§ 10.10 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Civil Service Department (Mr. David Howell)
I beg to move,That an humble address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Ministry of Aviation Supply (Dissolution) Order, 1971, be made in the form of the draft laid before this House on 20th April.In Cmnd. 4641, the Government announced a new organisation for defence procurement and civil aerospace. This involves the dissolution of the temporary Ministry of Aviation Supply and the transfer of its functions to the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Trade and Industry. These changes in Departmental responsibilities require an Order which cannot come into effect unless Parliament approves it. If I may, I shall come to the Order later. First, the House may find it helpful if I refer briefly to the proposals as a whole.
Last October, the Government published their White Paper on the Reorganisation of Central Government, which was generally accepted when the House debated it in November. The Government said then that their aim was to rationalise the whole function of defence procurement and the overlapping aerospace responsibilities on a lasting basis. The term "procurement" embraces research development and production, as well as the placing of contracts. It was clearly recognised at the time that a lot more time and study was required before final decisions could be taken. This area of government has had more than its fair share of transfers of responsibilities, and attempts at reorganisation in recent years. This is not the time or place to apportion blame, but it is widely agreed that a fundamental rethink has been badly needed.
Hence the Government set up the Ministry of Aviation Supply as a temporary arrangement so that this fundamental examination could be undertaken. The Government appointed a project team, with instructions to recommend how best to integrate all defence research and development and procurement under the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Defence. It also had to see how best 164 to handle, in the light of this, the Government's relations with the industries concerned and their responsibilities for civil aerospace policy.
Since its establishment, the project team has had an intensive programme of work over a number of months in both the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Aviation Supply. It has also included consultations with staff associations. Evidence was received from the principal trade associations and research councils and from firms engaged in defence procurement. A great many of these firms were visited by members of the team. Overseas experience was also taken into account.
The project team, under the leadership of Mr. Derek Rayner, one of the business team brought into the Government by the new Administration last June, are to be congratulated for their work in producing this most valuable report. The Government thought it right that Parliament and the country should have the opportunity of studying the report, and it is therefore published as part of the White Paper in which the Government announced their acceptance of the main recommendations.
I turn now to the main features of the proposed new structure. A Procurement Executive will be established, headed by a chief executive responsible to the Secretary of State for Defence, combining the existing responsibilities of the Ministry of Defence and those of the Ministry of Aviation Supply for the procurement of defence equipment.
The Department of Trade and Industry will assume responsibility for policy towards the aerospace industry and towards civil aerospace research and development end projects. It will call upon the resources of the Procurement Executive for advice and for the execution of civil programmes.
The Procurement Executive will work on behalf of several departments. Apart from its direct responsibility through the chief executive to the Secretary of State for Defence, it will work on a repayment basis on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry and for other Departments on occasion. A Ministerial aerospace board will deal with procurement policy problems arising in this area 165 and will be the authority for the necessary instructions and policy guidance to the Procurement Executive on aerospace questions.
These changes, which the Government have accepted, represent a clear break with the past and a fundamentally new approach to the vital task of the efficient and economical procurement of defence equipment.
It is a new approach for these reasons. For the first time, the whole range of defence procurement activities will be combined in a single organisation. As the report emphasises, procurement is a specialised function. It must have an organisational form which allows it to develop the specialist skills which are needed and to provide its own top and middle managers. A large measure of autonomy in staff management matters is therefore essential. At the same time, it must be fully user-oriented since its purpose is to meet customer needs. The new Executive comes directly under the Secretary of State for Defence and it will be an integral part of the Ministry of Defence.
The second reason for the claim that this is a new approach is that there will be a new emphasis on the clear definition of authority and responsibility of individual managers both at the top and in the line. In the past, problems have often stemmed from the blurring of lines of command and the diffusion of responsibibility and authority for particular tasks. The organisation of the Procurement Executive will thus be based on the principles of line management and accountable management. The systems controllers will report directly to the chief executive and each will be the accounting officer for his own Vote. In addition, a full review will be made of the necessary rationalisation of research and development establishments. The four controllers, responsible respectively for policy, finance, personnel and sales, will report to the chief executive through the Secretary.
The third reason for putting forward the claim that this is a genuinely new approach is that a clear distinction is now being drawn between responsibility for the formulation of policy and the management of approved programmes. This means that policy responsibility for 166 defence equipment requirements continues to lie with the Secretary of State for Defence, advised by the Chiefs of Staff, while policy responsibility for the aerospace industry and for civil aerospace research and development and projects lies with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. Within the Procurement Executive responsibility for the execution and management of approved defence and civil development and production programmes will lie with the systems controllers.
The Government agree with the Project Team that the new pattern of Ministerial responsibilities and the new organisational form we are now adopting will do much to remove the weaknesses of the present procurement organisations which successive Governments have recognised but have found particularly intractable. I believe that that will be accepted on both sides of the House.
I now turn to the implemention of this change. This is a very big change which cannot be brought about overnight. The reallocation of Ministerial responsibilities, which is the subject of the Order, is the first step. With this goes the associated transfer of staff, respectively, to the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Trade and Industry. Together, these provide the basis for the complex and lengthy task of planning the organisation of the new Procurement Executive, the new methods of managing available resources, and the rationalisation of particular activities.
The House knows that Mr. Derek Rayner has been appointed chief executive designate of the new Procurement Executive. He will be working full time on the detailed planning of the new organisation. By 1st October, 1971, all the principal officers of the new Procurement Executive will have taken up their posts on a full-time basis. The preparatory stages will then be completed in time for the new Procurement Executive to become fully operational on 1st April, 1972, when the new voting and accounting procedures will also come into play. The Government foresaw that this amount of time would be needed when they announced, in October, 1970, their objective of introducing the new arrangements by 1st April 1972.
In the meantime, the staff of the Ministry of Defence, together with the 167 staff transferred to it from the Ministry of Aviation Supply, will carry out their responsibilities broadly on the existing basis, but within the framework of the new pattern of Ministerial responsibilities which the Order sets out.
As Members will see, the Order makes provision for dealing with the existing responsibilities of the Ministry of Aviation Supply. Under the new arrangements the Secretary of State for Defence will be responsible for all defence procurement functions, including those which were formerly exercised by the Minister of Aviation Supply. Aerospace policy now falls to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.
As the White Paper made clear, the functions transferred to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry include responsibility for a number of special categories. The first of these is the future of Rolls-Royce, although as the Prime Minister has made clear, the Secretary of State for Defence will retain his personal responsibility for the continuing RB 211 negotiations.
The second is responsibility for the Concorde project. The White Paper draws attention to the exceptional arrangements which have been made for the Concorde management team, which was originally set up to combine policy and project management responsibilities. At this stage of the project, we think that it would be disadvantageous to the project to make a clear separation between policy and project management, as we are doing in other fields.
The Government have decided exceptionally to transfer the whole of the staff of the Concorde management team to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. The specialist supporting staffs, however, who are not part of the Concorde project organisation, will remain as part of the Procurement Executive under the Secretary of State for Defence.
The non-defence space policy and financial responsibilities of the Ministry of Aviation Supply now become the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. These include responsibility for European space programmes and for the United Kingdom space technology programme. The Procurement Executive will continue to have technical and managerial responsibility 168 for space research development and procurement. The Ministerial aerospace board will co-ordinate, as necessary, space procurement activities between user Departments and the Procurement Executive.
I hope that in this brief introduction I have covered the broad aims of the White Paper and the rather complex detail of the changes in managerial responsibility and executive authority. With the leave of the House, towards the end of our discussion, if Members have put further questions to which they would like a reply I shall attempt to answer them, if I can catch the eye of the Chair.
The Government's proposals represent a major departure from the existing approach to defence procurement. That is generally recognised. Results cannot be expected overnight, but the Government are confident that an organisation is now, at least, being formed which will be better equipped to avoid some of the mistakes of the past. The order before the House deals with the changes in Ministerial responsibilities which are the essential first step in bringing the new organisation into being, and I commend them to the House.
§ 10.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)
First, I welcome the opportunity to debate the Order, on a number of grounds. For a long time the machinery of Government was regarded as being very private to the Prime Minister of the day. It has become increasingly evident that the machinery that we have for carrying out our policy can be as important as the policy itself. That is a point of view that the Parliamentary Secretary has made very much his own.
I therefore want to add to my welcome to the debate a particular welcome for the hon. Gentleman's contribution to a discussion of the machinery of Government which should have been more fully discussed in the past than it has been. Also, we have a full report before the House, and that gives us an opportunity of discussing its recommendations in the light of more knowledge than has sometimes been the case with changes in departmental structure in the past.
I want to probe a little, rather than give a judgment, and I want to probe in areas which the Minister, understandably, did 169 not deal with in his speech. A big decision has been taken by the decision announced in Parliament and embodied in the Order. Although the Minister understandably stressed its advantages, he skated over the wide separation policy opened up at the moment he brought together defence procurement arrangements which have dominated the thinking of the Government in bringing this idea forward.
One cannot in this area co-ordinate everything. What has been sacrificed by this proposal is co-ordination in other areas. I do not say this in a negative spirit but I think that, before the House passes the Order, it should realise the price which it will have to pay for something which is, candidly, a defence-oriented scheme. This is something designed to meet the requirements of the Ministry of Defence, and no one else.
In dealing with this whole area of military procurement on the aerospace side, we are dealing with immensely valuable resources of highly qualified scientists and engineers. We are dealing with Farnborough and Malvern; in the atomic energy field, we are dealing, at Aldermaston, with some of the most highly qualified scientists and engineers in the country. The objectives governing their work, the method of funding it, the environment in which they work and their accountability to Parliament and the public, as well as to their customers, are of considerable importance if we are to make sense of these difficult decisions.
The Minister concentrated almost exclusively on the defence interest. There is no doubt that there is a strong defence interest, and that the defence people have not been altogether easy about the exclusion from the area of their direct responsibility of the work which used to be done by the Ministry of Supply, then the Ministry of Aviation, then the Ministry of Technology and then the Ministry of Aviation Supply, and which now is to be undertaken, under the Secretary of State's responsibility, in the Procurement Executive.
But there is another area of tremendous importance, to which the Minister devoted little attention; that is the whole question of industrial sponsorship and how far one can and should separate the expertise in these enormous industries, which include most advanced industries 170 in the country—namely, those dealing with aviation and electronics, both of which are growing very rapidly—from the Department of Trade and Industry. The third interest, which is of tremendous importance, is the co-ordination of research policy The fourth is the problem of space policy.
I should like to go back very briefly to the innovation made in 1964 when the last Government came to power, which left the Ministry of Aviation separate in the first instance, but began bringing industrial sponsorship and research planning into one Department, by bringing the D.S.I.R., the A.E.A. and N.R.D.C., with a number of qualified scientists, under a Minister, the Minister of Technology as he then was, who gradually extended his industrial sponsorship responsibilities. Just as the Minister tonight felt pleased that he was bringing together defence procurement, we then felt pleased—rightly so, I think—that we were bringing research together with industrial policy.
It was an essential part of our thinking, and certainly merits cool consideration by the House late at night when it has a little time to spare, that one cannot separate the technological content of industrial sponsorship from the old idea of the sponsorship itself. When, in 1967, the Ministry of Aviation was divided up and the civil side went to the Board of Trade, which was quite logical, of course, all the research establishments came in to go beside the D.S.I.R. establishments into a Ministry with growing industrial responsibilities.
The result was that, for the first time it was an important innovation—one had the opportunity of a sponsorship of the whole engineering industry being brought together under one Minister. All projects were being looked at side by side, instead of having the Ministry of Aviation, which used to fund projects on a basis best known to itself, and support for other industries through the D.S.I.R., operated on different criteria—support for the computer industry or for shipbuilding or the aircraft industry—could be considered on the same criteria under a single Department.
This was a positive advantage for the civil economy. This is what the Japanese did through M.I.T.I., and what the 171 French did when they adopted a Department of Scientific and Industrial Research based upon M.I.T.I. This is what the Department of Commerce in the United States would like to do. The trouble with the Minister's proposals is that he still speaks as if the defence interest in advanced technology should necessarily predominate over the civil interest.
The other thing was that we got the linkage of all research and development brought under industrial sponsorship. But there is another aspect. Just as Government in the past has funded advanced technology in the defence field, so similarly most of the advanced technology which later filters through into industry comes from defence spending. This is the so-called spin-off argument. In aircraft and electronics, something begins in defence and moves into the industrial field later. The defence people are the worst people to be custodians of advanced technology because they always want to keep the Official Secrets Act wrapped around advanced technology as long as they can. I had many complaints from British industry that we were much more restrictive in sitting on advanced technology, which incidentally the taxpayer had paid for, whereas in the United States advanced technology passed out more rapidly and was applied in civil industry.
The security aspect of this matter—I mean the sort of bureaucratic idea that one must keep everything secret for as long as possible—if it is allowed to extend in the way in which it did over the area of defence research, which had been in the Ministry of Technology for some time, will be a great pity. I pursued a deliberate policy, which was not very popular with some people, of trying to let research on the aerospace side grow extra-murally, and to hold as tight as I could to intra-mural research. This was a deliberate departmental policy. It meant that one had to get it outside into industry where it could fertilise with industry.
When I studied the figures of the Ministry of Defence research establishments against my own, after the process of separation had occurred, I found that the old Ministry of Defence establishments had grown intra-murally whereas we had tried to put our research into 172 industry. I have nothing against intramural research. But I say to the Minister that if he had looked at this not just as a defence problem but from the point of view of getting research into industry, he would have been much more sensitive to this problem of empire building.
Finally—and this really needs to be discussed at Prime Ministerial level—by taking it to Aldermaston, the Government are doing something which, to the best of my knowledge, no other Government have done, of putting atomic weapons solely under a defence Minister. In the United States the Atomic Energy Commission is not under Pentagon control. In France there is a similar situa tion. The argument as to where Aldermaston goes is much more than a matter of Ministerial tidiness. It is a matter of high policy. Although I cannot claim to have exercised on military matters, in respect of my colleague the Secretary of State for Defence, any effective influence on nuclear policy, it was regarded as a kind of security that there should be two Ministers, one of whom was a civil Minister, in charge of atomic energy. I regard this as a subject worth raising when we are asked to pass the Order.
Having said that, it is true that before the General Election the Ministry of Defence became very keen to get all this back again. The Ministry began to apply a lot of private pressures, which the incoming Government no doubt felt hit them. at a moment when they wanted to look at the machinery of government again. The new plan introduced procurement officers, which was interesting, and I do not criticise it. The question of its accountability and how it will work is a matter on which we shall have to wait and see. But I am afraid that there are certain aspects of the scheme which really need to be looked at most carefully. One is the fear that the intramural—extra-mural balance will go wrong. Secondly, military security will be used in such a way as to prevent the spin-off of technology into the civil field. Also I wait, as I expect the whole House does, to see how the Government intend to handle the other research establishments which are the subject of a Green Paper which I introduced in the last Government. It was certainly in my mind that if the B.R.D.C. proposal had worked 173 and we had had an opportunity to bring in an executive to take it over, it would in time have moved in to cover the growing civil side with the old Ministry of Aviation establishments at Farnborough and Malvern.
Now the majority of the aerospace and electronics industry is civil and not Defence at all. It is a product, first, of the fact that we live in a relatively peaceful world and, secondly, of the fact that electronics and aerospace are growing anyway. So we are in effect handing over the two biggest growth industries, in the civil sense, to a Defence executive, and that has difficulties.
Concorde proves the point. Concorde is not the exception to the rule, but proves that where one has a big civil project and a combined policy and managerial responsibility, including some technical back-up, one must have it in Trade and Industry. So that Concorde, far from being the exception presented as something that has occurred in the past and has to be kept on, is what one must have when one tackles these problems.
Leaving aside the personal responsibility of the Secretary of State for Defence for Rolls-Royce negotiations, again Rolls-Royce has to be Trade and Industry policywise because of its business on the civil side, and its military side will not be predominant as in the past. So the balance of influence between Defence and Trade and Industry will determine whether we go back to the old days when defence technology was justified on defence grounds or was not done at all, or go forward, with the Government adopting, as has been done in Japan, a positive rôle in promoting advanced technology.
The Aerospace Board is a matter of legalising the Aerospace Committee. We had an Aerospace Committee and it brought together different interests, and now the Aerospace Board is created. The Ministry of Defence wants to use its advanced technology, and Trade and Industry is interested in who supplies the hardware. It is like having a Ministry of Land dealing with everything happening on land and a Ministry of Sea to deal with everything there.
I hope that in working out the scheme the Minister will take account of the points that have been made, because a 174 lot of experience has been developed on both sides by successive Governments in working this, and I am not persuaded that the policy represented in the Order is as right as the Minister may at this moment think.
§ 10.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Adley (Bristol, North-East)
The point about the defence bias in the Order had also occurred to me and to a number of other people. It is a cause for a certain amount of worry in that my special interest in Concorde makes me wonder whether we will have the enthusiasm for what is a commercial aircraft when there is a possibility of a defence aura surrounding it. On the other hand, I suppose that we like to think of a military version of Concorde.
As I see it, we previously had one person speaking for the aviation industry as a whole, and now we have two. I must ask my hon. Friend whether he can make sure that the person who speaks for the non-military or civil side of aviation stands up for the industry. Those of us with interest in aviation have to rely on the Minister or the Secretary of State to represent the interests not only of our constituents who are involved in building aircraft but of those of us who are in any way concerned with the future of British aviation. We look to the Minister hopefully as a man who will support the facts of British aviation—and I refer particularly to Concorde—and who will refute the fabrications. The refutation of fabrications is one of the most important aspects of the Minister of State's functions. On pollution, noise and commercial success a great deal of speaking up for Concorde needs to be done, and there is much to say.
This is a short debate. I have today had some answers to Questions which I can only regard as thoroughly encouraging for Concorde's future. First, on the supersonic front, the Minister of State for Defence has made clear that there is nothing new in supersonic flight, which has been taking place in this country since the mid-1950's. I trust that when the Minister is faced with accusations that supersonic flight is new and technologically dangerous, he will not fail to dispute them. There is nothing new in this aspect of flight.
On pollution, we look to the Minister to stand up for the facts. The fact was 175 given to me in a Written Answer that aviation pollution accounts for 0.1 per cent. of industrial and domestic pollution in this country. I ask my hon. Friend once again to ensure that we have a powerful voice at court to stand up for the facts.
The costs of Concorde are frequently exaggerated. Over the last 10 years the cost range turns out to be 0.02 per cent. to a maximum of 10.1 per cent., expressing Concorde's costs as a proportion of our total expenditure on aviation.
The Secretary of State's final and vital task is to stand up for Concorde on the marketing side. We are moving into the phase of Concorde's life in which we have proved that she works and we now have to prove that she can be sold. Concorde's greatest asset will be her speed. The history of developments in aviation shows that speed is the commodity that sells. The Secretary of State will have to be the super-salesman for Concorde. Whatever takes place as a result of the Order, I hope that we can look forward to an enthusiastic champion of Concorde.
Within 18 months of pure jets first flying over the North Atlantic—the Boeing 707—propeller-driven aircraft were no longer able to sell seats on the non-stop routes across the Atlantic. With her 135 per cent. increased speed, Concorde will offer to the customer a major marketing feature which the Secretary of State will be glad that many of us, from time to time, did not forget.
Finally, on noise, the enemies of Concorde—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)
Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman recognises the distinction between selling what the House realises is his aircraft and the Order before the House.
§ Mr. Adley
I take the point, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Clause 4(1) states that anything in this Order which is… in process of being done … may be continued by … the Secretary of State …I want to ensure not only that it "may be" but that it is continued, and continued with the enthusiasm which my hon. Friend has been showing. That is the objective of my intervention. The Secretary of State has a vital part to play in Concorde's future. I seek assurance that 176 the enthusiasm which we have seen from the Minister of Aviation Supply until now will still be in evidence from the Secretary of State.
§ 10.45 p.m.
§ Mr. William Rodgers (Stockton-on-Tees)
I wish there was to be a vote against the Order, not for any party reason but on a cross-bench basis. There is nothing in the report which lies behind the Order which has any sense or feeling for Parliament, its function, or the responsibility of Ministers to Parliament. There was nothing in the Minister's speech which suggested that government was concerned with anything except the management of a large company. Government and a Department are very different both from I.C.I. and from a military command.
I am against the Order for two reasons. First, as a matter of principle I am not convinced that larger and conglomerate Departments are in the best interests of government. They have not yet proved themselves. On the contrary, there is evidence that they are not successful and that Ministers cannot command them as is necessary. Second, I am against the abolition of the Ministry of Aviation Supply, because there is no evidence that its abolition is related to or will solve the real problems of aviation either on the supply or on the operating side.
On 16th June, 1966, the then Prime Minister—my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson)—said that the Ministry of Aviation should be abolished and explained his reason as the need to separate the supply from the operating side. I thought then that it was a mistake. My view was not changed by the debates we had subsequently. Too often the emphasis was on management and not necessarily on those concerned with management and too seldom on the whole question of a reasonable Ministerial structure to ensure continued responsibility in the House.
In the debate on 1st February, 1967, the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) said this:Let us be honest and above party politics in this and admit that we have not in the past managed these affairs particularly well …The right hon. Gentleman went on to talk about the failure beingrooted in the inappropriateness of the Whitehall system itself".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st February, 1967; Vol. 740, c. 436.]177 My right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) referred tonight to the extent to which the whole question of organisation of government had become a matter for the House and not simply one for Prime Ministers. Although it has become a matter for the House, we have become mesmerised by it and we are in danger of creating a situation where the House has less and less control of a larger and more dangerous machine.
It is not yet proved that bigger is best in government. First, there is the question of political control over a Department. Can a Minister sufficiently dominate it that he is responsible for the main decisions and is wholly aware of what is going on inside the Department? Second, there is the question of Ministerial responsibility to the House, whether the Minister is sufficiently aware of what is going on and sufficently mature in his judgment and has time to read his papers and then time to defend in the House the decisions of his Department and put up a convincing performance.
I do not believe that there can be Ministerial supermen who can be the managers of large conglomerate Departments as they might be managers of I.C.I. or at the head of a military command and at the same time spend sufficient time in this place both to justify their actions and to have a proper political feel for what they are doing. Someone or something is bound to be neglected.
It has been argued, particularly by this Government, that a successful Minister must delegate. A successful head of a conglomerate Department can delegate, in part to his officials, but in the main to his junior Ministers. A junior Minister remains a junior Minister and cannot answer in the House for the decisions which are taken by his Department and cannot in the last resort satisfy the House and, if necessary, resign because of a decision he has made.
Until this House changes its present and long-standing doctrine of Ministerial responsibility there can be no change in this respect. When on 3rd November last we debated the organsation of government I asked a specific question of the Leader of the House and he confirmed that there could be no derogation of powers from a Secretary of State at the 178 head of a large conglomerate Department simply because, for reasons of internal management or for the business of this House, a junior Minister, whatever his name and whatever his salary, was given special responsibilities. Everyone who has served in Government is aware that it is not only or always, or necessarily often, that the largest matters within a Department cause the greatest difficulties in this House.
I remember two matters when I was in government, one in the Foreign Office concerning the Saxenhausen case and another in the Board of Trade concerning the Duccio case, which were not large and did not consume a great deal of departmental time. Yet they were both matters which had to be ultimately handled by the head of those Departments and where the House of Commons made, very properly, demands on the senior Ministers and did not allow them to pass off the responsibility to junior Ministers, had they chosen to do so.
We are also fully aware of the developments of the last week, where the action of a junior Minister in writing a letter has quite properly become a matter of major political importance, the responsibility and deep concern of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. The right hon. Gentleman has my sympathy. He has an impossible task and this Order makes his job even more difficult.
I developed my case against the conventional wisdom of a conglomerate Department in the debate on 3rd November and will not cover the same ground now. No doubt this and successive Governments will continue to play musical chairs with Departments. I certainly do not deny the right of any Prime Minister to organise his Government in what he believes to be the most efficient way. The House should be very sceptical about an Order of this kind, as it should continue to be very sceptical about larger and larger Departments, particularly where the Secretary of State at the head of one of the Departments is not a Member of this House. This development is a threat to the paramountcy of the House of Commons, and in the long run Ministers will be answering less and less and we shall find that, when the House of Commons pursues a matter of proper Ministerial concern, at some point the Minister will pray the weight of work 179 lying upon his Department and the heavy responsibility which he has to bear as an excuse for not appearing here or for answering questions inadequately.
I would have liked to have seen recreated the old Ministry of Civil Aviation. I see no reason why the operating divisions could not have been brought together again. I see no reason why the lessons of business management about which the hon. Gentleman spoke and which are embodied in this report, obscure though it seems to be, could not have fitted into a re-created Ministry of Civil Aviation. We should also ask ourselves tonight: will the new distribution of departmental responsibilities ensure that the Government, this Government or any other, get more effectively on top of problems like Rolls-Royce or Concorde cost escalation? I make no comment at all on the merits of these particular cases, or any other. We should ask ourselves whether, as a result of the passing of this Order, a Government will be more responsive to this House.
There is no evidence for this whatsoever, and certainly, however much I may have had reason to quarrel with the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Aerospace, he has been here to answer and often in difficult circumstances. He has carried out his task with dignity and he has had clear and express responsibilities. His status will be different in future as will be the distribution of responsibilities between the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Trade and Industry.
I also ask my colleagues to reflect generally on what a change of this kind means for the whole Ministerial structure: whether it will provide more opportunity for Members of Parliament to assume responsibilities within Departments and learn the business of government and share the burden of government, or whether it will mean in the end that there is less responsibility for some to carry and less opportunity to spread the burden of government, which is increasing all the time.
I am, therefore, against the Order, but I realise that I am swimming against the tide. I prophesy that the Order will do nothing to improve Britain's performance either in the aircraft industry or in civil aviation. I prophesy also that it will not facilitate a proper and effective 180 balance between Government and Parliament. We are not managers here. We are Parliamentarians. Let us not forget it.
§ 10.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)
I have no wish to make a party point and, therefore, I will pass over the fact that the remarkable speech of the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. William Rodgers) indicates a degree of divergence between himself, speaking now from the back benches, and the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), speaking on this occasion from the Front Bench, which deserves some remark in the longer term. I cannot conceal that my sympathies lie more with the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees than they do with the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East, not simply because I find it difficult to accept the concept of the function of a Minister of the Crown as being to try to dominate any sector of industry by assuming the powers of a big spender. I do not believe that that is the right approach. I believe that the somewhat sceptical and searching approach is essentially the voice of backbenchers, and I compliment the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees on voicing it this evening.
That does not mean that I join the hon. Member in opposing the Order. He has posed perfectly respectable questions which we could debate at length. I do not intend to do that now, because the House has not time for it. I simply content myself, first, with saying that although we are here, I suppose, to bury the Ministry of Aviation Supply, it cannot be wholly out of order to praise it and, in particular, to echo the compliments which the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees rightly paid to my right hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, South (Mr. Corfield) and my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. David Price) on the way they have come to the House and given an account to hon. Members, on both sides, in very difficult circumstances, of matters which might well have taxed any of us, however experienced and however self-confident we might hold ourselves out to be in any sphere of conduct, whether parliamentary, business or any other. They have had a basinful and they have conducted themselves very honourably. I 181 hope that the House will agree with me in that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]
Generally, there is no doubt that this change appears to have been welcomed throughout industry. I fear, however, that it cannot be said that it leaves all the problems behind it solved. To take only one example of a problem which will pass as the functions pass, I understand from inquiries which I have made that there is an area of dispute between industry and Government which seems to me to be of some significance concerning defence contracts and the electronic capital equipment industry.
If I may weary the House with some figures, I believe that of 14 electronics companies, of which 10 at least can be classified as major suppliers of defence and aviation electronic equipment, on 31st December last the Ministry of Aviation Supply had £12,700,000 outstanding in payments which should have been made to those companies, of which approximately £2½ million related to deliveries before 31st December, 1967. A situation like this should be examined in some depth. I hope it can be on another occasion. I instance this now merely as showing that the new set-up will be one in which there will still be serious problems which still need to be overcome.
There are two questions, and I would quote briefly from an editorial in this week's Flight International. The opinion expressed there by the editor of this prospective change is, broadly, complimentary, but he says specifically:The main doubt concerns civil aerospace. If all buying and R. & D. is going to be managed by the Ministry of Defence, what assurances are there for the civil aircraft industry?That is a very good question.
At the end the editor sounds this note of comfort:There will now be two Cabinet Ministers with a major interest in the success of British civil and military aviation, each with a budget. They will work together through a new institution, the Ministerial Aerospace Board. This political rehabilitation of aviation in the mind of government is a particularly welcome change.I hope that that may prove to be so, but I hope I may say without offence to my hon. Friend that I would welcome proof, because, to take one topical example, when we heard the Secretary of 182 State for Trade and Industry say this afternoon that he regarded the prospects of take-off and landing as being in aerospace a technique which is speculative, I was somewhat depressed. I was left wondering what sort of governmental effort we could expect. Many of these techniques, many of us believe, offer the best opportunities for manufacturers. There may be some in this House who would take it as being as right to build the right aeroplanes as it is to build airports in the right places. These are matters about which it is not possible to be dogmatic at this moment, but I hope that there is no question of minds being closed or funds not being applied to areas where very significant developments are in prospect, and where it will not fall to the less powerful of the two partners to deploy Government funds, for I believe it must be the case that the Ministry of Defence will be the pace setter in aerospace now, whereas in many respects it is in the civil aviation techniques that the greatest rewards are to be gained.
On the question of Concorde, I echo very much what my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Adley) said. I hope that we can take it as certain that there is to be no weakening in the effort to be put behind Concorde. I hope very much that the necessary weight of money will be there, if it is a question of developing a quiet engine. If my hon. Friend will forgive me for saying so, I can promise him a certain amount of quiet persuasion to ensure that this is not forgotten, and I dare say that hon. Members opposite may take the same view. There is, in predicting the pace of development of an aircraft, the danger that the amount of money we are prepared to spend on defence itself will be the subject of political pressures which are not necessarily particularly appropriate to the expenditure of itself. There is a danger that we shall be driven into economies which are more false than they would be in other areas.
I do not wish to say more than that, but I simply say, finally, that we all, I think, in this House will reasonably hope that this change will be a change for the better; but, I hope without offence to my hon. Friend, I would say that we shall be most willing to judge it by the results which it achieves.
§ 11.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
In shorthand language, because we have a time limit, I welcome a good deal of the White Paper, Cmnd. 4641, first the fully executive responsibility that will be given to project managers. This is perhaps overdue, although it has been well done already with Nimrod. I welcome the concept of the procurement career. However, are the controllers to be members of the Services, as members, for instance, of the Air Board, or members of the Scientific Civil Service? Whoever gets the bulk of the controllers, the others will be disappointed, and there is a career problem here.
I welcome paragraph 18, the buildup of a partnership between the establishments and industry. It is probably a good thing that design work should be done by outsiders and not intramurally, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) said.
I welcome paragraph 20 and the recognition that development must be taken to the first prototype or model stage. Even if it means 15 to 20 per cent. on the final total expenditure, this seems realistic and sensible. I welcome the reflections in paragraph 22 that efficiency consists not merely of the avoidance of mistakes, and that the Public Accounts Committee should be interested in total efficiency rather than niggling little points. There is no evidence from industry of examples of the P.A.C. niggling unnecessarily, but it is a thought that is common in industry. I think the reference in paragraph 25 to break clauses is right. On paragraph 95, "In-service support", we must look at the total package, including the cost of spares. All that is welcome.
I come now to certain reservations. Paragraphs 13 and 15 raise the knotty and awkward problem of the mechanism of shrinkage. Paragraph 15 states that the organisation should be capable of reviewing and reducing itself. There is nothing in the White Paper to demonstrate how this can be done. There is no realistic solution as to how the mechanism of shrinkage is actually to take place. Anyone who knows the defence research establishments knows how difficult this is. People have pension rights, homes and obligations to schools, and the White Paper does not get to grips with this problem.
184 From the charts on pages 28 and 38 it seems that there are still an awful lot of chaps remaining in this structure. Will the procurement agency staff be bigger or smaller? It looks smaller, but there seems to be an enormous staff. What about the accountability of line management? The concept of line management being themselves accountable should not go undiscussed. Will four controllers or five controllers be answerable to the P.A.C.?
I have had put to me a problem about the status of a secretary, who is both a staff man and a deputy line man. Friends of mine in industry have pointed out that in practice this can create difficulty.
Paragraph 89 concerns the greater selectivity of objectives. It is easy to talk about this, but Mr. Rayner and his colleagues have skirted round it somewhat lightly. We have all been talking about this for donkey's years and have come to no solution, and I do not see any solution in the White Paper.
On paragraphs 101 to 102, it may well be right that the Weapons Development Committee will cease to exist, but perhaps this is a question that my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. William Rodgers) might give his mind to. How is the Treasury to keep its finger on the pulse? How is it to keep in touch if the Weapons Development Committee is abolished before final submissions?
Our Select Committee view was that the Treasury should be brought in at a fairly early stage. It is not immediately obvious from the White Paper that it will be brought in at any earlier stage than hitherto. In relation to paragraph 117 of the White Paper, it would appear to be essential that the Treasury should come in early on any given project since it would be unrealistic to do otherwise.
Finally, I come on to my major worry about the White Paper. There is a very intricate and vital relationship between procurement and defence policy. The rôle of the Navy and the Royal Air Force, if not the Army, is at any rate partially determined by their choice of weapons and choice of vehicles. The point is that unless there is in the Ministry of Defence some clear set-up where issues of what we ought to do about defence policy are debated, then in a short time 185 there will be a real danger that the procurement agency will become the Ministry of Defence; in other words, that the procurement agency will assume the powers of the Ministry of Defence itself.
During the decade of the 1960s, under both Governments, the scientists under Sir Solly—now Lord—Zuckermann, plus some very intelligent serving officers and administrators, urged on and encouraged by Lord Mountbatten, created a sense of debate. That was certainly the impression among many of us. What bothers me is that now, for one reason or another which we need not go into, this debate has withered away.
The present White Paper erodes, in my view—or at least runs the risk of eroding—still further the chance of debate since it obliterates, almost to vanishing point, the responsibilities of the Chief Scientific Adviser and of the Service Chief Scientists. Although I have talked to Professor Bondi about many things, I have not discussed this matter with him, but it seems that his rôle is virtually eroded by this White Paper. The Service Chief Scientists and Professor Bondi no longer have any executive rôle worth mentioning.
If discussion of what we should be doing is damped down—and this has happened both in the Ministry and at Byfleet—and if this kind of debate is a good thing, which I think it is, then one must create a substitute for that debate elsewhere. With the best will in the world, I see no signs of such a substitute in the White Paper. It may be that I shall be proved wrong by the Ministry, but I certainly see no signs of this substitute.
It has also to be said that our defence forecasting is pretty arbitrary Nobody currently is defining the sort of hot war for which we should be preparing. From this point of view I see deep and grave dangers, not only to the House of Commons but to the workings of a rational defence debate about what the nation should be doing. It behoves those who speak for the Government this evening to put at rest the minds of those who think this way, if it is possible to do so.
§ 11.14 p.m.
§ Mr. John Wilkinson (Bradford, West)
I am sad that this stimulating debate 186 should have to be so short. The speeches have been most penetrating and interesting. The right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) bewailed the fact that the scheme was over-defence-oriented, yet for his Administration the most major failures were in spectacular fiascos of defence procurement—the TSR 2 and its potential successors. The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. William Rodgers) attacked conglomerates. Of course the Ministry of Technology and even his own baby, the Ministry of Aviation, are conglomerate Departments.
I will summarise the best parts of the Order. The first is that it shall no longer be a requirement that the research and development costs or the costs of production will have to be recovered, and this is a major advance which should help the marketability and sale of defence products around the globe.
Second, there will be a wider spread of Ministerial responsibility for aviation. This was highlighted in an editorial in Flight. The very fact that a Ministerial aerospace board is to be established, encompassing, even in small degree, the Secretary of State for Education and Science and the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, and realising the full potential across the board of aero-space, is to be welcomed.
Then there are the specific responsibilities. This Administration has already done well in going back to the principle of individual Service Ministers, which I have welcomed. I also welcome the fact that a specific procurement Minister is to be added to the Defence Council.
Third, customer orientation is most important. In the past, sanction had to be granted from the Minister of Technology for even the tiniest modification, even if potentially of great military significance. That one should be able to deal directly with one's customer is a great advance.
Fourth, the suggestion for rewarding specialist skills is admirable. There is a feeling that Ministry of Technology jobs have been backwaters into which officers have been shunted. I am not suggesting that we should move to the Swedish system of an Air Force Board and overspecialisation, but certainly specialist skills of this sort should be recognised more.
187 The reorganisation could perhaps have combined the regulatory and procurement functions of aviation equally well if something like the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation had been re-established. The Secretary of State for the Environment should have an overall planning responsibility for transport in the macro sense. He already has a deciding influence on airfield operations, which are basically civil aviation functions. So there is some doubt here.
My hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) talked about the competition on resources which is bound to occur between the Department of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Defence. One could envisage competition for these scarce resources between a civil short take-off or vertical take-off project and the M.R.C.A. programme. These are real fears which could well be realised.
Is the Minister for Procurement to have a policy responsibility and not just a responsibility for delivering the goods? Will he be responsible for operational requirements, and not just for seeing that the needs of the Services, as put forward by the Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of State, are met?
Overall, I am pleased. The Order puts aviation back to the place of prominence where it belongs. The regulatory, operational and procurement functions in civil aviation are to come under the same roof, and defence procurement is to be facilitated, but I have some anxieties whether the "think tank" in the Department of Trade and Industry, for all the direct access which it will have to defence research establishments and the like, will have the teeth to ensure that British civil aviation has the place in our economy which it deserves.
§ 11.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees (Leeds, South)
Draft Statutory Instruments are intriguing documents. The longer one looks at them the more interesting questions seem to come out of them.
I should like to put two questions to the Minister. First, paragraph 2(1) carefully refers to the Secretary of State—I raise this question because I am trying to discover which goes to which Secretary of State—whereas paragraph 2(2) equally carefully refers to the Secretary of State 188 for Defence. Is there any subtle reasoning behind that distinction?
Secondly, I note that Schedule 7 states:In the Science and Technology Act, 1965, there shall be omitted the words ' and the Minister of Technology'".Surely the transference to the Department of Trade and Industry took place last year. Does this mean that this is closing a gap, an error, in legislation which otherwise had not been done?
They are two small points. However, I believe that draft Statutory Instruments are sometimes meant to be looked at in this kind of way.
Before raising one major point I should like to put two other questions. Regarding Appendix D of the White Paper, who will have responsibility for procurement for Linesman Mediator which was separated in the past between the old Board of Trade and the Ministry of Defence. There are two separate functions which technically come together. What will happen with the new set-up?
Perhaps it should be crystal clear from the documents, but I am not clear how the procurement of civil aircraft is to take place. A great deal is involved in the White Paper and in the Order about the procurement of military aircraft. What machinery will there be? Will it have to be done ultimately through the procurement machinery of the Ministry of Defence?
The Minister carefully spelt out that what was in paragraphs 26 and 27 of the White Paper was a temporary measure. The Aviation Group of Mintech became a separate Department; there was special responsibility to the Secretary of State for Defence; then a project team. At that time I wished—there was no political wish involved—that the new Government could wait a while before making changes in the structure of Government. I realise that four or five years is a short time overall and that new Governments wish to move pretty quickly, but I wish that they had waited at that time. Now we have the decision spelt out in Command 4641 and we find ourselves back in Defence swinging back to a Minister of Equipment, or some such title, at the Ministry of Defence which this Government ended on 18th June last year. It may be that the Government have learned. For a long time when in Government I thought about the matter 189 with my colleagues. In the beginning I felt very strong against the Minister for Equipment set-up, on which the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Wilkinson) touched, but in the end I saw that it was inevitable and correct.
The new Government came in and it went. Now it is back. What will be the relationship of the Minister of State for Defence, who will be an important and powerful man, with the junior Ministers, the Service Ministers, at the Ministry of Defence? Who will be responsible to the Naval dockyards, to the Army supply depots, and to the R.A.F. M. Us. and so on? Are they to be in the hands of the junior Ministers? That is the important point. It is taken that there is to be yet again a change of departmental organisation at the Ministry of Defence, other than that expressed in the White Paper, resulting from this Statutory Instrument.
To whom is the Air Member for Supply or the Air Member for Organisation—or his counterpart in the other Services—to be responsible. Will he have a responsibility to the Minister of State? Will the Minister of State sit on each of the individual boards—or will it all be done, in the procurement sense, through the Defence Council?
I am sad that we have to debate this matter at this hour, because it is far more important than many matters which receive far more time and the full glare of publicity. The new Minister of State will be a very powerful person, because of his job. Defence procurement is big business. Large firms depend upon the orders that they will get from the Ministry of Defence.
I could not understand what the reflection of the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) meant, because it is inevitable that it should be this way. It will never be broken up into little pieces, as it may have been many years ago, with small orders going to individual defence firms. The whole procurement set-up will change the nature of joint stock companies who supply the Ministry of Defence. This is not the time to go into the Rolls-Royce business again, but what was involved there was that stresses and strains of a technical and organisational nature were put on that company for which the joint stock sort of organisation was never designed.
190 The Minister of State will be there with these large orders in a variety of areas—even down to clothing companies. It will require a great deal of wisdom. What will matter far more than that in the long run is the question of what will be the philosophy of this new Ministry of Defence Department with regard, for example, to launching aid. The speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol South-East (Mr. Benn) raised the question of the vast sums of money provided in the first instance to individual firms.
The hon. Member for Woking raised a point that struck a chord with me, about the type of aircraft that the Ministry of Defence will order. Civil aviation looks in one direction and defence in another. I know from my experience in office that the Service idea—which is quite understandable—is in terms of getting an aircraft pretty quickly. It has to perform certain functions. It will be different from the sort of rôle required by civil aviation.
My hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) raised the question of the rôle of the Treasury in all this. Will there be any changes in the method of contracting? In my time in the House separate sagas of problems have arisen out of contracts given to individual firms. We have not yet reached the end of that story in terms of organisation.
I thought that the story related on page 19 of the White Paper—the quotation from Gaius Petronius—was delightful. Perhaps it struck a rather too flippant note in this managerial document, but it went home with many a serving man.
I should have preferred the White Paper to have ended with the words of Cromwell in a letter to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland a good many years after, in 1650:I beseech you, Gentlemen, by the bowels of Christ, bethink you that you may be mistaken.We shall come back to this subject, because we have not found the answer in this White Paper.
§ 11.30 p.m.
§ Mr. David Howell
With the leave of the House, I shall try in the remaining time to answer the many interesting questions which have been raised. I shall 191 not succeed in dealing with them all. The answers to some lie in the future: a number of the valuable points which have been made can be answered only with the assertion that the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
I begin by thanking the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) for his kind words about me. The right hon. Gentleman's experience and enthusiasm are very great, and I am obliged to him for his constructive and probing questions.
Before dealing with other specific points, I move straight away to the right hon. Gentleman's central and first point. He made some play with the proposition that the Government's intention was to subsume the whole business of procurement in Government inside the limits and under the influence of the military and defence. It is true that by far the biggest client of the new Procurement Executive will be the Ministry of Defence. For that reason, it makes sense to combine the two and make the Executive an integral part of the Ministry of Defence. But to imply that this approach means that the whole subject is lost inside defence considerations is to miss the major point of the innovation that we are making.
The Procurement Executive is designed to meet the needs of Government policy across the whole range. That has to be said because it is the central innovation and the reason why this is a new approach and not another attempt to meet the eternal problem in a formal way.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment. We are considering how this can be brought into the new system by April of next year. Again, if the changes are made, the establishment will not be subsumed within a Department so much as brought into the Procurement Executive.
The right hon. Gentleman said that the arrangements made for Concorde will not be an exception but the rule. I repeat that I believe that it is an exception, and that the case for it is an absolutely clear one. This is a far-advanced project, with clearly established responsibilities within a project team. If my hon Friend the Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Adley) will forgive me, I shall not go into the merits of this project one way or the other, but it is singled out because 192 it is a far-advanced project, and in this area an exception needs to be made.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to the question of sponsorship and the effect on industry. Obviously this is a late hour at which to raise matters of fundamental dispute between this Government and our predecessors, but we have a question mark in our minds about the kind of sponsorship that the previous Administration practised. We believe that, in the main, the best sponsorship is by good buying and not through endless subsidies. Once the subsidy principle takes hold, firms begin to lean and need more support. One finds, for instance, the Government doing too much in-house research.
We believe that further steps should be taken and that this approach through good buying and through a Procurement Executive will enable industry to move away from a weak R. & D. basis in some areas to a stronger one. The operations of the Procurement Executive will enable this to happen, and some of the excessive in-house research will be got back into industry, where we believe that it belongs. This is the point that I make about the right hon. Gentleman's proposition, and it is one that needs to be repeated because it is central to all our thinking and ideas.
I now turn to some specific points which were made in various interventions. I am not taking the various points in the order in which they were made, because the sequence fits in more simply if I take different contributions in groupings. The hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) raised the specific question of controlerate. The names of the first systems controllers have already been mentioned. The other newly appointed controllers—policy, finance and so on —will be civil servants.
The hon. Gentleman asked—and it is an absolutely fair question—whether new bodies reduce themselves and whether there will be self-contraction in this case. If the Executive was just a body starting in a completed state and one expressed the hope that it would reduce itself, I would concede that it was a feeble hope; but we are introducing a new structure and we intend to achieve reductions and economies, as the White Paper makes clear. For instance, with the introduction of more in-line management, there will 193 be fewer committees. More responsibility will go out to the supply industries, and it will come as no surprise to many of my hon. Friends, and to my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) in particular, that my right hon. and noble Friend and I in my Department will be keeping a beady eye on the question of staff economies and so on.
The hon. Member for West Lothian also expressed worry that somehow policy debate would be suppressed. The one hope and encouragement which emerges from these new ideas is that the opportunity for in-depth policy discussion will be greatly increased. I think he will agree that what one has found in the past in these areas of government is that too many people are involved both in policy and in management, with the result that neither gets done all that well. This has been the difficulty, not in relation to particular people but in relation to the system in which they have been imprisoned. The whole philosophy of drawing apart and identifying policy formulated on the one side and management on the other offers a major opportunity to increase the capability that can be applied to better policy formulation.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Wilkinson) mentioned transport and aviation. This was really covered in the debate last November. I hope he will forgive me if I do not follow him up that avenue for the moment.
The hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) cast an accurate eye over the Order and noticed two points, one about "the Secretary of State." Those words relate to the Secretary of State for Defence. There is no sinister purpose there. The reference to the Ministry of Technology is not an error. He also asked about the Linesman/ Mediator. That belongs to the Ministry of Defence and D.T.I. jointly.
Finally, there was the theme taken up by the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. William Rodgers), echoed by my hon. Friend the Member for Woking, that the whole proposal of a Procurement Executive is really all wrong and that in some way the authority of the House is being challenged. All I would say is that if this House tries to control everything it will end up by controlling nothing. I believe that many people who 194 are watching our affairs from outside feel that strongly, and urge that we should concentrate on the issues of policy, and, while realising that detail is always involved, we should be clear in our minds what are the important issues which we should survey on behalf of the public.
It is a huge task to reconcile efficiency and democratic control. It is not peculiar to the United Kingdom. It is not peculiar even to the European side of the Atlantic. But in what we are doing tonight and in the changes proposed in this Order we are taking one small step in the right direction.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Ministry of Aviation Supply (Dissolution) Order 1971 be made in the form of the draft laid before this House on 20th April.
§ To be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of Her Majesty's Household.