§ Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), further considered.
§ Mr. Speaker
With this Amendment we can take Amendment No. 6, in page 1, line 15, leave out "sixteen" and insert "eleven", and Amendment No. 129, in line 15, leave out "sixteen" and insert "twelve".
§ Mr. Marsh
Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Following the last Division, perhaps it is in order to say, with great moderation, that I hope we shall not have another experience of a situation in which hon. Members having said that they do not think that there is a case to support an Amendment and do not intend to vote on it, nevertheless then do so wholly and solely because they are offended on personal grounds.
§ Mr. Barber
There is no point in the Minister's pursuing this matter. We made it quite clear that we did not intend to vote for that Amendment on the merits, but that in view of the way in which the Parliamentary Secretary behaved—which will be within the recollection of the House—we were quite justified in protesting as we did. What is more—
§ Mr. Marsh
I hope that the only question which hon. Members will take into account on this occasion is whether or not they agree with the Amendment. It follows discussions that we had in Committee about the maximum size of the proposed Corporation. The Bill then proposed that the maximum number 798 should be 16. In the debate a number of hon. Members on both sides of the Committee expressed the view that 16 was too large a figure. There is no absolute figure; nobody knows what is the right size of a body of this type. Nevertheless, my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo), my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) and some hon. Members opposite said that they were not satisfied with the existing limit on the size of the Corporation.
Powerful arguments were adduced on the matter. The hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) talked about the problems of large Cabinets, which I will not go into because my remarks might be embarrassing to both Front Benches. Nevertheless, doubts were expressed about the value of having a body consisting of as many as 16 members. I took these arguments into account and gave an undertaking that I would consider the question carefully and see whether, in the light of further examination, the figure could be reduced.
Unlike the situation in regard to many other Amendments, I am afraid that the discussions which I subsequently had and my examination of the problem led me not only to believe that the arguments which had been put forward did not have as much weight as I had thought, but that the figure which we had included was too small, for reasons that I shall come to. This was in no way intended to be deliberately awkward; in fact, it has created a great deal of embarrassment generally.
The Bill does not set out the actual type of structure for the industry after nationalisation. It does not set out the groupings or the way in which the industry will be rationalised. It is no secret that the Government are listening to the views of such bodies as the Organising Committee, which has been working on this subject, and the Benson Committee. The Corporation will have a statutory responsibility to report to the Minister on the structure of the industry. There are many arguments about how this should be done. There was agreement in the Committee that the Corporation should be a functional body, the members of which had specific responsibilities. It was agreed that there should be a deputy chairman or chairmen.
799 10.15 p.m.
However, there was some dispute on two other types of member. One was the part-time membership and there were forceful views against the principle of part-time members on a body of this type. There was also some argument about how far, when the industry was rationalised into large groups, it would be wise to include the chairmen of those groups in the Corporation proper. There are now real arguments of principle on both sides. I am convinced that a number of part-time members on a body of this size, providing that they are few in number, can provide a level and variety of outside experience which one would not get in a purely functional board restricted to members with specific expertise. There is a case for the part-time member.
There is another argument about the chairmen of the groups after rationalisation. It is now clear that the industry will have to be concentrated into probably not fewer than three and not more than five sizeable groups within the Corporation's orbit. It might be argued that if the chairmen of these groups, powerful figures in their own right, were on the Corporation, precisely because the Corporation's most difficult decisions might involve deciding between conflicting interests of the groupings, they might have a virtually vested interest within the councils of the Corporation.
It is argued that this might lead the Corporation to avoid some more difficult issues and to seek compromise where a clear decision might be better and that it might involve delay. It was said that it might not be advantageous to have them on the Corporation. This would be a peculiar position, in that the groupings would be subsidiary to the Corporation, as the latter would be appointed by the Minister and the former set up by the Corporation.
These arguments can be fairly made against including the chairmen of the groups on the Corporation. It can be argued, on the other hand, that chairmen of groups of this size—a quarter or one-fifth of the whole British steel industry—will be powerful figures and that it would be unrealistic to believe that one could take decisions within the Corporation without having the expert knowledge 800 and advice of these people available on equal terms within the Corporation.
Therefore, after discussions with many different bodies, we found a level of advice which made it clear that if the figure remained 16—we are talking about a functional body—this would not only limit the size of the Corporation but would greatly restrict the types of organisation open to it. Considerations like different forms of organisation, number of boards, a second tier of deputy chairmen—factors which are crucial to different types of organisation to the industry—would themselves be dependent upon the size of the board or the Corporation which it was open for them to work within.
It is interesting to look also at the experience of a number of nationalised industries in the past. When the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act was passed in 1946, a maximum-size Board of eight was set up, but it was necessary to come back to Parliament within three years with a request to extend the size of that Board. The Gas Council, after it was set up, waited a period of years before it could obtain Parliamentary time and support to have the original Act changed.
One can look also at some of the very large industrial groups. The Corporation will be a very large company, and the position in the initial stages will, I think, be different from what it will be subsequently; a larger board might well be justified in the earlier stages, but not to the same extent in the later stages. Looking at some of the sizeable companies which exist, one finds that I.C.I. has 21 directors, Unilever has 24, British-American Tobacco has 20, Imperial Tobacco has 26, G.K.N. has 22, and Distillers has 22.
I am not arguing that there is a direct similarity between nationalised boards and boards of that sort, to which different considerations apply, and neither am I arguing that the Government Amendment is intended to produce a Corporation necessarily of 20. I am saying that, according to the advice which we have received so far, and as a result of the discussions we have had, it is clear that if we cannot raise the maximum size of the Corporation—recognising that this is a maximum size—we cut out of consideration a whole range of viewpoints on the organisation.
801 I apologise for this. In a way, it is an example of the value of a Committee stage. We started off, I confess, by looking at the possibility of reducing the size. I am now firmly convinced, as are people in industry—certainly the Organising Committee is—that the present maximum would circumscribe too much the discussions which are at present in progress. I therefore ask the House to agree to the Amendment to enable us to have a greater degree of flexibility.
§ Mr. Peyton
All of us on this side of the House were very relieved that the right hon. Gentleman did not follow the earlier trend of his remarks and yield to the temptation to follow, quite wrongly, the example of his Parliamentary Secretary, who, we all hope, will learn.
I yielded to the temptation in Standing Committee to hope that we would not have too large a body. I base my fears of large bodies upon the size of Cabinets. I have observed that successive Administrations have this much in common, that those who are members of Cabinets have profound respect for that body, whereas those who are not sometimes fall short of that very desirable degree of veneration. Even though that ill be foisted upon the country as a whole, it would be wrong to impose it also upon this unfortunate industry which is already being called upon to suffer so much.
I was very much impressed—and here I am about to be civil, so I hope that I may have the Minister's attention—by the fact that, during the whole of the Minister's remarks, after his first few sentences, he was exclusively concerned with problems of an industrial or commercial nature. That emerged quite obviously. The Minister has moved an Amendment quite other than what he expected during the Committee stage, always a difficult position for a Minister to be in. If he will say quite plainly that the considerations which led him to move the Amendment arise purely from commercial and industrial factors, I should be more than satisfied, and, out of respect for the Minister's argument, I would refrain, in the interests of time, from moving Amendment No. 6, which stands it my name and those of my hon. Friends. I consider this to be a reason- 802 able offer and, if the Minister wishes to intervene now, I gladly give way.
§ Mr. Peyton
This is a most happy exchange. Assuming that "Yes" means "Yes", I am very glad to fall in with it.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am sorry to spoil the harmony of the moment, but I have not selected the hon. Gentleman's Amendment.
§ Mr. Peyton
I am sorry, Mr. Speaker.
Over many years, it has been a bad habit of mine to go racing from time to time, and on those occasions I have made it a practice to mark cards. I had marked the Amendment in my name as having been selected for discussion in this debate. But I see your point, Sir. I am not in a position to move it. Nevertheless, the opportunity for discussing my Amendment is something which I gladly forgo in view of the Minister's clear, monosyllabic and unqualified undertaking. I welcome this occasion, and I salute some common sense even from this Administration
§ Sir D. Glover
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can the Minister give a categorical assurance in response to an Amendment which is not before the House? Ought not he to withdraw his "Yes"?
§ Mr. Ian Mikardo (Poplar)
Before this somewhat unnatural alliance between Yeovil and Greenwich is finally consummated—out of my regard for hon. and right hon. Members, I refrain from saying "unholy" alliance—the House could with advantage spend a few minutes in considering this not unimportant subject.
We are here changing the character, structure and method of organisation and management of one of the country's major industries. The way in which it will be run will depend on many factors, but it will depend to some extent on the way in which the members of the Corporation are chosen, on the way the Corporation is constituted and on the method by which the Corporation 803 functions. We ought, therefore, not to pass too glibly over the question.
I have some views on the matter, to which my right hon. Friend was kind enough to refer, but I say at once that this is not a point on which I should be willing to go to the stake. It is possible fairly to take different views on the question according to—one might almost say—one's philosophy of industrial management and organisation. I understand my right hon. Friend's difficulty, and I have no doubt that the members and chairman of the Organising Committee have so advised him, in trying to figure out in advance, before the thing is settled, exactly how it will be run, and I can, therefore, understand his de sire to have an arrangement which will give him the maximum flexibility. But I hope that he will not use to the full the powers which he is seeking, at least not for any length of time.
Notwithstanding the list my right hon. Friend gave of companies having boards of directors of 20 or more, I do not consider that a committee as large as 20 affords a good way to run an industrial enterprise, large or small. From some points of view —I shall not develop them now because it would take too long—there is a case for saving that a large organisation ought to have a small board rather than that a small organisation ought to have a small board. The large organisation has resources enabling it to call upon expertise of all kinds, either from among is functioning managers or from ad hoc advisers, which some small companies have not.
My right hon. Friend talked of the necessity for getting various types of expertise and experience. He is right, but if the Corporation wants somebody's ideas and expertise, it is not necessary to sit him on it, where he will sit through long meetings listening to things which have nothing to do with his expertise.
One can get expertise without sticking it on a board of directors, and sometimes it is better to use it without doing so. I appreciate my right hon. Friend's point about the chairmen of subordinate groupings, whether regional, product or other kinds of groupings. We know that we are talking about four or so people. I 804 think that it is right to allow places for them, but I do not think that the best way to get their best co-operation with the Corporation is necessarily to have them as members.
One thing one must always avoid in this situation is turning a board which should be of one mind, with a single purpose, to do a single job, into a group of rivals for the same resources, each rolling his own little logs. One can get that, above all, if there are regional representatives. Probably no hon. Member on either side of the House would now dissent from the view that the decision made a few years ago to divide the additional rolling capacity then being provided between Scotland and Wales, instead of having the whole lot together in one place, was a very bad decision. It was made against all the right technical indications, because of regional logrolling. I fear that there might be that danger if the chairmen of the groupings are on the Corporation.
However, let us concede the point. That gives four. Amendment No. 129, to which my name is added, proposes a total Corporation of 13, which would give the chairman, deputy chairman and the four regional chaps with room for seven functional directors. I would have thought that that was enough and more.
What really worries me about this large Corporation is that a lot of part-time directors might be brought in. My right hon. Friend quoted some of the existing corporations. I wish he would go to the chairmen of those organisations, get each of them in a confidential mood and ask him how much value he thinks he gets from his part-time directors, because I think that I know the answer.
§ Mr. Marsh
To reassure my hon. Friend, I can say that none of the advice I have received has been based on a large number of part-time directors. With such an enormous industry, which has such a wide range of activities as well as a number of groups, there might well be an argument for a larger number of full-time functional people. I accept the argument that a Corporation that has a large number of part-time members kills the whole point of that.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I thank my right hon. Friend for what he has said. It depends what is meant by "large number" 805 Usually, there are four or five such members, which is a grossly large number. I would want to do without them altogether, because one can get their expertise much better without clogging up a board.
If we get this change there will be the chairman and one or two deputychairmen—I make no complaint about that—three, four or five regional chaps, and half a dozen functional directors. Because there is a terrible Parkinson's Law about boards of directors, the tendency will be for them to say, "We have 15 chaps. We are entitled to 20. Does anybody know any good 'bods' knocking around whom we could co-opt? "That is what I am frightened about.
One thing that has confirmed me in my views since the discussion in Committee to which my right hon. Friend referred is that a case has recently arisen in which a full-time member of a board—with a full-time member's salary—has been reappointed a part-time member of another corporation. It seems a colossal piece of nonsense and to smack a little of patronage rather than of selecting people entirely on merit.
Having said that, I hope that my right hon. Friend, when he gets his Amendment, as doubtless he will, will tell the Chairman of the Corporation when he is appointed "For goodness' sake, look upon this as a maximum to be used temporarily and in need, and not as a number to he filled up quickly at any cost with a lot of part-timers".
§ Mr. Mendelson
In supporting the Amendment and the ideas behind it as outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo), I do not want to rehearse again some of the arguments that were gone through in Standing Committee. I appreciate that my right hon. Friend has covered part of the ground in his initial statement, but I should like to add two points that I think are relevant to the discussion in Committee and to the new Amendment.
One of the reasons why I and my hon. Friend are apprehensive that there should not be too many part-time members of the board is that we feel that all those appointed to the board of the Corporation should be people who are capable of being in charge of one of the major departments or activities of the Corporation.
806 My second point concerns the circles from which the members might be drawn. In Standing Committee, we had a long discussion about the people who might be drawn from management—not necessarily only former directors but people from various levels of management—and from the workpeople in the industry or people who have made their career in the trade union movement in various industrial organisations. One of the points on which we were all agreed can be summed up in the phrase "Competence and confidence should go together."
It is important that the people who work in the industry and whose future depends upon the success of the industry should have confidence in those who are appointed to the board and be sure that they are the right kind of people, both in competence and in approach, to lead the industry under public ownership. There is a long history to this, as my right hon. Friend knows, in other nationalised industries, and I need not labour the point and delay the House by giving details.
I hope that when the composition of the board comes to be finally decided by my right hon. Friend—I am not making the mistake of thinking that the appointments to the Organising Committee necessarily entirely predetermine the full composition of the board once it finally comes to be appointed—he will be very careful not to accept the doctrine that has sometimes been voiced in the Standing Committee, and indeed outside the House, that people who have the necessary expertise to serve in a position on the board and be responsible for one of the major activities of the Corporation must inevitably be drawn from the circles of former directors or senior management.
I should like my right hon. Friend, in implementing the formula of "competence and confidence," to look for talent and experience among the work-people, among those who have made their career in the trade union movement —those in the steel industry particularly will have a great deal of seniority, because without that they would not have the confidence of their fellow workpeople—and also some of those who might have made a further career in one 807 of the steel-producing activities somewhere at an early age, accepted a full-time position in the trade union movement and then made their career for another 10 or 15 years as officers of the trade union movement.
I hope that my right hon. Friend would then be able to find a number of these people who are looking forward to another 15 or 20 years' active work and would be able to appoint some of them as full time members of the Corporation. In other words, I would not like to see a situation where a rather large number of part time appointments were being made, with most of the trade union representatives given only part time jobs. I realise that my right hon. Friend has already appointed one trade union officer to a full time position.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
Order. The hon. Gentleman is getting rather wide of the Amendments, which are concerned with the number of members of the Board and not with the qualities required in the appointees.
§ Mr. Mendelson
When I put down Amendment No. 129, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I was not inspired merely by an abstract figure and clearly I have to put to the House the ideas that prompted me to put it down. But, of course, I gladly take your guidance and move on.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) has made it clear that he will not give way. The hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) must not persist.
§ Mr. Peyton
I am obliged. I only want to ask whether the hon. Gentleman's representations in Committee on behalf 808 of one of his constituents have been successful or not.
§ Mr. Mendelson
That is another example of the time wasting of the hon. Gentleman, to which we have become accustomed. I suspected that this would be the case. That is why I did not at first give way. But this gives me the opportunity to state that it is completely untrue that I have ever supported the name of any one of my constituents for any of these appointments. I want to return now to the serious point, although it is difficult to have a serious debate when the hon. Member tries to take part.
What concerns me is that, if the Minister accepts the principle that we should have mainly full-time members, he might find that the figure he is asking for is too large. We want to be assured that he will only make as many appointments as are absolutely necessary on functional grounds, apart from a chairman and a deputy chairman. Perhaps four deputy chairmen might be too many. At the same time, I hope that my right hon. Friend will not be looking for more part-time members representing the work-people and the trade union movement but will give them their full share of the full-time appointments.
§ Mr. Barber
The Minister's speech was remarkable because whereas, in Committee, he indicated that he would consider reducing the maximum number of members from 16, he now proposes an increase to 20. Having said that, two aspects of his speech were gratifying to me.
First, there is a refreshing change in that he is now prepared to change his mind. Secondly, I understand that this change of opinion is consequent on a unanimous recommendation of the Organising Committee. The number of members of the Corporation is surely crucial to the whole of the first recommendations of the Committee, whatever they might be. This seems to be so because whatever organisation the Committee has in mind is bound to be reflected in the composition of the Corporation and the number of directors. Clearly, the Organising Committee has given a great deal of thought to this matter and members of that Committee, as we know, are men of great industrial experience.
809 This being the case, while I still have some of the reservations which were expressed n the Standing Committee, I for one am certainly prepared to go along with this proposal. Furthermore, as has been pointed out, the number of 20 is a maximum, which is in line with quite a number of large companies in the private sector. For all those reasons, I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will take the same view as my hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) and will not take the matter to a Division.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 10.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward M. Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)
I beg to move Amendment No. 7, in page 2, line 5, at the end, to insert:Notwithstanding the generality of this subsection at least one member of the Corporation shall have experience of or shown capacity in steel matters in Scotland and at least one shall have similar qualifications in respect of steel matters in Wales.As the Minister has just increased the maximum size of the Corporation to 20, I am confident that he will accept this Amendment. All I ask is that one of the number should have experience of steel matters in Scotland and that one should have experience of steel matters in Wales. This is a very small request, and I hope that the Minister will accede to it.
I accept that the members of the Corporation will not be delegates or representatives of areas, regions or pressure groups, but the special problems of Scottish and Welsh steel are such that they deserve some attention.
Why should they have such representation? First, there is the simple importance of Scottish steel. About 30,000 people are directly employed in the Scottish steel industry and more than 100,000 are dependent on it directly for their employment and there are many thousands who depend indirectly on this great industry for their livelihoods. It has been estimated that about 250,000 people in Scotland, mainly in the west of Scotia id, depend directly or indirectly on the industry for their livelihoods.
There are many other ways in which steel is very important for Scotland. Local authorities provide one instance. Those of Motherwell and Wishaw take 41 per cent. of their rates revenue from 810 one Scottish steel works and if there were to be a major change in the organisation of Scottish steel, it could have devastating consequences for Glasgow, Lanark, Motherwell, Wishaw, Coatbridge, Port Glasgow and Ayr. To that extent steel is vital to Scotland and there should be someone on the Corporation with some knowledge of our special Scottish problems.
The second main reason is the vulnerability of the Scottish steel industry which in fair and free competition starts with a ball and chain around its feet, because we have the appalling problem of the coal differential to the extent of 33s. a ton, the gas differential, making the price of gas in Scotland one sixth higher than in the rest of the country, the electricity differential and the rates burden which is such that on average on every ton of Scottish steel 27s. 9d. must be allowed whereas in England and Wales the corresponding figure is around 12s. 6d. In view of these special circumstances, it is essential that we should have someone on the Corporation who can bring reassurance to the Scottish steel industry.
The third reason is the lack of confidence in the Scottish steel industry, a lack of confidence which has been caused by many things. For example, we had the proposals in the Benson Report which said:The Committee wishes to emphasise that, if the upward course of British fuel prices, and particularly coking coal prices, continues as over the last decade, at very least, the viability of some long-established U K. steel-making areas—for example, Scotland—may be put in hazard".This is only one small indication of what has been a general feeling in Scotland, that our great steel industry is at risk. We also saw this from the results of our major Scottish steel company, Colvilles, who in 1965–66 lost almost £2 million. This was not because of inefficiency, or because it was not progressive and go-ahead, but because of the actions of other nationalised industries in imposing a crippling fuel differential.
To that extent we do not want to see happening in the steel industry what has happened in every other nationalised industry, namely that the interests of Scotland are discriminated against. It is 811 essential to that extent to have the reassurance that someone on this board will be aware of the special problems of Scotland and prevent this Corporation hitting Scotland as hard as has been the case with the other nationalised industries.
We have not been happy with our experience in pricing and other matters. Only a few months ago we had the cancellation of almost every single forward contract of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. Technical advance is now stopping. There will be no more projects there. The Minister may say that we can depend on the Government to protect the interests of Scotland, but really this is one argument that he cannot put forward. Yesterday we had a splendid example of the extent to which the Government are protecting Scottish industry. In the ten years after the war the Scottish shipyards, directly related to Scottish steel, got one half of the naval work going. Last year only £6 million out of £48 million came to the Scottish shipyards.
In 20 years we are down from one half to one eighth. Since then we have had S.E.T., which clearly discriminates against Scotland and the Highlands. We have seen the housing figures, issued yesterday, which are disastrous for Scotland—[Interruption.] This is only a brief reference, directly relevant to the Amendment.
§ Mr. Taylor
I have two further examples, the abolition of free depreciation, which was something which this Government did, and our unemployment figures—[Interruption.]—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman is going wide of the mark. Will he come back to the Amendment?
§ Mr. Taylor
I quote these as examples of the extent to which this Government is discriminating against Scotland, to show how we cannot depend upon the Government to protect the interests of Scotland. For that reason, it is essential that this Amendment should be approved, not only in the letter, but in the spirit. It is vital to Scotland, that we should not 812 have the same experience as we have had with other nationalised industries. We have special problems which need special attention.
We need representation, and most of all we need people with knowledge of the special problems of Scottish steel on this Corporation. I have suggested only one member, but I hope that there would be more than one. It is important that this should be the case. The Minister may say that any sensible Government would make sure that at least one Scot, or someone with experience of Scotland's steel industry, would be on the board, but I want this Bill to make sure that it is binding on all future Governments, so long as the industry is nationalised, and I certainly hope that that will not be for too long.
§ Mr. Peyton
On a point of order. On the last Amendment we discussed, I suggested that during Committee stage the hon. Gentleman the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) referred to the submission of a name by himself to the Minister. He denied that he had ever made such a submission and told me that I was misleading the House. [Interruption.] I merely want to get the record straight.
§ Mr. Peyton
The hon. Gentleman told me that what I was saying was untrue. In col. 183 of Standing Committee D, on 1st November—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. If the hon. Gentleman feels this way, he has other remedies. This is not a point of order.
§ Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)
It is a bit hard that the House should have had to listen to a rehearsal of the speech by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) for the Pollok by-election.
§ Mr. Steel
Nevertheless, the hon. Member was making a valid point in suggesting that there should be a Scottish member of the Corporation. This is clearly a sensible point which any Government would obviously accept and it 813 would be ludicrous to waste the time of the House trying to write this into legislation.
§ Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith (North Angus and Mearns)
After that intervention by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) one wonders where his interests really lie in relation to Scotland. I sincerely hope that it will be noticed in the right quarters.
I support my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor), not only for putting down the Amendment, but for the way in which he presented it. He demonstrated clearly to all of us in the House how necessary it is for the special needs of Scotland to be looked after, special needs which, over the past two years, many of us have become concerned whether they were being looked after.
I support the Amendment for one particular reason. The past five years in Scotland have seen a growth of two quite new types of industry. We have seen a far greater growth of science-based in-dusty, such as in electronics, and a much greater growth of consumer-based industry, such as in the manufacture of domestic appliances.
The one thing in common in these new industries that have come to Scotland is that they use specialised steel products, in great contrast to the older industries of Scotland such as the railways, heavy engineering and shipbuilding, which use the products of our indigenous iron and steel industry in Scotland. The interesting feature of many of these new firms which are coming to Scotland is that nearly 80 per cent. of the steel they use comes from south of the Border and is steel for special products.
If those firms are to use these specialised steel products, they must keep close liaison with the firms south of the Border which supply them. They must make sure that they get steel of the right quality and specification and they must maintain close liaison to ensure quick delivery.
Because we depend on firms of this kind in Scotland, it is essential that the interests of Scotland are looked after. That is why I wholeheartedly support my hon. Friend's Amendment.
§ Mr. Marsh
I will not detain the House long on this subject. The Government 814 naturally accept the importance of Scotland, and the importance of Wales. For many years now, no Government has been allowed for one day to forget it. Indeed, one sometimes feels that it might be interesting if half the amount of attention that is given in this House to Scotland and to Wales were given to London. That is a purely objective opinion.
§ Mr. Marsh
The importance of these areas is very much recognised and clearly we understand this.
It would be a great pity if we were to start introducing into our legislation a belief that we had people serving on boards not because of their innate ability or the exceptional qualifications which they have to offer but wholly and solely because they were Scotsmen or Welshmen. A person so appointed would be in an intolerable position because, although he might be a scientist or an economist, he would be there primarily as the Scottish or the Welsh member of the board.
All experience shows that the natural charm, ability and eloquence of the Scots and the Welsh has always enabled them to get what at least could be described as a fair share, and a very large share, of the posts which the British people have to offer in this country. I would regard it is a great pity if we sought to fudge the contribution which they have to make by designating a particular post on these boards. We have never done it on any board. It would mean that the person on the board would be there with this tag.
I think that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) and other hon. Members who have spoken have sufficient confidence in their fellow countrymen to recognise that such people would be able to get there on their own abilities. To do as the hon. Member has suggested would be a pity. It would be yet another example of the numbers of Scotsmen there are about. One has only to look at the number of Cockneys in this Government to be certain that it is ensured that there is no need for a great campaign to protect the Scots and the Welsh. The Government 815 is very fully alive to the importance of these areas, and I hope that the House will accept that our heart is in the right place. I assure hon. Members that the Government's heart is in the right place, but I cannot accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. G. Campbell
I do not ask for a Scotsman or a Welshman, but somebody who has shown knowledge and ability in steel matters. It would not matter who he was so long as he had those qualities.
§ Mr. Edward M. Taylor
If he were a Chinese or a Pakistani with a special knowledge of Scottish steel I would have no objection, but we want people with special knowledge of Scottish and Welsh steel, and, if that is understood, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill, as amended, to be further considered tomorrow.