedo Tory prosperity? As Shakespeare said:Welcome the sour cup of prosperity! Affliction may one day smile again, and until then, Sit down, Sorrow!976 It is perhaps appropriate that this quotation should come from "Love's Labour's Lost". I have always believed, although I am no musician myself, that all speeches, however short, should have movements, and, if they are not symphonies, at any rate they should differ between the light and the dark.
I now want to try to deal seriously for a few minutes with the coal industry and with one or two points raised by the right hon. Gentleman. We fully realise that our victory has left us very severe problems, and in applying our minds to them, which I am trying to do at this moment, it will be our endeavour through the Local Employment Bill to help redundancy wherever it may occur. This will apply as much to the pits as to black spots of unemployment wherever they may arise.
It is interesting to note from the terms of the Local Employment Bill, which I have, that it is a Measure with anticipatory provisions. This enables us to look ahead to foresee where unemployment may arise. This applies particularly, I think, to the shipbuilding industry. This industry has been helped by the investment allowances, which I originally introduced and which my successor increased, and it will be improved by the three-prong advance in trade referred to by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon.
I should next like to refer to the position in the coal industry. Unemployment in the industry at the moment runs at about 1.08 per cent. of the industry's labour force compared with the national average of 1.9 per cent. That is something, but, of course, there is grave anxiety, as the right hon. Gentleman said, about redundancy. It is, however, interesting to note that, of the 10,000 miners displaced in 1959 by the closure of pits, 9,000 have already been placed in other employment.
Before I go on to discuss the coal industry, I should like to make a passing reference to the Local Employment Bill in reference to Northern Ireland. As Home Secretary, I have a special responsibility for Northern Ireland. This Bill has taken advantage of some of the methods used in Ulster, and I should like to say to Northern Ireland Members that we propose to encourage the 977 continuance of these policies in Northern Ireland with a view to assisting foreign firms to settle there, which I think may be one of the best ways of dealing with the high level of unemployment in Northern Ireland.
In relation to the coal industry, I cannot be expected in a winding-up speech, which is always a rush, to go into great detail about the industry, but I would like to say this. We shall hope to discuss the problems of the coal industry and the new revised Plan for Coal before Christmas, perhaps in connection with our borrowing powers legislation which we have in mind. If hon. Members are interested, perhaps they will keep me up to that and remind me of that undertaking.
Meanwhile, the Government are taking three measures to help the coal industry. The first is to provide finance to enable the stocks of coal and coke, which are very considerable, to be held. The second is to re-examine the power stations' oil contracts, which will lead to an extra 1.7 million tons of coal consumption next year and 3.9 million tons in 1965–66. The third measure is, in collaboration with the National Coal Board, to check opencast production and virtually to eliminate it by 1965. Those are three undertakings, and it is our intention to work with the National Coal Board and with the National Union of Mineworkers.
In a memorandum which I have read today, submitted by the National Union of Mineworkers, I have noticed the point made by the Leader of the Opposition about dumping. We are taking that up with the National Union of Mineworkers and we shall work with the union and the National Coal Board and attempt to try to deal with the problems of our oldest and greatest industry.
Hon. Members know quite well, however, that this is not only a local national problem. It is a problem of the whole of Western Europe. It is a problem of the rivalry of the various different forms of power, including oil, and other problems which affect the coal industry. It is something which cannot be dealt with as a purely domestic problem alone.
In the last few minutes, I want to deal with the latter part of the Opposition Amendment, which challenges our policy 978 for assisting the old, the sick, the disabled, the widows and others still experiencing poverty and hardship. In this connection, I should like to pay tribute to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). With great forethought, he considered how housing and other amenities can be provided for the old. Before the election campaign, we had the benefit of the advice of my right hon. Friend. There is no man who has taken more trouble than he to consider amenities for the old, particularly in respect of housing for them. We should like to tell my right hon. Friend that his speech will have been carefully noted by the Government and I hope it may lead to further progress, if not this Session, at least during this Parliament.
The first thing that one has to say about the old, the sick and those who are in need is that the best way to assist them is to maintain the value of money with a constant and non-rising price level, as we are successfully doing. During the General Election, I was visited by two particularly old old-age pensioners of great distinction who did me the compliment of saying that hitherto they had voted Tory. They said to me, "Now, we are very much tempted by the Labour programme. We know what we might get if we vote for it, but one thing we do know for certain is that if we vote Labour the economy will go bust." What they added was rather disconcerting to me, and it was this: "But we shall be dead before that." They were very old indeed. I was able to persuade them of the ill-advised course that they might otherwise have adopted.
I believe that we were right not to make specific promises of increased rates for old people or others during the General Election. I believe the public realised that the pledge we gave during the election was an undertaking to old-age pensioners, not only that we would maintain their rate of pension in relation to the cost of living, which we have done up to date—and more—but also that they would take their share in the rising prosperity of the country, which could be assured only by the pursuance of Conservative policies and by the continuance of the betterment which we have brought about. I believe that that impressed the people, and that certainly 979 is the policy which we intend to pursue in this Government.
That is my answer to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) who made a thoughtful speech on this matter in the latter part of the debate today. As mentioned in the Gracious Speech, we propose to go forward with the relaxation of the earnings rule. The regulations for which we will ask the approval of the House by affirmative Resolution have first to be submitted in draft to the National Insurance Advisory Committee. We shall keep the House informed of the steps taken and their timing.
Now in concluding this debate I should like to use these words. At the beginning of this Parliament we must be clear that there is an immense task of social reform still to be carried through. We must think not merely in terms of eliminating patches of poverty and strengthening the basis of our social securities, but we must think also, not only in terms of expanding the economy, as the Opposition have said, but in terms of expanding the human mind and the human spirit.
We must certainly go on building. We have a plan, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman, for a million people to be moved from the slums in the course of the five years of this Parliament, at the rate of 200,000 at least a year. We must also have a policy for the young, a policy for the young offenders, a policy for leisure, and we must be unselfish and
§ so use our patrimony that we can send some of our wealth overseas.
§ This debate will have been worth while if it helps us to project our ideas of social reform and social responsibility into the wider world overseas. The gap between the industrialised and the underdeveloped countries in terms not only of economic advance but of basic living conditions, mortality rates and income per head, is a challenge to our conscience and our humanity. We must provide social capital and social expenditure for the poorer countries analogous to that we have provided in bridging the gulf between the extremes in this country at home.
§ This will demand sacrifice, but we shall gain three great rewards. First, we shall match the patient diplomacy of the past years by recognising that the challenge of Communism is now in the realm of ideas and economics. Secondly, such a course will accord with and give firm direction and purpose to Britain's special responsibility in the Commonwealth. Such a policy will perpetuate and symbolise the generosity and selflessness of spirit which must find expression in Britain. We must make sure in this Parliament that mere materialism is not to be the barren product of our increased solvency and prosperity.
§ Question put, That those words be there added:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 245, Noes 348.985
|Division No. 2.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Dodds, Norman|
|Ainsley, William||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Donnelly, Desmond|
|Albu, Austen||Callaghan, James||Driberg, Tom|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Carmichael, James||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Chapman, Donald||Edelman, Maurice|
|Baird, John||Chetwynd, George||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Cliffe, Michael||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)|
|Beaney, Alan||Collick, Percy||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Edwards, Walter (Stepney)|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Evans, Albert|
|Benn, Hn. A. Wedgwood (Brist'l, S. E.)||Cronin, John||Fernyhough, E.|
|Benson, Sir George||Crosland, Anthony||Finch, Harold|
|Bevan, Rt. Hn. Aneurin (Ebbw V.)||Crossman, R. H. S.||Fitch, Alan|
|Blackburn, F.||Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Fletcher, Eric|
|Blyton, William||Darling, George||Forman, J. C.|
|Boardman, H.||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Bowles, Frank||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Boyden, James||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Galpern, Myer|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||George, Lady Megan Lloyd|
|Brookway, A. Fanner||Deer, George||Ginsburg, David|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||de Freltas, Geoffrey||Gooch, E. G.|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Delargy, Hugh||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. p. C.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Dempsey, James||Gourlay, Harry|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Diamond, John||Greenwood, Anthony|
|Grey, Charles||McLeavy, Frank||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Mahon, Simon||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Gunter, Ray||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Small, William|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Manuel, A. C.||Snow, Julian|
|Hannan, William||Mapp, Charles||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Hayman, F. H.||Marsh, Richard||Steele, Thomas|
|Healey, Denis||Mason, Roy||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (RwlyRegis)||Mayhew, Christopher||Stonehouse, John|
|Herbison, Miss Margaret||Mellish, R. J.||Stones, William|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Mendelson, J. J.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Millan, Bruce||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Hilton, A. V.||Mitchison, G. R.||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Holman, Percy||Moody, A. S.||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Houghton, Douglas||Morris, John||Swain, Thomas|
|Howell, Charles A.||Mort, D. L.||Swingler, Stephen|
|Hoy, James H.||Moyle, Arthur||Sylvester, George|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Mulley, Frederick||Symonds, J. B.|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Neal, Harold||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Hunter, A. E.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Oliver, G. H.||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Oram, A. E.||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Oswald, Thomas||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Owen, Will||Thornton, Ernest|
|Janner, Barnett||Padley, W. E.||Tomney, Frank|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Paget, R. T.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Jeger, George||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Walnwright, Edwin|
|Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Pargiter, G. A.||Warbey, William|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Parkin, B. T. (Paddington, N.)||Weitzman, David|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Paton, John||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Pavitt, Laurence||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Peart, Frederick||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Pentland, Norman||Whitlock, William|
|Kelley, Richard||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Wigg, George|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Popplewell, Ernest||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|King, Dr. Horace||Prentice, R. E.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Lawson, George||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Willey, Frederick|
|Ledger, Ron||Probert, Arthur||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Proctor, W. T.||Williams, Rev. LI. (Abertillery)|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Randall, Harry||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Rankin, John||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Redhead, E. C.||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Upton, Marcus||Reid, William||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Login, David||Rhodes, H.||Woof, Robert|
|Loughlin, Charles||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|McCann, John||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)||Zilliacus, K.|
|MacColl, James||Ross, William|
|McInnes, James||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Mr. Bowden and Mr. Short.|
|Mackie, John||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Biggs-Davison, John||Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bingham, R. M.||Carr, Compton (Barons Court)|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)|
|Allason, James||Bishop, F. P.||Cary, Sir Robert|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Black, Sir Cyril||Channon, H. P. G.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Bossom, Clive||Chataway, Christopher|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. D. Heathcoat (Tiv'tn)||Bourne-Arton, A.||Chichester-Clark, R.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Box, Donald||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)|
|Balniel, Lord||Boyle, Sir Edward||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)|
|Barber, Anthony||Braine, Bernard||Cleaver, Leonard|
|Barlow, Sir John||Brewis, John||Cole, Norman|
|Barter, John||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Collard, Richard|
|Batsford, Brian||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Cooke, Robert|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Brooman-White, R.||Cooper, A. E.|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Cooper-Key, E. M.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Bryan, Paul||Cordle, John|
|Bell, Ronald (S. Bucks.)||Bullard, Denys||Corfield, F. V.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Costain, A. P.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Burden, F. A.||Coulson, J. M.|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Courtney, Cdr. Anthony|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Toxteth)||Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)|
|Bidgood, John C.||Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Critchley, Julian|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Crowder, F. P.||Hughes-Young, Michael||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian|
|Cunningham, Knox||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Curran, Charles||Hurd, Sir Anthony||Osborne, Cyril (Louth)|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Page, Graham|
|Dance, James||Iremonger, T. L.||Partridge, E.|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pearson, Frank (Clitheros)|
|Deedes, W. F.||Jackson, John||Peel, John|
|de Ferranti, Basil||James, David||Percival, Ian|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Peyton, John|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Jennings, J. C.||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Doughty, Charles||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Drayson, G. B.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Pilkington, Capt. Richard|
|du Cann, Edward||Johnson Smith, G. (Holb.&S. P'ncr's, S)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Duncan, Sir James||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Pitt, Miss Edith|
|Duthie, Sir William||Joseph, Sir Keith||Pott, Percivall|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Kaberry, Donald||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Eden, John||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Elliott, R. W.||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Emery, Peter||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Kershaw, Anthony||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Kimball, Marcus||Profumo, John|
|Erroll, F. J.||Kirk, Peter||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Kitson, Timothy||Ramsden, James|
|Farr, John||Lagden, Godfrey||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Fell, Anthony||Lambton, Viscount||Rees, Hugh|
|Finlay, Graeme||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Fisher, Nigel||Langford-Holt, J.||Renton, David|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Leather, E. H. C.||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Forrest, George||Leavey, J. A.||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Foster, John||Leburn, Gilmour||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Freeth, Denzil||Lilley, F. J. P.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Lindsay, Martin||Roots, William|
|Gammans, Lady||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Gardner, Edward||Litchfield, Capt. John||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'n C'dfield)||Russell, Ronald|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Longbottom, Charles||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.)||Longden, Gilbert||Seymour, Leslie|
|Godber, J. B.||Loveys, Walter H.||Sharples, Richard|
|Goodhart, Philip||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Shepherd, William|
|Goodhew, Victor||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Simon, Sir Jocelyn|
|Gower, Raymond||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)||McAdden, Stephen||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||MacArthur, Ian||Smithers, Peter|
|Green, Alan||McLaren, Martin||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Grimond, J.||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N. Ayrs.)||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Grimston, Sir Robert||McLean, Nell (Inverness)||Speir, Runert|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain (Enfield, W.)||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Gurden, Harold||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||McMaster, Stanley||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Stodart, J. A.|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Macmillan, Maurice (Hallfax)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Storey, S.|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maddan, Martin||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Maginnis, John E.||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Maitland, Cdr. J. W.||Sumner, Donald (Orpington)|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Talbot, John E.|
|Harvie, Anderson, Miss||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Tapsell, Peter|
|Hay, John||Marlowe, Anthony||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Head, Rt. Hon. Antony||Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Marshall, Douglas||Teeling, William|
|Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward||Marten, Neil||Temple, John M.|
|Henderson-Stewart, Sir James||Matthews, Gordon (Merlden)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Hendry, Lt.-Col. A. Forbes||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Mawby, Ray||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Hiley, Joseph||Mavdon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Mills, Stratton||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Montgomery, Fergus||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Hobson, John||Moore, Sir Thomas||Turner, Colin|
|Hocking, Philip N.||Morgan, William||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Holland, Philip||Morrison, John||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Holland-Martin Christopher||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Hollingworth, John||Nabarro, Gerald||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Holt, Arthur||Neave, Airey||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John||Nicholls, Harmar||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Hopkins, Alan||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Hornby, R. P.||Noble, Michael||Wade, Donald|
|Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Nugent, Richard||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|Ward, Rt. Hon. George (Worcester)||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)||Woollam, John|
|Watts, James||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Webster, David||Wise, Alfred||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Wells, John (Maidstone)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Whitelaw, William||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Redmayne and Mr. Legh.|
§ Main Question put and agreed to.
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows:—
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
To be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of Her Majesty's Household.