Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [3rd November]:
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.
§ 3.52 p.m.
§ Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)
I beg to move, at the end of the Question to add:but have no confidence that Your Majesty's Ministers can implement their proposals without damaging the programmes of modernisation already in train and thus imperilling the future well-being of Your people.During the course of the debate which began on Tuesday I must, in fairness, say that we have managed to learn a certain amount more of the intentions of the Government. Some of the intentions disclosed raise, as a very thoughtful leading article in The Times today makes clear, some rather alarming implications, but over whole tracts of our national life uncertainty as to what the Government have in mind broods.
It broods over the aircraft industry and all the complex of research and ancillary trades connected with it. It broods over steel and all the customers of steel. It broods—and I will have more to say about this later—over the development of land and our housing programme. And it looms over our position in the world in the discharge of our obligations. After the Gracious Speech from the throne, after the series of speeches by Ministers of the Crown, and after five days of debate in this House, that this is still the case is manifest.
The reason is clear. Hon. Gentlemen opposite came to power on the basis of a whole series of pledges. Some of them are, as I will show, plainly incapable of fulfilment while others can be fulfilled only by the 847 acceptance of a wholly unacceptable degree of public mischief. At the moment, the Whitehall machine is engaged, like a rather modernised version of the philosopher's stone, in transmuting the base metal—the pledges of hon. Gentlemen opposite—if not into gold, then at least into negotiable paper.
The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister opened the debate in what not even his severest critic could say was one of his happier speeches. Even the observation which elicited most cheers from his hon. Friends turns out to have been somewhat myopic. He said, taking an attitude at the Box, that the day of the dynasties was over. Is it? Does that mean, for example, that the Colonial Secretary is to disappear? Was it an altogether gracious reference to the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) and his noble brother, who served together in Lord Attlee's Government? Is it, perhaps, overlooking the Solicitor-General and his brother, one of the noble Lords who are Ministers of State at the Foreign Office?
Is the right hon. Gentleman not suggesting that when a Conservative Government appoints people who are members of families who have served the State on many occasions before that is nepotism and all sorts of dreadful things, but that when a Labour Prime Minister does precisely the same thing that is only the overdue recognition of innate ability?
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)
To elaborate this point, will the right hon. Gentleman tell me how many members of the Cabinet and Administration in the Government of the former Prime Minister, who is no longer a Member of this House, were relatives of his or relatives of his by marriage, and how many of the present Administration are relatives of mine or of my wife?
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
That would be a fascinating social survey.
What the right hon. Gentleman cannot get away with are remarks about political dynasties, remarks which are just as applicable to hon. Members opposite as they are to this side of the House. It is complete nonsense for the Prime Minister and his colleagues to try to make a point of that.
848 One of the uncertainties that looms over the whole scene is the cost of these proposals. The White Paper, The Economic Situation, issued by the Government makes a not unimportant statement in paragraph 9:The large public expenditure programmes which the Government found on taking office would, if left unchanged, fully absorb for the years ahead the future growth of revenue at present rates of taxation, even on the assumption of a regular 4 per cent. per year rate of growth of gross national product; and without a growing increase in the rate of personal saving higher rates of taxation would be needed.So far so good. Exactly what we said. It goes on:But these programmes do not provide adequately for the nation's social or economic needs. The Government have already made a start to put these deficiencies right. This will call for increased expenditure in certain fields, where the economic and social benefits are clear, and reduced expenditure in others, where money is being spent without social or economic benefit.No Minister has yet told us from where the economies which are to compensate for the increased expenditures referred to in the Gracious Speech are to come. [Interruption.] The hon. Member, with considerable intellectual honesty, says, "There are not any."
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
If the hon. Gentleman is relying on that as an increased source of revenue, he is a little unfortunate inasmuch as arrangements had already been made before the change of Government for repayment of the whole sum. Therefore, it will not be a source of comfort—I heard the hon. Gentleman's observation—to base it on that.
I repeat the question: from where are the compensating economies coming which the Government in their White Paper indicate to be necessary? Is it the Concord? That is the only one which has been mentioned so far. We still do not know whether the Concord is to be the sacrifice or not. The other night the Minister of Aviation followed 849 the line of the young lady in the song—"She wouldn't say yes, she wouldn't say no". It is still not clear whether this one example of an economy, which is the one example the Prime Minister put forward, is to be a real one or not.
It is not good enough for the Government to put forward proposals in the Gracious Speech and to accept in their first formal White Paper that compensating economies are required and then go through the debate on the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech without indicating a single one of those economies. It would be rather curious if the Concord were to be the sacrifice and if, to give ourselves present benefits, we should pawn our future in aviation. It would come singularly ill from a Government which talked so much about the exciting days of a Labour Government in technological development.
Of course, there will be increased expenditure; but how much? Again, I quote from the White Paper:The Government believe that programmes of social improvement and economic expansion must go forward together, each dependent on the other, as a coherent and long-term plan. They also believe that the people of this country not only wish this to happen but also want to be given the best estimate that can be made of the cost.That we have not been given. We were not given it during the election, and we have not been given it during the five days of this debate. Yet here again the Government are on record as saying that this is what the people of this country want. Indeed, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury told us on Wednesday night that one of the reasons why we are to have an autumn Budget tomorrow was the need to pay for some of these measures.
I hope that, if not today, at any rate tomorrow, the Chancellor of the Exchequer—in the circumstances, I almost called him the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer—will tell us the additional expenditure in respect of which additional burdens have to be imposed on the people. Obviously, we cannot judge the merit or demerit of those burdens unless we know what we are to get for them. I hope, also, that it will be explained how what is done in this respect—the increased expenditure and increased taxation—is reconciled 850 with the assurances on this matter which the Prime Minister gave throughout the election.
That is the first big question which I think the House, on the Government's own showing and on the showing of their White Paper, is entitled to have answered. What is the additional cost in the current year, in the year covered by the Gracious Speech, of the measures approval for which is being sought tonight?
I hope that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who is to speak after me—and, if I may say so, there is no hon. Member of the House opposite whom I am more glad to see in a position of responsibility; I have had many conflicts, agreeable and otherwise, with him, and he is generally reasonable in these matters—will not duck this issue, but that he will give us what the White Paper says the people are entitled to have and what Her Majesty's Opposition are entitled to demand, namely, an indication of the cost.
I come now to the reference in the Gracious Speech to pensions. I am sure that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will find this obliging, because it is a subject which he and I have discussed together. As I understand the Gracious Speech, there is to be a major review of the social security schemes. There is a great deal to be said for this. Indeed, we said it ourselves in our election manifesto. It is absolutely right that, as 20 years since Lord Beveridge wrote have elapsed, the schemes which he evolved, largely against a pre-war background, should be looked at again in the light of society today, with its high level of wages and employment.
I should like to know a little more about this review which is the Government's first mentioned proposal on pensions. Will it be really comprehensive? Will it cover the question whether special categories of pensioner, such as the very old, should get special preferential treatment? Will it cover the long-term sick and their special problem? Will it cover industrial injuries and the question whether they should continue to be based on loss of faculty or should go over to a loss of earnings basis? I should like to know, too, whether the 851 review will be confined to the Government machine.
As a general review is put as the Government's main, or, at any rate, first mentioned, proposal in this field, I assume that this will be a review outside the Whitehall machine which will hear the evidence and views, not merely of departments, but of opinion generally. I also assume that it will not be prejudged in favour of what was called the Crossman plan and that it will not be simply an attempt to provide an argument for national superannuation, but a genuine and sincere attempt to review our social security system 20 years after Beveridge. I should welcome some reassurances from the right hon. Gentleman about that.
Meanwhile, as I understand the Gracious Speech, there is to be an increase in the flat-rate benefits under the existing scheme on broadly the present basis. Does that include war pensioners? The phrase in the Gracious Speech is National Insurance benefits "and associated benefits". Normally, war pensions, when they are to be increased, are thought to be worth a mention on their own. I should like to know whether "associated benefits" includes war pensions and whether the priority which all previous Governments have given to war pensioners will be continued.
The testing question is: how much? What will be the new rate? I do not ask the right hon. Gentleman to answer that this afternoon unless he wishes to do so, because I understand that the right hon. Lady the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance is shortly to make a statement which will, no doubt, deal with this. However, massive expectations have been aroused by what was said during the election. A notable example was the Prime Minister's broadcast on 10th October, when he said:That is why I pledge the Labour Government to urgent action to deal with this problem, with the humanity which has been lacking, to ensure to each a guaranteed and adequate income below which they will not be allowed to fall and to have it without recourse to National Assistance".The use of the word "urgent" would seem to suggest a promise for action this Session by way of the flat-rate changes under the present scheme referred to in the Gracious Speech.
852 But, if that is so, I wonder whether the House realises the size of the commitment which those who heard the Prime Minister will have thought he was promising. To give pensioners an adequate income without recourse to National Assistance under the present flat-rate scheme—and I think that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that that is the only way to do it in this Session, whatever the future beyond may hold—would involve enormous increases in the standard rate of pension.
May I give the House the figures. The single rate of National insurance benefit is today 67s. 6d. The single householder rate of National Assistance is 63s. 6d. plus rent and, in the case of half the retirement pensioners receiving a supplement, discretionary additions as well.
Take, therefore, for example, the case of a pensioner with a supplement from the Assistance Board paying a rent of £2 a week. If that pensioner is to receive that income, with no improvement at all, without recourse to National Assistance, it would be necessary to increase the National Insurance rate from 67s. 6d. to 103s. 6d., or by 36s. Even that would be inadequate because it is inconceivable that any Government would move the National Insurance rate to that extent without some other movement in the National Assistance rate. That would mean that the total to give that same income without recourse to National Assistance would have to be even higher. Even putting it moderately and assuming against myself that there is in this case no discretionary addition, an increase of 36s. would be necessary in the single scale rate.
It is, I think, accented that if we take into account consequentials, every 10s. on the main rate costs about £200 million. Therefore, if the kind of change which many people thought the Prime Minister was promising is made, we are talking of increases in expenditure of £700 million to £750 million a year, of which, if the present system is used, the greater part would fall upon the stamp. We are thus talking of increases in stamp of 10s. or 12s. a week. I therefore beg the Government to realise that what was said during the election on the subject of pensions—in my view, 853 rashly and unwisely—has built up enormous expectations which it will be singularly difficult for the Government not to disappoint.
I should like to refer quickly, because that is all it is worth, to a short and rather squalid paragraph in the Gracious Speech in which it is stated in one sentence that it is intendedto require companies to disclose political contributions".Even if that were the intention of the right hon. Gentleman, it would have been better taste to have kept this bit of political skulduggery out of the Gracious Speech. In any event, it is a very odd passage.
There is, of course, a case for reviewing the system of company accounts. There is much to be said for ensuring that shareholders receive greater information over a wide variety of directions—I would not quarrel with that—but to pick out political contributions and to give them the prominence of a place in the Gracious Speech plainly has one purpose only. That purpose—everybody in the House knows it; there is no point in denying it—is that it is hoped to deter companies from making political contributions to either the Conservative or the Liberal Party because of fear of trouble with the trade unions, trouble with their labour. That is the purpose and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they were honest, would admit it. It will, however, fail, because managements, like everybody else, react vigorously to attempted intimidation.
I come now to one of the announcements that was made in the course of the debate on the Speech by the First Secretary of State and Minister for Economic Affairs with respect to offices in the south-east of England. That was followed by a White Paper. No one would dispute that the concentration of office work in central London constitutes a real problem. [Interruption.] The hon. Member assists me. It is a problem which my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds North-East (Sir K. Joseph) was tackling in a variety of ways, through the creation of counterpoints of attraction under the South East Plan, through the Location of Offices Bureau and by the Government as a whole—I confess that I had some part in this—through the dispersal 854 of governmental work from London and requests to the nationalised industries to co-operate in such dispersal. There is no dispute between the two sides of the House that there is a real practical problem here.
I understand that legislation is being brought forward. Obviously, we must wait until we see the legislation before we can make final comments but there are one or two things which I must say at once. It is a somewhat startling innovation in respect of the Greater London Council area to refuse to allow people who have already received planning permission to go ahead with building without the payment of compensation. There is nothing anti-social in the building of offices; it is a necessary part of the working of our economy.
We have here people who have bought land with planning permission, or who have obtained planning permission for the land in the legitimate and proper expectation that they would be entitled to proceed. The Government stop this and say in terms that whatever loss may be suffered by those people, they shall be denied compensation. That is an innovation in our system, and a bad innovation. Indeed, as I understand, it is only because of the Government's desire to exclude compensation that legislation is required at all.
I speak in these matters subject to correction by the right hon. Gentleman, but I understand that there would be power in his right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government to revoke the planning permissions already given. Under existing legislation, however, this would entail the payment of compensation. If that is right—and I ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to deal with it—the whole purpose of the legislation is the denial of compensation.
There are a number of other difficulties about this which, I hope, the Government will face. The first is the making of exceptions. The First Secretary said that this would be done only occasionally. How is it to be done? In the case of industrial development certificates for factory building, it is comparatively easy; the President of the Board of Trade knows the purpose for which a factory is to be erected. When an office is being erected, generally nobody knows the 855 purpose. Therefore, I do not see how the exceptions can be very fairly worked.
I am doubtful of the wisdom of applying this complete plan to the whole of the Greater London Council area. My own experience in the dispersal of Government work from London points to the fact that there is quite a lot of work, governmental and otherwise, which can leave Central London provided that it can be done on the periphery. The effect of closing down all office building round the edges of London in districts, for example, like my constituency, which, under the Greater London Plan, comes into the Greater London area, may well be positively to prevent the decentralisation of work from Central London because it is work that can go only a little way, and if it is not allowed to go a little way it will not go at all.
Then there is the question of compliance with the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act. How is the owner of an office in central London, who has for practical purposes to remain in central London and who has to comply with that Act to give the office worker decent working conditions to proceed if he is not allowed either to replace or substantially to rebuild his office?
Another point is that office rents, including those paid by the Government themselves, will rise. Those who have recently completed offices will be most grateful to the First Secretary for the unconvenanted benefit which he has bestowed upon them. What will be the effect—I am glad to see that the Minister of Housing and Local Government is back with us—on comprehensive redevelopment plans like those for the redevelopment of certain town centres? The economics of many of those redevelopment plans turn on a certain constituent element of offices in them. If no offices are to be created, I would guess that in many cases there will be none of the necessary and desirable redevelopment. I therefore suggest to the Government that before they introduce the Bill, they should give serious thought to whether they are proceeding in the right way to tackle what, I said at the beginning of this passage of my speech, I accept to be an important problem.
Now, we come to another of the more notable proposals in the Gracious Speech, 856 that in respect of the reimposition of rent control. It is enormously important that we should know, and that the public should know, as soon as possible what exactly it is that the Government intend in this respect. Hon. Members on both sides of the House must be aware from their constituencies that, whatever one's view on the merits of rent control may be—whatever one's view—the uncertainty of what is to be proposed is doing positive harm as day follows day.
There are cases where tenants of uncontrolled premises are being given notice by landlords who fear that if the tenants remain they may become controlled tenants. One of my hon. Friends handed me a letter from one of his constituents to this precise effect as I came into the House this afternoon. Therefore, whatever the Government will do it is absolutely essential that they should make up their minds and make a quick and early announcement to us.
The Government won the election on the explicit pledge to repeal the Rent Act, 1957, There is no doubt that that was the pledge, and that is, indeed, how it was understood throughout the country. I doubt, though we shall hear what the right hon. Gentleman has to say, whether that indeed is technically possible. Certainly, if it were intended, as I think many of us understood it to mean, to restore the 1957 position, I shall be very interested to hear the right hon. Gentleman explain how that could be done, even if it were desirable to do it. Indeed, the Prime Minister on Tuesday gave a hint it was not the Government's intention when he said:We shall not try to put the clock back…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd November, 1964; Vol. 701, c. 77.]What do the Government intend to do about security of tenure? That is not mentioned in the Gracious Speech nor in the Prime Minister's speech, though they both refer to control of rents. And indeed, if security of tenure is to be restored, for whom? In the many houses where there has been a change of tenancy since 1957 many of the tenants now occupying property decontrolled by the Act of 1957 are there because of the Act of 1957. They came in because the property was decontrolled, and it would be a rather odd consequence of the right hon. Gentleman's legislation if they were to do nothing about the people who, they 857 argued, were wronged by the Act of 1957 and left as a result of it whereas people who were nothing but beneficiaries from that Act, who only obtained possession as a result of that Act, should be given an uncovenanted benefit of restored control. I think that if there is to be security of tenure we want to hear a little more as to what the Government intend about that.
Then, at what level are rents to be controlled? There are, broadly, two choices before the right hon. Gentleman. One is at somewhere reasonably close to the present market level with provision for adjustment upwards as the market level rises. The other, and that is what most people understood by the reference to repeal of the 1957 Act, is to go back to something well below the market level, something based on what the position was before the 1957 Act, at pre-war levels of rent. Which is it is intended? If it is intended to be somewhere near the market level then I am sure that that should be said at once, because the incentive to landlords to get rid of present tenants would be very much diminished if it were known that they are going to receive a rent at any rate approximately near the market rent.
It is important to reflect on this. The House may remember that whereas, before the Rent Act, 1957, practically any controlled premises which on the death or departure of a tenant came into the possession of the landlord—practically all of them—were then sold with vacant possession to an owner-occupier. Since the Act about 80 per cent., as I understand, have been relet. Therefore, it is extremely important, if the stock of rented houses is to be maintained at a satisfactory level, that this problem of the level at which it is proposed to control rents should be faced, and I repeat—and I hope that the House will not be wearied by my repetition—that it is very important that, as I hope, a very early statement will be made about the subject.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
We are, of course, debating now not the actual legislation which my right hon. Friends intend to introduce, but an Amendment to the Motion in reply to the Queen's Speech. Therefore, what we really ought to be debating is not 858 the problematical and speculative details of what legislation will eventually be presented, but whether we are right or wrong to have legislation on this subject at all. Would the right hon. Gentleman tell us what his party's answer is to that question?
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
On the first part of the hon. Gentleman's intervention, he and hon. Members opposite must face it that the insertion of the words to which I have referred in the Queen's Speech has of itself created a new and damaging situation—
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
—and in the debate on the Queen's Speech nothing, subject, Mr. Speaker, to your ruling, could be more relevant than to impress upon the Government that, having taken the decision to put those words into the Gracious Speech, and having, therefore, accepted the consequences of their action in so doing, it is up to them to remedy them as quickly as possible. And the observations which I am addressing to the House are related to that theme, as I think the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy very well understands. If the hon. Gentleman has heard of the worry of tenants as I have heard of it—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—in this connection he would not try to brush this off in quite the way that he has done.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I am not trying to brush anything off. I think that the right hon. Gentleman will understand from what has happened in the House in earlier times that I understand as much as he does what the difficulties are of rent legislation, price control, and security of tenure. What I asked him to say was whether, if his party had won the election, the rent legislation, as left by his party in 1957, would have been left undisturbed, or whether his party would have altered it in any way.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
The position is perfectly clear. If recontrol is in the Government's proposals—
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
—I hope that the hon. Gentleman, who has been in the 859 House a good many years, and longer than I have, will accept from me that it is extremely important that the Government should make a clear statement on one or two of those points—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."]—by a statement in answer to one or two of my questions, and prevent a great deal of the anxiety. It is, therefore, my duty, in my view, to impress that upon them.
The hon. Gentleman asks what was our policy. It was perfectly plain in our manifesto, which I am sure the hon. Gentleman, before deciding how to cast his vote, studied, and we do not abandon, or add one word to, it. Indeed, I shall refer to one part of it in a moment, reverting to the order of my speech. The question I leave to the right hon. Gentleman is the level of rents. Can he help up about that?
Then there is the special problem of London. I assume that the Minister will not take final decisions about London till he has had the report of the Milner Holland Committee. I shall be interested to know—I believe that that report is very nearly ready—when we are to see it. On that—I am always willing to oblige the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman)—we did say in our manifesto:Additional safeguards for tenants will be provided if shown to be necessary by the inquiry into rented housing in London.I have nothing to add to that or to subtract from that, but I would say this on the problem of London. The problems of this prosperous, crowded capital are, at any rate in degree, special, and I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East was right to appoint the Milner Holland Committee, and that the right hon. Gentleman will be grateful to him for having done that. I am sure that we want to see its Report as soon as possible. What the remedy will be, it will be easier to judge in the light of that Report, although a good deal of the evidence is that in the case of a minority of landlords who have indulged in malpractices, the most common malpractice, the introduction of unsuitable tenants, has been mainly in respect of premises still controlled, which seems to argue that the mere reimposition of control, taken by itself, is not likely to help.
860 What about house purchase? There is nothing in the Gracious Speech about a special rate of interest for house purchasers, whether 3 per cent., 4 per cent., or any other rate. It figures in the election address of the right hon. Gentleman the First Secretary; it does not figure in the Gracious Speech. Nor does it figure in this debate. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can tell us whether the Government are going ahead on that, or whether it is another electoral gimmick to be discarded once its purpose has been served.
A more serious proposal in the Gracious Speech, although a very vague one, indeed, is that for a land commission. The words used are of studied ambiguity:… they will establish as rapidly as possible a Crown Lands Commission with wide powers to acquire land for the community …At some time—and here, again, there is urgency in this, for a reason on which I shall enlarge—we must be told what land. We must be told how it will be acquired—compulsorily or by voluntary agreement? What sort of land? When? During the General Election we were told that all land ripe for development would be so acquired.
The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Housing says, "Do not be so impatient," but he must know—I am sure that he does, with his responsibilities—that the steady and continued flow forward of land for building is essential to the continuance of the building programme on the present scale. If one interrupts that flow of land because of uncertainty as to the future, one can administer a check to the building programme. That is the urgency.
I must be clear about this. Nothing, not even the right hon. Gentleman, can prevent the building of 400,000 houses next year. They are mostly under construction, and they will be built—as a tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East. But what is happening is that people are seeking to bring forward land for development to support the housing programmes for 1966 and 1967, and it really is vital that they should not be deterred by uncertainty. The atmosphere created by the cancellation, without compensation, of planning permission in respect of London offices does not help, either, 861 as the right hon. Gentleman, I am sure, realises, and the procedures that are contemplated, as put forward at the election are very alarming.
The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of—I forget what it is called; is it Land and Natural Resources?—wrote a very full article called "Election Special" in the Architectural Review. If the Parliamentary Secretary was expressing the Labour Party's view—and the fact that he was subsequently appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the relevant Department points in that direction—an extraordinary procedure is contemplated. The right hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong, but, as I understand it, the idea is that someone who wants to develop land and build on it buys the land—either with planning permission, or subsequently gets it—and then, instead of going ahead and building, as under the present system, he has to negotiate with the Crown Lands Commission for it to buy the land from him, and he then takes a lease to have it back from the Commission.
If that is right then, whatever its merits, that is a procedure inevitably involving delay particularly when the Commission is being set up at a time when anybody familiar with these matters knows that there is a great shortage of land; and a very large bureaucracy is to be created. I must press on the Government that if they do not abandon this proposal, which would be best, or, as a second best, give us the details quickly, the right hon. Gentleman will find that his housing programme in 1966 will look a pathetic contrast with that of my right hon. Friend in the last few years.
It may be that some of these fears are exaggerated. There is the old saying, "omne ignotum pro magnifico", which, for the benefit of Wykehamists on the benches opposite, I shall translate as, "The don't-knows generally vote Liberal". It may be that all the right hon. Gentleman contemplates now that the election is over is a purchasing body that will acquire by voluntary treaty land required for large-scale public demands—rather on the lines of what my right hon. Friend forecast for his large-scale developments under the South-East Study. It may be that that is all that is intended. If that is so 862 then, for heaven's sake, let us be told, because if the intention really is to set up this large body to acquire all land brought forward for development and then to negotiate its sale, it will have a very serious effect on housing.
We are told that the purpose is to make houses cheaper. But will it? The price of a house today is determined by the law of supply and demand; by the very powerful demand that our prosperous society is exercising upon a large and rising, but still insufficient, supply. If, by interposing this body, by interposing delay in the flow forward of land for development, the number of houses built is not increased but reduced then, inescapably, the cost of a house will rise, not fall. That is why I am—I accept the right hon. Gentleman's word—impatient about this. The Government having taken responsibility for bringing this forward, the Government having taken it upon themselves to interpose this threat between the supplier of land and the user of land, it is their duty to make clear precisely what it is they intend to do.
I add two further comments on the proposal. It means, of course, the end of freehold in this country—at any rate, in regard to new buildings. It is for the Minister to tell me if I am wrong but, as I understand it, the individual having a house will only own the land thereunder, subject to the overriding right of the Commission to have that land when his house is pulled down or even rebuilt. Indeed, the horrible word "Crownhold" has been coined to cover this abortion of our property law. It is a little odd that, at the very moment when this proposal is put forward—in an immediately adjoining passage in the Gracious Speech—there should be put forward the proposal for the abolition of leaseholds. We want details of these proposals, and I hope that the Government will think again about this Crown Lands Commission.
Let me quote to them what was said by the Economist which, after what one might call an agonising reappraisal, finally came to the decision to advise its readers to vote in favour of the party opposite. The Economist said:An indefensible feature of Labour's policy is its scheme to set up a land commission which will nationalise land on which building or rebuilding is to take place. It has now 863 been reconfirmed that a Bill to establish this will be introduced in the first Session of a Labour Parliament, possibly, therefore, in six and a half weeks' time, although every intelligent Labour politician must know in his heart that this election gimmick would make land offered for new building both scarcer and more expensive.The Prime Minister began his final broadcast of the election campaign with the observation:The election is about the standing of Britain in the world.He was right. I wonder whether any outside observer thinks that Britain's standing in the world is helped by dividing further, as the Government by the proposals set out in the Gracious Speech are dividing further, an already divided nation and are seeking to use a derisory majority to force through Socialist Measures rejected by more than half the electorate?
I wonder whether the cynical attitude shown by the Minister of Aviation to an agreement made with another Power helps our standing in the world. I wonder whether the remarks of the noble Lord the Minister of State at the Foreign Office about this country's international standing helped that standing.
The Government have in all respects but one begun badly. In one direction they have made good progress. Only a quarter of the 100 days has gone, but they are well on the way to Waterloo.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Douglas Houghton)
This is an impudent Amendment, moved by the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter) in an impudent speech. I was glad to hear him ackowledge, towards the end of his speech, that the General Election is over. Hon. and right hon. Members opposite lost it and they must reconcile themselves to the fact. If we are not exactly the masters now, we are the Government now and we certainly propose to carry out our programme to the best of our ability.
Nine-tenths of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was a running interrogatory, asking questions which could be answered only by making Second Reading speeches on half a dozen Government Bills and this is not a suitable occasion on which to do that. [An HON. MEMBER: 864 "You do not know the answers."] Hon. and right hon. Members were in office for 13½ years and we have been in office for exactly three weeks. No reasonable hon. Member opposite would expect to have the full deployment of our policies and our Measures in detail within the scope of the debate on the Gracious Speech.
The right hon. Gentleman made an important reference to the end of dynasties. He probably forgets that on 1st November, 1960, Mr. Maurice Macmillan, then the hon. Member for Halifax, moving the Loyal Address rose to declare himself as "the back bench Member" of his family. At least my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) was not in that position the other day. He had no similar acknowledgement to make. The right hon. Gentleman has asked for the cost of our proposals. He has been anticipating by one day the financial statement to be made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Then the truth about the economic position will be told.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
This is important. Do I follow from what the right hon. Gentleman has said that his right hon. Friend will tomorrow tell us the full additional cost—[HON. MEMBERS: "Wait for it."]—in the current year of the proposals contained in the Gracious Speech?
§ Mr. Houghton
I cannot anticipate what my right hon. Friend will say, nor can the right hon. Gentleman. He must wait for it. There are only a few hours to go; even his ebullience and impatience can surely be restrained for another day. Talking of costs and of the financial situation, the House will probably recall the further disclosure made of our financial position by my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General this afternoon. There were further secrets withheld from the public by the previous Administration. Failure to provide for the return on capital investment in order to provide for further reinvestment by the Post Office obviously puts development in the Post Office in serious jeopardy and impairs the whole financial structure of its activities.
If the right hon. Gentleman wants to know whether we are going to make some economies, he should note that at 865 least my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has put the Chancellor of the Duchy to work and has not filled the post by the chairman of the party.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the statement made by the Postmaster-General. I should have thought that even he would have recognised that in the few months that have passed that was blowing up figures to an unwarranted extent. When he was cross-examined it was made clear that the net figure was £8 million and he blew it up to some fictitious £120 million for purely electoral reasons.
§ Mr. Houghton
The statement made by my right hon. Friend is in the recollection of the House and there will be further opportunity of checking whether the figures were blown up or not. Surely no hon. Member opposite felt happy about the statement that my right hon. Friend had to make. It was not a statement to their credit having regard to the fact that this situation was not disclosed by hon. and right hon. Members opposite.
The right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames asked a number of questions about pensions. In the course of my remarks I shall be dealing with many matters relating to social security. I can say straight away that war pensions are within the scope of the proposals we shall have to make. The right hon. Gentleman referred to political contributions made by companies. It seemed to me that he was not so much against the requirement of disclosure of political contributions; what he seemed to object to was the reference in the Gracious Speech to the fact that we are going to do something about it. I could not see the grounds for his complaint.
In regard to offices in the South-East a statement was made by my right hon. Friend the First Secretary to the Treasury a few days ago. There will be full opportunities for going into all the important matters of compensation, planning permission, the issue of office development certificates and the rest, which I admit are of great importance and some urgency. But at least steps have been taken to check the growth in the South-East which, if permitted to continue, would have serious social and economic consequences. There is 866 already so much in the pipeline of office development in the South-East that some check had to be put on it at once and that is what the First Secretary has done.
As to rent control, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that further information regarding the scope of our proposals will be available in a matter of days. Here again, we recognise the urgency of stating as clearly as possible, and as early as possible, what we intend to do. The Minister of Housing and Local Government has lost no time in applying his mind to the practical measures we are to take. I again emphasise that we have been working at a terrific pace during the last three weeks in order to bring these important measures to the House and to the country without any avoidable delay. Similarly, on matters of house purchase and the Land Commission, statements will be made as early as possible.
§ Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)
Is that all that the right hon. Member is going to say about the Land Commission? Cannot he say whether he is going to take over all land which is brought forward for development?
§ Mr. Houghton
It is all that I am saying today. There is a tomorrow. There is a day after tomorrow. The hon. Gentleman must give the Government an opportunity of bringing forward their Measures in suitable order and with reasonable dispatch. I do not think that any reasonable hon. Member can press this afternoon for a full statement on many of the important matters that are raised in the course of the debate, unless, of course, hon. Gentlemen wish to sit there for the rest of the day and have a string of Ministers come to the Dispatch Box to make their statements, which, I am sure, would not be for the convenience of the House.
I turn to the part of the Gracious Speech which refers to social security and National Insurance benefits. I was pleased to notice that some approval was given to this in the editorial of the Spectator of Friday, 6th November. I understand that the views of the editor of the Spectator are not very far removed from those of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod). It was said in that 867 leading article, apropos of the Gracious Speech:Some parts of it are admirable. The section on Social Security—an immediate increase in benefits (and one hopes in contributions) plus a long-term review—is exactly the policy one would have liked to see in the Speech if the Tories had won. If here the Labour Party steals the Tory Party's clothes, it will be the reluctance of the Tories to accept the case for radical change in the Beveridge concept that will be to blame.That blame rests more heavily on the right hon. Member for Kingston-on-Thames than on any other Minister in the late Administration. He was Minister of Pensions and National Insurance for over 6½ years, so long, in fact, that it was strongly rumoured that he was hoping to be appointed Permanent Secretary. For 6½ years he pottered about and tinkered with the National Insurance and Industrial Injuries Schemes without imagination and without inspiration. The only monument to his term as Minister is the 1959 Act which introduced the graduated scheme. This was not a measure of social advance so much as a piece of financial jiggery-pokery. The truth is that the right hon. Gentleman turned the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance into a bucket shop. City men have been sent to prison for less.
§ Mr. Graham Page
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Is it correct for the right hon. Gentleman to accuse my right hon. Friend of creating what amounts to a set of criminals in his Department?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Dr. Horace King)
I take it that the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman were meant jocularly.
§ Mr. Houghton
They were certainly taken in better part by the right hon. Gentleman that by the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page), and I am content with that. But there is an underlying truth in what I have just said.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
If the right hon. Gentleman, jocularly or otherwise, has sought to introduce my tenure at the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance, will he not for fairness also add that when I left it the rates of National Insurance benefit were at a higher level than ever before and at least half as much again in real terms as the 868 level at which they were left by his right hon. Friends?
§ Mr. Houghton
The answer to that intervention is, yes, but they were not high enough. Anyhow, he erected the complex structure of the so-called graduated scheme, mainly, and probably solely, for the purpose of relieving the Exchequer of obligations which had been foreseen and fully anticipated in 1948. Contributions under the graduated scheme are at present running at about £260 million a year. The benefits paid out will not be much more than £1 million this year. The balance goes towards financing the flat-rate scheme, and even as recently as last year the right hon. Gentleman's successor simply could not leave this milch cow alone. By raising the upper limit of the wage band of the graduated scheme from £15 to £18, he raked in another £48 million in graduated contributions to help out with the flat-rate increase, and by 1980 it is estimated that the graduated contributions will reach £580 million a year and graduated benefits will not reach £100 million a year.
For the right hon. Gentleman to stand there as a moderniser is laughable. As a member of the Magic Circle—the other one—yes; as an improviser, yes; as a manipulator, yes; but as a moderniser, no. He failed to grasp his opportunities during his 6½ years' tenure of the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance. He failed to get the National Insurance scheme into the 1960s. What this Government will do is to heave the social security scheme into the 1970s.
My own part in this will be that of an overseer, guide and, if you will, philosopher as well. The hard work will be done by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, the Minister of Health and other Ministers who will have responsibility for some sections of the social services. I see that The Times newspaper said that I had got my work cut out. Of course I have. The whole Government have their work cut out after a decade of indolence and shillyshallying. But we have made a start which has impressed and encouraged the country, excited the Civil Service and shaken the Opposition.
869 We shall have to work very speedily to overtake the delay of our predecessors. Time is short because the need for modernisation is urgent. The pace of modernisation will be set largely by the willingness of workers to drop their defences and accept an incomes policy, and that will be assisted by a combination of more social security in all its aspects and greater equality.
I believe that in a highly industrialised society an increase in services which reduce inequality is essential to securing a rapid rate of growth. It is essential also to remove the rationing of medicines by the purse and to slash the queues for doctors' surgeries, hospital treatment, old people's homes and old people's houses. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have frequently referred to freedom of choice. What freedom and what choice is there in many branches of the social services today for nine-tenths of our people? They are queuing all the time. In one of the newspapers only this morning was an article entitled, "We are all so sick of waiting." If the mass of the people are to respond to the call for modernisation, which may mean a replacement of men by machines, we must dispel fear of unemployment, of sickness and of the hazards and misfortunes of life. Peace of mind is good for efficiency, and social security is intended to bring peace of mind.
What then has to be done? Firstly, what we said we would do—improve as soon as possible National Insurance and all associated benefits, including industrial injuries, and war pensions. Details of these proposed increases will be announced very soon. Secondly, the National Assistance scales will go up. An announcement about them will be made at the same time as the proposals on National Insurance will be outlined. Thirdly, prescription charges for medicines will be abolished. I hope that we shall have no complaints from hon. and right hon. Members opposite that we now have a Government who are going to fulfil their pledges.
I regret to say that there has been no time to mount our income guarantee scheme to which we give special importance and high priority. Hon. and right hon. Members will realise that we have not had the time to get this into legislative form. Therefore, for the time being 870 it will be necessary to give effect to improved social benefits along traditional lines, which means that National Assistance will be retained for the present but with improved scales to tide over until we can bring in the income guarantee. As I have said, an early announcement will be made on these matters.
As for prescription charges, those on medicines will go first. The remaining charges will be abolished later to restore the complete freedom of the National Health Service. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health will make an announcement soon about the exact charges to be abolished and the methods of doing it. These are the immediate steps which we are taking. Having settled them and having got the necessary legislation through the House, and having had other necessary steps taken, we can undertake the major review of social security promised in the Gracious Speech and can also set about modernising and developing the health and welfare services, also promised in the Gracious Speech.
One matter which we must look at especially and urgently is the question of wage-related sickness and unemployment benefit which was the subject of discussion between the T.U.C., the British Employers' Confederation and Ministers in the former Administration. Not much progress had been made but we shall take that up where it was left off and see what we can do.
On the longer-term reform of the scheme of National Insurance we must be clear about our aims. The Beveridge revolution spent itself some years ago. There was no need for right hon. Gentlemen opposite to wait 20 years after the Beveridge Report before forming different views on the future of social security in modern times. Poverty is unfortunately still to be found amongst many casualties of the affluent society but the modern concept of social security goes far beyond the sort of national minimum which the Webbs and Beveridge thought about.
The social services to me, and I believe to all Socialists, are a means of achieving greater equality. I have already said that, and I believe that this must govern our whole approach to the recasting of the social security scheme. All the social services are an expression of political and moral judgment and also of economic 871 judgment. Hon. Members opposite, and the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames, in particular, stressed the fact that we have now had 20 years of the Beveridge concept and that it was time to define its place in modern society, but they did not do it. What they have done mostly is to ask all the questions and supply none of the answers.
Even as far back as 1958 the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), then Lord Hailsham, was asking questions. He said:How many of the things we need ought to be provided by a prudent man out of his own weekly packet? How many by the taxation of his fellow citizens? How many of the ills of life ought to be dealt with on the insurance principle? To what extent should this be voluntary. State-aided or compulsory? How far should old age be self-financed in a society like ours? Should University education carry with it a right of universal free maintenance, free of any means test? These are all questions which must be seriously examined and publicly debated. Nothing of this kind is sacrosanct or immune from careful scrutiny.Why, then, has it not had it?
As far as I know, hon. and right hon. Members opposite have never as a party got further than to talk loosely about pensioners and others having a share of the prosperity of the nation. To us they are part of the nation—one nation. They should be fully integrated with the social and economic fabric of the whole nation. If we accept, as we do on these benches, that there should be some compulsory redistribution in our social services, the first question which we have to answer is, how much? How much, between income groups, between those who have family responsibilities and those who have not, between the young and the old, and between those at work and those unable to work?
Then there is the question of how much of the redistribution should be in money and how much should be free or in subsidised services in kind. We must have the right balance. One of my jobs in the Chancellery is to try and get the right balance and advise my colleagues on the outcome of my thoughts on the subject. Taxation comes into this too. What a hotchpotch we have of social security and taxation. We give family allowances and tax them. We give education grants and do not tax them, and at the same time to the same family we give reliefs for children. This needs 872 looking at. Indeed, the wider issue of the incidence of taxation on social benefits and contributions generally needs attention.
Is the contributory principle for social security outmoded? The answer is "No", not in this country with our traditions of the contributory principle. But the so-called insurance principle, so long an illusion, is outmoded. It has been purely of psychological advantage in the past and it has had no real substance ever since the present scheme was started. The fundamental change which I should like to see in social security would be social security as a right of citizenship with simple conditions replacing the bewildering, intricate, anomalous and unfair jungle of conditions which we have today.
In these days no scheme of social security can be satisfactory which fails, first, to provide benefits bearing some reasonable relationship to the actual amount of income lost by sickness, unemployment and on retirement, and so on, and, secondly, which fails to keep those benefits abreast of changing values or standards. This suggests to me that although contributions would be payable it would be quite unsound to relate benefits solely to the number or even the amounts of contributions actually paid.
Our concept for the 1970s is that all should pay according to their means and should receive in return an assurance of income-related social security. I shall not prejudge any of the important issues involved in the attainment of this ideal. All I say, putting it personally, is that I do not believe that that ideal can be attained unless we are all in the social security scheme.
The future rôle of the National Assistance Board and the work it does will be considered with great care and understanding. Whether the Board remains separate or is merged with the Ministry is largely a matter of administration and presentation.
A good deal of the work of the National Assistance Board will continue, though on a greatly diminished scale. But the National Assistance Board has built up a staff with a spirit of service in the care of people which must not be lost. It is the only national welfare service we have. In many cases, National Assistance Board officers are the only regular visitors 873 of thousands of lonely and elderly people. Is there here the foundation of an agency to which any citizen could turn in time of trouble or difficulty, of sickness, bereavement, incapacity or personal plight, a service which could call upon and co-ordinate other services to meet the needs of the particular situation—in two words, the citizen's friend? What is needed is someone to see our plight or situation as a whole and to stand by us in time of difficulty.
The social services must have their several channels of activity. There is no one place to find them all. Specialisation is unavoidable, and so is Departmental organisation. But, if they are to function properly, someone must see that they respond to the needs of the citizen, someone who can lift worry from his shoulders and do some of the running about.
There are various voluntary organisations which do splendid work, and the Government wish to encourage and strengthen them. We are giving attention to this now. But something may be needed beyond that to provide for conditions of distress, domestic difficulty or unhappiness which might be met more suitably by an officer with the duty and the power to act and bring together what remedies are available. I leave that vision there for the moment.
The House will remember that, last July, the then Minister of Pensions and National Insurance decided to appoint a committee to go into the oft debated question as to how many persons entitled to National Assistance are not applying for it. How big is this problem? Various estimates have been made, and some scepticism has been expressed by former Ministers about the numbers who are not availing themselves of National Assistance because of some mental or other inhibition against doing so. This survey is now being undertaken, and detailed arrangements for a fairly widespread pilot inquiry are now being made. They are being worked out in consultation with two expert advisers from the universities, Professor D. C. Marsh, Professor of Social Science at Nottingham University, and Mr. A. R. Ilersic, Reader in Economic and Social Statistics at Bedford College, University of London.
§ Mr. Norman Cole (Bedfordshire, South)
Is it the fact—if it is not, will 874 the right hon. Gentleman arrange that it be done—that the inquiry will take into consideration the possible benefit of changing the name "National Assistance", as I suggested in the House some months ago?
§ Mr. Houghton
I believe that not to be within the terms of reference of the inquiry, which will be limited to ascertaining as far as possible the facts about the number of people who would be entitled to National Assistance if they applied but who are not applying.
I turn now to the physical side of the social services, the Health Service, homes, hospitals, home helps, domiciliary services, and the rest. Here, we have deficiencies and shortages which, in my humble judgment, are a reproach to the nation. They show that we have not got our values right, and the former Administration did far to little to get them right. Doctors, nurses, midwives, the whole range of workers in these services, are undervalued and, in our opinion, should be given a higher place in the nation's esteem and the rewards given by the public for their essential contribution. How we exploit the nobility of character and the spirit of healing and humanity of those to whom we quickly turn in time of trouble and anxiety.
Do we realise how much we used to depend upon the services of spinsters? In many cases, the hospital service was dependent upon nurses who remained nurses and single woman for many years. Today, we have to provide in recruitment and training, replacement and the rest for married women. Staff shortage is at the root of much of the trouble in the Health Service and our other services now, and the Minister of Health will have statements to make to the House in the days to come about what is being done to strengthen points of weakness in staffing and to provide urgent remedies for shortage where these are required.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health will look again at the Hospital Plan published by the former Administration. The Government will examine deficiencies in the programme and look again at its priorities, giving proper attention to the needs of the elderly and the mentally ill and advancing as much as possible the provision of additional 875 maternity beds. Above all, they will bring a sense of realism to the estimates of costs, and they will see that it is not a plan for hospitals alone but is part of a comprehensive approach to meet the health needs of the nation. As the House realises, there is much to be done in this respect.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke about housing and buildings. It is probably not yet fully realised what are the limitations upon the construction industry today. They are rather more serious than was disclosed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and further statements will have to be made upon them by my right hon. Friends the Minister of Housing and Local Government and the Minister of Public Building and Works.
Against all this we have to contemplate the growth in total population of over 4 million, an increase of 9 per cent., within the next 10 years. In addition, the number of those aged 65 and over will increase by over 1 million in the next ten years, from 5.7 million to 6.8 million, a 19 per cent. increase. Another factor to be remembered in this connection is that about 60 per cent. of all old people over 65 are women. Widowhood is becoming a serious vocational and occupational risk of the married woman, and one sees the disparity between the expectation of life of women and of men. More than one-third of elderly people of both sexes are over 75. These are rather startling facts which social economists will have to face.
The economic inheritance from the Conservative Government is a grievous one, far worse than is thought, but the Government will not make the social services the first casualty of economic difficulty. The next few days will make this quite plain. We know—none better —that the sort of society we wish to see can be built only upon firm economic foundations, but the spirit of social service, of the good neighbour, of the family friend, lies in the hearts of the people and will not be impaired by economic difficulties. The Christian spirit must and will live even in adversity. The new Britain which we on these benches have envisaged and 876 worked for for so long, the New Jerusalem that we have sung about for years, may not be just round the corner but it is nearer than it was three weeks ago. Hon. and right hon. Members opposite will obstruct us at their peril, for we are now on our way.
§ 5.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward M. Taylor (Glasgow Cathcart)
This is my first attempt to speak in the House, and I ask the pardon of hon. Members for making my maiden contribution at such an early stage in the Session. Some senior Members may consider that the abundance of maiden speeches we have heard during the debate shows a lack of humility on the part of the younger generation, but I feel that the cause is not over-confidence but simply a fear, strengthened by the weekend Press, that circumstances might require us to present ourselves to the electorate again before we have had the chance properly to present ourselves to the House. I think that some other hon. Members elected for the first time may have experienced the same difficulty as I did when completing a form which asked whether my new employment was likely to be of a permanent nature.
May I further crave the indulgence of the House for making my speech with the handicap of a cold—which will ensure that even if hon. Members opposite do not hear pearls of wisdom they will, at least, receive plenty of germs. I say this in the full knowledge that with the narrower balance between the parties germs in this Session might well play a more effective political rôle than anything I may say today.
No new Member can attend or take part in the initial proceedings of a new Session without being fully conscious of the enormous responsibility which is placed on each one of us. For we do not come here to start anew—the basis of our British democracy has been established for us by our forefathers and by hon. Members past and present. Even to maintain the high standards and achievements of the past is no easy task, and yet the problems facing the world and this country require that we must seek to aim even higher.
I would refer to my predecessor, Sir John Henderson, who, I know, was well 877 liked in the House. He served as a Member for 18 years after giving over 20 years of continuous service in local government. The conscientious manner in which he applied himself to his duties and the faithful and attentive service which he gave to the electors of the constituency have established a very high standard which I will do my best to emulate in my membership of the House.
The constituency which I represent is the Cathcart Division of Glasgow. Glasgow, as hon. Members know, has 15 constituencies, and Cathcart is one of the only two which have returned a Unionist Member. It is a matter for the individual judgment of hon. Members as to whether this situation reflects the general wisdom of the people of Glasgow or the particular political sense of the electors of Cathcart and Hillhead.
Apart from politics, Cathcart is rather a unique constituency. It contains some of Glasgow's most beautiful public parks—Linn, Queen's Park and Cathkin Braes—the finest football stadium in the country, Hampden Park, perhaps the biggest municipal housing scheme in Western Europe, Castlemilk, and one of the world's outstanding engineering works, that of Messrs. G. and J. Weir. It is a historic place, because in the heart of the constituency lies the site of the battle of Langside, which decided the fate of Mary Queen of Scots.
Cathcart, although merged with Glasgow geographically and socially, retained its municipal independence until early in the century when it was "taken in" by the City of Glasgow, in perhaps more ways than one. I know that the electors of Cathcart and of Glasgow are vitally interested in the contents of the Gracious Speech and I would like to comment briefly on the section which states that the Government intend to promote reforms in taxation and, in particular, to bring about better arrangements for the modernisation of local government finance.
I think that most hon. Members would agree that the rating system is, in principle and in practice, unsatisfactory in many respects. And the dissatisfaction of the system has been aggravated by the ever-increasing burden of local rates. For example, in Glasgow the average man, woman and child has to pay well 878 over £25 per head a year in local rates, and this means an annual burden for the average family of £100 which must be paid directly or indirectly.
The principal objection to the rating system is that it is not levied either according to ability to pay or to the use which people make of local government services. There appears to be no justification for a system which imposes the same burden on a widow living on a small fixed income as on a neighbouring family which may have three or four wage earners.
Apart from that, the unequal incidence of rates throughout the country produces serious problems. Some areas have a high burden per head of population which is about double the burden elsewhere, and the tragedy is that areas with high unemployment are often the ones that have a relatively high rating burden and enormous municipal problems. Thus, those areas which need to attract industry are often hampered in their efforts by the disincentive of a high rates burden. This is considered by some to be a small problem, but for most industrialists it is becoming a more and more important one. Some Clyde shipyards, for example, pay £30,000 or £40,000 a year in rates, and an increase of 2s. in the rate poundage can mean an extra £1,000 on the cost of each ship.
A third factor which the Government will be bearing in mind is the ever-increasing volume of local government responsibility and expenditure, and, of course, this means that a large section of public spending is outwith the timely or effective control of national economic policy.
It is true that capital spending by local authorities can be influenced sharply, although not immediately, by Government policy; but revenue spending, which must now be over £2,000 million a year, cannot be restrained or boosted in a timely or effective manner by the present economic weapons.
For these and other obvious reasons, my constituents and many others trust that the reorganisation of local government finance will include a complete and comprehensive review of the rating system. I would like to say something about the possible alternative systems of collecting revenue, but I have no wish to burden the House unduly and would 879 merely say that I hope to have the opportunity of speaking further on this subject at an early date.
The promise in the Gracious Speech to promote economic development and modernisation in the under-employed areas leads me to the final point I wish to make. The hon. Members who have so ably represented our city in recent years have rightly stressed the urgency of our housing problems and the need to attract lighter and more flexible industries. These representations were vitally necessary because Glasgow's housing problem is immense and acute and our economic problem of overdependence on heavy industry is one which will require strong, speedy and effective action.
The emphasis on our problems has, however, created the impression in some quarters that Glasgow is a dull, derelict and depressed city with backward industries and an unenterprising population. This is certainly not the case. Our traditional industries, in particular our great shipyards, have spent many millions from their own resources in modernising their establishments. There has also been rationalisation, made necessary by surplus world shipbuilding capacity, but the yards which remain are vital, progressive and among the most modern in the world.
Orders are being obtained in face of international competition, and if British shipyards, which face the full blast of foreign competition unprotected by tariffs or quotas, are given assistance comparable to that given by competitor nations, they will face the future with even more confidence, particularly in view of the Clyde's good and improving labour relations.
The west of Scotland needs new and lighter industries, but we must never forget that just as vital is the prosperity of the Clyde shipyards on which around 80,000 families depend, directly or indirectly, for their livelihood. In these circumstances, an extension of the Shipbuilding Credit Scheme and the security and stability stemming from it would be welcomed as much as an entirely new industrial project.
Glasgow, like its industries, is often unfairly maligned. It is one of the few 880 cities which support five major theatres and one great orchestra. Its public parks, libraries and museums are world famous, and every district within its boundaries is within, at most, half an hour's journey of the beautiful surrounding countryside. Firms, administrative offices and even Government Departments need have no fears about moving to Glasgow, and they can be assured that every assistance in location, planning and essential services will be given by our unique Industrial Inquiries Centre which is situated appropriately beside the two basic pillars of any great city—the main line station and the Conservative Club.
I thank hon. Members for listening so patiently and apologise for taking so long.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mrs. Shirley Williams (Hitchin)
It gives me great pleasure indeed, Mr. Speaker, to be able to make my maiden speech before you. You have always been a good example of dedication, deep feeling and judgment in public service. I thank you for the opportunity to speak to this House. The House has heard many maiden speeches this week, and, therefore, mine lacks any virtue of novelty. I can only ask that the critical judgment which has been shown so effectively on both sides during the past week will be suspended for the few minutes that I shall keep the House.
I would add that my natural nervousness has been made greater, first, by hearing the extremely intelligent and confident speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor), secondly, by the thought that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) may suddenly appear from round the corner and inform me that I am breaking a Parliamentary rule which I do not know, and, thirdly, by the spectre presented by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, which was one of a House under such a strain that at the end of five years only 20 Lady Members would be left arguing with one another across the Floor.
The constituency which I have the honour to represent is one which in many ways is a microcosm of the new Britain. I pay tribute to my predecessor in the 881 House. He did not sit on my side of the House, but he was a hard-working Member and a very worthy opponent at the General Election.
My constituency, which, as I have said, is something of a microcosm of the new Britain, is named after a very charming market town, Hitchin, which is today being modernised by an energetic and imaginative council. It contains within its borders the new town of Stevenage, the first-born of the 1945 Labour Government's New Town Act, and a new town of which it was said only last week by a visiting Swedish delegation that they were green with envy when they saw it and lyrically enthusiastic about it.
My constituency also contains a town which is a unique social experiment, the town of Letchworth, which, owing to the wisdom of this House, is today the one town in Britain of which it can be said that its assets are held in trust for its citizens. I would commend the pattern of the Letchworth Garden City to my right hon. and hon. Friends when they come to consider the shape that the new towns and the renewed towns will take for the future, because I believe that this unique example of what might be called community ownership is one which would set a very useful example for the future of many other towns in the country.
My constituency also contains very many beautiful villages which still lack modern amenities, the kind of modern amenities that my right hon. Friends now intend to bring to them, and much lovely countryside that needs to be protected by a strong hand to hold the green belt.
I move from that to say a few words about the new towns themselves. The new towns are today run by corporations which are appointed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government. I am glad to see that my Government take the view that many other new towns should shortly be designated and that this is a programme which should be stretched ahead. But I believe that because my right hon. Friends have always taken the view that ultimately new towns should be governed by those who are representative of the inhabitants of them.
I might be able to commend to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing 882 and Local Government the appointment of increasing numbers of men and women representative of local authorities to those boards, and also the encouragement of joint committees between the corporations and the councils in as many appropriate fields as may be possible. I know that the knowledge and experience required for administering a new town are very great, but I believe that in this way we can gradually transfer control to a democratic body while giving those concerned the experience that they need in order to be able to administer effectively.
I would end by saying a few words about the kind of industry that exists in my constituency and in the constituencies of many other hon. Members. My constituency has in it what one might describe as the bell-wethers of the technological age, firms like the British Aircraft Corporation, International Computers and Tabulators, Hawker Siddeley and Taylor's Electronic Controls. Those of us who work in or represent such new industries know that the problem of insecurity is by no means over for them, that it exists but merely changes its shape and expression, and that one of the things required from any Government on modernisation is recognition that social and economic reforms are the twin of economic modernisation.
This is why I so much welcome the statement made today by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, because we shall not get economic progress—this is something which I commend to both sides of the House, but particularly to the other side—unless we can revolutionise the status of the industrial worker and give him the kind of security and treatment that his staff side always expect.
In addition to that, a great deal of care will have to be taken over the expenditure of public money on Government contracts on research and on development. I welcome the early announcement of the inquiry into the Concord by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation because it recognises that if a review is to take place, it is much better that it should take place at a time when the lost jobs and money can be minimised. But as this process of review of the expenditure of taxpayers' 883 money continues, so reorganisation and rationalisation are required in many industries which are dependent on Government money.
I commend, therefore, to my right hon. Friends the Minister for Technology and the Minister of Aviation what is now being done in the United States Department of Defence, faced with a very substantial cut in military expenditure on research and development over the next few years, and that is to advise firms in the aviation and electronic industries of various other types of work which would be available to them and for which they will get Government encouragement and support, and do so early enough so that the necessary reorganisation and retraining can be undertaken with the minimum upset to the workers in the firms.
Having said that, I want to say a final word about modern industry, and that is that its effects do not stop short at the shop floor. I happened last year to be visiting the United States and shall always remember something said in the Columbia University seminar on technical subjects. One of the complaints made was that a very serious problem was redundancy of first-class scientists and mathematicians only 10 or 15 years after they had taken their final degrees, the reason being that their skills had become obsolete, great as they were. Therefore, this threat is as much to the professional and technical men and women as it is to the workers on the shop floor.
Finally, I thank the House very much for the attention and kindness with which it has listened to me, and express the hope that perhaps I may expect equal kindness and attention on other occasions.
§ 5.37 p.m.
§ Mr. N. R. Wylie (Edinburgh, Pentlands)
If the hon. Lady the Member for Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams) was worried about making a maiden speech after what she described as the fluency of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M, Taylor), hon. Members will have an idea how I feel in making my maiden speech after the last two that we have heard.
Although as a new Member this is a moment in my life to which I have looked 884 forward for many years—and I should not like to bore the House by a recital of the number of times I have tried to get here—it is none the less with a feeling of humility that I crave the indulgence of the House to make my maiden speech. I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to do so, because I am sure that the ordeal becomes no less awe-inspiring and formidable the longer it is put off.
I represent the Pentlands division of the City of Edinburgh. I am sure it is a coincidence that both maiden speakers on this side of the House have been Scotsmen. No doubt that will be put right shortly. Pentlands is an usual constituency, territorially speaking, in that more than half its area is taken up by open countryside. I refer, of course, to the impressive range of hills from which its name is derived.
I follow an hon. Member who represented the constituency ever since its formation. I refer to Lord John Hope, as he then was and by which name I think he is still best known. He served in the House for close on 20 years, and it would be appropriate if I were to thank him now for all the work that he did during these years on behalf of those whom it is now my privilege to represent.
As a Member of the Scottish Bar, I have, of course, a special interest in the whole question of law reform, particularly where it affects Scotland. There is always room for law reform in any developing society and our own is no exception. We live in a period of rapid social and economic change and it is in that context that the need for law reform invariably arises. Accordingly, I welcome the suggestion in the Gracious Speech that emphasis will be laid on law reform, because a great deal of exceedingly useful work could be done by this Parliament in that way. It would also have the advantage, if it be an advantage, of not being quite as contentious as some of the other matters to which our attention is to be drawn.
My first concern, however, is that Scotland should have its full share in this process and that we should not tail along, as it were, in the wake of law reform in England. The two systems are entirely separate and quite distinct. They spring from different roots and 885 have followed their own distinctive lines of development. I do not know, and I have no wish to anticipate, what arrangements the Government have in mind, although I note in the Gracious Speech that there is a reference to Law Commissioners, and a Minister without Portfolio has already been appointed whose main concern, I understand, will be law reform. However, I am bound to point out—and I doubt if this will be disputed—that the initiative for reform of Scots law must come from Scottish sources and Scottish Ministers. Moreover, whatever arrangements may be deemed necessary or advisable in England—about which I am not qualified to speak—it does not necessarily follow that a repetition of those arrangements in Scotland would meet our requirements.
For many years we in Scotland have had a powerfully constituted Law Reform Committee. It was set up by the Conservative Government about 10 years ago and, under the chairmanship first of Lord Walker and latterly of Lord Kissen, it has done a tremendous amount of exceedingly useful work on law reform in Scotland. That is precisely the kind of body most suited to our requirements. The members of the Committee have been drawn from the Bench—both the Supreme Court and the sheriff courts—and from practising members of the Bar and the solicitors' branch. It also includes an element of academic representation. Accordingly, it is widely based and is a body eminently suited to control or influence the reform of the law with which its members are working in daily contact.
I hope that, when the question of the machinery of law reform comes to be considered, no radical change in the administration of our machinery in Scotland will take place. I do not suggest that it is incapable of improvement. On the contrary, there are improvements which could be made. I think that the terms of reference of the Committee could be widened. I think that it could usefully consider remits from professional bodies whose activities impinge on law as well as remits from the Lord Advocate, whose remits are the only ones it can at present consider.
Again, if the volume of law reform is to increase, as I believe that it may, it 886 is essential that the Committee should have the assistance of a permanent secretariat located in Edinburgh whose duty would be not only to assist on the secretariat side of its labours but also to be a channel through which suggestions and representations with regard to law reform could reach it from other bodies.
I do not wish to be critical of the present arrangement or, in particular, of the Parliamentary draftsman who at present acts as secretary of the Committee. But in future, if we are to have a great deal of law reform, which I hope we will, that system will have to be superseded by something more on the lines I have indicated.
While I do not suggest that the appointment of an additional legally qualified Scottish Minister is called for—I do not think it necessary—I do suggest, with the greatest respect, that it would be most desirable if one or other of the Scottish Law Officers found his way into this House. I know perfectly well that it is easier to say that than to bring it about. The last Administration had their own difficulties in this question. But I also know, from my limited experience, that it is not satisfactory for a Law Officer of the Crown not to have a voice in the House of Commons.
If we are to embark on a programme of law reform which I would welcome, it is more essential than ever in these circumstances that either the Lord Advocate or the Solicitor-General for Scotland should become a Member of this House. I hope and trust that the Government will not be unmindful of Scotland's legitimate interests here—I am not making a partisan point; it is a serious matter—and that they will neglect no opportunity to have the present position corrected.
I know that today there is pressure on Parliamentary time. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to speak in this way, and I am much obliged to right hon. and hon. Members for the courtesy with which they have listened to what I have had to say.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ Mrs. Anne Kerr (Rochester and Chatham)
I am grateful for the opportunity to address the House for the first time and I hope that the kindness and sympathy traditionally extended to new Members will also be extended to me in this ordeal.
887 Taking my cue from the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover), who said yesterday that he considered that he was the biggest mug ever invented for having made a non-controversial maiden speech, may I say that I intend to stray later in my remarks into the deep waters of controversy.
First, however, I want to say that I am here as the very proud Member for Rochester and Chatham. I feel it to be a great honour to represent the people of the cathedral City of Rochester and the dockyard town of Chatham. I am very well aware of the tremendous responsibilities which face me in the years ahead, in which I believe I shall be working with, and for, them.
I welcome the Gracious Speech and would particularly draw attention to the increased social security mentioned in it. I hope very much that our older people in particular will have some help before Christmas. I have worked in local government for more than six years and I am all too well aware of the desperate straits in which some of our older people live, particularly those existing on small fixed incomes. I would like to see that they have a good meal and a fire for Christmas.
I welcome the vigorous housing policy mentioned in the Gracious Speech. In my constituency there are 10,000 dwellings in which there is either no piped hot water, and/or no fixed baths and/or no indoor lavatory. These are the kind of conditions which are not uncommon in our industrial towns, but which are pronounced in my constituency, and I welcome any steps which can be taken towards alleviating the housing suffering of our people throughout the country.
I also welcome the reference in the Gracious Speech to more vigorous support for the United Nations, in its vital rôle of freeing the world from the threat of war. I speak now as a wartime ex-Service woman. Those of my generation are possibly more aware of the horrors of the last war, and the war before that, and of any future war than some of those who are a shade younger, although the very young seem to understand exceptionally well the desperate ravages which any nuclear or germ war might bring to the future of our little planet. I ask 888 the Government to consider renaming the Foreign Secretary the "Minister for Peace", in order to denote that we are intent on taking an entirely fresh step forward in our international relationships.
I would also ask—and now use a phrase commonly used by hon. Members opposite—that the taxpayers' money should be spent on things such as student exchanges; and I speak now as a housewife. In 1958, I went to Geneva with a deputation of British women, at the very beginning of the nuclear test ban talks. Within 24 hours of arriving, I was privileged to speak to the then Mr. David Ormsby-Gore, who was representing Her Majesty's Government at the time. I mentioned to him that the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) had said a few months earlier that there should be more student exchanges. Mr. Ormsby-Gore agreed with me and said that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was right, but that the Treasury and the taxpayers would not pay.
I question that. I believe that the taxpayers, especially those who appreciate the horrors of war and most certainly the women, would pay, and that they want more student exchanges and more money to be spent on the teaching of world civics in our schools; and that they want the planning of the redeployment of those now engaged in the defence industries so that in good time they may know what alternatives there are. I believe, too, that they want the banning of war toys which condition our children to the acceptance of war as normal.
Although my constituency is now heavily dependent on the construction and planning of armaments, I believe that the people there understand what I have been trying to say to them. It is that they, having experienced the ravages of war, perhaps to a greater degree than any other comparable area of Britain, also want the taxpayers' money to be spent on the positive building up of peace.
If those of us of the younger generation of politicians will press on with this endeavour, by the end of the century we can persuade not only our own people, but others throughout the world, that, by the harnessing of science to political endeavour, we can abolish these age-old enemies of mankind, disease, homelessness and war itself. I hope very much 889 to be here 36 years from now, at the beginning of the next century, still plugging away, and that many of my contemporaries will be with me to greet the day when it dawns.
§ 5.56 p.m.
§ Sir Anthony Meyer (Eton and Slough)
Like the hon. Member for Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams), I should like to say how very glad I am to make my maiden speech, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, because this gives me the opportunity to thank you for the very great personal kindness which you have always shown to me.
I am told that it is customary to begin a maiden speech by paying tribute to one's predecessor. I am rather sorry that that is so, because I do not want hon. Members to think that in paying my tribute to Mr. Fenner Brockway I am doing so simply because it is expected of me. I know that Mr. Brockway was not always an uncontroversial figure, but I assure hon. Members that in Eton and Slough he was widely loved, loved not only for the way in which he spent himself for his constituents but also because, over and above being a great constituency Member, he was a citizen of the world, not always a very orderly citizen and sometimes perhaps rather unwise, but always conscious of his duty to humanity at large and to suffering humanity in particular.
I have been exceptionally lucky in being chosen to be the Member for Eton and Slough, even if I was only just chosen.
There may be hon. Members for whom the name "Slough" conjures up only visions of frustrating traffic jams, but I am glad to say that my right hon. Friend the Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples) managed to put an end to all that about two years ago. Other hon. Members will recall the very uncharitable verse of Mr. John Betjeman:Come gentle bombs and rain on Slough,It is not fit for humans now.I assure hon. Members that whatever the physical shortcoming of Slough—and its council has some very attractive plans for effecting drastic improvements—it is a town of very fine humans.
In many ways, Slough is a monument to private enterprise, the private enterprise of those who started its great trading estate and community centre, and the 890 enterprise of the workers who came from South Wales and Scotland in the 1920s and 1930s to take the great opportunities of employment which Slough offered at that time. Of course, Slough has its problems. It has problems of transport, partly those which many other towns face with our totally inadequate urban transport system, but also a particular problem in that the boundary of the London Transport area runs smack through the middle of the town, so that one cannot take a bus from one end of the town to the other.
It has its housing problems, and serious and tragic these sometimes are. In a sense, the housing problems of Slough are quite insoluble, because Slough is hemmed in by the green belt and there is simply not room for all the people who have employment there. I would like to assure the Government of my support for any measures which they take to bring the supply of homes and jobs into better local balance.
Slough, too, has its fair share of the problems caused by large-scale Commonwealth immigration. On the whole, we have been pretty successful in Slough in smoothing over the difficulties which arise in this way, but they are only smoothed over. The problems are still there and they have to be tackled. I am proud of the fact that Slough is about to make an important contribution towards working out a solution for the difficulties, because our Council of Social Service is about to publish a carefully prepared study in depth of the relations between immigrants and the host community. This will provide us with facts, and I suggest that facts are very badly needed for a consideration of this problem.
But it is not on the domestic problems of Slough that I want to talk this afternoon but on the Amendment to the Address before us, and I shall try to do so as uncontroversially as possible.
I was very glad to see the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) and the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Diamond) taking their seats on the Government Front Bench. I had the privilege of working closely with them in support of the great enterprise with which the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) will always be associated.
891 In that great enterprise there were political ideals. There was what the right hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter) so eloquently called the vision of nations living together in a new and better way. That is not the subject of this debate; but I suggest that the economic ideas which animated those who supported the Common Market are relevant to what we are talking about this afternoon.
The economic idea behind the Common Market was that if Britain was really to modernise herself she needs the spur of unrestricted competition and the cross-fertilisation of ideas which can come only when barriers to trade, barriers to investment and barriers to setting up businesses across frontiers are swept away. She needs a large home market which alone can support industry on the modern scale.
Unfortunately, since the breakdown of the Brussels negotiations this country seems to have been turning in on itself. The charge of little Englandism is fairly freely flung across the Floor of the House. I should like to think that my party is less guilty of this than the party opposite. There is a tendency for all of us to say of our economy, and of our institutions, like Touchstone,An ill-favoured thing but mine ownand to be rather proud of the fact.
It seems a pity that in the election campaign which we have just survived no consistent attempt was made to bring home to people what modernisation is going to mean to them in concrete terms. If modernisation was presented to the people at all, it was presented as something that one could get by kicking the other chap in the teeth, whether the other chap was the boss or the trade unionist.
Nobody really made any consistent attempt to bring home to people the fact that modernisation means that people will get hurt. They will get hurt because they will have to change their jobs, their homes and their habits, and all the inconveniences and discomforts will come first and the benefits second. Because no attempt has been made to explain all this to people, we still have opposition even to the tiny changes which are long overdue, tiny changes like decimal coinage, or decimal weights and measures, and the 24-hour clock. We even had a gentleman 892 writing to The Times the other day complaining that the Channel Tunnel represented a threat to our defences.
I am sure that the Government are sincere when they say that there are no protectionist motives behind their 15 per cent. charge on imports, but the trouble is that this is very soon going to build up vested interests fighting to keep these charges; because new home markets will have been opened up for hitherto uncompetitive goods, behind this protective wall, and many jobs will come to depend on the maintenance of this protection.
I was glad to read in the Gracious Speech that the Government will initiatelonger-term structural changes in our economy".but there are very narrow limits to what a democratic Government can achieve in this way. And in a climate of protectionism, worse still in a climate of expectation of continuing protectionism, it will be almost impossible for the Government to achieve any really meaningful changes in structure, especially if the impression gets about, as it is beginning to do, that the first priority is the redistribution of what we already have, and that we can put everything right ourselves just by sharing things out more fairly without regard to what is happening in the rest of the world.
I very much hope that the Government's narrow majority does not mean that for the next few months we are going to live in an atmosphere of a General Election because, as the last election showed, it will mean that the real issues will get buried. I hope that we shall discuss these real issues. There is plenty of room for party differences as to how best to face them, but what I hope we shall avoid above all is a party truce to bury the issues that really matter.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ Mr. David Ensor (Bury and Radcliffe)
It is with great humility that I rise to address the House on this occasion because, however long one has been in public life, the first occasion on which one has to address the House must be something of an unnerving experience, and I beg the indulgence of the House if I transgress in any way.
During the last few days, while the House has been debating the Gracious 893 Speech, we have heard a lot about scientists, engineers, technicians, and the brain drain. What we have not heard very much about are people and human beings. I very much doubt whether the people in the country, and hon. Members in this House, realise that at the moment we have a vast social problem on our hands in the form of juvenile delinquency. I therefore welcome the statement in the Gracious Speech that the Government propose to introduce new measures on penal reform, new measures for the prevention of crime and for the treatment of convicted persons.
Many years of my practice were spent in the criminal courts. It was because I realised what the situation was after the last war that I made a special study of this subject. It is one of the tragedies of war that the aftermath always provides an increase in crime. If one looks back at history, one sees that this happened after every major war. The only difference is that on this occasion it has continued to go up, whereas on other occasions it went down.
I feel that we have not done what we ought to have done in the last few years to deal with this appalling problem. We are losing young people, our future technicians, our future engineers and our future scientists, into prison, and into a life of misery and degradation, because we have not tackled this subject as we ought to have done. I do not think it is realised by hon. and right hon. Members—I am quite certain it is not realised by the general population of this country—that for the last few years we have got to the terrible situation that over 1¼ million of our citizens are being convicted of crimes every year. I do not think we realise the significance of some of the appalling percentage increases in crime that have occurred since 1938. Some have risen to over 700 per cent. One of the most alarming increases has been in crimes of violence—notably sexual offences, violence and offences dealing with drink—by persons under the age of 23.
Because of that situation, and because of the appalling figures, I decided two years ago to go abroad to see whether in other countries they had the same sort of problem that we have, and, if so, what they were doing about it. I went to the Soviet Union. Having gone there I went—if I may say so—to the other 894 extreme, to Spain. I went to Scandinavia, to France, to Belgium and to Holland. There was the inescapable fact that wherever I went people were realising that this was a grave social problem, that they had a problem. They were spending vast sums of money in endeavouring to deal with the situation and, generally speaking, they were getting results. Generally speaking, throughout Europe, as a result of dealing with this situation, the figures were going down.
When I was in Sweden, where there is an appalling problem, I was told that had they not adopted these new methods their figures would have been vastly worse than they are now. We are doing very little. I went to trials and to juvenile courts. I went to the penal laboratory in Sweden. I talked with one who is probably the greatest forensic scientist in the world, Dr. Georg Stürup. I went to youth prisons in Holland. What they are trying to do is to prevent crime among young people, to see that young people do not get into trouble at a very early age. I think that is something which we should study very closely.
There are child welfare boards—the name varies in different countries but the effect is the same. The board knows when little Tommy is getting into mischief and may well get into further trouble if something is not done. The board provides advice for the parents, who may be feckless, drunks or just incompetent. Advice is provided in the first instance. If it is not taken, the board provides guardianship. If that does not work, there are other methods which are put into operation at a later date. I suggest that some of these things being done effectively in Europe ought to be looked into by us, if we are to make some attempt to stop this appalling rise in delinquency.
It is not only a question of mother and father. It is not only a question of other people, because, if I may say so with respect, we have to look generally at our administration of justice. I believe that the administration of justice in this country requires overhauling. I believe that it is out of date. I believe that it is creaking badly. I do not think any hon. Member would deny that over the last few years there has been a number of cases which have left us with a rather nasty taste in the mouth. I agree that 895 my profession is not exactly rapid in its reforms, but I believe the time has come when we should have a complete overhaul of the whole system.
I have the honour to represent the Lancashire constituency of Bury and Radcliffe. I believe that Lancashire is fortunate in having an extremely efficient system of justice because, quite recently, we introduced the two Crown Courts at Manchester and Liverpool. This has relieved the pressure on judges and upon everyone else concerned with the administration of justice. I believe that we ought to look to the provision of more Crown Courts in more of our great capital cities—Birmingham, Newcastle and so on. The tragedy is that everyone concerned with the administration of justice is grossly overworked. There is no question about it. Having had experience as a prosecuting solicitor and a clerk at the London Sessions I know only too well that this is a fact.
There is another aspect which we should examine, whether the present system of lay justices of the peace is working as adequately as it should. May I remind hon. Members that if I am sued for a £10 debt, my case is tried by a highly competent and trained county court judge; but if I am charged with an offence for which, on being found guilty, I could go to prison for six months, my case is tried by an amateur. That is a situation which I feel ought to be looked into.
One of the tragedies at present in the administration of justice is the irresponsibility of juries. While, of course, every hon. Member will agree that it is vitally important that the innocent should be protected, it is also important that the guilty should be convicted. That is something which is not happening at the present time. I am reminded of a conversation I had some years ago with one of our greatest criminal judges, the late Mr. Justice Humphreys. When I raised with him the question of this strange reluctance on the part of juries to convict in certain classes of cases—normally sexual cases and serious motoring offences—he told me—and I believe it to be true, although it had a slightly amusing reference—"You must always remember with regard to a British jury that in this 896 sort of case half of them do not believe it ever could have happened, and the other half do it themselves."
I am most grateful for this opportunity to address this hon. House. I feel most earnestly that the whole system of justice in this country and our penal reform, the treatment of offenders and the prevention of crime should be regarded as a matter of grave social justice and inquired into at the earliest possible moment.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd (Sutton Coldfield)
Although I made my own maiden speech in this House in 1931, I have never before had the pleasure—and the problem—of congratulating six maiden speakers at the same time. I feel sure that every hon. Member listened with the same pleasure and profit as I did to those six maiden speeches. I found myself experiencing some humility and relearning a lesson that I think we in this House all learn—perhaps the six maiden speakers have begun to learn it today—and which it is hard to learn at the start, that not all the things worth saying are said on one's own side of the House.
I feel sure that the great and powerful City of Glasgow has a new and canny champion in my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) just as the new towns have a charming champion in the hon. Lady the Member for Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams), who so well understands the new social and industrial problems that they face. I admired greatly the expertise with which my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Wylie) explored the intricacies of the reform of Scottish law, but I do not propose to follow him into that subject.
We were delighted at the enthusiasm which the hon. Lady the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mrs. Anne Kerr) showed in desiring to expand the opportunities for a wider form of education. I was particularly interested in the realistic vision of new economic vistas which was put before the House by my hon. Friend the member for Eton and Slough (Sir A. Meyer).
I would also particularly like to congratulate the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. Ensor) in his enterprise of seeking out the causes of 897 one of our great social problems and the way in which he effectively stirred our social conscience in the House this afternoon.
I rise myself this afternoon to develop shortly to hon. Members a single theme bearing upon the modernisation of British industry. I wish to express misgivings at the way in which an incomes policy is being elevated into a kind of panacea for all our economic problems. I propose to develop my argument by practical illustrations from the Midlands and then by a more academic approach.
I think that we are all looking for a prosperous, progressive economy with a strong export base. In the Midlands we probably have, actually in being, the most prosperous and progressive industrial community in the country at the present time. Our industries are very successful exporters—but we do not have an incomes policy. Far from it, because the earnings of our Midland engineering workers are a good deal higher than those in the other industrial regions of the country. I am going to suggest to the House today a rigorous doctrine, namely, that where you have efficient industries in active competitive circumstances high wages can act as a powerful stimulant to increase productivity and that low wages are a positive recipe for industrial stagnation.
I remember discussing years ago, with the chairman of one of our greatest Midland engineering companies, the reason why he was not able to install in his own factories the thorough-going labour saving machinery that existed in the same industry in the United States. He said—very sadly, because, technologically, he was by temperament a very forward-looking man—that it could not be justified because wages were so much lower over here. Now let us look at it from the other end. I suppose that the first real big squeeze in the labour supply in Birmingham came in the boom of 1955. It reached an extraordinary point. There was said to be poaching of labour by employers, so keen were they to get extra workers, if necessary at an extra premium of wages. What was the result? Perhaps the biggest rush for the instalment of labour saving machinery that the city had ever seen.
Approaching this problem from a more analytical and academic level, there was recently published a most 898 interesting study of American and British technology in the nineteenth century by Dr. Habakkuk, Professor of Economic History at the University of Oxford. It set out to trace the reasons why the industrial leadership of the world had crossed the Atlantic during that century from this country to the United States and came to the conclusion that one of the important causes was the scarcity and high cost of labour in the United States as compared with this country. He says:The principal difference between America and England was not that the Americans were more inventive or better able to develop their inventions; it lay in the objects to which these abilities were devoted. British inventors in the nineteenth century were not preoccuped with labour saving for this was not primarily what the British economy required from its ingenious men.The reason was, of course, the large supply of relatively cheap labour. As time went on the contrast in the cost of labour between the two countries began to produce profound industrial differences, and I quote Dr. Habakkuk again:A large part of American industrial progress in the nineteenth century was due to the rapidity of technical advance in machine tools. Most of the general machine tools had been invented by British engineers between 1775 and 1850—boring machines, engine lathes, planers, shapers, steam hammers and standard taps and dies; and in trustworthy general purpose tools the English held their own up to and beyond the end of the nineteenth century. But the most important new machine tools, particularly the milling machines and turret lathes were developed in America …and, later, he gives instance after instance—which I must admit I find quite heartrending, but which I will spare the House—of British inventions in labour-saving devices which were not adopted in England, but were adopted industrially in America and had to be reintroduced into this country very often at a much later time when even the memory of the fact that they were British inventions had passed away.
I think that I have said enough to show why I distrust the long-term effects of an incomes policy. I do not deny that it is essential as a relatively short-term holding operation, but I believe that our main effort should be as much as possible towards a breakthrough in productivity and in achieving a permanently higher rate of growth.
That brings me straight to the question 899 of restrictive practices. Here, I must go on record as a strong supporter of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath), who courageously tackled resale price maintenance and who, we know, had in preparation a wider measure to deal with industrial restrictive practices. I must also fulfill, on the other hand, a pledge which I gave to an industrial worker in one of our big engineering works in Birmingham to put his point of view before the House of Commons. He asked me to see him during the election campaign. He was on nightwork and, therefore. I was able to see him in the afternoon at his house, which he was buying. He said that he was getting on well, that he had a good deal more to do in fitting out his house to have it as he wanted it and he added, rather significantly, that he did not have a car "yet".
What worried and, indeed, enraged him was the number of irresponsible strikes called by the shop stewards. He was all for what he called "proper strikes"—for example, if it were necessary to insist on tidiness in the shop in the interest of safety. What he found unbearable were the number of almost automatic strikes when there was any question of redeployment of labour for the purpose of increasing production. I asked him whether he was able to put his view frankly in the works, and he said, "yes". I then asked, "What proportion of the men are on your side in this matter and what proportion favour the attitude of the shop stewards?". He said, "It is about fifty-fifty".
I was deeply interested yesterday, as I dare say were other hon. Members, when my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) said of demarcation disputes in the shipbuilding industry, with which he had to deal as Minister of Labour, that, while they looked absurd from a distance, they did not look nearly so absurd when he came close to them. The reason, he said, was that they were based on fear. I accept that, and I also thought that it was very revealing that later in the same speech my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers) intervened and expressed the anxiety of some of the steelmasters about 900 investing in increased capacity because they were nervous of the danger of excess capacity. Here, again, we see fear operating and restraining people, this time on the employers' side from action which would assist in increasing productivity.
If, then, fear is, as I believe, one of the greatest enemies of increasing productivity, I draw the deduction that confidence is one of the greatest allies of faster economic growth. The men, of course, need confidence that they will not work themselves out of a job and that they will get a square deal. But the employers need confidence, too. This is especially important in the capital intensive industries, which we know so well in Birmingham and the Midlands, where I believe our national future lies, because big volume production is the essence of successful operation in those industries.
But real confidence, which is the only kind that matters, is a plant of slow growth. And it can easily be destroyed. This, I predict, will prove in the end the real challenge for this Government, but it is something which in the heady atmosphere of the first one 100 days they may easily forget.
§ 6.33 p.m.
§ Dr. M. S. Miller (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
"It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive." It is therefore with considerable trepidation that I rise to address the House, conscious, as I am, of the esteem and veneration in which it is held in all corners of the civilised world; conscious, as I am, of the very high standards which have been set by previous maiden speakers this afternoon, and conscious, as I am, of the very great honour which is mine in representing the people of Kelvingrove.
I pay tribute to my predecessor, who worked hard and well for the constituency during his term in the House. I pay tribute also to one of his predecessors, who was a member of my own profession and who had a long and honourable career.
This constituency of Kelvingrove is perhaps the very embodiment of the great City of Glasgow in which I was born, at whose ancient and revered university I studied and on whose council I have had the honour of serving for 14 years. Two of the boundaries of Kelvingrove are 901 formed by famous rivers of Scotland—the River Kelvin, the very mention of which conjures up splendid visions of outstanding scientific and technological achievement, and the River Clyde itself, the symbol of the very highest level of marine craftsmanship and skill.
It is a constituency, too, of culture, having within its boundaries the great Kelvingrove Art Galleries and Museum with the Burrell Collection and other priceless treasures well known all over the world. Other forms of art and culture are also well represented in the constituency since most of the city's theatres are situated within it, including our famous concert hall.
It is a constituency, too, of commerce. The most famous street in Glasgow traverses Kelvingrove from east to west, Sauchiehall Street—the street of the willow trees which are, alas, no longer there, the street by which the city is known and which springs to mind when some of our more exuberant citizens sing their battle song "I belong to Glasgow" on one of those very special occasions when our gladiators venture forth to pit their skill against the representatives of the Metropolis.
I should like to remind the House of the words of Edmund Burke:Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain as an agent and advocate against other agents and advocates, but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of the nation with one interest, that of the whole: where not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide but the general good …".With those sentiments I am in complete agreement. What will be in the interests of the people of Kelvingrove will, I am certain, prove to be for the good of the nation as a whole.
The Gracious Speech contains much which I believe will benefit my constituency, and I should like to make reference, in particular, to housing, employment, pensions and the Health Service. Kelvingrove, in common with many other areas of Glasgow, desperately requires more houses. In spite of the valiant attempts by the local authority, which has rehoused nearly 300,000 people since the war ended, I am convinced that this problem can be solved only by tackling it on a national basis and as an emergency 902 operation. The legacy of industrialisation has been the development in Kelvingrove and other constituencies in Glasgow of slums which are an affront to the dignity both of the unfortunate people who are forced to live in them and of the people who are only too aware of their existence. At this moment, the city stands in need of 100,000 houses to replace those which lack the basic amenities that all human beings deserve. This is a subject about which I and my colleagues who represent similar constituencies will have much to say in the coming months.
I welcome also the reference in the Gracious Speech to the intention to restore control of rents, because although I appreciate that the theory behind the Rent Act contained an element of reason, its application has not borne out the hope that it would make more and better accommodation available for letting. Indeed, in my experience as a medical practitioner in my own constituency, it has made the position even worse, resulting only in increases of rent out of all proportion to the adequacy and amenity of the accommodation provided. I suggest that only a slavish clinging to doctrine would motivate opposition to its repeal.
I welcome the preparation of a regional plan in an effort to solve the unemployment problem. Kelvingrove is an under-employed area; our rate of unemployment is more than double the national average, and I look forward to the plan embracing old industries such as the docks, of which we in Kelvingrove have some of the most important in Glasgow, as well as the establishing of the newer science-based industries in the constituency, especially since the comprehensive redevelopment plan for the area designates special sites for such industrial development.
The inadequate level of pensions, National Insurance and associated benefits is obvious to all and it is, therefore, gratifying to know that immediate action is proposed to increase existing rates and that there will be a major review of all social security schemes.
The National Health Service—perhaps the most enlightened piece of welfare legislation of any nation in our time—has not been developed in the way that its great proponent envisaged. It gave 903 me great pleasure to learn today from my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster that proposals will be put before us before long which will be a fitting monument to the memory of the great statesman who introduced the National Health Scheme.
Finally, I should like to say something about the intention of the Government to take action against racial discrimination. Human beings have faults which have nothing to do with their race or the colour of their skin. They have, of course, virtues which, likewise, have nothing to do with race or colour. But any section of society which considers itself civilised and possessed of a higher degree of acquired skill and learning than another section surely has a duty to impart that skill and learning to those who are less fortunate; and not in a spirit of master and servant but as man to man.
Deviation from this in the form of exaggerated direct or oblique reference to difference, is an offence in the eyes of God, and I ask hon. Members to remember that only those who are thus offended against can possibly experience the deep disappointment with civilisation, dismay at society, indeed dread of their fellow human beings which the offenders cause them.
I should like to conclude with some more of the words of Burke:Government is a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants. Men have a right that these wants should be provided for, by this wisdom".I thank the House for its indulgence and, like those who have spoken before me, I hope that similar indulgence will be given to me in future.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Sir Cyril Osborne (Louth)
It falls to my pleasant lot to congratulate the hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Dr. Miller) on what I would call a typically Scots speech—modest, human, friendly, sound, dependable, the type of approach to life we English have learned to respect and expect from good Scotsmen.
I liked, above all, the hon. Gentleman's plea for the abolition of slums, which are a disgrace to us all and to our civilisation. Over the years we English have owed an immense amount to the continuous flow of good Scotsmen 904 to the South, to show us their character. good humour, ability, hard work and independence. I am sure that the hon. Member will, by coming here, keep up the high tradition which the Scots have set for many generations. I congratulate him warmly and hope to hear him frequently in future.
The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said much in his opening speech with which I completely agreed. He said that the election was over, that his party had won and now that they were the Government they intended to govern. I entirely agree with that and I hope that all hon. Members will remember those words. Whatever the Government do should be judged on broad national issues and not on narrow party interests.
I make this plea: that in this delicately balanced House of Commons, with a very sharply divided country, we should turn this assembly into a council of State and give the Government adequate time in which to produce an incomes policy which, although some may not consider it important, I regard as the most important problem facing this or any Government, for without one we will not succeed. It will not be easy for them to achieve such a policy, but if Her Majesty's Government can achieve one they will have served the nation extremely well.
People outside the House are sick to death of narrow embittered party politics. They were bored stiff night after night seeing hon. Members of each party on the television, pulling one another to pieces. They are tired of party politics and they want us to get on with sound government. From my point of view, I wish the Government well—not from my party's point of view, but from the national angle. I would rather that they succeed from the national point of view than fail from any party point of view. I believe that ordinary people, the workers and businessmen, would like to look forward to 18 months without any more electioneering. Let us get on with the job and give the country sound, sober government. We as a party should do our best to help the Government to govern well.
Having said that, I want to point out that the Government's policies should be judged by two simple tests; first, will 905 their policies make the economy of the country more efficient; and, secondly will they help to or make the nation live within its means? The so-called economic crisis is not something new or startling. It has been with us, off and on, since the war and because of world conditions I believe that it is likely to get worse. The problem is simply that we are living beyond our means. We are spending more than we are earning. We are eating, drinking, smoking and gambling more than we can afford, and it cannot go on.
The remedy is equally simple, but very unpopular. The question is whether any Government can introduce sufficiently unpopular measures and still retain their power. That is the problem of modern democracy. We have either to earn more as a nation or we have to spend less. It may be only 6d. in the £, but that 6d. is vital. I also believe that we have all got to work longer, harder and more efficiently to get our prices down and the quality of our goods up, for this is the only way in which we can export more. I believe that export subsidies by themselves are a mere snare and delusion.
The question therefore arises: can the Government make all sections of the nation realise the pressing nature of our problem? Further, can the Government get the nation to accept the unpleasant, unpopular action needed to put it right? Hon. Members who were in the House in the 1945 to 1950 Parliament will remember how Sir Stafford Cripps almost wore himself out trying to get the nation to accept what seems so obvious. If only we had accepted his advice then our prices could have been half what they are today, but, unfortunately for the nation, he failed.
Whether we like it or not I believe that this generation has got to accept a policy of survival through austerity, and we have got to share in that austerity. I say this to the right hon. Gentleman who is to be responsible for our economic affairs, that I believe we cannot solve our external economic problems by merely redistributing either the internal national wealth or the internal national income. If we did that by itself it would merely make things worse, because, as I believe, it would increase the demand on the home market 906 and make our export problem all the more difficult.
Again, I differ from my right hon. Friend—I bow to his longer experience in the House—in that I do not believe we can get an incomes policy, which I think is the most vital requirement, unless it is part of a package deal, and I believe—and I think that it ought to be said from this side of the House—that it is those of us who are most fortunate in life who should set an example and take our share of the burden first.
As an emergency measure—I speak for myself—I would gladly accept a statutory dividend limitation, prohibition of all bonus issues, greater control of expense accounts, sterner rent control, a bigger capital gains tax. But provided, and only provided, that they are accepted as part and parcel of an effective agreement to restrain wage and salary increases.
§ Sir C. Osborne
Listen to the whole story.
I speak to responsible Members above the Gangway. Merely to penalise capital would not save us. It has got to be a package deal which includes everybody. We all have to carry our share.
The Government can, through legislation, if they so wish, impose austerity on capital, but they cannot pass legislation to impose a wages freeze. They have not the power. In any case, the trade unions would not submit to it. The question is: have they sufficient influence with their trade union allies to get them to realise how fatally stupid is the idea of their members that they are entitled, that they have a divine right, every year to an increase in wages?
This has got to be killed. Can the Government get the unions to accept such a package deal? I am not thinking of the senior trade union leaders, who, I believe, are among the most responsible men in this country. I am talking of the shop floor. Can the Government get ordinary trade union members to accept the package deal that I have suggested, and really believe what Sir Stafford Cripps tried to tell us so many years ago, 907 that lower prices would make us all better off, more than higher wages?
This is the problem which faces right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but it is only half what they have got to get their allies in the trade unions to accept. There must, in my opinion, along with this be an ending of all forms of restrictive practices, unofficial strikes, inter-union rivalries, which reduce our national efficiency. The way to get our economy right is to have these things ended. This is the great challenge facing the Government, and I wish them well in it, because it is on this crucial issue they will either succeed or fail.
Now I would say a word on the Government's first two proposals to put our economy right. I believe that they are pathetically inadequate, but to withdraw them quickly because of foreign pressure would be a sign of an extremely weak Government. As I said at Question Time today, if these temporary measures are quickly withdrawn they cannot possibly do anything good for the economy. They have got to be, therefore, longer than "temporary" to do any good at all, to produce any results. The two main proposals, I believe, are timid, and there is certainly nothing revitalising about them.
It is said that they are temporary. So far, we all know that, unhappily, they have done damage to our external relations. I wonder whether the Government could have not given thought to this reaction abroad before they brought them in. But I want to put this to them. If our foreign competitors can, by exercising pressure upon our Government, get these measures withdrawn, then our people will say that we have a poor and a weak Government.
I put this to the right hon. Gentleman. How can a permanent disease be cured by temporary palliatives? What we are dealing with is something fundamental. It cannot be cured by merely temporary measures. Something drastic, something unpopular, something harsh is needed to be done. The Government's proposals, to my mind, are rather like prescribing as a cure for a malignant cancer, a temporary dose of a quack medicine. It cannot be done. Our only salvation lies in far greater exports, but 908 the export incentive, so far, is merely trifling.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I am listening with very great interest and respect to what the hon. Member is saying. A few minutes ago he said, and we all agreed, that the important first task is to live within our means. He will, no doubt, agree that one is not living within one's means if one continually buys more than one sells. It may be true that the permanent remedy for it takes time, but what is wrong with buying a little less to start with in order to try to live within our means, as a beginning?
§ Sir C. Osborne
That is the perfect answer. If we buy too little less for too short a time it cannot cure the permanent problem.
I believe that our only salvation lies in far greater exports, but, as I said, the incentives so far are trifling. This we must face. While it remains easier and more profitable to sell on the home market it is unreasonable to expect manufacturers to go to the less profitable export market. Somehow, we have to make the home market more difficult and less profitable to sell in. This is the only way, as I see it, to cure our problems. It is certainly not in the national interest to compel manufacturers to sell abroad at a loss.
This is no sort of way to cure national insolvency, because as the right hon. Gentleman especially knows, 55 per cent. of the profits we make go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to pay for the Welfare State. If we cut down our profits, how shall we pay for our Welfare State?
§ Mr. Houghton
That is just what I do not know, because I am sure that 55 per cent. of all profits do not go in taxation—nothing like it.
§ Sir C. Osborne
They certainly should. All I can say is that they do from my companies, and if others do not pay their fair share the Inland Revenue should make them. That is the law of the land. If people are not paying, it is a reflection on the Inland Revenue 909 for not doing its job; and I do not believe that it is not doing its job.
We are in danger of looking at this problem from too local and narrow a point of view. I believe that our economic position will get much worse over the years. The emerging Afro-Asian nations, with anything from one-tenth to one-twentieth of our standard of life are rightly asking why they should allow the white man to go to their countries and exploit their raw materials, such as copper, lead, tin, rubber and oil to give him a standard of life ten or twenty times higher than their own. What is more, is that their terrifying poverty will get worse and worse, owing to the enormous increase in their population. It is obvious that if a nation's population rises faster than its income, its standard of life must continue to fall.
This problem will increasingly face us. Since 1954, the terms of trade have moved in our favour very substantially. I understand that raw material prices have fallen by about 8 per cent. since then, while the prices of manufactured goods have risen, on average, by about 10 per cent. It is estimated that the Afro-Asian nations have received about 14,000 million dollars less every year from the white countries than they would have had if today's prices were what they were in 1954.
Today, I put a Question to the President of the Board of Trade, who gave me the following reply:It is estimated that the value of United Kingdom exports in the first nine months of 1964 would have been, at an annual rate, about £650 million at 1954 prices …That means that this year we are getting from the poorer nations largely, £650 million more this year for the same volume of goods because our prices have risen—
§ Mr. Monslow
I am listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman's most interesting and illuminating speech, but can he tell me whether we can contemplate having his support tomorrow when the Budget Statement is made?
§ Sir C. Osborne
I cannot promise to support a Budget I have not seen. That is an unfair and ridiculous question.
If we were to do justly by the Afro-Asian nations our trade gap would be far greater than it is. Our affluence over the last 10 years has been built on the 910 deepening poverty of those people, and it is perfectly right for them to ask for this international injustice to be put right. But if we are to help them really materially to get out of their poverty, we must pay them more for what they produce for us and charge them less for what we sell to them.
That will automatically widen the trade gap; it will increase the difference between our imports and exports. It will cost us a lot to do justice to these poorer people overseas, and the only way in which we can get over the problem of that cost is for us to produce a great deal more, and to produce it cheaply. The only way out is for us to work harder and more efficiently.
I know that some trades are doing a magnificent job. Our problem is to bring the poorer firms and the poorer workmen up to the higher standards of the good ones. That is the problem. I remember Mr. Hugh Gaitskell saying, in 1951, that unless we tackled this problem there would have to be a reduction in the standard of living. The 64,000-dollar question facing the Government is: can they avoid that steep fall in our standard of living that Mr. Hugh Gaitskell prophesied as inevitable and still do our duty to the coloured people overseas?
I beg right hon. Gentlemen opposite to go round the country and constantly repeat, in every industrial centre, some words spoken by Sir Stafford Cripps in September, 1949, in this House:Any worker by hand or brain who goes slow, or is an absentee, or demands more money for no more output, is, in fact, doing his best to put up his own household bills and to put somebody—quite possibly himself—out of a job."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th September, 1949; Vol. 468, c. 31–2.]Can the Government get the country to believe that, and to act on it?
The Economist, in its editorial on Saturday, said that President Johnson's first thought, when he had won the United States election, was Lincoln's famous pledge, in his second Inaugural Address, to bind up the nation's wounds. I only wish—and I hope that I say this without any undue bitterness—that the Prime Minister had followed that good example, instead of talking about lepers.
Only a united, dedicated and determined effort can overcome our difficulties. Leadership is a matter of the character of the leader. I beg of the 911 Government to do all they can to unite the nation, not to divide it, so that, together, we can do our best to pull our country out of the difficulties which we all recognise.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
The maiden speech is well named. Like a virgin, the "new boy" comes to the occasion with a mixture of fascination and dread, but, realising that until it is over he is not really a Member of this House in the full sense of the word he—perhaps, again, like the virgin—welcomes it none the less. I venture to think, Mr. Speaker, that it says a great deal for your tolerance, and that of the House, that you have been so kind as to listen to, I think, eight of us this afternoon.
I find myself a little surprised to be here at all. I have regarded myself as a representative of those people who are, perhaps, equally as important as those who are here; those who are not here—the losers. In 1950 I had the honour of opposing the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) and, again, the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) in 1955. They both became right hon. Gentlemen afterwards, but I lost at the time.
I feel a little apologetic to Sir Hugh Linstead, whom I have replaced at Putney. Sir Hugh is a charming and courteous gentleman, and it will be my task and my duty to endeavour, as far as it lies within my power to do so, to emulate him in this respect in the position to which I have succeeded.
In particular, I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Enfield, West is not in his place. Incidentally, I went to the grammar school there and was born there. The other day he was referred to as the Member for Enfield, but he is the Member for Enfield, West and the Member for Enfield, East sits on this side of the House. I should have liked to have reminded him that the part of Enfield which he represents is the nineteenth century part, while Enfield, East is the twentieth century part. This seemed to have been precluded from his speech because he seemed to have forgotten that the era of competitive 912 capitalism was in the nineteenth century and it is in the twentieth century that we are faced with a choice of monopolies, either private, on the one hand, or public, on the other.
I should like to say a few words about buildings. I begin by referring to an advertisement which hon. Members may have seen which says, "Now the skyline of Putney belongs to I.C.T." Of course, thank heavens, it does not. If it belongs to anyone, it is to the Labour London County Council with its great Alton Estate at Roehampton, but what astounds me is the crass insensibility of whoever advised International Computers and Tabulators that such an advertisement could contribute to the firm's prestige. The Amendment refers to modernisation. Of course, there is modernisation and modernisation. A main reason for the change of political representation in Putney was dissatisfaction with the late Government's policy, or lack of policy, in relation to the use of scarce urban land.
One is supposed to avoid controversy on this occasion, but I suspect that it will not be very long before there is something approaching general acceptance of the view that our whole approach to urban planning is based upon a fallacy. As a member of the London County Council Town Planning Committee, I am bound to say that the late Government's town planning Acts rendered our task virtually impossible of fulfilment. The sites on which I.C.T. has built huge blocks were intended as private office sites for local professional people—for solicitors, accountants, achitects and so on—but once one zones for office use one loses control. Under present legislation, one has little or no say about what kind of office is to be built on a site. I think it high time that the whole concept of zoning was looked at again.
The idea behind it stems from a time when industry was necessarily noisome and segregation was essential. Today we need to plan much less rigidly in zoning terms and much more closely in use terms. We create our own problems by our present attitudes. We separate office from residence and create at one and the same time blocks of buildings in the centres of large towns which become deserted and empty at night and 913 the transport problem of getting thousands or millions of people to and from them early in the morning and late at night with all the spread of building and weariness of people which this entails.
We also need detailed planning powers. Just as there are offices and offices there are houses and houses, flats and flats. What is the use of 400,000 or half a million houses every year if at the same time the real housing problem gets worse? We have to ask what sort of houses and for whom? This, I think, is what the people of Putney have asked themselves. They saw great blocks of so-called luxury flats half-empty and half-filled at 15 guineas or 20 guineas a week cheek by jowl with rows of squalid little houses with people squashed into them at two, three and four to a room without any modern conveniences. Squalor and luxury side by side. However and whenever this exists it will inevitably sooner or later bring about a change of Government.
Another danger to be avoided is that of deceiving the electorate. Among the duties placed on local government is that of Civil Defence. It is now generally accepted that the millions of survivors referred to in the Civil Defence advertisements exist only if the term "survivor" is used to indicate someone who survives for a few days, weeks or perhaps a few months, poor wretch, after the initial holocaust. There is no possibility of survival in the sense of recovery from a major nuclear attack on these islands. Civil Defence at the moment provides only for even the short-term survival of a few senior Civil Defence officers and equivalent officials in their underground dug-outs.
I respectfully suggest that the conversion of the Civil Defence Corps to a Civil Defence service to help in major industrial accidents—as they are already doing quite considerably—and yet still able to do whatever could be done in the event of nuclear accident, would be better for the force, the Government and the public. In facing the realities of nuclear warfare at home we might succeed in making a more realistic appraisal of the problems of maintaining world peace in the thermo-nuclear age. I am trespassing, however, I believe on the traditional courtesy of the House extended to maiden speakers.
914 I have been talking about housing and I turn to another housing problem, that of housing the arts, and make reference in particular to the theatre.
In this sphere, too, we find that private enterprise is making no serious contribution. The theatre of the future will be publicly owned, publicly built by public authorities from public funds or it will not be built at all. I am very sorry to find that there was no mention of the arts in the Gracious Speech. I only hope that the words:other measures will be laid before youwill be allowed to embrace a number of urgent steps to be taken in this field. For example, for reasons which will not stand a moment's examination, the late Government excluded theatres from the protection of the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act, in spite of the recommendation of the Gowers Committee that they should be included. On another occasion I should like to dilate on the extraordinary consequences of this decision. The auditorium and the manager's office are now under regulation and supervision, but the backstage area, where most of the work is done, is not. This could and should be put right quickly.
There is another anomaly which urgently needs correction. In 1950 the Use Classes Order was tidied up and the then existing classification of theatres, cinemas and music halls was lumped together into a rag-bag of uses called "Places of Assembly", which included Turkish baths and places where indoor games are played. No serious damage was done by this change for many years, but then came bingo. A number of owners and cinemas and theatres found themselves able to change the use of their buildings within the class without asking anyone for permission, and the results have been quite catastrophic. They need not have been.
The Order could have been changed back to its original form without difficulty, but it took years to convince the over-esteemed Minister who was in charge of these matters at the time, and when, after long argument, he was finally convinced, he said:We would not be justified in amending the Order solely for the purpose you have in mind. If, however, it later becomes necessary to amend the Order for other purposes, I will 915 see that your case for an amendment in relation to theatres is considered afresh.Meanwhile, all over the country theatre after theatre and cinema after cinema was pulled down or went over to bingo. Whether or not in any particular case the change was or was not justified was never examined because no change of use was theoretically involved On another occasion I should like to take the House—if that is permissible—through the scarcely credible correspondence with the ex-Minister, but I must not be controversial on this occasion, and in any event I must come to a close.
What are the ends that we seek? Do we want scientific progress, material security and comfort for their own sakes? Let us admit it—yes, we do. But over and above these needs stands the need of the individual to fulfil and to be fulfilled, to experience, to contribute, to acquire abilities and tastes, to exercise his skill and powers of appreciation. Money spent to this end is the best public expenditure that there is. I hope that there will be more of it and I welcome the appointments which have been made in this field and in particular that of the hon. Member for Cannock (Miss Lee), whose late husband, Aneurin Bevan, with that foresight which in some quarters is only now beginning to be understood and appreciated, was largely instrumental in providing the 6d. rate which local authorities can use to develop artistic and cultural activities. It is now for us to see that these powers are augmented and used so that the lives of our people may be enriched.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Gilmour (Norfolk, Central)
I have been a Member of the House such a short time that I feel almost presumptuous in venturing to congratulate the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) upon his maiden speech, but it is my very pleasant task to do so. He gave us a speech of very considerable style. He touched on a number of questions with wit and knowledge, and he was particularly interesting on the subject of planning. He made most magnanimous references to his predecessor. Altogether, it was a most distinguished performance. I congratulate him most warmly upon it, and I am sure that everyone 916 in the House will look forward to hearing him often again.
The most striking thing about the Labour Government so far is the tremendous effort that the Prime Minister has made to conciliate every shade of opinion in his own party while utterly neglecting the opinions, susceptibilities and interests of our friends abroad. The late Aneurin Bevan, in a famous and striking phrase, said that Socialism was the language of priorities. The right hon. Gentleman does not seem to be able to speak it. At any rate, he has shown an extraordinary defective sense of priorities so far.
The so-called "Brown Paper" and the double-talk act of the First Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer were astonishing performances, because they neglected Britain's interest in preserving good relations with our friends in E.F.T.A. and the Common Market countries. They broke a whole string of agreements without consultation and they gratuitously provoked a row with France over the Concord. Surely a little forethought, it would not even have needed planning, should have been enough to convince them that it was a mistake to mention the Concord in the White Paper, and a little premeditation would have told them that some of their 15 per cent. duties were bound to do more harm than good.
For instance, in the shoe industry, with which I am particularly concerned from the point of view of my constituency, the Government have put a surcharge on dressed leather of all types. One-quarter of the leather used to make shoe uppers comes from abroad and this material is quite unusable in itself until it is converted by manufacture. Moreover, it would have needed very little inquiry for the Government to discover that this material is accepted within E.F.T.A. as a basic raw material for the footwear industry. However, they did not find this out, and the surcharge has also been applied to other materials in the shoe industry, with the only possible result that prices will be put up and the export industry will be hurt.
Quite as remarkable as the Prime Minister's forgetfulness of our friends abroad is the extraordinary assiduity with which he has placated all his opponents in his party. We have heard so much 917 and for so long about his mastery of his party and his dominance of it that it comes as quite a shock to find that this is quite untrue. It is quite inconceivable that he would have made some of his choices for his Cabinet had he not felt compelled to do so.
I can never see much resemblance between the Prime Minister and Napoleon, but in view of all the talk of the 100 days that we have had, I thought it might be of some interest to see what Napoleon said during the first quarter of his 100 days. Napoleon said:I am being pushed into a path that is not mine. I am being weakened and bound hand and foot.That does bear some resemblance to the right hon. Gentleman. Quite contrary to expectation, he has been bound hand and foot both in his appointments and in his policy. In his appointments, he has been reduced to forming a Cabinet, many of whom embody the uniquely unfortunate combination of old age and inexperience; and in his policy he has been driven over on to the far left-hand side of the road. And we find, at the end of the day, after all the talk of "Let's Go With Labour", and youth and getting things done, that the scientific revolution is going to be forged in the white heat of the seniority principle and Mr. Frank Cousins.
So we have a situation whereby we have the smallest majority for years and the largest Government there has ever been. Never in British history has there been such a rolling out of the pork barrel. We should have to go back to the early days of American history to find such a bonanza of jobs. The right hon. Gentleman has gone so far—eventually something like half the party opposite will be included in the Government in one shape or form—that I am only surprised at his moderation and that he has not given a job to every single Member of the party opposite. Both expediency and logic would seem to indicate that course, which the right hon. Gentleman could then describe as a state of full employment. It would also remove any fears about the loss of his majority.
Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman might go further. Why restrict himself to the living? One of the kings of Naples, Ferdinand II, King Bomba, put St. Ignatius Loyola on his staff as an honorary field-marshal hundreds of years 918 after his death. One wonders why the right hon. Gentleman did not put some of his patron saints of Labour similarly into his Government. They would certainly have felt very much at home. Keir Hardie, I think, would be the obvious choice as Minister of State for Technology, and John Morley might have been Minister of State for Disarmament. I know that John Morley was a Liberal but I am sure that he would have joined the Labour Party on the day that he was appointed.
The Prime Minister's jobs spree has of course not ended there. He has been equally generous outside. There has been a lot of talk about Doctors Balogh and Kaldor. Before he joined the Civil Service which he now adorns Dr. Balogh wrote a searing and able attack on the Civil Service which he sub-titled, "The Establishment of Mandarins." Now evidently it has been "The Establishment of Magyars". We must be fair to Dr. Balogh. In his case there is no definite straightforward empirical evidence, as there is with Dr. Kaldor, that he has the capacity actually to wreck the economy of a country. We shall have to wait and see whether he has it in him. There are other odd appointments. The Foreign Secretary has appointed a personal Press Officer. It is difficult to see that that is altogether necessary.
The Prime Minister has been forced to establish a Left-wing strategy which has been reflected in his appointments, in his language about my hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Peter Griffiths), and in his policy particularly about the nationalisation of the steel industry. I do not want to enter into the arguments of yesterday, but I want to take up one sentence in the speech of the Minister of Power. I gave him notice and I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for being here.
Six years ago the Spectator set up an independent inquiry into the steel industry under the very distinguished chairmanship of Warden Chester of Nuffield College. This was a totally impartial body and it produced a long report. [An HON. MEMBER: "Impartial?"] Warden Chester was the academic mentor of Lord Morrison and I should not have thought that, anyway, he was prejudiced in the Conservative direction. This report was very long and interesting but the solution which it recommended was contained in only 34 919 lines and was not very complicated. However, the Minister of Power said yesterday, referring to my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod):I do not know whether he has looked back at the opinion of the Spectator in 1958, when it held an inquiry into steel and decided that there was a case for a large percentage of the industry to be nationalised."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1964; Vol. 701, c. 675.]There are two gross inaccuracies in that sentence, but unfortunately the right hon. Gentleman did not give way to be corrected and when he was corrected he did not withdraw.
The right hon. Gentleman's first inaccuracy was that, contrary to what he said, the inquiry did not suggest that any part of the steel industry should be nationalised. What the inquiry suggested was that that part which was already nationalised should remain nationalised. The second inaccuracy was that the inquiry said that only one-tenth of the industry should remain nationalised. This by no stretch of imagination could be considered as a large percentage.
§ The Minister of Power (Mr. Frederick Lee)
I should have thought from the argument of the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), with the support of his party, that 10 per cent. was a huge percentage.
§ Mr. Gilmour
It is going to be difficult for those who are going to negotiate with the right hon. Gentleman if he has such a view of figures. He had no cause for error because he sent a messenger to the Spectator office yesterday for the relevant issue and was kind enough to pay for it.
§ Mr. Gilmour
I must take that as a compliment since I was then editing it.
The Prime Minister has chosen to ignore the Parliamentary situation which demanded a centreist strategy. He has abandoned the centre for a Left-wing approach. This is bad for the country but it is good for the Conservative Party, because the Conservative Party is the party of the centre. The Liberal Party sometimes claims to be the party of the centre, but it is quite plain now that it is the party of the extremities. One of 920 the winning Liberal candidates for membership of Parliament said that it "is all now Liberal country from Muckle Flugga to Ballachulish". That summarises the Liberal situation. By moving from the centre, the true dominating ground of British politics, the Prime Minister has ensured a bad spell of Government for this country, but he has ensured that it will be short, because in this country, as in America, the centre nearly always wins. And we on these benches are the centre.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert L. Howarth (Bolton, East)
I hope that my first address to the House will neither offend nor bore my listeners. There are certain conventions which I do not wish to break, and I start, therefore, by referring to my constituency, Bolton. It is a little difficult, as I represent only half of Bolton, to be able to make order in my speech, but I have, with the agreement of my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Oakes), undertaken to talk of Bolton as one town, as indeed it is, allowing him to take the same liberty on the occasion of his first address to the House.
Bolton is one of our largest county boroughs. It is in the centre of Lancashire, with very attractive moorland to the north and west of the town, and with a long and proud history inextricably woven with our country's industrial history, especially the rise and decline of the cotton textile industry.
Bolton was the very centre of fine spinning and medium weight weaving. It was the birthplace of Samuel Crompton, inventor of the first effective spinning machine, the machine which laid the basis for the establishment in Lancashire of our great textile industry.
Bolton also saw the establishment of some important trade unions and has often contributed leaders to the industrial and political movement. Equally, I am proud that, just 100 years ago, the Bolton textile operatives accepted great sacrifies and real hunger by their outspoken support for the Republican side in the American Civil War when it blockaded the Southern ports and prevented raw cotton coming to Lancashire.
My constituency's prosperous peak coincided, of course, with the zenith of the cotton industry in the early years of this century when Lancashire, literally, 921 supplied the world with yarn and cloth, a situation, best summed up by a previous Member of the House, fortunately still with us, who recounted the story of his entry into the cotton industry nearly 60 years ago as a half-timer, when, as he said, they set the spinning mules going on Monday morning at 6 o'clock and, by the time they had run during Monday and reached Tuesday lunchtime, they had supplied all Britain's needs, and the remainder of the week's output could be exported to the rest of the world.
What a contrast with the position today. Over the past 20 years, hundreds of textile mills have been closed. Hundreds of thousands of textile workers have been forced out of the industry, very many of them receiving most shabby treatment, almost inhuman treatment, by any decent standards, even under the belated modernisation scheme of about five years ago, when, to my mind at least, it appeared that more emphasis was placed on the satisfactory scrapping of machinery than on the human needs of the operatives unfortunately involved. That Measure has not solved the cotton industry's problem.
I know of men and women, often in their late fifties or early sixties, who were thrown out of work in recent years and who received the derisory sum of something approaching £1 per year of service in the textile industry£50 for 50 years service—and this for people with no chance of finding alternative employment, except if they were lucky in being able to take up low-paid labouring occupations.
The flood of low-cost cotton imports, many of them subject to little or no control, reduced this once proud industry to a shadow of its former self. I trust that the new Government will, at an early date, give special attention to the cotton textile industry. I believe that, with a fully modernised, efficient, well-trained and fashion-conscious cotton industry, we could win a major share of both the home and the export market.
My constituency now has twin pillars to its economy. Cotton shares pride of place with engineering, in its many forms, some new and some old established, constructional engineering, machine tools, textile machinery, general 922 engineering and aircraft manufacture. I speak with some experience of aircraft manufacture as only recently I terminated my employment as a technician with a large aircraft and missile manufacturing plant within my constituency.
I take this opportunity, since the subject was raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter), to make a brief comment upon the question of the Concord. To suggest that this remarkable agreement with France, an open-ended agreement, to build a supersonic transport aircraft, which has already doubled its estimated cost within two years and shows no guarantee that we have reached the final cost by any means, should not be reviewed I find hard to understand. But I wish to make clear, nevertheless, that I hope that the project will continue. It seems to me inevitable that we shall have supersonic aircraft, and I do not doubt that, possibly 10 years from now at least, there will be people in this House able to travel at speeds faster than sound. But whether at this time we have in the British aircraft industry the experience and the technical know how to build an economically viable aircraft is, I believe, open to reasonable doubt.
The problem of the sonic boom is causing great concern to as knowledgeable a body as the United States agency interested in the problem. This American agency has gone to a great deal of trouble with experiments, and it does not seem to have found any real answer. As the House knows, the Americans have had much greater experience with supersonic aircraft than we have, and it is significant, to my mind, that they are moving with great caution. I advise the House to remember our unhappy experience with the Comet I. We took a great leap forward there, greater than we should have done, and we paid the penalty.
I find it hard to understand those who say that to delay or even to cancel the Concord project would damage the British aircraft industry when, presumably, there are among them people who accepted the order for Macdonald Phantom fighter aircraft for the British Navy, at the cost of millions of precious 923 dollars, or the purchase of many expensive missiles and foreign-produced helicopters for our Army, and so forth. If there is one industry on which the previous Government's record was abysmally weak, it is, I believe, the aircraft industry. Convention prohibits me from developing the point further, but I hope to do so on a later occasion.
There is one issue about which I wish particularly to speak in my first address to the House, an issue on which, I imagine, there is almost unanimous agreement. I refer to the conditions borne by our old-age pensioners and by certain classes of widow. This was one issue universally raised at every meeting at the recent hustings in my constituency. I speak with real feeling on the subject. In 1938, my mother became a 10s. widow. When, after many years of unemployment, my father died in that year, my mother was left to rear two children, my sister and me, and she had to manage on the munificent sum of 10s. Not long ago, she retired on the retirement pension, which is now £3 7s. 6d. a week. after working for years in the food industry, modestly paid, with no means of paying into a pension scheme. Therefore, when people talk of the 10s. widow and the struggle of old people to make ends meet, I, at least, know what they mean. I know something of what life actually involves for millions of our citizens today. I welcome the undertaking in the Gracious Speech to bring forward at an early date proposals to ameliorate the present hard lot of these people. This I regard as a matter of the utmost urgency.
I thank the House for its courtesy in listening to me and I look forward to being able now to enter more fully into its proceedings.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
The traditional six days' debate on the Queen's Speech is now drawing to a close. All of us, wherever we sit, have particularly enjoyed the very high standard of maiden speeches made during the course of the debate by hon. Members on both sides.
There falls to me the happy task of congratulating the hon. Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Robert Howarth) on the contribution that he has just made. If I may say so, I envied the fluency and 924 the clarity with which he spoke. It was perfectly plain to everyone that he had not only the interests but the problems of his own constituency very much at heart and knew a great deal about them. As the House always listens to any hon. Member who knows what he is talking about, particularly from first-hand experience, I am sure that all hon. Members will join with me in saying that we look forward to further interventions from the hon. Member.
It has happened frequently before that policies laid down and principles expressed in the Gracious Speech have not always been fully implemented by subsequent legislation. Rarely, if ever before, I think, have particular policies and principles been ignored or contradicted with such speed as they have been ignored and contradicted in certain respects by this Government. On some issues, indeed, they were contradicted almost before the ink was dry.
The last paragraph on page 2 of the Gracious Speech as printed reads:My Government will continue to play a full part in the European organisations of which this country is a member and will seek to promote closer European co-operation.Anyone reading that paragraph might well be forgiven for thinking that the rays of the Socialist sun would shine with great warmth upon those whom the Prime Minister calls our friends in Europe.
What happened, in fact? By the very ham-fisted way in which the 15 per cent. surcharge has been put on, which was against the spirit and the letter of G.A.T.T., E.F.T.A. and the Irish Agreement, and certainly against the spirit of the Kennedy Round, so far from the Socialist sun shining warmly upon our friends in Europe, if it shines at all it is very watery indeed.
The way the Government have played the hand has caused the utmost resentment and a great deal of ill-feeling. I am not surprised. But my fear is this. If the 15 per cent. surcharge is only a very temporary measure, I very much doubt whether it will do the trick. On the other hand, if it is to be kept on longer than a very temporary period, I am afraid that we of all countries are the most vulnerable to very damaging retaliation.
In this context, I must say a word about the Concord. It is not only what 925 was done, but how it was done that has caused the damage. Politically, the Government's handling of the Concord project with the French Government has damaged the one firm Anglo-French bridge of co-operation erected since the breakdown of the Common Market negotiations. It has thoroughly soured the atmosphere. It has engendered a great deal of suspicion, not only by the French, but, I am afraid, by other counttries in Europe, and it may well make any future commercial or other venture upon an Anglo-French basis extremely difficult. This seems to me to be the political effect of what the Government have done. I do not think I need stress the importance of Anglo-French relations in terms of N.A.T.O. or in any other direction in relation to Europe today.
In terms of economics and technology, what has been the result? The Government seem to be in danger of opting out of the one field of technology in which we had the lead over the Americans. We had achieved a break-through, and unless one is in the forefront in this sort of field, I do not believe that one is in the field at all. When I read, on page 3 of the Gracious Speech, thatOur industries will be helped to gain the full benefits of advances in scientific research and applied technology",in the context of what has been happening about the Concord and of the uncertainty and suspicion engendered, that sentence seems absolutely meaningless. So are all the speeches we heard during the General Election campaign about the need to get ahead in technology, the break-through, the brain drain, and so on, since the cream of the brains in the aircraft industry have been engaged for eight years in this joint project, I wonder what will happen to them now.
§ Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)
Surely what the hon. Gentleman is saying is valid only if one does not replace the Concord by an alternative project to give equal scope to the talents and abilities of the technologists in the industry.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
Yes, but I listened to the whole debate when this was discussed last week and I got the impression that the Government were likely to haver so long that the Americans were rubbing their hands together and thinking 926 that here, at long last, was a chance, which they have not had before, of being able to catch up. I believe timing is the essence in this. We cannot dilly-dally any longer, because we are here engaged on a joint experiment which cannot be delayed very much longer.
I must say a word about exports. In his maiden speech last week the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell) made the somewhat novel suggestion in relation to the need to step up exports that British ambassadors should be judged by whether or not British exports to the country to which they were accredited increased or decreased. There may be something in this, but I do not think that that would be anywhere near the only yardstick. However, I must point out, particularly to Ministers, that it is not the fault of our Ambassador in Madrid that buyers of naval equipment for Spain are in Paris and America and not London. It is not the fault of our Ambassador in Paris that aircraft firms in France are looking for supplies other than from the United Kingdom and it is not the fault of our Ambassador in South Africa that the manufacturers of the Buccaneer are waiting to learn whether their contract is to be endangered in much the same way as seems to be the case with the Concord.
While I am on the subject, the shipbuilders engaged on Polaris are waiting for a coherent statement about its future, which affects their employment. I repeat that the aircraft industry in California is rubbing its hands together in glee because it thinks that, at long last, the Government will hesitate long enough to enable it to make up the ground it has lost.
So we have the paradox that, while the President of the Board of Trade goes to China presumably to break into new markets, his colleagues left here are doing their very best to destroy the markets which they could already be in. In short, the new Government's priorities are very strange.
Frankly, nationalisation of steel is totally and absolutely irrelevant to the requirements of Britain in 1964.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton
Has it occurred to the hon. Gentleman that when new management takes over a business which is losing at the rate of more than £1 million a day it has got to do 927 something to get out of the mess that has been left and ascertain which of its unremunerative efforts it must cancel?
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
I do not regard the nationalisation of steel as being anything more than purely a doctrinal attempt by the Labour Party to square a number of circles and keep going on with out-of-date policies which bear no relation to the requirements of today. Nothing said in the debate on steel yesterday carried any conviction, to my mind, that there was anything seriously wrong with the steel industry, certainly anything which could be put right by nationalisation. We have had no explanation from the Government of what they mean by nationalisation of the steel industry. If this is to be one of the early pieces of legislation that the Government bring in, it is a clear indication that their priorities are haywire.
The principle that one should practice oneself what one preaches to others is not a bad one. I find it difficult to square up the freeze applied to office buildings in London, which may, in certain circumstances be wise, with the proliferation of new Government Departments and Ministries in order to house an enormous number of new Ministers, two of whom so far are not yet in either this House or another place.
The truth of the matter is—we have heard it today, and, in particular, in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter)—that the Government are about to incur as top priority a very heavy expenditure on social services in relation to pensions improvements and abolition of the prescription charge. This may well be a good thing, but I must point out that it is simply taking out a mortgage upon the future earning capacity of the country.
What we and many other people are waiting to discover is whether in any practical terms the new Government have any ideas about how to increase the nation's wealth, efficiency and prosperity. Up till now, on the basis of the priorities which have been shown, all that we have had are some singularly ill-thought-out proposals and some singularly inept handling which, so far from being likely to increase the nation's wealth, seem much more likely to decrease it.
§ 7.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Maurice Orbach (Stockport, South)
I am aware that as a person who has had five years of enforced silence, being prevented from speaking in this House, I cannot crave the indulgence of the House. Yet I speak as one of the Members for Stockport in a virginal capacity because, as far as I am aware, for a decade or more no Member representing that town has ever spoken from these benches or the benches opposite, even to the extent of tabling a Question on the Order Paper and reading out a number. So I ask for the privilege of discussing my constituency for more than a moment or two.
Stockport is an industrial town and came into existence largely as a result of the Industrial Revolution. I am informed that the first use of power in driving machinery was in Stockport and that the first factory where such machinery was used still exists and is being used by one of the most modern of our industrial organisations. It might be a good idea if that factory were made into an industrial museum. But I do not want to talk about industry, nor follow the speech of the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) because the arguments he put forward have already been dealt with adequately by my right hon. and hon. Friends.
I want to discuss one or two things which have not been touched on, by and large, so far in the debate. First, I want to refer to the fact that, if we have in use in Stockport factories that were being used well over 100 years ago, we also have hospitals in the town which were in use during the Crimean War and should have been demolished and replaced long ago.
That situation recalls to me the first statement made by the hon. Member for Windsor. He said that the Government, in the presentation of their case in the last week or so, had been guilty of overthrowing more pledges than any previous Government. I draw his attention to the fact that I have with me a schedule of the rebuilding of hospitals that was supposed to take place in the Stockport area arising from the hospital plan introduced by his Government with a great flourish of trumpets.
I think that I can speak about hospitals and health with a little authority. 929 At various times I have been chairman of hospitals in the London area. My last chairmanship was terminated only in March, when I was succeeded by someone appointed by the last Government, after I had served 12 years with one of the most up-to-date district hospitals, the Central Middlesex Hospital. I have already had an appeal from my old friends there to intervene on their behalf in order to get some rebuilding done, but I have refrained from doing so because I have now discovered, as a Member for Stockport and as one who has spent two years in the town, how the country is divided into two nations and how superior the Central Middlesex Hospital is to the hospitals that people have to go in the northern part of our country.
There are four hospitals in Stockport—one for infectious diseases, another for geriatrics and the others for general surgical or medical care. I must say to the House, as I have said to my constituents, that I have visited hospitals from here to Peking, Australia and the United States and have reported upon them for the lay hospital Press, but that I have never seen anything—apart from one at Carabanchel Prison Hospital, near Madrid,—as bad as one of the hospitals in Stockport.
In Stockport, I found a hospital, in the year 1964, where one ward accommodated 72 people with two nurses trying to look after old, incontinent patients. In London, we get extremely annoyed when there are 30 or more patients to a ward but I have never known of 72 patients having to be accommodated in one ward.
When I inquired into the state of the hospital services in Stockport I found that there were 6,000 persons on the waiting list. That perhaps does not sound very much but in a population of 150,000 it means that 12 per cent. of all the families in the town are affected by the fact that a member of each needs medical or surgical attention but cannot get it without waiting much too long.
Visiting the hospitals, I inquired from patients how long they had been on the waiting list. I found young men with hernias and ladies with varicose veins who had been on the waiting list for as long as three years. We 930 would never tolerate that sort of thing in the South. I hope that we will not tolerate it any more in the North.
I also found, however, that the waiting list is not a clear indication of how many people really need medical care because, in addition to the waiting list of people to enter hospital, there is a waiting list, sometimes amounting to three months, before a patient sent by a general practitioner can see a consultant. This means, of course, that many people may be suffering from aggravated illness, acute illness or may need immediate attention through an operation but are not seen because of lack of consultant attention. The reason is clear. There is not a single consultant in the town who is full-time. They are all on part-time, doing one, two or three sessions a week instead of the eleven sessions Aneurin Bevan hoped they would take up.
I lay no blame for this state of affairs on the managements of these hospitals. The Stockport Infirmary—the very use of the name "infirmary" frightens me—St. Thomas's, Stepping Hill and Cherry Tree Hospitals are the other hospitals in the area. They have done their very best within the powers they have to improve accommodation and step up the intake of patients. But they have been prevented from doing that, first by a regional board which is rather dogmatic in its outlook and, secondly, by a Ministry of Health which, until recently, was completely ruled by the Treasury.
It is significant that, in recent years, almost all over the country there has been a change of chairmen, deputy chairmen and other personnel in the 14 regional boards and among those who give direction to the boards.
I hope that my right hon. Friend the new Minister of Health will do his best in the coming months, particularly next March when the opportunity arises, to change the personnel of these regional boards so that they are more representative of the country, of the districts they are supposed to cater for, and of the people in the Health Service itself.
The Gracious Speech makes it clear that the Bill presented to the House on nine occasions by my old friend Fenner Brockway will be brought in as a Government Measure in due course and that racial discrimination in public places will 931 then no longer be considered as other than an offence against the State, as it has always been an offence against good taste. I do not think that racial discrimination will fade completely out of the picture because we pass a law to prevent it in public places but, of course, the whole process of arguing the Measure in this House, and the publicity it will receive, is part of the educative process of getting those of our people who have been tainted, to some extent, by racial hatred to an acceptance and mutual understanding of people of different ethnic origins.
I regret that, in the Gracious Speech, there is no mention of a Bill which might make incitement to racial hatred an offence. This has taken place on frequent occasions and the House has been disturbed because gangs of people have set out to disturb quite innocent citizens of this country or people who have come from the Commonwealth. We have tried in various ways, by the imposition of higher penalties, to prevent this recurring. I hope that at some time the Government will consider introducing such a Bill and that it will be passed.
Lastly, I welcome the statement in the Gracious Speech about the introduction of a Parliamentary Commissioner. I have great faith in the idea that an Ombudsman might accomplish a great deal in conjunction with Parliamentary representatives in giving the little man an opportunity in this society of ours. Too many people get kicked around. For instance, people who go to the National Assistance Board frequently find that the person they meet behind the desk apparently believes that he is handing out money from his own pocket, treating the person who has a perfect right to make the application as though he were asking for charity. This has caused a great deal of concern.
Two cases have been presented to me only this week. One concerns an unfortunate person who works Saturdays and Sundays for a parks department and receives £3 a week and cannot receive unemployment benefit and who therefore has had to go to the National Assistance Board. He was told that the Board could not help him because he was in employment and that, because his wife had received some money recently, he could not get any help until that money was 932 completely absorbed. His colleague, in exactly the same position except that he has no wife who has received money, is now afraid to go to the Board because of the treatment meted out to his colleague.
We have to get rid of that sort of petty officialdom. I do not say that all petty officials are included in that. I make no generalisation, but there are certain petty officials who treat certain members of the public, especially the humbler, in the most unconscionable manner, and the Ombudsman, the Parliamentary Commissioner, might be a useful addition to the democratic methods which we have accepted within our society from time to time.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. H. P. G. Channon (Southend, West)
This is the first time that I have had the pleasure of hearing the hon. Member for Stockport, South (Mr. Orbach), although I was in Parliament with him some time ago for a few short months. I was sorry to hear his description of the experience of his constituents with the National Assistance Board. I very much hope that he will find that they were isolated cases, because in my dealings with the Board I have found its officials nothing but courteous and helpful to people in distress. It was pleasant to hear the hon. Member and we shall look forward to hearing him again on many occasions.
I do not want to take much time, because I know that others wish to speak and this great debate is coming to an end in a short time. For six days, the brave new Socialist world has been outlined to us. Speaking as a young Member of the House, I do not find it a prospect which particularly enlivens me. One depressing thing about the state of politics in the country at the moment is that we always seem to be ruled by the Scots and Welsh. If it had not been for the Scottish and Welsh votes at the General Election, a Conservative Government would have been returned with a very respectable majority. I hope that my right hon. Friends will seriously consider the point of view of the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists, because it would be of immeasurable benefit to the English race if they should achieve the aims for which they have been campaigning.
§ Mr. H. Hynd (Accrington)
Would the hon. Gentleman extend that to Northern Ireland, because we could do without some of those Members?
§ Mr. Channon
I have the greatest respect for my Northern Irish colleagues, but I willingly accept that, if even if Northern Ireland were excluded, as the hon. Gentleman would wish, we would still have a large working majority. I hope that he will join me in the Lobbies about that some time.
I would have thought that having a Socialist Government with such a small majority, we as an Opposition, and the country as a whole, would have been entitled to expect a period of moderate, sensible, middle-of-the-road Government, but that is not to be. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, who is entitled to take this decision, which I hope he will regret, has decided to press ahead with every item of controversial Left-wing legislation that he possibly can. I see that some hon. Members opposite are in favour of that, but I am not sure that all their colleagues are.
The right hon. Gentleman's first action as Prime Minister was to bring into the Government Mr. Cousins, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and the Minister of Overseas Development. I am delighted that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is in the Government to bring some sane influence to bear on his colleagues. It must certainly make Cabinet meetings enjoyable occasions with wide divergencies of opinion around the table. The Prime Minister himself—and as a young man I welcome this—is the youngest Prime Minister we have had since the noble Lord, Lord Rosebery. I wish him as long a tenure of office.
Having completed his preliminary appointments, we heard from the right hon. Gentleman not, "We are the masters now", but "We are the Government now". "We are the masters now", perhaps, has a special meaning in view of Lord Snow's appearance in the Government. I am sure that the one sector of the population which is so far delighted with the Prime Minister's actions is the Assistant Whips and the many members of the party opposite who have been found jobs, but who would not have been found jobs in previous Administrations.
934 I shall be interested to see—and I hope that it will be made clear to us in due time—how many extra civil servants will be needed to cope with this flood of new Ministries. I shall be interested to see how many extra civil servants are needed if steel nationalisation goes through and how many will be needed to administer the Crown Land Commission, should that go through. I was glad to hear from the Secretary of State for Scotland last night that the Government will take their time about the nationalisation of steel. That at least gives us some encouragement.
However, I was sorry that the Chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster himself was not prepared today to give us more details about the Crown Lands Commission. During the election, we heard a great deal about it. My own view and that expressed forcefully by many of my colleagues is that it is much more likely to dry up the supply of land and thereby make houses less likely to be available than at present. However, if the Government are determined that we are wrong about this, I wish that they would come forward and give us their views. My right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) quoted the Economist when he said that intelligent members of the Socialist Party knew that the idea of the Commission was wrong. I believe, as Senator Barry Goldwater would say, that even the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster knows in his heart that he is wrong about the Crown Lands Commission.
What of the future? Will the Ministry of Housing and Local Government or the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources be responsible for planning appeals? We were told that one Minister was to be responsible but then we were told the reverse. I hope that in a few days the Government will give us a clear definition of the rôle of the Ministry of Land, what Ministry is to be responsible in future for planning appeals and what shape the Crown Lands Commission is likely to have.
I hope that I am being fair when say that during the first three weeks of this glorious period of one hundred days which we have been promised, the Socialist Government have achieved the following things; first, in spite of the Prime Minister's pledge to reduce the 935 size of the Cabinet, we have the same sized Cabinet as before, a size which the Prime Minister himself has thought to be unwieldy; secondly, we have included in that Cabinet men whose views are very divergent from many of those of their colleagues, men whose views I do not share and, I suspect, men whose views are not shared by some of their colleagues; thirdly, we managed to achieve on the first day of the debate on the Queen's Speech a continuation of the election atmosphere because of a taunt by the Prime Minister, which was very sad for the first day of the working of this Parliament.
Immigration was mentioned by the hon. Member for Stockport, South. It is an issue which will seriously concern both sides of the House in this Parliament. There are differences of opinion on both sides, but by and large there is general underlying agreement among most hon. Members about immigration issues. However, although it may be presumptuous for a young Member to say so, I cannot believe that these matters will be improved if we have taunts of that sort thrown about the House by leading members of the Government. I hope that we will debate the immigration issues on the facts, as we must, and in a calm atmosphere if that is possible. I believe that inflammatory remarks such as that do nothing more than increase the risks of racial hatred in this country, and that is something which I deplore.
Another thing which I deplore about the Government is that in a very short time they have managed to create chaos in the aircraft industry by, as far as we can gather, going back on the Concord project. I criticise not only the merits of the decision to go back on the project, but the way in which it was done. I should have thought that it was the most tactless way to cancel this project just to mention it in a White Paper and give the French Government hardly any notice whatsoever of it. Surely that is not the way for the Government of Great Britain to behave towards their allies?
The way in which we treated our allies with regard to the import surcharges is another example of the tactless way in which the Socialist Government have tried to infuriate them. I hope that this sort of behaviour will not continue. It 936 was not unjustified when some of my hon. Friends interrupted a Socialist Minister when he talked about our friends in Europe, because if we go on at the present rate it is unlikely that we shall have any friends left there. I should have liked to have been a fly on the wall when talks were held with the Danish Prime Minister the other day.
In my constituency, for example, the effect of the imports surcharge on one type of imported yarn which is not available in Great Britain has been very bad. A firm which imports this yarn is committed by contracts to supply finished goods at fixed prices. These contracts were made for some months ahead, and the firm is now faced with bankruptcy as a result of this temporary import surcharge.
One of the difficulties about this surcharge is the use of the word "temporary". A lot of people will hold back on orders because they do not know how long the surcharge will last. I hope that the Government will feel able to tell us how long "temporary" is likely to be.
The Government said in their manifesto, and have made many speeches to the same effect, that they wish to encourage science and technology. I am sorry that by their actions they have set out, not to reduce the brain drain, but to increase it, because I cannot believe that scientists in this country will be anything but appalled at the action taken with regard to the Concord and by the action taken with regard to the Beeching Plan. I do not think that the way to modernise our country is to wrap us up in cocoons of cotton wool. Any attempt at modernisation which the Conservatives have tried to carry out during the past years is at risk of being threatened by the Socialist Government in their present state of mind.
We should make Great Britain a more competitive country. We should try to modernise Britain. We should not be complacent about the present state of affairs, but I do not think that the way to make Britain more competitive is to impose temporary import surcharges and to cut the Beeching Plan. I do not believe in a Government which breaks its word. I think that we have broken our word by imposing these import 937 charges, and that we have behaved in an infuriating manner with regard to the Concord project.
The Socialists say that we have lagged behind other countries in making progress over the past years. I do not accept that argument. Which country has attained a better standard of living and a better life than Great Britain over the past few years? I do not think that those standards have been achieved in countries which have practised Socialism. I do not think that even Sweden, which we hear referred to by right hon. Gentlemen opposite as a model example, has achieved what it has done without dropping a great deal of Socialist dogma. Comparable standards have perhaps been achieved in the United States, in France, in West Germany, to some extent Italy, and in the European countries where they believe in free enterprise and where they have encouraged it.
I hope that the Socialist Government, if they continue in office, which I hope will not be for too long, will not allow the dead hand of Socialism to cripple the initiative and enterprise of the British people. That is why I shall be glad to vote for the Amendment so ably moved this afternoon by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
I should like to indicate what the Liberal Party's intentions are towards this Amendment. I have not been outside the building since noon, but I understand that the fog is fairly widespread. Therefore, it might be convenient—
§ Mr. Loughlin
On a point of order. Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I do not wish to challenge your right to choose speakers, but is it not customary to choose one speaker from each side in turn? My hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Doig) and I stood up, but we were not noticed.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Samuel Storey)
The hon. Member is quite right. He must not challenge my selection. I only say that there is a middle as well as both sides.
§ Mr. Thorpe
Knowing, as I do, that there are other hon. Members who wish to speak, I shall try to keep my remarks as brief as I can.
938 We intend to vote to defeat the Amendment, and I hope that the arguments which I shall marshal will ensure that we have a majority for that proposition when we go into the Division Lobbies later tonight.
§ Mr. Thorpe
That is very encouraging. The hon. Member does me the credit of pledging his support even before he has heard my arguments. That is the highest compliment of all.
The interesting thing about today's debate is that the right hon. Member for Kington-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter), who moved the Amendment, never addressed himself to its content. The Amendment says that the effect of the Government's proposals will jeopardiseprogrammes of modernisation already set in train.It presupposes that there were modernisation programmes set in train. Of all the branch line arguments, this is one that is waiting to be axed.
The Opposition go on to judge the Government within three weeks of their taking office. What modernisation have the Tory Opposition particularly in mind which they think will be so impaired by Her Majesty's Government? We know about steel. We voted with the Opposition last night on that subject. The Lands Commission is another aspect at which one will have to look carefully, and similarly with the Rent Act, but what specific measures for modernisation have the Opposition in mind?
We know the present modernisation to which members of the Tory Party are addressing their minds—the method of electing their leader. That is a method which finds its equivalent in the method used for selecting the Dalai Lama. In Tibet the priests gather together and then go out to scour the country. They take opinions, and then wait for inspiration. Suddenly, they launch out and pounce on an unsuspecting person, who thereafter becomes one of the priestly class and is consecrated. We know that that is the modernisation to which the Tory Party is addressing itself at the moment. The election of a leader by tribal enstoolment may still give way 939 to the secret ballot, and we know, as the South African Government have told us, that those who are detribalised are subject to stresses and strains.
What other programmes of modernisation are they worried about being impaired? Is it their record on law reform during the 13 years when they were in office, during which they ignored the Jenkins Report on Company Law? Is that in danger? During their term of office the Royal Commission's Report on Marriage and Divorce and the Franks Report were watered down out of recognition. Are they in jeopardy? They had not the courage to bring in the first half of the Wolfenden Report. Do they think that those measures are being impaired? Do they think that their radical programme for prison reform is being impaired? Do they think that the move to abolish the death penalty by a free vote of the House will undermine the Homicide Act, one of the most ghastly compromises which has ever been put on to the Statute Book? The only progress which the Tory Government made in law reform was, "When in doubt appoint a judge, arid when you disagree with him impugn his integrity".
Do they think that their proposed modernisation of Parliamentary reform will be impaired? Do they think that the Life Peerages Act, by which the hereditary peer was perpetuated and the Tory benches were packed, was an act of modernisation which will be impaired? Do they regard as radical the turning of peers into commoners? As we know from the election, some are more common than others. Do they regard as conspicuous in their modernisation plan their reform of the procedure of the House of Commons? They utterly rejected the Report of the 1959 Select Committee on Procedure, relating to the appointing of special Standing Committees, and the curbing of the rights of speech of Privy Councillors.
We had to wait until the last Prime Minister had come from the Lords before the Tory Party even had the courage to take up the question of payment to M.P.s. Three times did I have the doubtful privilege of waiting upon Mr. Macmillan as a member of an all-party 940 deputation, and three times were we turned down because the moment was not ripe. The only improvement to the status of Members of Parliament made by the Tory Party when in power was to see that one-third of the Tories became knights, baronets or dames.
Do they think that their plans for radical development will be impaired when, after 13 years of government, they produced a plan for the North-East and parts of Scotland not to help forward regional planning but as a desperate attempt to grapple with unemployment? I was astonished to see the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann)—to whom I have given notice—arrive in the Chamber to take an Adjournment debate last week and to plead for the need for regional development in the South-West when he himself, from the Government Dispatch Box, told the former Member for Dorset, West that this was not practical during the lifetime of the Parliament in which he was a Minister.
To see the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) brought like a carted Exmoor stag to sit on the Front Bench, when all he had contributed in 12 or 13 years was to be the only senior Minister to look at the problem of unemployment in the South-West, made one think that he was introduced no doubt to add gaiety to the proceedings. We know, particularly in the West Country, what regional development has meant. In my division it has meant that we have an area scheduled under the Local Unemployment Act ever since its introduction and that the number of jobs produced by this modernised form of Tory government for that area has been precisely nil.
The hon. Member for Southend West (Mr. Channon) asked about the Beeching Report. That is a sort of virility symbol for Tory Members of Parliament—either they are for Beeching, and, therefore, "with it", or they are old fuddy-duddies. When a modern building is erected, one would think that it is necessary to be satisfied about the foundations on which it is built. Secondly, it is necessary to decide the purpose to which the building will be put. In my division I have a railway line which runs to an area of high unemployment. The hon. Member for Torrington (Mr. Peter Mills) also has a railway line which runs into his 941 division from mine to another area of high unemployment.
One would think that railway lines were of some importance in attracting industry, but what happens? The Beeching Plan recommends that both these branch lines be closed and at the moment the T.U.C.C. is sitting to consider that action. It is no use having one Minister who is prepared to pump red blood into an area if another Minister is proposing to cut the artery by which the blood is conveyed. That is why I welcome the statement made by the Minister of Transport that he is not proposing to take any decision unless he has a rational framework in which to operate the plan.
§ Mr. Archie Manuel (Central Ayrshire)
Has not the Liberal Party a poor record when it comes to talking about the Beeching Report? Did it not vote against the Beeching Report and for the 1962 Transport Act which stemmed from the Report?
§ Mr. Thorpe
No doubt the hon. Gentleman will remember a very eloquent and powerful speech that was made by myself at the time when the Beeching Report was presented. I must not get out of order, but I distinctly remember saying that a review of our railway system was long overdue; that many lines would have to be axed; but no such plan could go forward unless it was within a framework of regional planning and development. So one must first decide what are the requirements of an area. I know that the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) is very fair in these matters. If he will consult the record, he will see that I am guilty of the doubtful virtue of consistency.
Is it the great hospital modernisation scheme which the Tories put in train about which they are now worried? It is true that the former Government claimed to have started one new hospital every 19 days. It is true that they closed down a hospital every 10 days. It is true that hospital waiting lists were 15,000 higher in England and Wales than in 1955 and that is why, apparently, the 10-year plan will end up with there being far fewer hospital beds. In the West Country we shall have 7,000 fewer beds as a result of the 10-year plan.
It is also true that we have fewer doctors in proportion to our population than any 942 other country in Europe, except Norway. Perhaps it was the modernisation plan of the late Tory Government which led them in 1957, to make a 10 per cent. cut in the number of doctors. We also know their housing record. Do they regard it as a great progressive plan, which is now threatened, that there should be soaring land prices, so that in Enfield, where a constituency is represented by the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), there should be 12 acres bought for £7,500 and offered to the local council two years later for development purposes at a price of £200,000?
So one could go on through the list of achievements of the former Government. One could turn to restrictive practices and ask whether they feel that there has been great modernisation in this respect, and whether they are proud of the fact that 23 out of 25 Reports from the Monopolies Commission recommended firm Government action; that 18 called for action and that in only two of those cases was any Government action taken.
1 regard this Amendment as giving a key to the reason for the Tory Party's defeat at the last election. It is an arrogant Amendment. It is a complacent Amendment and it is an Amendment which arises, three weeks after a new Government has taken office, out of partisan bigotry. There may well be occasions when the Labour Government must be attacked, and we on the Liberal benches shall not hesitate to do that as and when those occasions arise. But to be asked to say, first, that the whole of an extensive programme of modernisation has been set in train by the Tory Government and will be undermined specifically by Labour measures, and that the Government must be censured after only three weeks in office, is something which we on these benches are not prepared to do.
§ 8.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Doig (Dundee, West)
Like the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), I have read this Amendment and I wondered what were these programmes of modernisation which were already in train. One of the things which concerns me very much and also my constituents can be related to a quotation from the Gracious Speech where it states:My Government will be actively concerned to build up the strength and efficiency of the police …943 Here I see no evidence of modernisation on the part of the former Government. Only recently we had a statement from Lord Shawcross that it was 5–1 against any burglar being caught. He gave very generous odds on a number of other forms of crime, and finished by saying that it was no longer true that crime did not pay. So the Tory record of modernisation in this regard is a very poor one.
I ask the House to bear with me while I relate the experiences of one of my constituents who went on a motoring holiday during the summer with his wife and son. He visited Plymouth for the first time and went to see the famous Plymouth Hoe. He followed a line of cars and saw a number of cars parked on the side of the road. He thought that it was his lucky day, because just as the car in front of him passed, the driver of one of the parked cars indicated that he wanted to get out. So he stopped and let him out and slipped into his place. He noticed above the spot where he had parked his car a notice limiting parking to 45 minutes, so he carefully noted the time. He admired the view for a few minutes, had a cup of tea and came back again.
Lo and behold, when he came back, his car was sitting in splendid isolation. Four or five of the cars in front had disappeared, as had the one behind, and a policeman was standing beside his car; so he looked carefully at his watch again and at the sign and found he had been away exactly 35 minutes while the sign prohibited waiting for more than 45 minutes and his car was right beneath it. He wondered what the policeman wanted. The policeman said, "I am sorry, Sir. You have committed an offence and I shall have to charge you." He asked what the offence was and was told that he had parked between the studs on a pedestrian crossing. He pointed out to the policeman that when he drove up he could not see the studs—it was utterly impossible because he was in a line of cars.
This story has far-reaching effects, which is why I am relating it. The far-reaching result for this man was that he was charged after he came home from his holiday and getting back to Plymouth from Dundee would cost him at least 10 times whatever he was likely to be fined. 944 He received a notice summoning him to appear which said that if he pleaded guilty he would not have to appear. He thought about this, about pleading not guilty and arguing that he did not think he was committing any offence as the sign permitted waiting for 45 minutes. He decided it would cost him at least 10 times as much as any likely fine even if he got off.
I wonder how many motorists do exactly the same thing; how many of them plead guilty? For a trifling offence, with about the maximum possible mitigating circumstances, which he explained in a letter, this man was fined £3 and had his licence endorsed. This was after driving for 30 years, for 28 of which he had never been convicted of any offence at all, and had only been convicted of one offence in the first two years. This is a shocking state of affairs and it is happening all over the country, day in and day out, and it is something which requires looking into.
Yet it is no longer true to say that serious crime does not pay. This contrast convinces me that it is time that the chief constables of this country, who have more to do than they are capable of doing, started working on a priority system, dealing with serious crimes and forgetting about these trifling offences. When we consider the fact that the average of detected crime in relation to crime reported and known to the police is only 25 per cent. in robbery with violence and only 28 per cent. for all forms of serious crime but is something like 95 per cent. for these motoring offences, it is clear that this is something we have to look at.
It means the police are not working a priority system. It means that, in order to get a number of convictions, an ambitious young constable, acting on his own or under the orders of an officious chief constable, is for the sake of promotion putting motorists, normally law-abiding people, in the position of pleading guilty even when there are no witnesses against them at all. This was so in the case I have mentioned, where only one constable was present. They decide to plead guilty because it is financially stupid to do otherwise.
I am concerned about the endorsement of a licence for a trivial offence, because there are many people today who depend for their livelihood on a driving licence. 945 After three endorsements of this kind they lose their licence and their livelihood.
This is a serious state of affairs. For this reason I welcome another part of the Gracious Speech, which reads:They will propose the appointment of Law Commissioners to advance reform of the law and will propose new measures for the impartial investigation of individual grievances.The individual grievances can be summed up in that case, which is repeated thousands of times. These people feel that they have had a raw deal. They can appeal, but the cost of appealing, even if they are successful, is 20 times more than the fine imposed and there is therefore no point in appealing. It is financially stupid to do so unless one has plenty of money and money no longer matters. Not many people are in that happy position.
I hope that the Government will consider making provision whereby an accused person may be tried in the area in which he lives. Had this been the case in the example which I quoted, my constituent would not have pleaded guilty. There is no reason why this provision should not be made. The documents can be transferred from one part of the country to another with no great problem. If there is any difficulty in transferring witnesses, they can be paid their expenses for travelling to the court, whereas an accused person is not paid his expenses. Thousands of accused people are pleading guilty to trifling technical offences day in and day out because it does not pay to do anything else.
If we consider even the cost of the defence, we find that the very cheapest legal defence costs considerably in excess of the fine which one is liable to suffer for this type of offence. It is not even sensible financially to engage a lawyer for the defence.
This is a serious state of affairs. During the war when I was in the Forces there was a rule that if one did not have a legally qualified man for the defence, then the prosecution were not allowed one either. If a person cannot afford to have a legally qualified person to defend him, it is no use saying that he can get legal aid, because if he earns above a certain figure he cannot get legal aid. In these circumstance there is justification 946 at least for considering a provision to allow people charged with trifling offences to be tried in their own areas.
I have here a newspaper report stating that one motorist has decided to leave the country and is accusing the ex-Minister of Transport of driving him out of the country because he requires a driving licence to earn his livelihood, because he has had two endorsements of his licence for trifling offences and because if he has a third endorsement he will be out of a job. He decided to get out of the country instead. I am not suggesting that that is a good thing to do. Far from it. But it shows that this is becoming a serious matter which requires very serious consideration.
Nine-tenths at the very least of these trifling offences are caused by the failure of the last Government to provide the necessary roads and parking places. I am not suggesting that a Government who have been in office for only three weeks could have provided all these things, but I am saying that an Administration lasting for 13 years should have provided them.
In many parts of the country decent roads do not exist. In the last 13 years the mileage of new roads has increased by only 6 per cent. while the number of motor vehicles has increased by more than 130 per cent. Although the party opposite claim credit for the building of motorways, we still regularly hear of accidents happening on these roads, particularly during the hours of darkness. This is because many surveyors said at the outset of the construction of motorways that they should be lit along their entire length. Although this would have cost only 1 per cent. of the capital cost of the motorways, the Government turned the proposal down. As a result, accidents have continued to happen.
If one is travelling at 50 m.p.h. on a motorway one can only barely stop in the distance one can see in one's headlights. At over 50 m.p.h. it is almost impossible to avoid having an accident. Had the motorways been lit the number of pile-ups we read about would have been reduced. This is not my view but that of leading surveyors and public lighting engineers.
We also lack parking facilities. The present provision is totally inadequate 947 and the last Government did absolutely nothing to help local authorities to make more parking places available. This, too, has resulted in more accidents.
Only last week in London I saw a policeman giving signals to cars to disobey the red "stop" traffic signal and pass the lights. When seeing this I recalled a test case of some years ago when a motorist was fined for crossing the traffic lights at red, even though he had been told by a policeman to proceed. I understand that it is still an offence to obey a policeman's command to go through a red traffic light. Is it not time the police spent their manpower and equipment solving serious crimes and left the trifling offences for the time being?
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
I hope that the House will forgive me if I do not follow the remarks of the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Doig) because it has been difficult for me, despite his having spoken for about 15 minutes, to know what nature of offence he had in mind.
The debate we have had this week has been of great interest indeed, but I have not been able to help all the time recollecting the brave words used by the Prime Minister just before the election. In his election address he used these stirring words:The choice is between those who want to stand still and those who want this country to advance, who are dynamic, and eager to make progress. This is the time for action, for decision, for exciting change.Now what have we seen this week? We have seen the Prime Minister and his lieutenants have the chance of advancing. This was their case, that we were in for a time of dynamism and exciting change, but very soon the expectations which we had were turned to disappointment, for during the whole of this last week, and today, we have seen from the Government no sign whatever that it is their intention in any way to move forward.
I must condense what I have to say to only a few things, but we have seen, first of all, what seems to me convincing evidence that it is their intention to make this country in the next year or two a "little England". First of all, 948 we have this approach to the Concord. If ever there was a question of lack of tact, of bad management, this would seem to be the case. This cuts across very broad prospects indeed, for during these last few years we have seen France and the rest of Europe gradually drawing closer to this country, and one would have thought that it was above all necessary that our relationships with France should have been kept pleasant at this time, but precisely at the psychological moment when France is telling Europe that we are not to be depended upon we give full proof that that is precisely the case.
We then have my right hon. Friend reducing all over the world our apportunities for trade—[Laughter.]
§ Viscount Lambton
We then have reduction of our opportunities for trade all over the world. We shall no longer be able to trade with South Africa, and it may be that we shall soon not be allowed to trade with Spain, or Portugal probably, and as a result of all that there will be very great limitation for industry as a whole. What is exciting, what is advancing, what is progressive in all that at this time?
Then, at home, we have nothing but nationalisation of everything. There is no suggestion that I hear of a new dynamism. There is no suggestion from any speaker on the Government Front Bench of any great new advantage which will accrue to this country. [Interruption.] The very behaviour of right hon. and hon. Members opposite is a living proof of the fact that there will be very little, if any, advance in the next few years.
I think the time has come for me to sit down, but I would just say this. We have in these last few days seen no sign whatever of this renaissance which we were led to expect, but rather we have turned back to the very worst of Socialism of the past, and the prospect is that it will not be long before things will be very grim for this country and quite contrary to what the Government promised at the last election.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Heath (Bexley)
The debate on the Motion for an Address has 949 been notable for a number of things, some of which I should like to mention, but the first should surely be the number of hon. Members who have made their maiden speeches in it. I should like, if I may, on behalf of this side of the House, to offer them my warm congratulations. I understand that 33 hon. Members have made their maiden speeches in this debate, 26 of them from the Government side, and today we have had nine hon. Members so contributing.
I think the House will agree that it is a very pleasant duty to congratulate them, though at the same time it would be invidious of me to try to distinguish from amongst the 33 Members any in particular. I would therefore say, as my own experience, that they have been marked by great sincerity, and by the fact that they were, almost without exception, contributions from individual knowledge and experience. It is this, I think, which the House appreciates above everything, and I should like to offer them my congratulations and the congratulations of those on this side of the House.
Then I should like to offer my congratulations to the Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House, taking part for the first time in the traditional procedure whereby the Leader of the House winds up the debate on the Loyal Address. If I may say so, the whole House has recognised in the past that he has proved himself to be a great Opposition Chief Whip. I some-times wonder whether right hon. Gentlemen opposite now enjoying the sweets of office—and more of them enjoying them than ever before, and anticipating, perhaps, more sweets than ever before—recognise how much they owe to the right hon. Gentleman for the work he did in holding his party together in difficult times. It is a pity the Prime Minister is not here to recognise it as well, because he would know it better than anyone. While the Lord President was holding the party together, the present Prime Minister was busily trying to displace his existing leader. But the Lord President's fairmindedness and straightforwardness will, I think, commend him to the House as its Leader.
So we come to the first Loyal Address after the election, and to the end of the first debate. It was an election in which, we are told, the Prime Minister waged 950 the most brilliant campaign of modern times—indeed, what might be termed a copybook campaign—and the Prime Minister now finds himself with the support of fewer votes in the country than any of his precedessors since 1951; there cannot be much consolation for him in that.
The right hon. Gentleman finds himself with a majority of four, but we now understand that we are exposed to a new hazard—the Patronage Secretary and the Government Whips are no longer able to count. [Laughter.] On one occasion in the last Parliament I mentioned that one was enough, but if the Patronage Secretary and the Government Whips cannot even count that one, then the Government are in danger, and the Whips may find themselves the first out rather than the last as is customarily the case.
Having now seen the Queen's Speech and the actions of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues we are, perhaps, able to judge them on their progress so far, and on what has been said on the Address, and it is right that in winding up I should set out the Opposition's charges against the Government on this Amendment on modernisation. I would pick three subjects: first of all, the organisation of this Government, second, the way they have taken the economic measures that have been announced so far and, third, the general ineptitude and incompetence of the handling of our international relations during this period. In all of these things they have followed policies and matters of organisation that are immensely damaging to modernisation.
It is astonishing how little we have heard during this debate about the machinery of Government, about the new Ministries that have been created—and, indeed, about those who hold positions in them. Of course, the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen sitting there are not there because the Prime Minister wanted them there—he has already told them he did not want them. He just had to have them. They are there on notice and on sufferance and, while they are there, at least we might ask what they are doing.
There are two serious points on organisation that I should like to put to the First Secretary and to the Lord President 951 of the Council. First of all, we have heard nothing about the new relationship between the Department of Economic Affairs and the Treasury. Who, finally, is to decide financial policy, which bears on economic affairs? This is a matter on which one would have thought that the Prime Minister would have revealed the contents of his mind to the House, but not a word have we heard. We understand that, physically, the Chancellor of the Exchequer sits in his room at one end of the corridor, and the First Secretary sits in his room at the other end of the corridor—
§ Mr. Heath
Yes, perhaps, but still at the other end of the corridor. These things are all comparative. Then, half way between them, looking in both directions, is the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, which is quite right because he is by far the most intelligent and fluent of the three. This sort of arrangement is often known in international politics as the dumbbell arrangement; allegedly there are equal weights at both ends, but of course there is not much doubt about where the bell is and where the dumb part is in this arrangement.
What is to be the relationship of this organisation to the Board of Trade, which has been shorn of so many of its powers? I understood the First Secretary to say that the little N.E.D.C.s are to be his responsibility. What is to be the relationship between those and the industrial departments of the Board of Trade, or has the First Secretary got his eyes on the industrial departments so that they can become part of his empire as well? What we would have then would be the worst of all possible worlds, one department with an interest in trade outward looking and the other industrial and inward looking and there might be constant strife between the two departments. It has so far been one of the merits of our system of government that we have had trade and industrial affairs in the same department where they can reconcile their differences under one Minister. I hope that the Minister will assure us that this is going on.
952 What is needed is that the industrial departments should stay with the Board of Trade, but I take it from the look of the First Secretary that he has his eyes on this empire, and that is most alarming. What is needed is a federal arrangement dealing with trade and industry and technology which goes with industry.
We heard this afternoon a statement about the Ministry of Overseas Development. It is important that the House should recognise the major step which is now to be taken. According to the terms of reference announced by the Minister this afternoon this means the transfer of one of the most important aspects of foreign policy and the most powerful tools of a Foreign Secretary. They have been given entirely to a Minister concerned with technical topics of overseas development. This is a major development in the policy structure of the Government. Nothing was said about it by the Prime Minister—it was announced in answer to a Question this afternoon, and this is the second important development.
What about the rest, who seem to be a demonstration of the Prime Minister's insatiable appetite for gimmicks? In the United Nations one official has been replaced by another. The one who was replaced was much more skilled and experienced in diplomacy than the one who had replaced him. The replacement has been sent to the House of Lords, I understand against his wishes, and certainly before his time. At one moment he was to be a full member of the Cabinet. That was an arguable proposition but it is no longer the case and now there is no difference between them. What is the Minister for Disarmament, the Minister of State at the Foreign Office, doing there? He is occupying the same room as the Minister of State has always occupied and using the same staff. He is carrying out the same work which the Minister of State has always done. The only thing which has changed is his own political convictions.
Then we have this proliferation of advisers. We are told that this is to strengthen the machinery of government. Take the case of Sir Solly Zuckerman, adviser to the Ministry of Defence. We were told that he was to be adviser on disarmament, but that was quickly can- 953 celled and he was made adviser to the Foreign Secretary. Of course he has always been adviser to the Foreign Secretary arid always able to advise when required. Now he is to advise on technology, but he has always done so. He is a very remarkable man, a distinguished professor of biology. I think that it is appropriate that an expert on tadpoles should be an adviser to the present Administration.
Then we have the economists. [Interruption.] If the Government are going to appoint advisers of this sort and annouce them publicly and take them—not in Professor Zuckerman's case, but in other cases—from the sources that they have done, they must expect them to be open to criticism.
It seems that we are in for a time of happy relationships. I have seen what Dr. Balogh has to say about some of the colleagues with whom he will be working, quoted by the President of the Board of Trade. He said he did not like the Snowesque scientific dilettante. It is not for us to describe the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Technology in that respect.
Then we have very experienced advisers like Mr. Kaldor. He has a remarkable reputation of advice to Governments. He has been official adviser to six countries. The net result has been: in two, bitter opposition, in one, the Minister resigned, in one, there was a general strike, in one, the Government fell, and in the last there was a revolution.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Has it not always been the tradition of this House that critical and hostile attacks on civil servants are not made?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I am sorry, but I could not hear the last part of the hon. Gentleman's point of order.
§ Mr. Silverman
I said that I always understood it to be part of the tradition of the House that Members speaking in debate do not attack civil servants who cannot reply.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
It does not seem that any point of order arises. The right hon. Gentleman's criticism was of a Minister of the Crown.
§ Mr. George Brown
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. It is in the recollection of the House that the right hon. Gentleman referred to a distinguished civil servant, who gave hon. Members opposite very great support through 13 years, to whom he referred by name, Sir Solly Zuckerman, and then referred to him in a contemptuous phrase as a professor of tadpoles. [Interruption.] I am asking you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, despite the display of hon. Members opposite, which the country will know how to assess, is it in order to refer to distinguished civil servants in those terms?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I think that the right hon. Member misquoted what the right hon. Gentleman said. I think that he had passed on from Sir Solly Zuckerman and it was a Minister of the Crown that he was criticising when the point of order was raised.
§ Mr. Brown
In that case we understood, and so did the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the right hon. Gentleman was referring to Sir Solly Zuckerman, a professor of biology. The right hon. Gentleman said that, in order to lead on to what he hoped was a Smethwick-type term of abuse. He used a civil servant's name and he referred to his profession in order then to use this Smethwick-type term of abuse. I now ask you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, whether it is in order to refer in that way to civil servants who assisted right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I can only repeat what I said before. The right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) had passed on to deal with a Minister when the point of order was raised.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Further to that point of order. The point which I am putting to you now is that the question whether my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State quoted correctly or incorrectly what the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) said is irrelevant. I am putting to you that the tradition of the House is that in our debates we do not refer to civil servants by name at all, whether in terms of abuse or in any other terms.
§ Mr. George Brown
It is not what the right hon. Member for Bexley said. He attacked a civil servant.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
We had passed on from there and the right hon. Member for Bexley was criticising a Minister of the Crown. Mr. Heath.
§ Mr. Silverman
In the hearing of all of us the right hon. Member for Bexley referred to a distinguished civil servant by name in order to use him for an attack on the Government. I put it to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that that is contrary to the traditions of the House and is out of order.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I have already given a Ruling and I am not going to add anything further to it. Mr. Heath.
§ Mr. Heath
Let me make quite plain to the First Secretary of State, if he can regain his sense of humour, what I said. If the right hon. Gentleman will look it up he will find that I said that I admired Professor Sir Solly Zuckerman. Those were my words and I did not sneer at him. I did refer to the Government Front Bench. If the First Secretary of State wants to have my assurance about Sir Solly Zuckerman he can have it in full. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I am not prepared to withdraw what I said about the Government Front Bench.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
The right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) ought to be ashamed of himself.
§ Mr. Heath
If hon. Members opposite are prepared to listen, and if they can keep quiet, they will hear what I have to say. If there is anything recorded which can give offence to Professor Sir Solly Zuckerman then of course I completely withdraw it, but I do not withdraw anything which has given offence to the First Secretary of State or to the Government Front Bench.
Now, perhaps we can turn to the question of economic policy and the way 956 the Government are operating. I was going to say something about the First Secretary, but there is not time. [HON. MEMBERS: "The right hon. Gentleman can take his time."] Yes; I shall have to take some time from the Lord President.
The Government imposed the 15 per cent. surcharges and the export incentives hurriedly. The Customs themselves that evening did not even know on what basis they were being levied and could not tell businessmen what was happening. What are the consequences? The surcharges fall on things which are already ordered and delivery must be accepted. Therefore, they cannot be avoided, and the surcharges have to be paid without anything being done to affect the balance of payments or the balance of trade. This puts up costs.
The surcharge is levied on equipment for modernising the country, which is what the Government say they want, and this puts up costs. It is levied on chemicals, the raw materials of industry which cannot be obtained in this country, and this puts up costs, including the cost of exports. What is more—I hope that the Secretary of State for Scotland will note this—the effect of the surcharge is threatening firms in the development districts of Scotland and Ulster, particularly those with foreign investments. All this arises because of the way in which the surcharges have been levied.
The Prime Minister goes to a great meeting, a "Feed the Mind" campaign, but what is the first thing he does? He slaps a 15 per cent. surcharge on books, periodicals and newsprint. Tobacco, apparently, is more important and is exempt. This is the Government's decision.
Finally, manufacturers are to absorb these costs. What will be the effect of absorbing them? People will not stop importing. This shows the sort of muddle which the First Secretary gets into.
§ Mr. Heath
I am coming to that. They said nothing in the White Paper about the rise in costs which would result, the rise in wages, the increased demand on the home market and the effect on 957 exports. [HON. MEMBERS: "The right hon. Gentleman and his Government left the problem."] The First Secretary is responsible for these measures. What did the right hon. Gentleman say when he was interviewed? He was asked whether he had inherited solutions, and he said:All I can tell you, Mr. Ffitch, is that his solutions were buried under an awful lot of 'bumph'. I decided not to go through the 'bumph'. I found my own.
§ Mr. Speaker
Even right hon. Gentlemen, if the right hon. Gentleman who is addressing the House does not give way, must not persist.
§ Mr. Heath
What about the export incentives, which amount to three-quarters of 1 per cent.? [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman has had his opportunity. He spoke for an hour. He did not explain the cost of all this, the £70 million, one of the most expensive ways of dealing with the problem. For the £70 million we get nothing. It will go to everyone who has already exported. It is only when one goes beyond that, when the Chancellor has to find the money, that one gets any benefit at all. How did they get into this position? [Laughter.] Let the First Secretary listen. The Prime Minister never deigns to come to the House—no doubt, he is seeing the Press again—but perhaps I may quote from his Swansea speech, which he has always proclaimed as the economic bible. With his infallible memory, the Prime Minister would recall that this passage appears at the fifth line on page 28 of the booklet:If balance of payments difficulties arise in the next few months, we must meet them, as the Government always do. They must be met by using reserves. We should not be afraid to use them, nor in an emergency to use our very substantial drawing rights under the International Monetary Fund, to say nothing of other sources which can be mobilised in case of need.The right hon. Gentleman went on:In addition, we should use short-term interest rates to staunch any flow of short-term capital.That was the policy in January—serious, sober economic policy. That was the policy which went on until the middle 958 of the General Election. [Interruption.] The First Secretary knew the figures; they were being published. [Interruption.] Of course they were. They were published by the Board of Trade; the First Secretary himself said so.
Once we had got into the middle of the General Election, what did the Prime Minister—the absent Prime Minister—say? [HON. MEMBERS: "What did he say?"] It was "getting prosperity on the slate", or "putting us in pawn economically", or "borrowing from the Commonwealth". That is what the sterling area suddenly became—for political reasons. What has happened since?
§ Mr. Heath
What is the explanation now for this hurry and muddle? It is to try to create a political situation ready for the next General Election. Honest economics has gone out of the window—that is what has happened—and the Prime Minister is using it for this purpose.
What about the figure of £800 million? The White Paper said that it was £700 million, possibly £800 million. The First Secretary automatically jumps to £800 million. It is for the year 1964. We are five-sixth of the way through 1964, and it has been coped with by my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling), who was the Chancellor of the Exchequer. So there was no balanced consideration of policy but merely immediate hasty action in the way that we have seen to try to create a political crisis.
If we wanted another example, we had one this afternoon from the Postmaster-General. I have given him notice that I will discuss what I regard as the most disreputable action in modern times. He made a statement trying to give the impression that the Post Office was left making a great loss. In fact, it made a profit last year of £30 million. He then went on to give figures only for the postal services and not for the other services of the Post Office which always balanced it up. He went on to give a forecast of five years in order to get the figure of £100 million—only on the postal services, not the Post Office as a whole. What is more, 959 while implying that this was a loss, he was referring to something less than the 8 per cent., which is a figure fixed for profit—all of this in an attempt to mislead the House and the Press.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I think that I am being addressed on a point of order. On that basis I will hear the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman).
§ Mr. S. Silverman
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) made the direct accusation that my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General made a statement—and I quote the right hon. Gentleman's words—"in order to mislead the House". Is that expression Parliamentary?
§ Mr. Speaker
I think that it is all right because it is criticism of the right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster-General in his official capacity in that sense. I think that is right, but do not let us waste time about it.
§ Mr. Heath
I will give way to the Postmaster-General as soon as I have finished what I wish to say. He has made a five-year forecast on one aspect only of the Post Office. Why not a 10-year or 20-year forecast? Why not the same forecast of what will happen on the railways as a result of slowing down Beeching? If he wants to make a statement of this kind he should put the full picture before the House and let us judge.
§ Mr. Benn
The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that the Question I answered was put by one of his hon. Friends. It asked specifically about the postal services. Notwithstanding that, I mentioned the telecommunications service. Throughout the election campaign right hon. Gentlemen opposite said they had costed their programme. The figures I gave to the House today were known to 960 that Government and were deliberately suppressed for electoral reasons.
§ Mr. Heath
The right hon. Gentleman was answering a Question from one of my hon. Friends and might have answered it. He was asked what steps he was proposing to take in order to improve efficiency and profitability. He said nothing about that whatever. Now we know the intention of the Government on every occasion is to try to produce a snap statement which only presents half the truth.
I want to give the Lord President of the Council whatever time he wants, even though mine has been cut so short, but I want to say a little about the international repercussions of the Government's Measure. When one goes through the Gracious Speech one stumbles across a most astonishing paragraph. [HON. MEMBERS: "Common Market."] That is just what I am coming to. There is in the Speech this startling sentence:My Government will continue to play a full part in the European organisations of which this country is a member and will seek to promote closer European co-operation.How does that tie up with the statement on the tape tonight reporting a statement by the Danish Foreign Minister, after consultations here in London, blaming Britain's 15 per cent. import surcharge for the state of affairs in E.F.T.A. He has said:E.F.T.A. is in a very severe crisis and the forthcoming meeting will be the most decisive we have ever had.This is the result of the foreign policy of the Government.
The Government claimed that there was no opportunity for consultation. That is what the Economic Secretary to the Treasury said last week. Has he never heard of the Permanent Council of E.F.T.A. in Geneva, or of the Ambassador and his strong delegation to the E.E.C. in Brussels, or the Commonwealth Economic Council? All three of these are available for consultation. What has happened? In their first 11 days, the Government alienated 18 countries. Long before their first 100 days are up, the whole of the United Nations will have been offended. The President of the Board of Trade dropped off at Copenhagen. What did he say there? He said that it may be possible to help E.F.T.A. by early reduction of our tariffs for member-countries. How inept! Immediately 961 the rest of the world, through G.A.T.T., will claim that it is discrimination in favour of one group. Could there be anything more inept than the President of the Board of Trade's statement?
We have got into this state of affairs because of one thing.
§ Mr. Heath
It is the answer given by the Prime Minister himself in a broadcast made on 18th October. The broadcast was very interesting. It was recorded on 12th February last by the B.B.C. I find the first question put to him particularly interesting. This was on 12th February. The question was:I think, Mr. Wilson, that you are the first Prime Minister of this country to come from a provincial grammar school.That was an interesting question for the B.B.C. to be putting at that time. What did the right hon. Gentleman say at the end of that interview? He gave his vision of Britain. He was quite frank about it. He said:It's a vision … that has got a certain nationalist streak in it … you might call me a Little Englander in consequence …That is what the people in Europe are calling him and his Administration—a Little Englander Administration. They are terrified of the protectionist movement in the party opposite. Let the First Secretary see how soon he will be able to take the surcharges off. Let him see the difficulties he will have.
What we come down to is the fact that this Administration has already shown by its attitudes that it is not in tune with modernisation, that it is not capable of taking action to modernise the country, that it is capable of stopping the Concord and stopping London becoming a great capital, but not capable of modernising the country. For that reason alone we can have no confidence in Her Majesty's Government.
§ 9.36 p.m.
§ The Lord President of lie Council (Mr. Herbert Bowden)
May I, first, in the calmer atmosphere, congratulate 962 the 33 maiden speakers, as the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) did, and, like him, not waste too much time in dealing with each of them individually? They were excellent speeches, those I heard, and I read the rest. Might I also thank him for his kind reference to me, and, in reply, make a kind reference to him. He was a great Patronage Secretary—and what patronage! I do not know what the ratio was, but it was probably one knighthood in five or something of the sort. Patronage it was!
Today's opening speech by the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter), in moving the Amendment, was interesting in that it did not refer to the Amendment at all. He did not mention it from beginning to end. I listened to every part of his speech. I heard him build up a case on what he thought should be contained in our legislation and then begin to knock it down and argue why it should not be in the legislation. Of course, much of this legislation has not yet been drafted, as the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well. It was not a very good speech. In fact, it was a poor speech. However, I should like to be fair to the right hon. Gentleman. I was here between 1945 and 1951, and, although his speech today was not a good speech, the right hon. Gentleman makes better speeches in opposition than in government.
The right hon. Gentleman admitted that during the debate he had learned more about our policy in the Gracious Speech than he did from the speech itself. We, too, should admit that in the 22 days we have been the Government we have learned more about the previous Government's record than we ever dreamed we would learn. We are beginning to ask ourselves what the position is likely to be tomorrow, when we get to the Departments. [Laughter.] Right hon. Gentlemen opposite laugh, but I wonder whether the Postmaster-General did when he went into his office this morning and whether he realised what he would find.
May I deal with the issue raised by the right hon. Member for Bexley? He would be well advised to discuss this matter with his former colleague the previous Postmaster-General and ask him why paragraphs 10 to 15—he has paragraph 9 of the Post Office accounts—were 963 not printed when the accounts were published. I am not suggesting for one minute that the right hon. Member for Bexley knew of these paragraphs, but surely the former Postmaster-General should have known. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, before he makes any more remarks of that sort, to check with his former colleague.
The right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames said today—and I was interested to hear this—that he was worried for the tenants who would be under pressure and under threat of eviction. This is a bit much, coming from the right hon. Gentleman and the architects of the 1957 Rent Act, because if there are evictions amongst uncontrolled tenants they will be the result of the 1957 Act. I hope that when action is taken, as we expect it will be before very long, to protect tenants who are subject to eviction, the right hon. Gentleman will come over to our side of the House and help us to get that legislation through. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his interest in the matter.
The right hon. Member for Bexley had a particularly difficult assignment in speaking to the Amendment. The right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition—no? I beg his pardon—once referred to one of my colleagues as being too clever by half. That phrase just about sums up the speech of the right hon. Member for Bexley.
I said that the right hon. Gentleman had a very difficult assignment. If one reads the Amendment, one appreciates what I mean by that. It was a particularly difficult assignment to talk to us about the programme of modernisation which is now in train, but the right hon. Gentleman has had difficult assignments before. Those who remember the Common Market days remember him coming back here, very often at a great deal of inconvenience, to give us the latest information about the negotiations—negotiations during which we made concession after concession. He always came back and made defeat sound like victory—it was a difficult assignment but he did it—until, finally, he got the rapier-like thrust from the General, and, good fencer though he may be, that defeat sounded like defeat. The right hon. Gentleman is accustomed to difficult assignments. 964 That is probably why he was put up to wind up this debate tonight.
I should like to recall an occasion 13 years ago, almost to the day, when an old friend of most of us who were in the House, someone whom we greatly respected, Mr. Harry Crookshank, was doing what I am doing tonight, namely, winding up the debate on the Queen's Speech. He said—and many hon. Members will remember this—that when the Conservative Government got in in 1951 they found skeletons hanging from the candelabra. What did we find? We found that the candelabra had been swept under the carpet with the balance of payments deficit. [Laughter.] Oh yes, if you can sweep £800 million under the carpet, you can do the same with candelabra. Now, as the Postmaster-General told us, a little more has been swept under the carpet.
I deal next with the Tories' programme of modernisation. I have been trying to do some researches to discover when this word "modernisation" first crept into use by the party opposite. I think that it arrived when the Leader of the Opposition descended on us from another place. It was at about that time that they decided to become modern. The word "modernisation" was used time and time again—in fact, they became "Mods".
Having adopted this programme of modernisation they launched into a big poster campaign. We all remember it. One poster more than any other stands out in my mind, a new hospital every 19 days. What does that amount to? I have not a box of matches or a slide rule, but I think that it is 18 new hospitals a year. That is 90 new hospitals in a full Parliament—quite a programme. What happened to that poster? It seemed to disappear overnight. I am inclined to recall that up to that point the programme of modernisation had given us something like 4½ hospitals during the whole period.
Then we had the White Paper on Expenditure, and here, I thought, was the programme—this was it. This was the programme of modernisation which told us something in detail of almost every Government Department, with a total figure of £1,915 million of public expenditure in excess of current expenditure required to carry out the programme 965 in five years; depending on a 4 per cent. increase in the gross national product which was, in fact, then running at about 2.6 per cent. What would have happened had the party opposite won the General Election? It would have returned to power and within these last few days it would have cut and cut and cut. That White Paper would have meant nothing whatever, and we know it. In fact, it would be impossible, with the sort of attitude to economic affairs, adopted by the party opposite—with its complacency and laissez faire attitude—for it to have got anywhere near achieving a 4 per cent. annual increase in the gross national product.
§ Mr. Bowden>
Apart from that, the Opposition have not the impetus to try it—I understand that the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Knutsford (Sir W. Bromley-Davenport) said something. He made a speech on Friday and, if there is time, I should like to say a word about it.
Before I do that, I should like hon. Members opposite, and the country, to appreciate—this must be appreciated—that had the position been reversed, and they had remained on this side of the House, tomorrow—or probably last Friday—we should have been going in for a Bank Rate increase, with a credit squeeze and the whole mixture as before. That is precisely what would have happened. When the economy needed an impetus and a shot in the arm, what it would have received would have been the old medicine as before and they would have kept on during the whole time they were cutting, telling the people that they had never had it so good.
My right hon. Friend the First Secretary dealt earlier this week with the question of speculative office building. I should have thought that everyone opposite—everyone in the House—was aware of the position in London, where huge concrete boxes with windows in them have been built not to provide offices for immediate needs, but for speculative purposes. Many of them are completely empty. It may be that some hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite regard that as the right thing to do. They probably do. But this is something which 966 has to be tackled. It would not have been tackled if the party opposite had come back as the Government. It is now being tackled.
A number of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have mentioned the importance of a national incomes policy. Of course it is important. It is the basis of the economic policy of the country, whatever party is in power. Whether one can achieve it is a very different matter. I feel that we have a much better chance of getting such a policy than hon. Members opposite had they been in power. The difficulty is that when working towards a national incomes policy one has to be seen to be fair. The result of what has to be done at a particular moment must be seen to be fair to both sides.
With the sort of record that the Opposition have, how can one expect that one could ever attain that position? I recall that only a few years ago—and this is a clear demonstration of the sort of thing that happens—we had an increase in charges on the National Health Service of something like £63 million. Within a matter of weeks £82 million was handed over as a free gift to the Surtax payers. That is not the atmosphere in which we can get a national incomes policy.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, because he did at least make speeches promising to try to do something to keep prices down and that is important. He made a speech on 24th January, which I will quote, in which he said:Management should accept the responsibility of ensuring that prices are increased only where this is fully justified by rising costs and that, wherever possible, the benefits of greater efficiency in productivity are shared with the general public and by the reduction of prices.That, of course, is acceptable to everyone, but within four days the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) says.Managements have no business to accept any such responsibility. The duty of every management is to conduct the business, including the price policy of the business, in the way which, in the opinion of the management, is likely to maximise the return on the capital invested.Now, which is which? This is the whole point, this is the whole difficulty with hon. Members opposite. That is why they are where they are today. That is why they have been rejected 967 by the electorate. When, in 1961, the more reasonable of the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench began to talk about planning, about overall planning and even regional planning, the right hon. Gentleman for Wolverhampton, South-West, said, "Nonsense, nonsense." They really should get together on this. He is nodding in agreement. He still agrees. And now he has been brought down on to the Front Bench once again.
A great deal of comment has been made about what are known as prestige projects. We accept at once on this side of the House that experimentation in any field is costly and it is necessary, whether it be in aircraft design or anything else. But there must be some limit, some point at which one calls for a review. One hon. Gentleman on the other side made a gibe, in which he said, "The only reason for cutting Concord is to abolish prescription charges." We have not yet cut Concord. We are simply asking for a review.
But even if it were true, is that so very bad? Is it? Is it bad to save £60 million on a prestige product when one is in doubt whether that money should be spent, to abolish prescription charges? Is it? I should have thought that the prestige of this country never stood higher than it did when the National Health Service was introduced. That was a prestige project worth having. We cannot afford, in this or any other country, to waste money at present. Projects on which we feel that money is being wasted should be reviewed.
This programme of modernisation, we are told, was set in train by the party opposite. It is a train that took 12 years to start and it looks as if the lines have been closed.
I am required, as Leader of the House, to say one or two other things in reply to the debate, but time is slipping away from me. I want to say something about a subject to which some of us feel a little hesitant in making reference—the problem of Commonwealth immigrants and what is now, unfortunately, gradually becoming known as the Smethwick problem. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why."] Let me say why. I represent a Midlands constituency. I 968 had both a Liberal and a Conservative opponent. I knew my Liberal opponent extremely well, because we had fought twice before. The gentleman who was the Conservative candidate I had never met before, and I met him only once when we were both canvassing. By one look at him and by shaking his hand I knew that there would be no mention of the Commonwealth immigrants problem in that constituency—nor was there.
But it is not a scrap of use pretending that this problem was not raised in Smethwick and a number of other constituencies. It was raised. I am sure that the majority of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite—with us—wished that it had not been raised. The problem of Commonwealth immigrants is a social and not a racial problem. It is a problem of housing and of health. Let us face the fact that among the immigrants who come into this country there are many more white than there are coloured, but usually when we talk about the problem we are talking about coloured immigrants.
This problem will be dealt with only on the basis of its being a social problem, and we must get away from the racial issue, but it is nonsense to pretend that it did not become a racial issue. It did. Many things were said in Smethwick and other Birmingham constituencies which ought not have been said. [HON. MEMBERS: "Such as? "] I have in my hand a leaflet which I particularly do not want to quote. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not? "] Very well. I have a photostat copy of it and this is what it says—[HON. MEMBERS: "What is the imprint?"] I will tell hon. Members that when we get to it. It reads:What you might get with a Labour victory. This would happen. Perry Barr. Let's go with Labour!' 300,000 immigrants if you vote Labour—It's up to you on Thursday!It was published by I. H. Gash, 382, Kingstanding Road, Birmingham—who is the Conservative Party agent for the Perry Barr constituency.
Do not let us pretend that this was not done. I hope that now that this has been ventilated and that many hon. Members have mentioned it in the House we can forget the Smethwick incident. It was necessary to say this, and it has been said. I hope that we can now forget it, otherwise it will be not only 969 Smethwick or my constituency or any other constituency which will suffer; the whole country will suffer. If the term "Smethwick" becomes synonymous with Hola, or Sharpeville, or even Arkansas, it will be a bad thing for this country.
This closes the debate on the Gracious Speech. It is too much to expect that the speech has been welcomed by every one in the House. Of course it has not. But the Gracious Speech has been welcomed by the country as a whole. During the many years that we shall be in Government we shall have very many debates. We shall have debates which are sometimes
§ heated and, maybe, sometimes bitter. But there will be many occasions on which both sides of the House will be doing a good job together when the matter in front of us is not controversial—because, after all is said and done, outside our political controversy we are all Members of Parliament representing our constituents; and because we behave like that in Britain.
§ Question put, That those words be there added:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 294, Noes 315.973
|Division No. 2.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Crawley, Aidan||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Maccles'd)|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Crowder, F. P.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Cunningham, Sir Knox||Harvie Anderson, Miss|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Curran, Charles||Hastings, Stephen|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Currie, G. B. H.||Hawkins, Paul|
|Astor, John||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hay, John|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Dance, James||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel|
|Awdry, Daniel||Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Baker, W. H. K.||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hendry, Forbes|
|Balniel, Lord||Dean, Paul||Higgins, Terence L.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Hiley, Joseph|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)|
|Bell, Ronald||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Doughty, Charles||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Hopkins, Alan|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Drayson, G. B.||Hordern, Peter|
|Biffen, John||du Cann, Edward||Hornby, Richard|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Eden, Sir John||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P.|
|Bingham, R. M.||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Howard, Hn. G. R. (St. Ives)|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Emery, Peter||Hunt, John (Bromley)|
|Blaker, Peter||Emmet, Hn. Mrs. Evelyn||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Bossom, Hn. Clive||Erroll, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Fell, Anthony||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Fisher, Nigel||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)|
|Brewis, John||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)||Jennings, J. C.|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton)||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Forrest, George||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Foster, Sir John||Jopling, Michael|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith.|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Bryan, Paul||Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D.||Kerby, Capt. Henry|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Gammans, Lady||Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)|
|Buck, Antony||Gardner, Edward||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Gibson-Watt, David||Kilfedder, James A.|
|Burden, F. A.||Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan||Kimball, Marcus|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Lagden, Godfrey|
|Campbell, Gordon||Glover, Sir Douglas||Lambton, Viscount|
|Carlisle, Mark||Glyn, Sir Richard||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Goodhart, Philip||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Goodhew, Victor||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Chataway, Christopher||Gower, Raymond||Litchfield, Capt. John|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Grant, Anthony||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Grant-Ferris, R. (Nantwich)||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Gresham-Cooke, R.||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Grieve, Percy||Longbottom, Charles|
|Cole, Norman||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Longden, Gilbert|
|Cooke, Robert||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)||Loveys, Walter H.|
|Cooper, A. E.||Gurden, Harold||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh (Hendon, S.)|
|Cordle, John||Hall-Davis, A. G. F. (Morecambe)||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||MacArthur, Ian|
|Costain, A. P.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Harrison, Brian (Malden)||McMaster, Stanley|
|McNair-Wilson, Patrick||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Maginnis, John E.||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Maitland, Sir John||Pitt, Dame Edith||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Marlowe, Anthony||Pounder, Rafton||Teeling, Sir William|
|Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Temple, John M.|
|Marten, Neil||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Mathew, Robert||Prior, J. M. L.||Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Maude, Angus E. U.||Pym, Francis||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Conway)|
|Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Mawby, Ray||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. (Tiverton)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Martin||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Rees-Davies, W. R. (Isle of Thanet)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Renton, Rt. Hn. David||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Ridsdale, Julian||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Mitchell, David||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Walder, David (High Peak)|
|Monro, Hector||Robson Brown, Sir William||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|More, Jasper||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Morgan, W. G.||Roots, William||Wall Patrick|
|Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Royle, Anthony||Walters Denis|
|Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Russell, Sir Ronald||Ward Dame Irene|
|Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||St. John-Stevas, Norman||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Murton, Oscar||Sandys, Rt. Hn. Duncan||Webster, David|
|Neave, Airey||Scott-Hopkins, James||Wells John (Maidstone)|
|Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Sharples, Richard||Whitelaw William|
|Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Shepherd, William||Williams Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)|
|Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Sinclair, Sir George||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)||Wilson Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Onslow, Cranley||Smyth, Rt. Hn. Brig. Sir John||Wise, A. R.|
|Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Soames, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Spearman, Sir Alexander||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Osborn, John (Hallam)||Speir, Rupert||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Stainton, Keith||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Stanley, Hn. Richard||Wylie, N. R.|
|Page, Graham (Crosby)||Stodart, J. A. (Edinburgh, W.)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm||Younger, Hn. George|
|Peel, John||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Percival, Ian||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Peyton, John||Talbot, John E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Batsford and Mr. McLaren.|
|Abse, Leo||Carmichael, Neil||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)|
|Albu, Austen||Carter-Jones, Lewis||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)|
|Alldritt, W. H.||Coleman, Donald||Floud, Bernard|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Conlan, Bernard||Foley, Maurice|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Crawshaw, Richard||Ford, Ben|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Crosland, Anthony||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)|
|Barnett, Joel||Crossman, R. H. S.||Freeson, Reginald|
|Baxter, William||Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Galpern, Sir Myer|
|Beaney, Alan||Dalyell, Tam||Garrett, W. E.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Darling, George||Garrow, A.|
|Bence, Cyril||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||George, Lady Megan Lloyd|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Ginsburg, David|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Gourlay, Harry|
|Bessell, Peter||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony|
|Binns, John||de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey||Gregory, Arnold|
|Bishop, E. S.||Delargy, Hugh||Grey, Charles|
|Blackburn, F.||Dell, Edmund||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Dempsey, James||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)|
|Boardman, H.||Diamond, John||Griffiths, Will (Manchester Exchange)|
|Boston, T. G.||Dodds, Norman||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Doig, Peter||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. W.)||Donnelly, Desmond||Hale, Leslie|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Driberg, Tom||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Bowles, Frank||Duffy, Dr. A. E. P.||Hamilton, William (West Fife)|
|Boyden, James||Dunn, James A. (L'pool, Kirkdale)||Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Dunnett, Jack (Nottingh'm, Central)||Hannan, William|
|Bradley, Tom||Edelman, Maurice||Harper, Joseph|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Hart, Mrs. Judith|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||English, Michael||Hattersley, Ray|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)||Ennals, David||Hayman, F. H.|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury)||Ensor, David||Hazell, Bert|
|Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis|
|Buchanan, Richard (Gl'sg'w, Spr'burn)||Evans, Ioan (Birmingham, Yardley)||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Fernyhough, E.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Finch, Harold||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret|
|Callaghan, James||Fitch,Alan||Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)|
|Holman, Percy||Marsh, Richard||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton. N. E.)|
|Hooson, H. E.||Mason, Roy||Silkin, John (Deptford)|
|Horner, John||Maxwell, Robert||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Mayhew, Christopher||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Mellish, Robert||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.)||Mendelson, J. J.||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Mikardo, Ian||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Howie, W.||Millan, Bruce||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Hoy, James||Miller, Dr. M.S.||Small, William|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Milne, Edward||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Molloy, William||Snow, Julian|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Monslow, Walter||Solomons, Henry|
|Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Hunter, A. E.(Feltham)||Morris, Charles (Openshaw)||Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank|
|Hynd, H.(Accrington)||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Steele, Thomas|
|Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick (SheffieldPk)||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Murray, Albert||Stonehouse, John|
|Jackson, Colin||Neil, Harold||Stones, William|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Newens, Stan||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Stross, Sir Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Summerskill, Dr. Shirley|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.)||Norwood, Christopher||Swain, Thomas.|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Oakes, Gordon||Swingler, Stephen|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Ogden, Eric||Symonds, J. B.|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham S.)||Taverne, Dick|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Orbach, Maurice||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Orme, Stanley||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Oswald, Thomas||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W)|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Owen Will||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Padley, Walter||Thornton, Ernest|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Paget, R. T.||Tinn, James|
|Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Palmer, Arthur||Tomney, Frank|
|Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Tuck, Raphael|
|Lawson, George||Pargiter, G. A.||Urwin, T. W.|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S. E.)||Varley Eric G.|
|Ledger, Ron||Parker, John||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Parkin, B. T.||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Pavitt, Laurence||Wallace, George|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Warbey, William|
|Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Watkins, Tudor|
|Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Pentland, Norman||Weitzman, David|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Perry, E. G.||Wells, William (Walsail, N.)|
|Lipton, Marcus||Popplewell, Ernest||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Prentice, Reginald||Whitlock, Charles|
|Loughlin, Charles||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Lubbock, Eric||Probert, Arthur||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Purcey, Cmdr. Harry||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|McBride, Neil||Randall, Harry||Williams, A. J. (Swansea, W.)|
|McCann, J.||Rankin, John||Williams, LI. (Abertillery)|
|MacColl, James||Redhead, Edward||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|MacDermot, Niall||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|McGuire, Michael||Reynolds, Gerald||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Mclnnes, James||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Richard, Ivor||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|MacKenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Mackie, George Y. (C'ness & S'land)||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Woof, Robert|
|Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)||Robinson, Rt. Hn. K. (St. Pancras, N.)||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|McLeavy, Frank||Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|MacMillan, Malcolm||Rose, Paul B.||Zilliacus, K.|
|MacPherson, Malcolm||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Rowland, Christopher|
|Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Sheldon, Robert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mallalieu, E. L.(Brigg)||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.||Mr. Sydney Irving and|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfleld, E.)||Shore, Peter (Stepney)||Mr. G. H. R. Rogers.|
|Manuel, Archie||Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tle-on-Tyne,C.)|
§ 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.