HC Deb 20 June 1974 vol 875 cc689-769
Mr. Speaker

Before I call the Leader of the Opposition to move his motion I have to inform the House that I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister and his right hon. Friends.

4.8 p.m.

Mr. Edward Heath (Sidcup)

I beg to move, That this House regrets the Government's damaging industrial policies based on a massive extension of nationalisation and control of individual companies. Although this debate is short, it is devoted to the coverage of the whole of the Government's industry policy. After three and a half months the impact of the Government's policies is already seen very clearly on industry—as a result of the Government's action in four separate spheres, with which I shall deal. First, there is the burden deliberately placed on industry by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget. The right hon. Gentleman took £1,100 million out of industry's cash flow this year—£420 million in corporation tax, £340 million in employers' contribution, and the remainder in the increase in the nationalised industries' prices. The impact of this shortage of cash flow is already being seen in the conditions of many firms in this country, in the reduction in the investment forecasts and in the cancellation of plans which would have led to new jobs. I believe that the reduction of the cash flow is a deliberate policy designed to force many firms into a situation in which they will have to ask for Government assistance, and as a result of their being in this position the Secretary of State for Industry will then be able to gain control over them, the control which he wants and which is in accordance with his published plans.

There is then the impact of the Budget on the consumer by deliberately forcing up prices. This has triggered the threshold earlier than was necessary and the very triggering of the threshold—on three occasions with the last rise in the BPI, and I expect there to be a further two when the announcement is made tomorrow—is bound to have its impact first on prices and then on the cash flow of many firms. As a result, we are also seeing a rash of industrial disputes over thresholds because of the way in which this matter has been handled by this Government. About 2 million workers negotiated thresholds and the remainder are now disputing the whole question.

There should also be added to this the damage which this approach did to those on middle sized incomes, who come largely from middle management and now find that their incentives are greatly diminished. The obvious result, which could easily have been forecast, is that these people look to other countries to see whether there are better possibilities for them. This is even extending, as I know well, to the artistic world, to those who have come to make their homes and lives in London as the greatest musical capital of the world and now have the greatest doubts whether they should remain here.

The second factor which has made its impact is the Government's attitude towards the EEC and the so-called renegotiation of the treaty and the talk of taking Britain out of the Community. This has completely undermined the confidence of firms which had already made plans—some of them implemented, others well on the way to implementation—to operate freely within the Community. They now find themselves in a state of doubt about the future. The result is postponed investment and again the loss of jobs which could have been created by it.

In addition, we must include the loss of investment from overseas by those who were prepared to invest here because they wanted to be inside the Community. They are now unsure of the future in Britain, so this investment is being lost, together with the jobs which would have gone with it, many of which would have been in Scotland, Wales and the development areas.

All of this is quite unnecessary if the Foreign Secretary is now genuine in saying that he does not propose to ask for any changes in the Treaty of Accession or the Treaty of Rome. If that is so, none of this doubt need have been inspired. Changes inside the Community will constantly be made, they have been made already while we have been a member, and they will go on being made to suit the conditions of the member countries, no matter which country is involved.

In fact, by talking first of renegotiation and then saying that they did not propose to make any change in the treaties, the Government have been playing out a charade—but a damaging and very dangerous charade from the point of view of investment in industry in this country, either indigenous investment or investment from overseas. They have done it in order to try to heal the breaches in their own ranks. It is time that the Prime Minister and his colleagues faced their Left Wing, showed them what the facts of life really are about Britain's place in the world and looked after our national interests as they should have done when they became the Government.

The third matter which has made its impact on industry is the Government's Green Paper on the so-called "worker participation". This is a misnomer if ever there was one. These are not proposals for participation—

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

It is not a Green Paper.

Mr. Heath

I am referring to the general paper which has been issued by the right hon. Gentleman's party—

The Prime Minister

That is a party document.

Mr. Heath

Yes. It is called a Green Paper, as I understand it. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to disown it, of course he may do so.

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman referred to a Government Green Paper. There has been no such Green Paper issued by the Government. In his period of office, Conservative Central Office published an awful lot of tripe, but he never took responsibility for it.

Mr. Heath

It is called a Green Paper—" A report to the Labour Party Indus trial Policy Sub-Committee." If the right hon. Gentleman wants to refer to it as "tripe" he is free to do so.

But these are not proposals for worker participation, for participation by workers elected by all those working in the firm. These are proposals which threaten a system of outside control of firms and companies by professional union officials, men who may well know nothing about a particular firm and will have to know nothing about it.

In that Labour Party document—I am agreeable to the Prime Minister's disowning the lot if he wants, because that might start to restore confidence in British industry—the proposals would mean the so-called "election" but, in fact, "appointment" to 50 per cent. board membership, with alternating chairmen, of union leaders. We know that a union leader can be elected for life on a ballot of less than 10 per cent. of his total membership and that he himself might get only 7 per cent.

This is what is undermining confidence in British industry, that the right hon. Gentleman's Government will take over proposals of this kind and expect British industry to be run in this way. This proposal has thoroughly undermined confidence. I repeat that it is not a proposal for worker participation. Many of us have long argued for that, and, in respect of the Community, I put it forward at the Summit Conference in Paris in 1972, specifically by arrangement with the then German Chancellor, Herr Brandt.

Many of the best firms in this country are carrying through participation of this kind themselves at the moment, and they want it extended by a code, by European legislation or whatever it may be—but not this sort of proposal, in which 50 per cent. of a board's members would be nominated solely by union officials and drawn from union officials or those outside the company.

Mr. Eric Moonman (Basildon)

The right hon. Gentleman has made much of the fact that the practices of Europe are worth taking into account. What is the difference between these proposals by the Labour Party and those which have already been acquired by the EEC?

Mr. Heath

There is a major difference—this is true also of the German system—which is that in Europe they are "workers" and not solely "union members", and, moreover, that they consist of those who are in the firm and who, therefore, participate in the life of the firm and are not imposed from the outside. These are the two basic differences in a subject which is of great importance.

Fourth, the matter which has made the greatest impact of all is the plans for widespread nationalisation of nine major industries and State control initially of the first 100 firms. I say "initially" because that is the word that the Secretary of State for Industry has openly used. These plans cover at least half of British manufacturing industry. The Prime Minister, of course, is coy about naming the 100 firms. I am not in the least surprised, but others will make sure that those 100 firms are known in every constituency in the country; in every branch they have, no matter where they are, the workers will be told exactly what lies in store for them if this Government have a chance to implement these proposals—the nationalisation, complete and outright, of shipbuilding, ship repairing, marine engineering, the ports, the aircraft industry, machine tools, pharmaceuticals, road haulage and North Sea oil and gas.

It may well be that on pharmaceuticals and machine tools there is a limitation on the profitable parts of the industry available for nationalisation. It is difficult to understand the logic of that on any reasoning, but when it comes to the point I suspect that the Secretary of State for Industry would like to take the whole lot.

On North Sea oil and gas, it may be that the Government will adapt our plans for carried interest or an additional revenue tax, but, again, they have not made their position clear. They have shown typical dithering over the whole question due to their internal arguments. We had already taken our decisions about taxation so far as the losses are concerned and announced them to Parliament. The Chancellor did that, too, and confirmed again that they would be taken in the Finance Bill.

This indecision is damaging to the oil industry, but what is more important is that it is raising doubts in the minds of every overseas investor in the oil industry in the North Sea whether he should go on being prepared to put sums of money into prospecting. This is the damaging effect of the Government's attitude and of the fact that they have not made their position clear over North Sea oil.

We must also add to these proposals the very real threat emphasised by the Chancellor a year ago, that, given a chance—I have no doubt about that—they would be working on plans to nationalise the banks, insurance companies, building societies and other financial institutions. Indeed, I will freely grant it to the Secretary of State for Industry and his friends in the Cabinet—I think that they would agree—that if they are able to do what they plan in the way of widespread nationalisation over the field that I have described, plus the National Enterprise Board and the controls that he wants, they can argue logically that there is no justification for having any private financial institutions of any kind.

Why should they have them if they have control of so much of industry and have nationalised such a wide spread of it? So it is logical for the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends to press for the nationalisation of the financial institutions as well, because, in their logic, no place would remain for them.

What is more, one of the reasons why I am convinced that the Secretary of State for Social Services wants to postpone a large part of the 1973 Act is to ensure that the pension funds are under her control and not under control of any other kind. That is once again the propose of this Government's policy, to secure the control of contributions to pensions funds in the pensions arrangements. We would reach a position where all savings banks, building societies and insurance companies were under direct Government control. It means the removal of choice for the individual. It is absolutely basic. It is the removal of choice.

It would mean that London would cease to be a major financial centre. Great damage will be done to our invisible exports, which in these last few years have been playing a major part in our balance of payments.

These four policies—the damaging Budget, the uncertainty over membership of the EEC, the proposals put forward for trade union control of 50 per cent. on boards of management, and the massive extension of nationalisation, of State control—have undermined the confidence of British industry and brought it to an all-time low. But they have also undermined the confidence of people outside Britain who were prepared to invest in this country.

If one adds to those four points what is now clearly a very dangerous situation, the approaching breakdown of a pay and incomes policy of any kind, one can understand the collapse of confidence in industry and finance, the cancellation of many investment plans, and the collapse of the capital market and of share prices.

There are many hon. Gentlemen opposite who are only too glad to welcome any collapse of the stock market. For the Government and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who must finance his deficit, this will now pose major problems, and for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite with very close trade union connections, for they will look to their pension funds and see what is happening to them as a result of the undermining of confidence in British industry.

Mr. T. W. Urwin (Houghton-le-Spring)

The right hon. Gentleman in an obviously planned speech has chosen to restrict his comments to four areas—I meant to say "well planned"—which attempt to denigrate the present minority Government. Would he be prepared to give a fifth dimension to his speech and tell us how serious and deleterious were the effects of £1,200 million in public expenditure effected by his Chancellor of the Exchequer last December?

Mr. Heath

I am always prepared to argue that point. As Prime Minister I discussed very often with the trade unions and the CBI the financial measures required to get expansion going in the economy. That expansion was achieved. It was more than 5 per cent. It was welcomed by the trade unions as well as by the employers.

These plans—whatever the Government finally wish to admit—will be bitterly fought both politically and by industry. They will be bitterly fought by all those who believe in a free society, and this at a time when we face grave perils and when a divisive policy of this kind ought not to be put forward by any Government.

These plans are put forward as a solution to the problems of British industry. The problems are well known. Practically all members are fully acquainted with them. Many hon. Members have handled them over the past years. Some are historic, arising from the fact that we were the first industrialised nation. Another point is that we were not destroyed by the war to any great extent. We did not, therefore, have the advantage of modern post-war replacements as did some of our competitors. We received a loan of $2,000 million. That was thrown away and not used by the 1945 Government for the reconstruction for which it was intended. We know there are trade union attitudes and conditions governed to some extent still by the depressed years of the 1930s. We know there is a lack of mobility of labour in this country compared with other industrial nations. We also know that we have not forged ahead until very recently with sufficient training for middle or top management. There is a lack of cash flow, which has been made much worse by the recent Budget. There is an inability now to plan ahead because of changes of Government policy.

The right hon. Gentleman opposite is critical about the speed of industrial development during the last four years. If he and his colleagues had adhered in Opposition to the European policy they had while in Government British industry would have had complete confidence and could have invested to go into the EEC. That is a heavy responsibility which he will always carry.

I know of the right hon. Gentleman's comments on my remarks concerning the unpleasant face of capitalism. I deliberately pointed that out. The right hon. Gentleman said we took no action about it. We took immediate action. We set up an inquiry into the complaints. I do not see why hon. Gentlemen have reason to complain about a DTI inquiry into a matter of this kind.

We brought forward the Companies Act to deal specifically with the defects revealed. That is the correct way to deal with defects in a free-enterprise society. I wish right hon. Gentlemen were willing to do that with the trade union movement when defects are seen.

Let us look frankly at our society. Where we see defects, let us be prepared to take action about them.

The Government's proposals do not provide any solutions to the problems which in some cases have long been evident in British industry. They are either damaging or else irrelevant, or in some cases both. What justification is put forward for this wide extension of State control? The Prime Minister is clear about it.

The Prime Minister

It is in the manifesto.

Mr. Heath

The Prime Minister says that it is in the manifesto, but he has made no attempt to produce any justifification for it or intellectual argument about it.

The Prime Minister

There is a mandate.

Mr. Heath

There is no mandate for nationalisation by this Government. There were 18 million people who voted for parties which were against nationalisation, compared with 11 million who voted for the right hon. Gentleman's own party.

We then come to the somewhat shoddy arguments now used. They seem to be coming forward for the first time, particularly from the Secretary of State for Industry. He says that industry pays £4 million a day in taxes and receives £2 million a day in aids of one kind or another, mainly regional programmes. Which party has pressed incessantly in the House of Commons for regional aid programmes? The last Government carried out more than any of their predecessors, although sometimes criticised by my hon. Friends on the back benches.

The Secretary of State for Industry then claims that that gives him the right to have this massive extension of nationalisation and State control. But what argument is there in this? What right does it give him?

The Secretary of State's figures are wrong. At Question Time the Prime Minister made a strange statement in which he said he thought more was paid to industry than industry paid in taxes. He knows more about football than politics. He seems to know more about football than statistics.

Industry pays £10 million a day in taxes and receives £2 million per day in aid and grants of various kinds. For every £1 it receives it pays £5 in taxes.

What is the position of the nationalised industries? The write-offs in the nationalised industries now amount to more than £5,000 million, without including what Governments and public money have contributed towards their investment programmes.

That is not a real argument. It is a diversion put forward by the Secretary of State for Industry. He is producing these figures only to confuse the real issue. The real issue is: in what way will the British economy be run? That is the real issue which faces the House and the country.

There are two ways of running the economy, which is part nationalised and in part free-enterprise. The first is the way in which the British nation believes: that the Government take overall responsibility for strategy through the Budget and through monetary policy. The Government use planning powers to protect the environment and financial inducements to encourage investment and, for social reasons, for regional development. The second way is the way of State control and State planning throughout.

The Prime Minister says that every European country has the sort of arrangement that he is proposing, and he may have in mind the Italian IRI. I say to him, and I am prepared to give the Government credit, that the Italian system has not coped with the problem of development in Southern Italy or done anything of any consequence to restore the balance between Southern Italy and the northern industrial region, whereas we, although we have not solved the problem, have had considerable success through our regional policies. Between 1960 and 1965, 192,000 new jobs were created, and, taking the more recent example of our Industry Act 1972, by October 1973 60,000 new jobs had been provided.

That has not solved the problem entirely, but we ought not to discount what has been done under the system used by all post-war Governments which leaves the choice to industry and to individuals and which is carried through by consent. It is because we have had success that the Italian Government have been studying our methods and have supported us in Brussels in our proposals for the Regional Development Fund.

Mr. Joseph Ashton (Bassetlaw)

The right hon. Gentleman neglects to mention Sweden, Israel and Canada, the countries in which a National Enterprise Board has been successful in industries such as tobacco, banking and coal. Why is the right hon. Gentleman being selective and referring only to Italy?

Mr. Heath

I could not mention all the places which the Prime Minister this afternoon was asked to visit. The hon. Gentleman should read what his right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General said: My concern with the National Enterprise Board suggestion is simply that it is a bad idea. It derives from a vision of a monopolistic society ruled by technocrats", and that is what the Secretary of State for Industry wants.

The system that we have avoids strict controls on firms and individuals. It avoids the creation of more State monopolies and the huge apparatus of State domination. It protects individual freedom and choice, and the European countries use a similar system.

I do not believe that the Secretary of State for Industry understands how a mixed economy works in a democracy. I do not think that he is interested in understanding it. What he understands is an economy based on State planning and State decision-making. That is what interests the right hon. Gentleman and leads to the production of his plans. Down that path lies the growth of collective coercion and a decrease of personal liberty, and in all this the Secretary of State is fully supported by the Prime Minister.

What right hon. Gentlemen opposite never discuss—though I hope they will do so today—are the problems of the nationalised industries. They are, however, prepared to denigrate free enterprise. Let us discuss the problems of the nationalised industries.

All those who have been concerned with the nationalised industries—and that means the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues as much as it does us—know that the problems are basically infinitely greater than those in free enterprise. Nationalised industries are massive units—and many of the proposed units will be massive—remote and, to a large extent in the literal use of the word, unmanageable.

The quality of management for units of such a scale is almost entirely unobtainable from either inside the industry or outside, and those who have had experience of trying to make appointments to boards or of chairmen of these massive units know what the difficulties are.

Nobody has found a way of making these massive and remote units properly responsible to Parliament, to Ministers or to anyone else. The industries themselves have not found a satisfactory way of delegation within themselves, and this is evident outside the Metropolis. They are usually unwilling to adapt their investment programmes to the trade cycle in order to help the national situation. They always press for subsidies of one kind and another because, they say, they are not commercially justified in making such a commitment. They are reluctant to work closely with British industry to encourage British industry because, they say, they much prefer to go elsewhere in the world where they may be able to get what they want off the peg. Those are the facts about nationalised industries.

Mr. Stanley Newens (Harlow)

What about the multinationals?

Mr. Heath

During my time as Prime Minister and when I was at the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Labour I never experienced a multinational which refused to co-operate with the Government. What is more, many of the multinationals have stood this country in good stead in times of war.

The demand by the nationalised industries for investment capital already hamstrings the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his financial policy and financial management, because he knows that with such massive units it is difficult to change anything with any rapidity. Why hamstring the Chancellor of the Exchequer still further and have massive demands which further nationalised industries will make on the Exchequer, apart from the cost of buying them—which presumably will be the case—and the inflationary effect of that?

The nationalised industries themselves, being such massive units, find the utmost difficulty in having an adequate system of financial control within their own organisation. They are cumbersome and slow-moving in their decision-taking, and the whole process is compounded by the fact that they have to act in concert with the Treasury.

Those are the facts of life. Those working on the boards of management of nationalised industries are doing their best to cope with the problems but, many of these problems, by their nature, have still not been dealt with, and nobody can see how they will be, and that must be a major argument against the extension which the Secretary of State wants to bring about.

Who can argue that industrial relations in many of the large nationalised industries are satisfactory? One reason why they are not is the massive size of the units and the remoteness—

Mr. Ashton

And Government interference.

Mr. Heath

The hon. Gentleman blames Government interference; yet this House is constantly being pressed for further Government and parliamentary control over nationalised industries. If the hon. Gentleman does not want Government interference, he should tell his right hon. Friend to give it up and not nationalise industries.

The other fact is that a nationalised industry has no negotiating position in any of these problems, because the other side knows that it can say "Away with you. We will go to the Government of the day", and it goes to the Minister, be it the Secretary of State for Employment or the Treasury Minister or, as it used to be, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and now either Trade or Industry. Those who run these massive and remote units know that in any event those with whom they are negotiating will always sweep them to one side and demand to go to the Minister or the Government, and yet this House is constantly pressed for that situation to be developed.

Let us consider the consumer side of the matter. It may have been idealistic at one time, but does anybody now believe that consumers feel that the nationalised industries belong to them? Do the tormented commuters feel that the railways on which they are being disorganised belong to them? Does the housewife who finds the power switched off believe that the power stations belong to her? Does anybody believe that the consumer councils represent what the consumer wants? What connection is there between consumer councils for nationalised industries and the ordinary citizen? These, too, are remote, and these are the problems of the nationalised industries about which we never hear from Government Members.

Right hon. Gentlemen opposite have sufficient experience, knowledge and intelligence to know that those are the real problems. Why, then, are they proposing to go ahead with proposals such as these? It can only be because, above all, they are greedy for power for the sake of power over industry. That is the basic demand of the Secretary of State.

The Government have at the moment launched this attack against British industry and it has shattered confidence and destroyed prospects for future jobs through affecting investment. It has now inflicted a complete planning blight across the whole face of industrial Britain.

In the past 20 years we have seen this all too often. The steel industry was a massive example in which, because of the constant threat of nationalisation, it did not go for the investment which it ought to have gone for, and the whole country has been suffering from that ever since—

The Prime Minister

Why did the right hon. Gentleman not denationalise any of the industries he has been speaking about, with the exception of the Carlisle State pubs?

Mr. Heath

There were other industries which we denationalised—but we did not denationalise in other cases for the simple reason that to do so again brings conflict in industry, and that is what the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State is doing with free enterprise industry today. He has launched war against free enterprise industry

The industrial policy of the Labour Party has been the curse of Britain for 25 years. Let the House show in the vote tonight that the country wants no more of it.

4.31 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Industry (Mr. Anthony Wedgwood Benn)

I beg to move, to leave out from 'House' to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'recalling that subsidies paid to private companies by the previous Government, coupled with State intervention, did not correct the long term problems of British industry, failed to sustain investment, and ended in a collapse of confidence, believes that the time has come to re-examine the working of the mixed economy and to seek ways to improve production and exports, raise investment and provide more jobs in Scotland, Wales and the English regions; and supports the Statement by the Prime Minister on 12th March in the Debate on the Address on the Government's intention in respect of the forthcoming Industry Bill and the National Enterprise Board'. This is the first time that the House has had an opportunity of discussing the industrial situation and the Government's industrial strategy in this Parliament. It is also the first time that there has been an opportunity to discuss the proposed Industry Bill, and the National Enterprise Board and the planning agreements system.

However, before passing to these subjects, which are central to our debate, perhaps I should say to the Leader of the Opposition that it was significant to me, listening to his speech, that, bearing in mind that he occupied the high office of Prime Minister for almost four years, he found no time to describe the contribution which he made to any of the problems now confronting the House.

The right hon. Gentleman made no reference whatever—one wonders how long his memory may be—to the inheritance of the three-day week or to the fact that when we came to power we found his policies of confrontation and war upon workers in industry which had led to the most tragic collapse of confidence which we have had in British industry since the war. If the right hon. Gentleman appeared, as many thought, to be out of touch with reality when he was Prime Minister, he has certainly proved today that he is still unready to face the reality of the consequences of his own policy—

Mr. Heath

There was no confrontation with our Government. If the right hon. Gentleman consults the leaders of the trade union movement who took part in the talks with me they will tell him that there was no confrontation by our Government. The confrontation was with one union only, at that union's insistence, because it was not prepared to accept the arrangements laid down by Parliament.

Regarding the three-day week, the present Prime Minister has paid tribute to the fact that the three-day week showed that British industry during that period greatly increased its production proportionately. Trade union leaders and employers will tell the right hon. Gentleman that fact, and they will ask him why they cannot still further achieve an increase in times of full working. The breakdown of confidence came later with the present Government.

Mr. Benn

If the right hon. Gentleman is now producing a new argument for the three-day week and saying that it proved what British industry could do under difficult circumstances, he must be even more out of touch with the reality of the situation. Not only were 1½ million workers temporarily stopped during that period, but he ran up administration costs of £1 million for the Department of Trade and Industry alone and did enormous damage to industrial confidence and investment. It is true that the settlement after the change of Government created a sense of well-being because people saw these immediate problems dealt with.

However, I want today to invite the House to look at the more deep-seated problems which have confronted industry in one form or another since the war and which should properly lead Ministers of both parties who have had responsibility for these matters to consider in which direction we should go.

The plain truth is that Britain has suffered a relative industrial decline over a long time under Governments of both parties. If the claim and forecasts which led to a rebuke being administered to Lord Rothschild, or the claim or forecasts of the right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Sir G. Howe), in one of his speeches at the time of the General Election, are correct, this country is faced with the prospect of a continued relative industrial decline.

Figures which I shall give to indicate this spread over the record of a number of Governments. Let us take, for example, the average annual growth of manufacturing output from 1953 to 1971. The figures are—for the United Kingdom 3 per cent., for France 6½ per cent., for Italy 7½ per cent., for Germany 7½ per cent., and for Japan 14½ per cent.

Mr. Michael Heseltine (Henley) rose

Mr. Benn

If I may be allowed to continue to give some figures, I shall take next the average annual growth of manufactured exports, by volume, in the period 1954 to 1972. The figures are United Kingdom 4 per cent., France 9½ per cent., Germany 10½ per cent., Italy 16½ per cent., and Japan 17 per cent.

If we next take the ratio of imports of manufactures to exports of manufactures over a 10 year period, we find that in 1964 the figure was 57 per cent.—nearly twice as much exported as imported—and it is now 90 per cent. or only 10 per cent. more exported than imported.

Further, if we take investment per employee in manufacturing—that is, the amount of horsepower, machinery and equipment behind the average British worker—we find that in 1971 there was £250 worth of investment behind the average worker in the United Kingdom, while in Germany the figure was £400, in Japan £500, in France £600, and in the United States £700.

If we look at the basic statistics and figures over a long period we find that a mixed economy, in the way in which it has been operating, and in the way in which the right hon. Gentleman sought to defend it in his speech, has not brought to the people of this country the results which they might otherwise have had—

Mr. Heseltine

The right hon. Gentleman has given the House a vastly impressive catalogue of the great success of the truly free enterprises in the world's economies.

Mr. Benn

The hon. Gentleman underestimates the magnitude of the problems facing us. These problems have extended over a prolonged period. They have had their impact on the people of this country and have contributed in part to the acute and chronic regional unemployment problem in Scotland, in Wales, on Merseyside, in the North and now even in the Midlands. During the last period of high unemployment there was some anxiety in the Midlands about the future there. The unemployment figures published today, for June 1974, still indicate that we have been unable to solve—not for lack of effort and attention—the disparity in unemployment between the South-East, for which today's figure is 1.5 per cent. and, for example, the North, with a latest figure of 4.4 per cent.

These problems go back for a long time. The record does not give very much encouragement to a belief in the right hon. Gentleman's arguments about his capacity to improve industrial investment. Industrial investment fell by 17 per cent. in the first two years in which he held office. It never recovered. By the time he left office, investment was back to the 1970 level, when he assumed office.

He and his right hon. Friend the former Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, have made many speeches about the need to encourage people to invest. He must know very well that the boom which his Cabinet tried to produce to break through these problems came up against capacity limitations by the autumn of last year, because of the failure to invest in British industry, before the impact of the higher oil prices began to be felt.

The picture I paint is gloomy. I believe that unless we are able to change the prospects in some way, the forecasts which have been given may be correct in that we may be led into graver difficulties. It is not for any lack of trying. The right hon. Gentleman was at one time President of the Board of Trade and Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development. All Governments over the period since the war have attempted to correct these underlying problems.

There have been many disagreements on important items of policy, but in general during this period there has been the development of policy on the simple and clear pattern that the basic industries brought into public ownership should be re-equipped by the community which owned them. If we consider the figures for public investment, since 1951 in the public corporations—such as mines, railways and electricity—we shall see that some £24,000 million has been invested in re-equipping these industries. Similarly, Governments have accepted that what is sometimes called in the jargon the social infrastructure—that is to say local authority and central Government expenditure, which impacts very much on the capacity of investment to improve its own performance—must be improved, and this has led to investment over the same period of about £35,000 million.

This has been a great contribution to our industrial capability because industry depends upon this infrastructure. If we add to that the fact that nationalised industries have been running at a loss, very often as a result of Government policy, we get a subsidy that has come through the provision of nationalised industry services at below cost for private manufacturing and for the benefit of private manufacturing industry. If freight fares are below their true cost, or telephone or electricity charges are below the true cost, then some of this benefit feeds into private manufacturing industry.

As to manufacturing itself, it has been left very largely in the private sector. There has been some financing of innovation by Government. I will give examples from two industries in which there has been public expenditure on innovation. Over the four-year period beginning in 1968–69 and ending in 1972–73, the aircraft industry received £766 million in this way, and the nuclear industry about £228 million. In certain areas, where the Government of the day thought it necessary to carry risks or to promote development, substantial sums of public money have been used.

But in the private sector there has been another tendency which we are bound to notice. That is the steady development of monopoly in private manufacturing industry. Nearly half of the manufacturing now done in Britain is done by 100 companies. In making my own inquiries about the top 20 of these companies, the figures I have been given show that these own 4,000 companies in Britain today.

The right hon. Gentleman says that nationalised industries are big and suffer from the problems of remoteness of management, yet there must be millions of people working in private manufacturing industry in Britain today who do not even know the name of the company that owns the company in which they work.

I come to the question of Government grants—

Mr. Heath

First of all, I do not accept the right hon. Gentleman's general monopoly conclusions. In any case, the machinery for dealing with monopolies exists and has existed under many Governments. If he wants, he can use it. How can these companies of which the right hon. Gentleman speaks be monopolies in a European Economic Community in which tariffs disappear and we are open to competition from all?

Mr. Benn

The right hon. Gentleman should address his mind to the point I made, that half of manufacturing output in Britain today is controlled by 100 companies. The phrase I used was that there was a tendency to monopoly. The right hon. Gentleman gave to these companies their first legislative definition—Category 1 firms. Aneurin Bevan, in more romantic language, had called them the commanding heights of the economy. They remained entrenched in Labour rhetoric until the right hon. Gentleman thought them so important that he provided special arrangements to control their prices and profits under his own Counter-Inflation Act. It is no good his saying that this does not represent an important development in private manufacturing industry.

If the right hon. Gentleman looks at Government grants to private industry, which have come from Governments of both parties and in many categories, he will find that the amount of subvention to private industry for purposes which the House accepted—regional policy or innovation or whatever—has been mounting steadily and rose under his Government, taking the four-year period as a whole, to the figure of some £3,000 million—£2 million a day. If the House is not entitled to take account of this in examining its own future industrial strategy without crude political abuse entering into the argument, then it will not be able to examine why we have done so badly and how we must do better.

It is no good the right hon. Gentleman saying that intervention is itself a controversy between the parties. The legislation which he introduced, the Counter-Inflation Act and other legislation, brought to the private sector a greater degree of detailed interference than had ever occurred even from the National Government during wartime. I have brought with me four sections from his Acts. I will read them to him because he might possibly not have been aware of what was going through under his premiership.

Let us take first—and I could have taken examples from a number of Acts—Section 19 of the National Insurance Act. It says: The Secretary of State may require a company to furnish at specified times or intervals with information about specified matters being, if he so requires, information verified in a specified matter. That is not from a commissar but from a Conservative Government. They intervened. Let me give another example: The Secretary of State may require a company to take such action as appears to him to be appropriate for the purposes of protecting policy holders. That is the right hon. Gentleman's National Insurance Act. Let us take the question of the relations between the Secretary of State and private industry: The Secretary of State shall not issue under Section 61 of the Act of 1967 an authorisation with respect to an incorporated company if it appears to him that any controller or manager of the company is not a fit and proper person to be associated with the company. Those are not the words of a commissar; they are the words of the right hon. Gentleman in his own legislation.

Let us take as another example the Counter-Inflation Act: The Minister may by order direct that—

  1. (a) any provision of any Act, whether passed before this Act or later, which relates to prices, charges or to remuneration or other terms or conditions of employment, or
  2. (b) any provision having effect under any Act…shall while this Part of this Act is in force, have effect subject to such exceptions, modifications or adaptations as may be specified in the order."
That was the right hon. Gentleman's legislation, not the legislation of a Labour Government.

I take next the commanding heights of the economy. Listen to the right hon. Gentleman's own Price and Pay Code. Paragraph 6 reads: For the purpose of control all companies whose main activity is in manufacturing will be divided into three categories. Is that the ravings of Transport House, or is it the managerial view of the Leader of the Opposition? It is the latter, of course.

The plain truth is that intervention is not controversial between the parties. What matters is for what purpose we intervene, how we intervene, what accountability to Parliament there is for the intervention, and in whose interests we intervene. For the right hon. Gentleman to pretend, for the purpose of his public posture, that the pressure for intervention is a social one when he intervenes consistently in the interests of those whom he supports in society is to mislead the public, who must come to terms with the realities of industrial policy.

Mr. John Gorst (Hendon, North)

On the other hand, will not the right hon. Gentleman admit—indeed, he has gone some way to admitting it by using the phrase "the purposes of intervention"—that what matters is the fact that there is no dictatorship in the world which has not had nationalisation as an adjunct to dictatorship? This is the problem that we are fighting.

Mr. Benn

I ought not to have allowed the hon. Gentleman to intervene. What were the two last great acts of public ownership in this country? They were Rolls-Royce and Govan Shipbuilders. Both were brought into public ownership by the Conservative Party.

Let us now get beyond the absurd simplicities of the Leader of the Opposition, who is always on the hustings, and come down to examine what is the real question confronting Britain. Does this system of subsidy and intervention work in the national interest? The answer is, "No". Has it produced the results for which it was intended? Again, the answer is, "No".

We have been told to face the facts. The fact is that our mixed economy is not working properly for the purposes for which, to some extent, there is agreement between the two sides of the House in terms of investment, regional policy and a healthy balance of payments.

Mr. Heath

The right hon. Gentleman knows that the first cases of intervention which he cited are particular to any President of the Board of Trade, as it was and later Secretary of State, to ensure that people concerned with financial matters are of proper standing. That is a perfectly seemly thing to do. It does not deal with the detailed affairs of the company or the financial institutions. Secondly, dealing with his argument about Rolls-Royce and Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, Rolls-Royce found the burden which he placed upon it of the 211 too great to bear, and we had to take the consequences of that, as we did with Upper Clyde Shipbuilders as well.

Mr. Benn

The right hon. Gentleman continued the support both for Rolls-Royce and for Upper Clyde Shipbuilders for a long period before driving both of them into bankruptcy.

I understand the special case of the insurance companies. Who would not after the recent cases? But is there any reason why, if a company is failing the interests of its workers, it should not find Government interest attaching to it as it would if it fails its policy holders? Why is it that the interests of those whose livelihood depends on the companies should be exempt from any Government interest, whereas in the case of the insurance companies, this power should be exercised?

I come then to the policy of the Labour Party. At least the right hon. Gentleman will grant me that the Labour Party makes no attempt to conceal its thinking about future policy. It has always been ready to discuss it in the open. Anyone who follows these matters will have followed them in the 1972 programme: the discussions with the TUC, our statement published in February last year, the programme in 1973, the ship-building policy published in the summer, and the manifesto. The House knows that the discussion within the Labour Party about future policy is always very open, and although accounts are not necessarily accurate of what goes on in individual policy committees, there is full coverage of the discussion.

I said in the only speech that I have made in this Parliament until today that I saw it as my job to implement the policy on which we were elected—an idea which is quite reasonable for an incoming Minister.

Let us look at the difference between the policy making of the two parties. I take first the aircraft industry. We said in our programme that we would bring it into public ownership. It has received about £555 million of public support over the past four years. We put that in our manifesto. I was asked about it in this House, and I confirmed our election intent. I had informal talks with the SBAC and the trade unions.

Compare that with the way that the right hon. Gentleman's policy developed for the aircraft industry. His Government decided before the election to bring about a private merger between BAC and Hawker Siddeley. He did not tell the House. He did not discuss it with the unions. He sought to bring it about privately.

I have before me a letter dated 4th February addressed to a well-known firm of chartered accountants about this operation of bringing BAC and Hawker Siddeley together. The letter is significant for two reasons. The first is that here was a major piece of Government policy for the aircraft industry being brought forward without consultation with anyone. It is significant, secondly, because in writing to this distinguished chartered accountant, the Department said: Your remuneration will be at the current rate for your professional services for each day devoted to the consultancy. This rate is £24 an hour or £168 for a working day. The letter is dated 4th February 1974. While the Leader of the Opposition was going round the country denouncing the miners for their wage claims, he was offering a single chartered accountant £168 a day to do a study of the aircraft industry, without any statement to Parliament.

Mr. Heath

Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that, if a Government Department employs a professional man, it should pay him at other than the professional rates? That appears to be what the right hon. Gentleman is suggesting. The Department is right to say that he will be paid at the normal professional rate for his services. How else can a Government get the service of professional men?

Secondly, if there are discussions between firms and the Government, the right hon. Gentleman knows that they are conducted on terms of commercial confidence. That is the only basis again on which a Government can act. Indeed, many of his hon. Friends pressed me constantly when I was Prime Minister to ensure that commercial confidence was maintained. The right hon. Gentleman is now quoting a private letter from the Department in the era of another administration. I should like to know what justification he has for doing that.

Mr. Benn

I have not given the name of the firm. If this House is to debate the difference between our policy making and that of the Conservative Party, it is important to recognise that in the policy making that we are undertaking we are doing it openly, in consultation with those affected, and not secretly. The matter of the money only draws attention retrospectively to the difference in standards between the amount paid to a chartered accountant, which is probably the standard fee, and the amount which the Leader of the Opposition was ready to see paid to working people under his pay policy.

Mr. Heath

The right hon. Gentleman is entitled to argue what he likes about the various ways of policy making under given administrations. But he is not entitled to make a general accusation against a professional servant employed by the Government by quoting a particular letter, or to reveal discussions in commercial confidence with a previous administration. There is no justification for that. His advisers in the Department are in error if they have allowed him to see a previous administration's documents, let alone to quote them in Parliament.

Mr. Benn

The right hon. Gentleman will not get away with it like that. The plain truth is that the previous Government sought a solution—I am not commenting whether the policy was right or not—to the problem of the aircraft industry without any statement to the House of Commons and without any consultation whatever with the workers who would be involved and do the job at a rate which is probably not the going rate for chartered accountants. That was in marked contrast to his appeals for restraint at a time when the country was being forced on to a three-day working week as a result of his pay policy.

Mr. Gorst

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May we have your guidance on this matter? If the right hon. Gentleman is referring to a docu ment, should it not be made available to the House or, alternatively, the whole matter withdrawn?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. George Thomas)

I understand that unless a direct quotation is made from a document—[HON. MEMBERS: "It was."] Order. Unless the document is read out—

Hon. Members

It was.

Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, Central)

Yes, it was. Let us have it. We must have it.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. It is difficult for me at the moment. If the document is as confidential as has been outlined—

Mr. Heath

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Secretary of State quoted from the document. He purported to read from it. He still has not answered or tried to give any justification for producing a document from a previous administration which he is not entitled to see and is certainly not entitled to quote publicly. I should like to know what possible justification there can be for doing that. The head of the right hon. Gentleman's Department is completely ill-advised if he has allowed him to do so. The head of the Civil Service and the Secretary to the Cabinet ought to inquire into it.

Mr. Benn

The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that relations between the Government and third parties do not come in the category of papers that pass between officials and Ministers in a previous administration. He knows that in negotiations which occur between the Government and third parties separate rules apply.

Mr. Gorst

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Perhaps I can help now as I have the advantage of Erskine May, which, on page 421, states: I understand that it was a private letter. The rule for the laying of cited documents cannot be held to apply to private letters or memoranda.

Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This is a technical but very important matter. There is some question whether this is a private letter or, because it is from a Department, a public document. Would it not be more helpful to the House if you were to take as much time as you think necessary to consider the matter and, when you have had time to reflect—I think that everyone would like you to have time to reflect because it is an important matter—then to give your ruling to the House?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I hope that the House will feel that that is the wisest solution.

Mr. Benn

I now come to the policies, which I should outline briefly, which the Government have in mind to put before the House after full consideration. They are that, in the circumstances that I have described and against the background that I have outlined, it is necessary for us to have an instrument which would be capable of doing better in solving many of the problems that I have described than in the past.

I am referring to the National Enterprise Board whose contributions would lie in the area of promoting investment and, indeed, in getting more jobs into regions of high unemployment. I am referring also to the planning agreement which would allow the Government and the firms, particularly the category I firms, to lay their strategies side by side to see how community needs could be met.

There are precedents for all these matters. The letters exchanged between the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the chairman of Rolls-Royce, which were not published at the time but have since been published in HANSARD, identified exactly the pattern of planning agreement between Rolls-Royce, and the Government of the day which might form a pattern for our thinking on these matters.

We are saying that in thinking about these deep-seated problems we may conclude that fundamental changes are needed to correct them. If these fundamental changes are to work, they must have consent. The one lesson that we may have learned—indeed, I think that most people should have learned it from the experience of the previous Government with the lesson of the Industrial Relations Act—is that in the industrial sphere we cannot put a statute in the statute book and expect it to work without consent.

As I made absolutely clear in the first speech that I made on this subject in the new Parliament, we are not seeking confrontation with British management. We are seeking a debate about problems that have not been resolved over a prolonged period. We are seeking a wide measure of agreement about the nature of the problems and about the way in which they might best be tackled.

We are putting forward policies which we have worked out and in which we believe. I warn the Opposition that, if they suppose that those policies will be electorally advantageous to them, they must offer some alternative policies. I suggest that no one hearing the right hon. Gentleman today would believe that he had any answer to the problems that are common between both sides of the House, for at least we share the nation's problems. He has not put forward an alternative. We believe that executives as well as workers in industry and those who live in Scotland and Wales and the regions, will look with sympathy and approval on the proposals that we have been publicly advocating.

This country can do better than it has done. The three-day working week taught us that there is a reserve of production that we have not yet been able to tap. We must do better than the present forecasts indicate.

I believe that our policies will command support. I invite the House to support us tonight. If not, in due course we shall gain that support from the British people and come back able to carry our policies into effect.

5.9 p.m.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan (Farnham)

The Secretary of State for Industry, in his speech today and in the "trailer" that he gave yesterday to the AUEW conference, appeared to be speaking from the heart with the fervour of an old-style Socialist setting out to remedy just grievances and to put forward proposals in the national interest. But the cold and mechanistic policies that underlie his speech come only from the head. In his speech, the right hon. Gentleman has shown that his head, so far from being thick, as has sometimes been suggested, might better be regarded as the thin edge of a Marxist wedge. He is using the language and arguments of democratic Socialism to put forward and to justify—and indeed, to conceal—purely collectivist policies, policies which have not been accepted by the electorate and which have raised doubts in the minds of some of his right hon. and lion. Friends, and which I hope will be firmly rejected by the House this evening.

The right hon. Gentleman says in the amendment and in his speech that he wants to take a fresh look at the working of a mixed economy. So do I. He criticised free competitive enterprise for a growing tendency to monopoly. I would not disagree with him in that. But his proposals are not a fresh look; nor, indeed, are they directed against monopoly. He said that he was seeking agreement. But what he is seeking is the agreement of the House and, apparently, of the country to a stale formula of more nationalisation, with greater State intervention in the private sector. The right hon. Gentleman is seeking, in other words, more bureaucracy in large industries, which in many cases are already too bureaucratic to be enterprising. He is also seeking to extend that into the smaller industries, which are now prevented from exercising their natural enterprise only by the policies of the present Government and the fears for the future that those policies engender. The new, or relatively new, idea of appointing union officials as directors will not help. All that that will do is to add yet another element of bureaucracy—the bureaucracy of the unions.

We on the Opposition side of the House accept that Government intervention in industry is necessary. That has been part of Tory philosophy throughout the ages. Of course we accept that legislation is required. Indeed, the Conservative Party has never been the party of laissez-faire economics, from the days of Disraeli onwards. We accept that legislation is required to frame the conditions in which industrialists and businessmen operate. We believe it is required to frame the conditions in which trade unions and their leaders operate, too. But most of the plans that the right hon. Gentleman is putting forward are irrelevant as well as divisive.

I do not deny that the right hon. Gentleman's analysis of the seriousness of the position of British industry is basically right. But there are very complex problems and complex difficulties. The object of the right hon. Gentleman is to make them seem simple, so that his simplistic remedies can apply and that he can take control away from the workers, from people and from Parliament and concentrate it in the hands of the Government. If he were really seeking to deal with the problems of growing monopoly, he would turn his attention to company law and monopolies legislation in order to protect both customers and work-people. He would seek to ensure that directors exercise the responsibilities of ownership on behalf of their shareholders as well as protecting shareholders' rights. He would be putting forward proper measures for employee participation that can give management and work-people a greater say in the affairs of their company and a greater stake in its success.

But the Government have rejected that concept. They rejected it when they rejected our amendment to the Finance Bill, which sought to spread share ownership more widely through its linking with the Own-As-You-Earn scheme.

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South-West)

Hear, hear.

Mr. Macmillan

When the Secretary of State says that he wishes to alter the balance of power and wealth, he means that he wants to centralise it in the hands of officials—Government officials and trade union officials. He and his colleagues would use wealth for the people rather than spread it into their hands, leaving the people the choice as to how that wealth should best be used. He would use power for the people rather than passing power back to the people to use themselves. This may be Socialist, but it is certainly not democratic.

The attitude of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues is that of an over-possessive mother who continues to make decisions for her children after they have grown up and can well make them for themselves. In the words of the television advertisement, the right hon. Gentleman appears to think that "Mother knows best."

Of course I agree that it is intolerable that people should feel themselves at the mercy of forces which they do not understand, that their destinies at work—whether they are management or work-people, at any level—are controlled by groups which they do not know and which they cannot identify, and that they are being manipulated for reasons outside their own interest and understanding. That is true whether these groups are of capital or of labour, and whether it is the selfishness of financiers or of trade union leaders that is causing this manipulation.

The Secretary of State suggested that a framework of law was required for the operations of the capitalist system. I agree. I wish that he and his colleagues would see the trade unions as part of that system, a part which also should operate within a framework of law. I quite agree, too, that company law and consultation between management and work-people is not, in itself, enough, and that we need a greater degree of employee participation. But that means all employees—junior management, foremen, those on the shop floor or in the office. It means all the staff—not simply the union leaders but all employees—taking an active part in the affairs of the companies for which they work, at all levels. If it is to be at boardroom level too, it must be by persons elected by the representatives of those working in the firms concerned and not simply by officials appointed by union headquarters.

I would not deny the rôle of the trade unions collectively. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition accepted this rôle of the unions as a group in his tripartite discussions with the CBI and the TUC. I would go further, perhaps, than he would, and consider whether we should not find some method of formalising or even institutionalising the rôle of industry in the management of the economy and the consultation between the employers and the unions concerned. In other words, I should like a fresh look to be taken at the working of our mixed economy, going a little beyond saying "It did not work before, so now we shall make it purely Socialist." I should like a closer look to be taken at the part that should be played in a modern industrial society by the different elements that go to make up the great complexity of our industry, commerce, business and finance.

The problem is how to reconcile the increasingly inhuman demand for efficiency in modern industry with the human aspirations of those who work in it. I have never believed, and neither has any member of the Conservative Party, that the answer lies in laissez-faire economics which try to make man fit the machine. Yet that is just what the Secretary of State is trying to do. He is not trying to fit his theories, ideas or policies to the needs of people; he is trying to get people to agree to be fitted into his own dogmas and doctrine. He is trying to get agreement with the neo-Marxist policies that he conceals, perhaps from himself as well as from other people, by the Democratic-Socialist language that he uses.

I hope that the House will reject the Amendment and in doing so commit itself to taking a new look, yes, but a look at the mixed economy, an economy which will remain mixed and not be dominated by the theories and dogmas of the Secretary of State.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. George Thomas)

May I now quickly give the ruling which the House was kind enough to give me time to consider?

The rule for the laying of cited documents cannot be held to apply to private letters or memoranda. It is also stated in Erskine May, in the light of earlier rulings, that the rule applies to public documents only and not to documents of a confidential nature. Taking all these matters into consideration, I have come to the view that the document cited by the Secretary of State is not one to which the rule applies.

Mr. Moonman

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As there is so little time for back benchers to do justice to the debate—less than an hour—is it possible for you to advise all speakers to keep their remarks to, say, five minutes?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

There is just three-quarters of an hour left for back benchers. That will no doubt be borne in mind.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I believe that the matter on which you have ruled is of some constitutional importance as well as being a matter of good manners. I should be grateful if you could make available to my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine), who is to speak later from the Opposition Front Bench, the words which you have used, and I should be obliged if that could be done as soon as possible.

Mr. Deputy Speaker


Mr. Gorst

Further to that point of order. Whilst in no way challenging your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should be grateful if you would consider the fact that the Secretary of State spoke in such a way as to imply that it was not a private but a public document. Consequently, if that is the case and the right hon. Gentleman does not deny it, according to your ruling the document should surely be made available.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I have ruled that the document did not come under the category of having to be laid.

5.24 p.m.

Mr. Roy Hughes (Newport)

The Conservative Party always has to invent a bogyman. There have been many examples in the post-war years. At the 1945 General Election it was Professor Harold Laski, then Chairman of the Labour Party. Then followed Mr. John Strachey. Scurrilous attacks were made over many years on the late Mr. Aneurin Bevan. There were Mr. Frank Cousins and Mr. Hugh Scanlon, the engineering workers' leader, and then a few months ago a practically unknown Scottish miners' leader, Mr. Mick McGahey, suddenly found fame thrust upon him.

Now the attacks are concentrated on that great proletarian revolutionary leader, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry. He must feel flattered. I have always thought him to be more in the line of Baden-Powell than Karl Marx. However, he has had the merit of spotlighting how much our so-called private enterprise system relies on State dole. The £2 million a day that my right hon. Friend mentioned is highly relevant in the context of our discussion on the future of British industry. As my right hon. Friend also pointed out, it has amounted in the past four years to about £3,000 million. There have also been the disguised subsidies to which my right hon. Friend referred, particularly in the charging of lower prices by our nationalised industries—for coal, electricity, gas and telephones.

My right hon. Friend, in the best Boy Scout tradition, believes that promises should be honoured. Labour's plans were made perfectly clear before and during the General Election.

We all know too well that since the end of the Second World War this country's economy has been plagued by one crisis after another. There has been a perpetual conflict between private profit and the public good. There has been a distinct lack of investment in British industry. Instead, many millions of pounds have been invested overseas. The inefficiency of British industry has been characterised by excessive overtime working and a low-wage economy. Indeed, the criticism one could make of the British trade union movement is not that it has pursued its claims too radically but rather that it has made them too lightly.

The aircraft, shipbuilding and machine tool industries would all be bankrupt tomorrow without State aid. Likewise, before they were taken into public ownership, the mines, the railways and the steel industry were all in a state of collapse and starved of investment. Despite these obvious inadequacies, some of our highly paid but incompetent captains of industry firmly believe in their omnipotence, and any attempts radically to restructure British industry are denounced as being almost treasonable.

Nevertheless, much of British industry has been taken over by multinational companies, with control invariably resting on the other side of the Atlantic. With the philosophy of the CBI, mergers and take-overs of that kind can go on without that body batting an eyelid, but when the British people, through their elected Government, wish to take a measure of control, all hell breaks loose.

The whole position was summed up last week by Mr. David Basnet, the so-called moderate General Secretary of the General and Municipal Workers Union. He said: It is quite clear that in practice private enterprise left to itself has made Britain uncompetitive and has failed to provide secure employment. With those words I entirely agree. According to Mr. Ralph Bateman, the President of the CBI, Labour's plans endanger the whole economy and prosperity of our people.

In practice what have the private enterprise buccaneers to offer in the years ahead? Reliable economic forecasts suggest that we shall soon have approximately 800,000 people unemployed, that prices are doubling every five years and that there will be a persistent huge trade deficit. In reality the captains of industry know all too well, even if Labour's plans are implemented to the full, that the main levers of economic power will still remain in their hands. Of course, Labour will need to spell out why changes are necessary. Those who oppose change should put forward intelligent arguments why things should remain as they are. They will want to do better than some of the clap-trap which has been poured out by Aims of Industry. Of course, the Conservative Party with its allies in big business and the Press will point out that Labour's plans for industry will lose Labour the next General Election, as if they wanted us to win anyway.

The establishment of the National Enterprise Board together with an extension of public ownership is not a matter of dogma but a necessity if we are to solve our country's problems. It is vital for the regions—for example, Wales, Scotland and the North-East—because they have suffered long enough environmentally and through heavy unemployment as a result of the ravages of private enterprise.

In the forthcoming General Election the question will inevitably arise of who governs Britain. The head of the CBI is reported as saying on 16th June that Labour's basic proposals in this sphere are not negotiable. Therefore, the Labour Party must put its case clearly and concisely to the British people. It is the people who must ultimately decide the issue. I feel pretty confident about their verdict.

5.32 p.m.

Mr. Richard Wainwright (Colne Valley)

Liberal Members believe that the House and the country have been ill served by those who arranged this debate. Those who would wish to develop some constructive thoughts are restricted to an absurdly short time. That is especially so when we deduct from the time available the long periods which have been used by both Front Benches to lay various smokescreens. The most absurd smokescreen was the letter to the chartered accountant.

I shall try to bring the House back to the document which is at the nub of this debate—namely, the document released towards the end of May by the Secretary of State for Industry entitled "The Current Work Programme of the Department of Industry". Beneath that rather innocuous title there is a description in vague although verbose terms of the Planning Agreements, the National Enterprise Board and the proposals for specific industries to be taken into national ownership.

The document as a whole would outline an interesting experiment if it had been proposed for a country thousands of miles away from Britain, which was securely in possession of its own feeding resources, which had within its borders all the fuel and power necessary to keep itself at work, to fuel its industries and to supply them with raw materials. But for this country in its present economic, geographical and political state, the Liberal Party regard the document as highly irresponsible. We cannot understand the Government taking the pride which they pretend to take in releasing it in the interests of open discussion.

There is a lot to be said these days for fostering open discussion provided that all the realities and all the facts are laid before the public. But to publish a document in such mysterious outline at such a difficult time in our economic history is bound to produce a lack of confidence and a great deal of bewilderment—and so it has. Furthermore, it is irresponsible because it takes no account of the hard facts of the political situation. It proceeds as though somebody has a mandate for 10 or 15 years of Socialism of some brand or other, that plans can be laid and that staff of high quality could be attracted. That is a very difficult thing to do in this country.

The document suggests that we can proceed on the basis that a long-term plan can genuinely and sincerely be envisaged in the light of our domestic political situation. As a matter of fact, that is not the case. There is no mandate at present for any Government to introduce any dogmatic policies. There is no likelihood that a scheme of this sort would necessarily have a long life, bearing in mind Britain's political frame of mind.

I break off to emphasise the difficulty regarding staff. The National Enterprise Board may or may not be a magnificent concept. It will be clear tonight what view the Liberals take. But even supposing it were a splendid concept which would meet our needs, how can the Secretary of State suppose in the present domestic political situation that he will get the necessary host of people of ability, experience, confidence and public reputation to staff his National Enterprise Board?

Dr. Colin Phipps (Dudley, West)

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the staff of the IRC under the previous Labour Government was of the highest quality and was easily recruited?

Mr. Wainwright

I considered that and I have two points to put in reply. First, the task of the IRC was minuscule compared with the task that is proposed for the National Enterprise Board. The task of the IRC, from which the Liberals did not completely dissent—indeed, we congratulated it on much of its work—was to engineer certain mergers and the restructuring of industry. Having done that, it largely retired from the scene. However, even with that small task compared with that projected for the National Enterprise Board, it cannot truthfully be stated that the IRC attracted more than a handful of people of manifest ability. Further, there were some weak links in its personnel.

Another astonishing fact about the Secretary of State's document is that it should propose further nationalisation without the modest humility of commenting on the appalling mess which has still to be tackled, which the former Prime Minister tacitly admitted today was not tackled by his administration, and the confusion within our present nationalised industries. For example, there is the Central Electricity Generating Board. The Secretary of State reeled off figures as though to suggest the mere spending of money on capital investment is sufficient as a token of enterprise and good management. It is not necessary to be a Yorkshireman to feel in one's bones that it is not the spending of large amounts of money which is crucial but the way in which the money is spent.

No student of heavy industry or of power and energy could condone the Central Electricity Generating Board's absurd waste of money over the past 12 years under the supervision of successive administrations. Nobody as yet has seen fit to stop such waste and the appalling misapplication of large sums for which hard-working business men would give their eyes to be able to use in their productive businesses. No one can suppose that we have any claim to have the secret of knowing how to run nationalised industry. That alone, to my right hon. and hon. Friends, would be sufficient reason, even if there were not others, to call a halt to nationalisation, until somebody somewhere finds the secret of running vast industries which have already been taken into public ownership. It is in any case our view—and we think that we are supported in it by very large numbers of people in management and on the shop floor—that ownership is almost irrelevant these days to the question of a successful industrial undertaking.

There might have been something to be said for the document if it could truthfully have been supplemented by a wealth of illustrations of apparent success of schemes of this sort in other, comparable industrially-developed nations. However, search as one will—even some of those mentioned by the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton)—one is unable to find a manufacturing economy able to satisfy export customers in all parts of the world from the base of State-controlled manufacturing industry. It is easy to have successful schemes if one has a self-contained economy, but not otherwise.

I am prepared to admit, although experience scarcely supports even this contention, that it is sometimes possible to support nationalisation of certain public utilities and public services, but I hope that the country has been alerted to the fact that this document positively hope that the country has been alerted proposes nationalisation of manufacturing industry, which moves the whole turgid argument on nationalisation on to a very controversial plane. In my opinion, the Secretary of State for Industry, in spite of his wealth of statistics, did not even begin to make out a case for moving the concept of nationalisation into manufacturing as distinct from extractive and public service industries.

I hope that, within the narrow time limits of the debate, I have made it plain that, although the Liberals are reluctant to be forced into a vote after such a short debate, we shall have no hesitation in supporting the motion—for once, refreshingly terse and concise and, I hope also, to some extent an expression of penitence for past misdeeds—which has been tabled by the Conservative part of the Opposition. It follows that we shall vote against the Government amendment.

5.42 p.m.

Mr. Joseph Ashton (Bassetlaw)

I shall not attempt to follow the Liberal train of thought because we are short of time.

It is strange that in this House it is not yet generally realised that three major factors are putting our industry into serious trouble. The first is the "them and us" complex, with all the bitterness between the two sides that that entails. The second is that we persist as a nation in putting £3,000 million a year into defence establishments, maintaining troops abroad and so on, instead of using the money for investment in industry for modernisation. The third is that the nationalised industries have been continually badly run and managed by successive Governments of both parties.

When we in this House consider the Northern Ireland situation, where there is such bitter conflict between the two sides, we are all in favour of power sharing over there. But in industry, where there is also conflict between two sides, power sharing seems to be anathema. Whoever form the Government of the day, we seem to continue with the attitude that no one knows how best to run industry except the bosses in charge. I do not accept that. Fifty per cent. of my constituents work in nationalised industries. I have worked for the British Steel Corporation and for private enterprise as well. There is a vast difference in attitude between employees of nationalised industries and employees of private enterprise.

For example, there has never been conflict between the miners and Sir Derek Ezra. The conflict was between the miners and the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath), because we are continually having economists, either in Whitehall or Parliament, telling us that the way to keep down wages is to start with the nationalised industries. We have seen successive Governments increasing investment in nationalised industries or cutting it back. They have been ploughing money in or pulling it out. They have used the nationalised industries in order to regulate the economy. The nationalised industries have been subjected to the worst form of stop-go in our industry.

Does a man working in a nationalised industry suddenly become stupid or lose his skill or craft? Are his successes any the less? Of course not. The fact is that the productivity of nationalised industries has increased faster, according to reliable experts, than the productivity of private enterprise. Professor Hayek has shown that at a time when the productivity of nationalised industries rose by 4½ per cent., it rose in private enterprise by only 2 per cent.

In the mining industry, a massive reduction of manpower was achieved, and very many pits were run down, with virtually no labour disputes. Compare that with Sir Arnold Weinstock's activities, which involve thousands of people in my union. One sees the difference. The operation in the nationalised industry was carried out with humanity and proper consultation, whereas in the case of Sir Arnold Weinstock's operation the attitude was that of the "weakest to the wall".

Again, I hope that we can get to the stage when the Government and the economists will let the railways solve their problems—for example, by developing the land around King's Cross and a mile north of it, being able to build their own offices, renting out offices, and so on. If we allowed British Railways to exercise what are normal functions, we might find that they got on better.

Last year, the British Steel Corporation was compelled by the Conservative Government to sell its steel at £70 a ton. In Germany the price of steel was £87 a ton, and in France £84. The British industry could have made a massive profit, which would have gone into investment, had it not been prohibited from doing so by the then Government, who insisted that it keep prices down. It is this sort of activity which keeps our nationalised industries in trouble. They are always having to put up with third party interference.

In many instances, the concept of nationalisation we have had in the past has been too clumsy, too much of a blunt instrument. We have taken over whole industries. For example, when we took over the steel industry, the taxpayers had to buy huge masses of scrap and many useless factories which no private business would buy.

Mr. Patrick McNair-Wilson (New Forest)

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that on Tuesday the Secretary of State for Industry was in Brussels talking to the commissioners about nationalising the remaining parts of the independent producers in the steel industry, or hindering or restraining them by using the influence of the BSC's pricing policy? Is that being fair to people?

Mr. Ashton

I remind the hon. Gentleman that the man in Brussels said, "You cannot do it in the Common Market", which is as good an example as any of how we have given away our freedom by going into the EEC.

Again, there is the attitude of private enterprise towards investment—an attitude which everyone on the shop floor quickly gets to know. When the firm is making a profit, the attitude is that it does not need to buy new machinery; when it is not making a profit, it cannot afford to buy new machinery. I worked on the shop floor for 10 years and on numerous occasions went to the foreman to complain, "This machine is breaking down", or "Give me better tools". There was always an excuse for not providing them, both in good years and bad. When he took office in 1970, the right hon. Member for Sidcup gave massive tax cuts to private enterprise, thinking that it would put the money back into industry in the form of investment. It did not do so. It ploughed the money into many things, but not back into industry. We have to have some instrument of government not the clumsy mechanism of nationalising a whole industry, which takes a year anyway and means that the State has to take over hundreds of plants and factories; what we need is selective nationalisation, not of an industry but of a company which is perhaps in an area of unemployment, or is under threat of take-over or merger by someone such as Slater Walker or Sir Arnold Weinstock. There was a case in Ealing which was mentioned in the House concerning the Rockware firm which was making a profit. The workers and the management were happy until a giant swallowed it up and closed it down because the land on which it stood was worth more than the company as a going concern to the firm that was taking it over.

Are the workers in these industries to sit back and accept all this or should they lobby the House and insist that their factory is nationalised? I do not know whether Conservative Members ever meet lobbies that come to this House. Invariably they consist of workers, often at a high level, who ask us when we are going to stop this closure of factories by some instrument of nationalisation. There is such a procedure in other countries. In Italy, Alfa Romeo is State-owned. The Italian Government has a holding in a motorway building firm and in shipbuilding. In Israel there are 116 companies in which the State has made an intervention. In Sweden there is a national enterprise board called the Statsföretag. Thirty firms are involved, ranging from tobacco, beer, banks, catering and shipbuilding. Belgium, Canada, Australia and France also have a system of selective nationalisation.

Last year, along with other hon. Members, I went to Japan as a guest of the Japanese Government. We visited Toyota and we tried to discover why that firm produced cars more cheaply and without the strikes or other problems that confront our motor car industry. The answer is simple. The Japanese worker invests 20 per cent. of his wages with the firm for which he works. At the age of 55 he gets the sack and he does not get an old age pension until he is 65, which leaves him with a ten-year gap when the money is not coming in. He saves and invests in his company while he is at work and that stops him from going on strike because he has a vested interest in the company.

Of course, the workers in this country would never stand for being given the sack at 55, but if the workers and the unions were given an interest in the company for which they were working, and if they knew that the union leaders could have direct access to the Secretary of State for Industry or to their Labour or union MPs so that the Government would step in and stop any takeover, that would lead to a build up of trust, an end to the them and us attitude and the introduction of the sort of power sharing we want to see in Northern Ireland but which some hon. Members would not dream of introducing into industry. Given that, we might start to catch up with the other countries that are now ahead of us.

5.53 p.m.

Mr. Tom King (Bridgwater)

I was pleased to hear the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) say that he was against the wholesale nationalisation of industries, so I suppose that he will not be supporting the proposal to nationalise the shipbuilding, ship repairing and aviation industries. The other point he made concerned the workers who lobby the House and how many of them express concern for their jobs and want to be nationalised. Anyone who looks at the reduction in employment opportunities in the National Coal Board and British Steel Corporation would not think that they were more secure places in which to work in recent years.

I have an interest to declare in the debate, in that I have spent all my working life in industry including the management of a large factory. I declare that interest with some pride, because it gives me some qualification to speak in the debate. I must tell the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Industry that part of their activities in their previous incarnations was responsible for my presence in this House. I was a manager in a modern industry and I was conscious of the amount of involvement and intervention from Government and Government Departments in the working of industry. I was acutely conscious, too, that a tremendous amount of that involvement and intervention was by people who had no understanding of how industry worked. Though I did not support the political views of the right hon. Gentlemen, I felt I was working in the interests of the country, but I was conscious that we were dividing our efforts and that we were not pulling in the same direction.

I am sure that the Prime Minister, fresh from Scotland's efforts, recognises that those efforts were not achieved by a team divided against itself. Neither, I am sure, does the Secretary of State for Industry feel that Bristol Rovers got their promotion this year by arguing among themselves. The tragedy of this whole issue is that it is so divisive of the whole British industrial effort.

I do not believe there is any dispute about the background to this debate. The amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) and others of the unofficial Opposition, refers to Britain's economic performance, and we all recognise the need to optimise that in a very competitive world. It refers to the problems of low investment, poor productivity and export marketing. It talks about Britain's indifferent industrial performance, but that is an unfair generalisation. The performance is not indifferent. In some instances it is a splendid performance about which we are often not sufficiently proud. In other areas, however, it is inconsistent and it is towards the solution of that problem that the debate should be directed.

The first thing the Prime Minster should do when he replies to the debate is to make clear the present standing of these proposals. On the one hand we are told by the Secretary of State for Industry that these are firm proposals, that this is what was in the Labour Manifesto, that the country has been told about them, and that it is what is going to happen. However, we read in the amendment standing in the name of the Prime Minister and his right hon. Friends that the time has come "to re-examine". Are we reexamining or are we dealing with firm proposals?

In reply to the President of the CBI the Secretary of State for Industry said that this was the start of a great debate. Is this a great debate or has the debate already been decided and are the proposals which have been issued his firm commitments? This is an important point which could reassure many in industry. If the decision is already taken about the policy what is the justification for the Government's view? We have seen in their analysis of the problems that British industry faces, all the problems of performance in many areas. But we have had remarkably little evidence, as the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) said, that the solutions proposed by the Government will contribute one jot or tittle to improving our performance. The evidence is very much to the contrary.

The Secretary of State has conducted a most effective campaign and it has rubbed off on the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Hughes) and others. The phrase "£2 million a day" has become stuck in many people's minds. This most misleading set of statistics is intended to give the impression that private industry is totally incapable and a cripple that needs propping up from all directions. The right hon. Gentleman knows that that is a foul slur on a great number of British companies because he knows that a lot of that public money is concentrated in relatively few sectors, in certain companies which pay no tax because they make no profits, but which for social reasons Governments have decided to support.

There are many other highly efficient companies receiving very little Government support which make a considerable contribution to the social capital of this nation.

The hon. Gentleman kindly sent me a copy of his May Day speech in Bristol. It would be difficult to imagine a more misleading presentation by the grouping together of the total figures for Government aid, for the corporation tax, and for dividends.

Mr. John Garrett (Norwich, South)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the recipients of public funds should be publicly accountable?

Mr. King

On the point concerning accountability, the hon. Gentleman was not in the House at that time, but he may know that I worked in the then Depart ment of Trade and Industry in a very junior capacity. We introduced arrangements to publicise, under our Industry Act 1972, full reports on the workings of the Department and on the funds. I support the need for that.

The tragedy in the present situation is that a solution which has been advanced, with no evidence that it is likely to solve the problems that we face, could be seen by many to be part of the problem we face. I was struck by an example last year where there was a severe outbreak of equine influenza. A serum was produced for inoculation to prevent that disease. The serum killed a considerable number of horses to which it was given.

There is a very close parallel here. What is advanced as the cure may be very much worse than the disease from which we suffer.

In a perceptive article my right hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr. Chataway) pointed out that perhaps the biggest problem we face is that industry has become a political football during the last 25 years. The uncertainty this has spread has done enormous damage to industry's plans, and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition quoted the damage done in this way to investment in the steel industry over a considerable period. I accept that there must be a close liaison between companies, banks, sources of finance, between unions and Government. There must be a close working relationship. There must be a partnership of trust. We live in a competitive world. We are up against other countries and other industries strongly backed by their Governments.

The Secretary of State for Industry cited our poor performance. He cited other countries which had done better, which were exactly those countries where there has been that close working trust and relationship in their industrial activity between the banks, the companies, the unions and Governments. They have been working together as a team. Poor Great Britain Limited at this time has been arguing amongst itself. Its industry has become a political football. I wonder whether right hon. Gentlemen realise how much damage they do. At this minute a campaign is being run in the right hon. Gentleman's Department for yet more regional investment. It is the recipients of these investments who are being pilloried by the right hon. Gentleman as cripples in need of State aid. How does the right hon. Gentleman think that people who read that advertisement will react when they read his speeches about companies in receipt of public money which will have to submit to public accountability and make themselves more liable to State control? Does he think that will encourage industrial investment in the regions?

There is within his responsibility a need to encourage industry, both nationalised and private, in our mixed economy. The attempts he has made through his campaign to justify his own philosophies have done nothing to improve or enhance the standing of British industry in the eyes of the people in this country or abroad. I am proud of the companies in my constituency. Courtaulds and Clarks as two examples, are outstanding British companies. I ask hon. Members, are there not many companies within their constituencies, of which they are equally proud and which have excellent working relationships? Those are the companies pilloried by the right hon. Gentleman, whose statements are doing so much damage to the future investment position of this country.

The right hon. Gentleman himself has proved my point. He has given, this week, £3,500,000 to one company, not on condition that it will be managed by a Government Department, but on condition that the investment is managed by another substantial British company, in which he has confidence.

When he is faced with the realities of the situation that is the action he has to take. And yet his sweeping proposals spread right across the whole field of British industry, and his threats of Government intervention, in vague and in specific forms, are doing enormous damage.

It is vital that the substantial reductions in investment which I know are imminent in many sectors, should be avoided, not merely in domestic investment but in inward investment.

I therefore hope that the vote tonight will make clear that the elected representatives of this country are having no more nationalisation.

6.7 p.m.

Mr. Eric Moonman (Basildon)

I shall not follow the dangerous road taken by the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King), which is one of overstatement. It would take more pluck and time than I have.

A very complex relationship between Government and industry has existed over the last 50 years. The partnership is frequently a reluctant one—never more so than at the outset of a period of Labour Government when, as is happening now, the full resources of the CBI. Aims of Industry, and similar organisations, are ranged to do battle with the Labour Government. I suppose the reaction is even more violent than usual this time because the Labour Party manifesto includes several schemes for increasing the degree of Government intervention, new company law, some degree of industrial democracy, an extension of public ownership, a national enterprise board and a planning agreement system.

The Leader of the Opposition has made a drastic assault on these proposals this afternoon and on previous occasions. He has prophesied disaster in all directions. He has said, "Up to half of Britain's manufacturing capacity is brought under State control in all important respects," a prospect, which would, he says, be greeted with revulsion upon the part of the British public.

My response to that is that it would be an excessive, even absurd exaggeration of Labour's intentions even for a Tory politician to say that. But the tragedy of the posturing of the Leader of the Opposition is that it seems that this is the ground he has chosen on which to fight the next General Election—"Benn, the bogyman of industry". It is even possible that the Tories could win an election fought on this ground, but it would be dishonourable victory, bringing politics into total disrepute and carrying in its train a further deterioration in industrial relations—an area in which the Leader of the Opposition has already failed and in which he will continue to fail unless he learns from his past mistakes, of which there are many.

If one looks at the policy documents carefully one sees that there is nothing shattering about their proposals. There is a further danger that we on the Government side face. To my right hon. Friend I say, in all sincerity, it is surely inadvisable to overstate the implications of some of these policies. He would be wise not to attribute to the policies, areas of authority and control which are neither possible nor even desirable. What are the elements of our industrial policy? There is the National Enterprise Board. Although there has been some misunderstanding about its relationship to the former IRC, it will nevertheless fulfil a key rôle in the restructuring and development of processes and industries. It will also include employment policies which surely need to be taken into account when looking at the restructuring of industry. That, I maintain, is good industrial sense.

The extension of public ownership is aimed primarily at aircraft, shipbuilding and marine engineering industries. Those are the two main areas in which most of the investment already comes from Government and many of the products are sold to Government. To intervene on behalf of the State is good industrial sense.

Then there is the question of consultation. The Department of Industry has already indicated that this is no more than a recognition of the realities of industrial life and like the moves of less secrecy in the Department's work, is a necessary improvement in communications, which should not be confused with a change in the responsibility for decision making. Certainly better communications are at least likely to lead to more realistic decisions. That, too, is good industrial sense.

So it is not a revolution that Labour is planning for industry and it is an error to suggest that it is. The success of our industrial policy depends on a realistic attitude to what can be achieved. These important but relatively modest proposals which we are putting forward can be looked at again in the light of subsequent experience. I am not suggesting—I do not think that my right hon. Friend is, either—that they will immediately change the balance of power in industry. There is a place for free enterprise under Labour's plans. My right hon. Friend said in Bristol last week that the Government looked to the small and medium firms for real enterprise and initiative, and that he intended to ensure that industrial policies did more to help the small business man.

At a recent meeting of the Small Businessmen's Association which I and one or two other hon. Members attended, I found that the real despair of small businessmen was not about my right hon. Friend's policies. They were much more concerned about the way in which they were being gobbled up by the larger corporations, the way in which they found it extremely difficult to get finance, and the tough way the banks were dealing with them. It is extraordinary humbug for Conservative Members to say that the Government are the prime evil and cause of the small firms' anxiety.

Industrialists are fond of defending their demands for self-regulation on the principle, once stated in the United States, that "what is good for General Motors is good for the USA". But there are two reasons why it does not follow that what is good for Britain's biggest companies, that which allows them to make the largest profits, is good for this country. The first difference between us and the United States is that many of Britain's largest companies are not ultimately accountable in Britain—wholly-owned subsidiaries of foreign international companies. I am not knocking them. I take the point about their value and contribution to the nation's resources. I am simply stating the facts about the way their decisions are made.

The second reason is that if return to shareholders is the only criterion recognised by private enterprise, they may pursue a course of action wholly damaging to the economy.

For example, Jim Slater of Slater Walker, recently announced that his company had sold off more than £50 million of assets and intended to sell more because the cash loaned on a short-term basis at 15 per cent. gave a better return for less risk than actively engaging in manufacture. If that example were followed by other companies, it would have a disastrous effect on employment and the economy.

What is needed now is massive investment in new plant and equipment in many of our industries, so that we have a sound basis for future economic growth.

Yet over the last 10 years, at least, private enterprise firms have ignored every plea and incentive from Governments of both parties to increase capital investment.

They failed to increase capital investment during the Tories' 18 months of "heady free enterprise" capitalism, just as they had done under Labour interventionism. Even the £3,000 million of subsidies poured into private enterprise in the last three years has not changed the situation. So it is clearly unrealistic to expect private enterprise to act in the national interest without further Government intervention.

This is one of the considerations behind Labour's plans for industry and the planning agreement system is the key. Planning agreements are not new. They have been in use in Belgium, France and Italy. The value of the planning agreement, I would suggest, is that the companies concerned would supply up-to-date information on past performance and advance programmes on home and overseas sales, regional distribution of employment, price control and domestic investment levels, industrial relations practices and product development. The companies and Government will begin to share information.

The Government would give financial aid on the basis of written agreements to allow the programmes formulated to be met. Most intelligent companies will recognise that this is a tremendous spur to their own development and planning. Ultimately, if Government is asked for support and help from companies, at least some evidence will be there on which to make a proper appraisal.

Industry has no cause to complain about the extensiveness of Labour's plans. They are primarily the result of industry's failure to respond to the needs of the nation. But it has no cause for alarm either. The planning agreements system is the best chance that this country has yet had of building a fruitful partnership between Government and industry.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. Michael Heseltine (Henley)

The one thing that emerges clearly from this debate is that no one in Britain doubts the severity of the economic uncertainties that now face us. They are undoubtedly the gravest that anyone of my generation has ever had to contemplate. The economic difficulties exist but the threat to the whole of our society arising from them is also more worrying and uncertain than anything that I can remember.

Without doubt, inflation has brought hardship to millions, both in threatening their earnings and eroding their savings. The stability of our society faces strains the pressure of which is incalculable. The concept of an ordered society faces militancy from an ever-widening group on a scale never seen before. The wider the militancy the wider the growing despair among those people traditionally associated with the stability of society. Hon. Members have no choice but to face up to the grave and rising scepticism with which increasing numbers of our electors regard our ability to cope with these problems.

It is against this background that we debate the Government's industrial policies. We should, as a nation, be deploying every device of energy and enthusiasm to create a great industrial partnership, based upon trust. Instead, the speeches of Ministers and back benchers and their supporters in the country have been continually bent upon destroying the credibility of the system upon which the vast creation of wealth totally depends.

There is now to be a harmful and debilitating clash between the Socialist minority in this country and the rest of us who do not believe in that system, in order to further their nationalisation and collectivist aims. To the overwhelming majority of our citizens these proposals are quite unacceptable. This certainly applies to anyone who voted Conservative or Liberal, but I believe also that many members of the Labour Party itself do not want their jobs transferred from free enterprise to the State sector. This would give to a reasonably detached observer the opportunity to find a basis for consensus upon which to organise industry which would command the overwhelming support of the people of this country.

But this is a Government not only without a majority but driven by a minority within their own ranks. This country is constantly expected to pay the price which the Socialist extremists within the Labour movement demand for their continued support of a Labour Government. That is what the National Enterprise Board, the planning agreements and the endless attacks on free enterprise are all about.

Let us be clear about the differences between the two parties. We have no doubt that the free enterprise system has provided, across the world, greater growth compatible with personal liberty than any system devised to take its place. Where it falls down, we would not hesitate, and never have hesitated, to reform, regulate or improve it. We have done this consistently, as in the Companies Bill which the House was considering before the election. A whole range of legislation has been introduced by one Government after another to change the basis of the relationship between employee and company—the Factories Acts, the Safety Acts, Acts to protect the environment, the Contracts of Employment Acts, and so on. There has been endless legislative innovation to change the basis of that relationship. That is right, and that is an on-going process. If ownership is not widely enough distributed let us distribute it more widely; if growth is too slow let us learn from the examples of the countries which have achieved a higher rate of growth than we have. What I find so incredible about today's debate is that we heard the Secretary of State for Industry list one country after another which had done things better than we had, and in every one of those countries the free enterprise system was seen to be part of the accepted way in which Government and industry managed their affairs.

By all means let us regulate and let us control; by all means let us seek constantly to update and overhaul the environment within which the system operates, but let us not try to change the basis of that system which has done so much to create the wealth of the people in this country.

If one wants more employee participation, that should be achieved in a direct way rather than through Government ownership of companies, with all the ossifying effect that that produces. If communication in industry is bad—and it is bad in many instances—there is no shadow of evidence to suggest that communication is better in a State monopoly than in a well-run private company. The argument lies heavily in favour of the free enterprise system.

If a great company is failing in its duty in the way in which it serves the community, I see no objection to the Government's discussing with the shareholders or their representatives the way in which things can be improved, but the essence of the situation is that we have to find a basis of trust so that the Government, shareholders, employees and management can work with the common purpose of trying to improve upon the system.

The reality is that across the world Governments are seeking close relationships with the people who work in industry. My right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) was right in saying that there is nothing new in the concept of intervention. What one has to understand is the way in which intervention can work to the positive benefit of the people, and also the way in which it can work to their positive harm.

The difference between the two sides of the House is that we believe that progress is possible only if there is a basis of trust between the management of companies and the Government. There is nothing new in corporate plans being discussed between Government and large companies. It is one thing for these companies to discuss their corporate plans with the Government if they know that the purpose of Government is to help build upon the success of the companies. But it is quite another if they realise that they will meet one problem which the National Enterprise Board is bound to come up against and of which we have had a classic example today. How on earth can the managers of a company be expected to share their problems, anxieties and difficulties with a Minister if they know that within a relatively short time he may use those arguments and difficulties to buy into those companies at knock-down prices? How does one face that dilemma? How can one expect British companies to become involved in a dialogue of confidential information with Ministers and their officials on what both sides believe to be important issues if what is said is revealed at the Dispatch Box of the House of Commons and if letters which are written by officials of the Department are quoted from but not published by the Minister who cannot explain how he came to have the letters in the first place?

What British industry must understand is that today we have seen the first glimpse of the way in which the National Enterprise Board will work. Confidential discussions which I had with these companies, on a basis of trust and with a common purpose of seeing whether there was a possibility of a voluntary agreement to help the companies, have been revealed. The discussions came to nothing, but in the hands of a differently motivated Minister that, tonight, becomes a sinister conspiracy to be played with politically for his own cheap party ends.

Let there be no doubt that there is today a massive need for a process of education to make sure that all our citizens understand just how dependent we are upon the free enterprise system. It is not just a question of shareholders. We have to realise that what is involved are pension funds, life assurance policies and small savings. All these are dependent upon the growth, energy and enterprise of the free market, and there is no evidence from any part of the world—and none was produced by the Minister—that there is a better way of seeing our people prosper more, faster or to their greater interest than free enterprise.

What is to happen now? We are told that 50 per cent. of the directors of companies are to be appointed by the members of those companies who happen to belong to a trade union. I have read—as no doubt many others have—the document which argues in favour of worker participation in this way. It must rank as one of the least honest political documents ever produced in this country, because all the argument is in favour of participation by all the employees up to the point. Then it says that it cannot be done in that way because the trade unions would not agree to it. The reality is that if someone joins a trade union he will have a vote, but if he does not he will be disfranchised. The harsh reality is that in many parts of the world that kind of democracy exists, but in this country democracy could never be so described.

We are to have a National Enterprise Board—I think that it could more appropriately be called a National Extravagance Board—and the sector of industry which in 10 years has produced profits of £28,000 million, after allowing for the repayment of all the grants, loans and aid that it has had, is to be set against a nationalised sector which, in the whole of its existence, has lost on its trading activities a total of £1,650 million.

We are told that the proposed system has some inherent advantage. But the public sector has had £5,000 million of invested capital written off for all time, at that cost to the taxpayer. We are told that there are to be planning agreements with the top 100 or 180 companies, but we cannot be told which companies are involved. Where is all this open Government, this free consultation and discussion with all the people concerned? Why can the British public not be told which companies are involved in these proposals for the first wave?

You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will be familiar with the old dialogue about the commanding heights—and that is what the Socialists are about—but once the commanding heights had fallen they moved to stage 2 which involves the 100 or 180 companies. The question that one has to ask is: if the Government were able to achieve control of the top 100 or 180 companies, would that be the end of the road?

Perhaps the House will forgive me if I quote from page 14 of the document on the National Enterprise Board. It says: The direct contribution of the NEB companies would also be matched by a 'pull' effect on private companies of a kind which previous planning and financial innovation did not promote—both because many private companies would be compelled to follow the NEB companies lead, or lose market shares and profits". It is not just a question of the top 100 or 180 companies, but of all the companies underneath them which can be influenced by the buying powers of those top companies.

If we may consider the position that follows, we see that there is a further quotation that all those companies which are smaller than the top 100 or 180 companies and have been receiving Government aid—for aims which in many cases have been socially desirable but uneconomic—are likely to find that they are having to negotiate shares in continuation for development assistance from the Government. If anyone has any doubt, here we have the Labour Party stating that where the State puts money into private enterprise it shall take shares in return. Let us have no nonsense about the top 100 companies. It merely starts with the top 100 companies. There are no lengths to which the Government are not committed by the document which we are considering tonight.

The House will want to consider what is the motive behind the Government's proposals. Is it efficiency? No example has been given in the debate, nor will one be given because there is not one to give, to show that efficiency is the goal to which we are striving. The reality is that the goal is the creation of a Socialist society, wished for by only a small group of extremists who power the Labour movement. That is what is behind the industrial policy of the Labour Party.

Let us put the question to the test, and let us ask who wants this particular policy. We are told that it is all subject to consultation. An article in the Sunday Times in April gave an example of the Secretary of State's method of consultation. The journalist writing the article stated, referring to the Secretary of State: To illustrate what he means, he had the shipbuilders in a few days ago, nervously asking what he meant to do with their industry. He simply told them that he was going to nationalise them, without any question and now could they get down to discussing details …". That is the sort of consultation which the right hon. Gentleman believes in.

We can go a stage further and ask how many workers in the industries concerned will be given a choice. Will there be ballots, votes and questionnaires to find out which employees want to be nationalised? Will there be even a referendum on the change of status in the ownership of the company involved? No, of course there will not be any form of genuine consultation. All we shall see will be a steam rollering through the House of Commons of legislation to give power to the Government, without any attempt at genuine consultation with people outside.

The reality was again revealed to anyone who doubts it when the point arose that supposing after the experiment, the Government's great Socialist step forward, people want to change their minds and return to a free enterprise system. Would they have power to do that? We have the view on page 19 of the pamphlet on the National Enterprise Board, in which it is explained what happens when people want to opt out of Socialist experiments. The view is perfectly clear: The Labour Party has pledged itself to renationalise without compensation those parts of the nationalised industries hived off by the present Conservative administration. So it is one-way traffic. One can nationalise, take over and Socialise, but one can never go back, and that is a lesson the House will not want to forget.

We have heard in the past few weeks that because of the anxiety created by the stirrings of the industrial ownership argument, the Prime Minister has once again assumed charge of this crucial policy area. Of course he will argue that he never lost charge and that it was under his control in the first place, but that does not satisfy many of us as much as the Prime Minister would wish. The harsh reality is that the Prime Minister actually believed in an Industrial Relations Bill and actually believed in Europe. He believed in both those things until he could no longer control the small, militant groups on his back benches, who would not have it. Was the Prime Minister in charge, or the militants?

That situation was as true of the Government's industrial policy as it was of previous policy. If the Prime Minister is really in charge will he explain to the House what the Secretary of State for Industry was doing in Brussels earlier this week, in discussion with the Commission to find out whether he could use powers open to him to squeeze the private steel sector of industry out of existence. I see that the Prime Minister did not know that the Secretary of State was in Brussels. That is very good—the Prime Minister has learned something tonight.

It may be interesting to ask where the policy which we are now considering came from, as we consider that the jobs of virtually 90 per cent. of employees, and savings, investment and pension funds in a free enterprise system are at stake. I would have thought that the Labour Party would have taken the trouble to set up a deep, penetrating and objective inquiry into the free enterprise system to discover whether it worked.

The pamphlet about the National Enterprise Board was produced by two of the more extremist members of the Government party—four academics, two trade union officials and one other chap about whom I cannot find out anything, despite having spent the whole morning trying. That is the composition of the study on which the ownership of British industry is to be put up for bids by the National Enterprise Board.

What are to be the consequences now? I believe that there will be an immediate hostility in industry following the argument put forward by the Secretary of State for Industry that wherever industry accept grants it is likely to mortgage the shares in its company. There can be only one consequence of that, namely that companies will be reluctant to accept grants. They will seek development overseas, or in those parts of this country where there will be no pressure for them to be involved with Government at all. The parts of Britain which will suffer most from this will be those parts which we most seek to help—the regions.

We shall see a growing involvement of management in the hostility building up against the doctrinaire proposals, when they should be trying to build up the economic strength and prosperity of their companies. It is no accident that statistics from the Department of Industry for April and May show that industrial confidence has slumped to the lowest recorded level ever. There have been only four occasions when confidence has been so low, and three of them have been under Labour Governments.

Overseas companies considering investment in this country will wait to see what threat to their investment will be embodied in the Government's proposals. British companies will consider investing overseas, to ensure that they are as far removed as possible from the Government's policies.

The thrusting, driving companies which are getting bigger will decide that when they get to a certain level they should not get any bigger, because they may be near the point at which the Government will want to get more deeply involved with them.

We are faced with a major collapse of business confidence as a result of the Government's activities. The message to go from the House of Commons is that industry can no longer sit silently while faced with the greatest threat ever to its survival. It is not enough for those sitting on these benches to continually point out the difficulties which confront industry. Industry must become as articulately involved and as determined in defence of the free enterprise system as those who seek to destroy it have shown themselves to be. This is its last chance.

6.39 p.m.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

I offer congratulations to the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) on taking over the Shadow Industry portfolio, and on his appointment to the Shadow Cabinet. He will certainly raise the average level of quality on the Opposition Front Bench. I wish him a long stay, but as we are now getting Shadow Government reshuffles every week or two, and liquidations and purges almost every day, I fear that he will be fortunate if he survives three weeks in his present appointment, and after a short period we shall read that he has switched to a Shadow appointment in education, or gone into oblivion.

I was interested in his point about consultation. He apparently objected to the suggestion from my right hon. Friend that the policy was there, but that there could be no consultations about the details. That is exactly what the hon. Gentleman's Government said about the Industrial Relations code, "Take it or leave it". We say that the principles have been laid down by the electorate.

Mr. Heseltine

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will remember that in the months leading up to the 1970 General Election my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Carr), who was then responsible for the Labour portfolio, tried every ingenuity he knew to persuade the trade unions. They refused.

The Prime Minister

In all the months up to the 1974 election we made plain to the country that this was our policy. It was in the manifesto. It is the election result that the right hon. Gentleman is contesting, not the policies of the Government.

I should like to begin also by thanking the Leader of the Opposition for his characteristic courtesy in informing me that he intended to take part in the debate—a gesture slightly marred, I thought, by his decision to wait to do this much longer than is usual—until he knew that I was out of the country.

Mr. Heath

One does not usually give away these matters but as the right hon. Gentleman is being so unpleasant, is he not aware that his Chief Whip approached me on Monday and asked whether I could kindly let him know within 24 hours whether I intended taking part in the debate. I said that of course I would do so, and on Tuesday morning he was told.

The Prime Minister

On the contrary, I checked before I left London. It was checked with his office before I left London, at three o'clock. The speakers were to be the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths)—[Interruption]. I heard at midnight on that day that my Chief Whip was told this at six o'clock. The right hon. Gentleman knows that this never happened when we were in opposition.

I have a charitable interpretation because, whatever suspicions I might have had about his motives, I realised how unfair they might have been when yesterday, in Bonn, I received a copy of the Daily Mail with a headline which read: Tory rebels put Heath on the Mat. MPs lash out at 'Softly, Softly' policy.

Mr. Churchill (Stretford)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Prime Minister effectively wasted the entire time allotted to Prime Minister's Questions today. Is it in order for him to continue to waste what little time we have left for this debate? Will he now address himself to the motion?

Mr. Speaker

That is not a matter of order.

The Prime Minister

These interruptions are, of course, cutting into the next debate which should start at Seven o'clock. [An HON. MEMBER: "Get on with it."] I am sympathising with the right hon. Gentleman. The Daily Mail said that the right hon. Gentleman had been summoned to explain—[An HON. MEMBER: "What about nationalisation?"] The right hon. Gentleman did not get near it for the first 10 minutes of his speech. The report said the right hon. Gentleman had been summoned to explain his immediate political aims to a rebellious meeting of the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs in the Commons. I suddenly realised why he was speaking. I applaud this. I support it. How much better to convert this "softly softly" label and secure an alibi by pleading a previous engagement, in the Chamber.

Although I welcome the fact that he spoke, I did not welcome the right hon. Gentleman's speech. I thought it was the most hysterical we have ever heard from him. He started with the Budget, and touched on the Common Market and many other matters before he came to the main theme. Before I come to the substance—[Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman really tried to make a motion of censure speech today, but he has not got the guts to table a censure motion because he is too afraid of the consequences.

I know how flattered my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry will be about the references to him today. The Tory Party has an almost manic obsession with my right hon. Friend. I have been able to confirm—I was just talking with him—that he is neither unduly depressed nor unduly flattered by this interest. The Tory Party has always lived on demonology—

Mr. Jeffrey Archer (Louth)

What about the motion?

The Prime Minister

I shall come to that as quickly as the right hon. Gentleman did. A few years ago Mr. Frank Cousins had become the demonological target of the Tory Party.

Mr. Archer

What happened to him?

The Prime Minister

There was Soskice, Strachey, Mahatma Ghandi, Pandit Nehru and the rest. A week or so ago, Hugh Scanlon joined the roll of honour. Then, by a major policy decision of the Tories, they attacked my right hon. Friend.

The right hon. Gentleman's speech today was one of those typical Central Office briefs, read rather better than usual. He dealt with the nationalised industries in a substantial part of that speech. He attacked the record of the nationalised industries. He attacked the writing off of capital. He will correct me if I am wrong but I thought he said that the nationalised industries were the curse, or the evil, of this country and had been for 25 years.

Does the right hon. Gentleman deny that every study undertaken shows that productivity in the nationalised industries has risen far faster than productivity in private industry over those 25 years? Does he deny that if private industry had shown the same productivity increase Britain would not for 20 years have been facing such economic problems?

If the right hon. Gentleman felt that way, why is it that during 13 years of Conservative rule, and then the three and a half years when he was Prime Minister, these industries were not denationalised? Not even Selsdon Man himself denationalised them. He denationalised land and the Carlisle State pubs. If he believes what he said this afternoon, why did he not have the guts to denationalise and hand over to private enterprise?

The right hon. Gentleman knows why. He has said it sometimes from this Box and we have both agreed. It is because the essential services concerned, most of them in labour-intensive industries, are loss-making in almost every country in the world, whether privately or publicly owned. I refer to railways, coal, atomic energy, the health service, postal services. They are all loss-making and subsidised—including in America. The right hon. Gentleman's argument is characteristically meretricious.

Now we come to the policy which seems at long last to have brought the Leader of the Opposition out of his shell, following his explanations on radio and television about why we have not had any opposition out of him until this week. I know why we have not and he knows too. I know what he was waiting for.

Public ownership, planning agreements, the Industry Act, the National Enterprise Board—these were included in Labour Party policy in Opposition and in Government over a long period of time. They were set out in our programme of 1973, and adopted at our conference last year. They were set out in the manifesto published before the election. They were explained to the country throughout the election—[Interruption.] I know that the right hon. Gentleman thinks that he won the election. But he is wrong. He did not.

Mr. Peter Rost (Derbyshire, South-East)

He beat you.

The Prime Minister

During that election I made a speech every night including this imaginative and totally relevant concept. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman has an inbuilt allergy to the idea of a newly-elected Government carrying out what they have told the country in the election they would carry out. I know he does not understand that. During the right hon. Gentleman's three and a half years after June 1970, we saw how allergic he was to carrying out his pledges: prices at a stroke, the Common Market and whole-hearted consent—[Interruption.] The Opposition do not like being reminded of this, but they will find themselves getting it again, again and again. Then there was help for owner-occupiers, homes for all, no legislation on wages—[Interruption.] The Opposition have a wonderful slogan to put across in the next election after all that. The number of broken pledges and still more the systematic organisation to ensure that those pledges were broken has no parallel in this country since the beginnings of party government. I know of no Government who have broken more pledges than did the right hon. Gentleman's between 1970 and 1974.

When The Times told us—I do not regard public opinion polls as accurate within a point or two, but it seems to be shared by the Daily Telegraph this morning—that a number of Conservative voters considered that the Conservative Party should get on without him and appoint a new leader, this is probably due to the broken pledges between 1970 and 1974—

Mr. Peter Tapsell (Horncastle)rose

The Prime Minister

No, I shall not give way. The hon. Member for Hon-castle (Mr. Tapsell) would really improve the Opposition Front Bench, but until he comes to it I cannot give way to him. At least one of my suggestions, made in a radio broadcast, has been brought to that Front Bench, and I am delighted.

Now the Leader of the Opposition has suddenly become obsessed in this past week with his new-found discovery that the Labour Party is a Socialist party. I wonder why this fact did not occur to him in the months before the election and why it was not made a major issue in the election.

I made a speech—I am sorry to say nearly an hour long—about our proposals for public ownership at the Labour Party Conference last October. I set out precisely what our proposals were and always had been. There was no comeback from the right hon. Gentleman at his conference or in the months that followed. We heard little of it in the General Election. The only contribution on public ownership which I saw the right hon. Gentleman reported as making was the case that he made in the election that the vast resources of the Scottish and Celtic Sea should not adhere to the advantage of the British people but to the advantage of mainly multi-national companies based wholly or partly outside the territorial jurisdiction. Following what I spelled out in the General Election, our proposals on North and Celtic Seas gas and oil will be brought before this House before the Summer Recess.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to this again today. He was absolutely hysterical today about foreign oil interests pulling out. Did they pull out from Norway, where there is a Socialist Government with their carried interest system with 80/20 per cent. public participation?

The right hon. Gentleman made nothing of this in the General Election. He spent most of the election advocating the therapeutic qualities of a three-day working week and pressing the theme "Who governs Britain?"—a question which we found fascinating during the weekend following the election. The right hon. Gentleman said today that the Labour Party was greedy for power. What about the weekend after the election, which he spent negotiating with the Liberals and was said to be interested in the support of the Welsh and Scottish Nationalists? There was even a time, it was reported, when he intended to get the Ulster Unionist extremists to vote for him, until that was vetoed by the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw).

On our proposals for nationalisation, we heard nothing from the right hon. Gentleman. Only in the past few days—

Mr. Churchill

Get to the motion.

The Prime Minister

I thought that the complaint was that the Opposition heard too much from us. Now they say they have heard nothing from us. They had better make up their minds about it. I have made several speeches about it, one as recently as last Friday night. The right hon. Gentleman has an arrangement with Transport House whereby he is supplied with documents, so he will have read it himself on Saturday morning—

Mr. Churchill rose

The Prime Minister

No, I shall not give way—

Mr. Churchill rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill) must sit down. The Prime Minister is not giving way to him.

The Prime Minister

I cannot believe that the right hon. Gentleman has not been informed of our proposals and our policy. It occurred to me that the grand master of the U-turn was wondering at one time whether to adopt our nationalisation policy for inclusion in Tory policy. Some of his so-called supporters would not have been surprised in view of some of his U-turns, and if he had thought that he would ensure votes by it, he would have done it.

What we said in the manifesto is the policy of the Government, as it was the policy of the party before and during the General Election. That has not been in question at any time.

Mr. Churchill

What is the price of it?

The Prime Minister

Winning Stretford in the next General Election.

Mr. Churchill rose

The Prime Minister

I have referred—

Mr. Churchill rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. If the Prime Minister does not give way, the hon. Member for Stretford must not persist in standing up.

Mr. Churchill

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Prime Minister has attacked me—do I not have the right to reply?

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Stretford must resume his seat.

The Prime Minister

I replied to a seated intervention.

I have referred to the speech that I made at the Labour Party Conference. I want the Leader of the Opposition to understand that this is nothing new. This was said before the election and during the election. I want to satisfy the right hon. Gentleman, when he starts doing his own research again, that this has been said. I said it at the party conference and in a series of public speeches. I shall be very glad to let the right hon. Gentleman have copies of the Press handouts of those speeches.

The right hon. Gentleman is trying to say that this is a new invention of the Government. If he will bear with me, perhaps I may quote what I said at at least 30 or 40 election meetings. I hope that he will bear with me. After all, we have heard his old speeches again today.

I said: We expect to be judged by the speed with which we have introduced the exercise of public control over private companies through our Industry Act and the other measures set out in the Conference programme. Judged again by our progress in extending public enterprise by taking mineral rights, ship-building and ancillary industries, the ports and aircraft into public ownership and control. North Sea oil and gas to come under national and not private control. The return to public ownership of assets and undertakings transferred by the present Government "— the then Government— for private profit, and the creation of the National Enterprise Board, with the structure and functions approved by the Conference. That is what we said in the election, and the right hon. Gentleman's attack is an attack upon those who voted in the election. It is not an attack upon what we said to them.

I also said at all those meetings—and I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman did not address himself to this— We shall apply the same principle as private finance insists upon, that where money goes the control exercised must match the money invested. The right hon. Gentleman knows that I spelt this out in the debate on the Gracious Speech. He did not pick up that point in that debate, and none of his right hon. Friends picked it up. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry spelt it out in the debate on the Gracious Speech. There is really nothing new in the situation that we defend today, except the need of the Leader of the Opposition, for his own purposes, to spell it out.

The point is that once the Conservative Party thinks that it is in a safe period for an election, the right hon. Gentleman knows that he is in a very unsafe period. That is why he has suddenly become the most incredible militant. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will recognise at the same time that we—I speak for all on this side of the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh".]—are a party of compassion. I hope that he will recognise that we are not without understanding and sympathy for him in his present predicament.

In three and a half months in opposition we have heard hardly a squeak out of the right hon. Gentleman, and he told the country why. I hope that the 1922 Committee will demonstrate a reasonable degree of tolerance and understanding towards him. It is very important to us that, despite the wishes of Conservative voters, the right hon. Gentleman remains the Conservative Leader. In this respect at least in this debate on that one matter there is great bipartisan interest.

Mr. Churchill

Let the people decide this issue.

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman has now lost any chance that he had of coming to the Front Bench even for three weeks with that intervention. I was coming to that point later.

In three and a half months we have not had the faintest glimmering of any new policy emerging from the Conservative Opposition in readiness for the coming General Election. It is now clear to the country that the right hon. Gentleman will fight the election on confrontation and the need to get Britain back to a three-day week. He will be fighting it without a policy and without a team. It is the slimmest Front Bench we have seen this century. The only view we get from them every week is another reshuffle and more sackings. We have an Opposition Leader—whom God preserve—and the 1922 Committee, shuffling his Shadows, fiddling about with his phantoms, but never knowing what to do next.

We recognise—[Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman is challenging us to an election and I am dealing with his challenge tonight. I recognise that it must be difficult for him to be committed to fight that election on a policy which implies that the terms that he so meekly accepted on entry into the Market—he referred to it at length today and I reserve the right to reply—should not be regarded as sacrosanct. He refuses to grant the British people the final and binding word of the ballot box. The right hon. Gentleman, avid as he is for an election—we can all see that: cheer up a bit—knows that it is not an attractive election slogan for him to stump the country for three weeks asserting that the gentlemen in Brussels know best.

The right hon. Gentleman also knows that he has prepared no policies for dealing with inflation. No one knows whether his policies will be Selsdon man all over again or the panic outpourings of aid to lame ducks in industry without public accountability. No one sitting behind him knows on which of those two policies he will have to fight in the General Election.

We have seen—which the right hon. Gentleman has to defend—a cutting of the housing programme to the lowest figures in our history.

Today the right hon. Gentleman referred—[Interruption.] There have been enough interruptions. I propose to take a little injury time because of interruptions by hon. Gentlemen opposite.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to confidence in the City, which he blames on speeches made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry. He knows that his financial policies—the free-for-all in the City and the competition and credit control White Paper—created the present crisis in the City with secondary banks and other financial institutions.

Today the right hon. Gentleman referred to Lonrho. He took no action against the evils revealed. He had a Companies Act inquiry, like a previous Tory Government at the time of the Bloom affair—a process lasting nearly six years—and Government action, but all leading nowhere. He is the man who condemned the unacceptable face of capitalism and did precisely nothing about it. The Lonrho affair would never have come to the notice of the public had it not been for a boardroom row.

What we and the country have a right to ask, after those disclosures, is: how many more cases for concern of a similar kind would have been shown were it not that "old boy" solidarity in the boardroom has prevented any such disclosures?

The right hon. Gentleman has chosen this issue for debate. It is one in which he has finally decided to intervene in our debates. On one thing I agree with him. This debate is vitally important for Britain.

We have put forward our policies, which were fully set out during the election, and the right hon. Gentleman never tried to reply to them. Now he has picked them up. Let him begin to study what he has refused to consider and which never occurred throughout his speech or his premiership, namely, the vital issues of accountability to the nation of those who exercise so much power within the nation, particularly when they are helped with finance to exercise that power. Then, when he has considered them, because we cannot wait indefinitely—

Mr. Heseltine rose

The Prime Minister

—let us have his positive policy—

Mr. Heseltine rose

The Prime Minister

As I was saying before the hon. Member for Henley got uncomfortable, let the right hon. Gentleman now begin to study these vital issues of accountability to the nation of those who exercise so much power within the nation and are financially helped, and then, because we and the country cannot wait indefinitely, let us have his positive policy, his manifesto, and let the people decide.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 290, Noes 311.

Division No. 47. AYES [7.08 p.m.
Abse, Leo English, Michael Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Allaun, Frank Ennals, David Lyons, Edward (Bradford, W.)
Archer, Peter (Warley, West) Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Armstrong, Ernest Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) McCartney, Hugh
Ashley, Jack Evans, John (Newton) McElhone, Frank
Ashton, Joe Ewing, Harry (St'ling, F'kirk&G'm'th) MacFarquhar, Roderick
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Faulds, Andrew McGuire, Michael
Atkinson, Norman Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E. Maclennan, Robert
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Fitch, Alan (Wigan) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.) McNamara, Kevin
Barnett, Joel (Heywood & Royton) Flannery, Martin Madden, M. O. F.
Bates, Alf Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Magee, Bryan
Baxter, William Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mahon, Simon
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Foot, Rt. Hn. Michael Mallalieu, J. P W.
Bennett, Andrew F. (Stockport, N.) Ford, Ben Marks, Kenneth
Bidwell, Sydney Forrester, John Marquand, David
Bishop, E. S. Fowler, Gerry (The Wrekin) Marshall, Dr. Edmund (Goole)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Fraser, John (Lambeth, Norwood) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Freeson, Reginald Mayhew, Christopher (G'wh, W'wch, E.)
Booth, Albert Galpern, Sir Myer Meacher, Michael
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Garrett, John (Norwich, S.) Melish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Mendelson, John
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) George, Bruce Mikardo, Ian
Bradley, Tom Gilbert, Dr. John Millan, Bruce
Broughton Sir Alfred Ginsburg, David Miller, Dr. M. S. (E. Kilbride)
Brown, Bob (Newcastle upon Tyne, W.) Graham, Ted Milne, Edward
Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan) Grant, George (Morpeth) Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)
Brown, Ronald (H'kney,S.&Sh'ditch) Grant, John (Islington, C.) Molloy, William
Buchan, Norman Griffiths, Eddie (Sheffield, Brightside) Moonman, Eric
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Springb'rn Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (H' gey, WoodGreen) Hamilton, William (Fife, C.) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James (Cardiff, S.E.) Hamling, William Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)
Callaghan, Jim (M'dd'ton & Pr'wich) Hardy, Peter Moyle, Roland
Campbell, Ian Harper, Joseph Murray, Ronald King
Cant, R. B. Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Newens, Stanley (Harlow)
Carmichael, Neil Hattersley, Roy Oakes, Gordon
Carter, Ray Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Ogden, Eric
Carter-Jones, Lewis Heffer, Eric S. O'Halloran, Michael
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Hooley, Frank O'Malley, Brian
Clemitson, Ivor Horam, John Orbach, Maurice
Cocks, Michael Howell, Denis (B'ham, Small Heath) Orme, Rt. Hn. Stanley
Cohen, Stanley Huckfield, Leslie Ovenden, John
Coleman, Donald Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Owen, Dr. David
Colquhoun, Mrs. M. N. Hughes, Mark (Durham) Padley, Walter
Concannon, J. D. Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, North) Park, George (Coventry, N.E.)
Conlan, Bernard Hughes, Roy (Newport) Palmer, Arthur
Cook, Robert F. (Edinburgh, C) Hunter, Adam Parker, John (Dagenham)
Cox, Thomas Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (L'p'I.EdgeHill) Parry, Robert
Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, Maryhill) Irving, Rt. Hn. Sydney (Dartford) Pavitt, Laurie
Crawshaw, Richard Jackson, Colin Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Cronin, John Janner, Greville Pendry, Tom
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Perry, Ernest G.
Cryer, G. R. Jeger, Mrs. Lena Phipp[...], Dr. Colin
Cunningham, G.(Isl'ngt'n, S&F'sb'ry) Jenkins, Hugh (W'worth, Putney) Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg
Cunningham, Dr. John A.(Whiteh'v'n) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (B'ham,St'fd) Prescott, John
Dalyell, Tam John, Brynmor Price, Christopher (Lewisham, W.)
Davidson, Arthur Johnson, James (K'ston uponHull, W.) Price, William (Rugby)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield, N.) Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.) Radice, Giles
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli) Jones, Barry (Flint, E.) Rees, Rt. Hn. Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Richardson, Miss Jo
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Deakins, Eric Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds, W.) Judd, Frank Robertson, John (Paisley)
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Kaufman, Gerald Roderick, Caerwyn E.
Delargy, Hugh Kelley, Richard Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Kerr, Russell Rodgers, William (Teesside, St'ckton)
Dempsey, James Kilroy-Silk, Robert Rooker, J. W.
Doig, Peter Kinnock, Neil Roper, John
Dormand, J. D. Lambie, David Rose, Paul B.
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Lamborn, Harry Rowlands, Edward
Duffy, A. E. P. Lamond, James Sandelson, Neville
Du[...]nett, Jack Latham, Arthur(CityofW'minsterP'ton) Sedgemore, Bryan
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth Lawson, George (Motherwell&Wishaw) Selby, Harry
Eadie, Alex Leadbitter, Ted Shaw, Arnold (Redbridge, Ilford, S.)
Edelman, Maurice Lee, John Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Edge, Geoff Lewis, Arthur (Newham, N.) Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (S'pney&P'plar)
Edwards, Robert (W'hampton, S.E.) Lewis Ron (Carlisle) Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'ctle-u-Tyne, C.)
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scunthorpe) Lipton, Marcus Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hamp'n, N.E.)
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Loughlin, Charles Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (L'sham, D'ford)
Silkin, Rt.Hn.S.C.(S'hwark, Dulwich) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) Whitlock, William
Sillars, James Thorne, Stan (Preston, S.) Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Silverman, Julius Tierney, Sydney Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Skinner, Dennis Tinn, James Williams, Alan Lee (Hvrng, Hchurch)
Small, William Tomlinson, John Williams, Rt.Hn. Shirley(H'f'd&St'ge)
Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.) Tomney, Frank Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Snape, Peter Torney, Tom Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Spearing, Nigel Tuck, Raphael Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Spriggs, Leslie Urwin, T. W. Wilson, William (Coventry, S.E.)
Stallard, A. W. Varley, Eric G. Wise, Mrs. Audrey
Stewart, Rt. Hn. M. (H'sth, Fulh'm) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley) Woodall, Alec
Stoddart, David (Swindon) Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, Ladywood) Woof, Robert
Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John Walker, Harold (Doncaster) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Stott, Roger Walker, Terry (Kingswood) Young, David (Bolton, E.)
Strang, Gavin Watkins, David
Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. Weitzman, David TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley Wellbeloved, James Mr. James A. Dunn and
Swain, Thomas White, James Mr. John Golding.
Thomas, D. E. (Merioneth) Whitehead, Phillip
Adley, Robert d'Avigdor-Goldsmid,Maj. -Gen. James Hayhoe, Barney
Aitken, Jonathan Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Henderson, Barry (Dunbartonshire, E.)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Dixon, Piers Heseltine, Michael
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Dodds-Parker, Sir Douglas Higgins, Terence
Ancram, M. Dodsworth, Geoffrey Hill, James A.
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Holland, Philip
Atkins, Rt.Hn.Humphrey(Spelthorne) Drayson, Burnaby Hordern, Peter
Awdry, Daniel du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Howe, Rt.Hn. Sir Geoffrey(Surrey, E.)
Baker, Kenneth Dunlop, John Howell, David (Guildford)
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Durant, Tony Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, North)
Banks, Robert Dykes, Hugh Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John Hunt, John
Beith, A. J. Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Hurd, Douglas
Bell, Ronald Elliott, Sir William Hutchison, Michael Clark
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Emery, Peter Iremonger, T. L.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Fareham) Ewing, Mrs. Winifred (Moray& Nairn) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Benyon, W. Eyre, Reginald James, David
Berry, Hon. Anthony Fairgrieve, Russell Jenkin, Rt.Hn.P. (R'dgeW'std&W'fd)
Biffen, John Farr, John Jessel, Toby
Biggs-Davison, John Fell, Anthony Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)
Blaker, Peter Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.) Fidler, Michael Jones, Arthur (Daventry)
Body, Richard Finsberg, Geoffrey Jopling, Michael
Boscawen, Hon. Robert Fisher, Sir Nigel Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith
Bowden, Andrew (Brighton, Kemptown) Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh, N.) Kaberry, Sir Donald
Boyson, Dr. Rhodes (Brent, [...] ) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine
Bradford, Rev. R. Fookes, Miss Janet Kershaw, Anthony
Braine, Sir Bernard Fowler, Norman (Sutton Coldfield) Kilfedder, James A.
Bray, Ronald Fox, Marcus Kimball, Marcus
Brewis, John Fraser, Rt.Hn.Hugh (St'fford&Stone) King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Brittan, Leon Freud, Clement King, Tom (Bridgwater)
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Fry, Peter Kirk, Peter
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D. Kitson, Sir Timothy
Bruce Gardyne, J. Gardiner, George (Reigate&Banstead) Knight, Mrs. Jill
Bryan, Sir Paul Gardner, Edward (S. Fylde) Knox, David
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Gibson-Watt, Rt. Hn. David Lamont, Norman
Buck, Antony Gilmour, Rt.Hn.Ian(Ch'sh'&Amsh'm) Lane, David
Budgen, Nick Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Langford-Holt, Sir John
Bulmer, Esmond Glyn, Dr. Alan Latham, Michael (Melton)
Burden, F. A. Goodhart, Philip Lawrence, Ivan
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Goodhew, Victor Lawson, Nigel (Blaby)
Carlisle, Mark Goodlad, A. Le Marchant, Spencer
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Gorst, John Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Gow, I. R. E. (Eastbourne) Lewis, Kenneth (Rtland & Stmford)
Channon, Paul Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Lloyd, Ian (Havant & Waterloo)
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Loveridge, John
Churchill, W. S. Grieve, Percy Luce, Richard
Clark, A. K. M. (Plymouth, Sutton) Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) MacArthur, Ian
Clark, William (Croydon, S.) Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. MacCormack, Iain
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Grist, Ian Macfarlane, Neil
Cockcroft, John Grylls, Michael MacGregor, John
Cooke, Robert (Bristol, W.) Gurden, Harold McLaren, Martin
Cope, John Hall, Sir John Macmillan, Rt. Hn. M. (Farnham)
Cordle, John Hall-Davis, A. G. F. McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury)
Cormack, Patrick Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) McNair-Wilson. Patrick (New Forest)
Corrie, John Hampson, Dr. Keith Madel, David
Costain, A. P. Hannam, John Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Craig. Rt. Hn. William (Belfast, W.) Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Marten, Neil
Critchley, Julian Harvie Anderson, Rt. Hn. Miss Mather, Carol
Crouch, David Hastings, Stephen Maude, Angus
Crowder, F. P. Havers, Sir Michael Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald
Mawby, Ray Redmond, Robert Stradling Thomas, J.
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal) Tapsell, Peter
Mayhew, Patrick (RoyalT'bridgeWells) Rees-Davies, W. R. Taverne, Dick
Meyer, Sir Anthony Reid, George Taylor, Edward M. (Gl'gow, C'cart)
Miller, Hal (B'grove & R'ditch) Renton, Rt. Hn. SirDavid (H't gd'n[...] re) Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
Mills, Peter Renton, R. T. (Mid-Sussex) Tebbit, Norman
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Temple-Morris, Peter
Moate, Roger Ridsdale. Julian Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Margaret
Money, Ernle Rifkind, Malcolm Thomas, Rt. Hn. P. (B'net,H'dn S.)
Monro, Hector Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Moore, J. E. M. (Croydon, C.) Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.-W.) Townsend, C. D.
More, Jasper (Ludlow) Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Trotter, Neville
Morgan, Geraint Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Tugendhat, Christopher
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Tyler, Paul
Morris, Michael (Northampton, S.) Ross, Wm. (Londonderry) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Morrison, Peter (City of Chester) Rost, Peter (Derbyshire, S.E.) Viggers, Peter
Mudd, David Royle, Sir Anthony Waddington, David
Neave, Airey Sainsbury, Tim Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Neubert, Michael St. John-Stevas, Norman Wakeham, John
Newton, Tony (Braintree) Scott-Hopkins, James Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Normanton, Tom Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Nott, John Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Wall, Patrick
Onslow, Cranley Shelton, Wiliam (L'mb'th, Streath'm) Walters, Dennis
Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally Shersby, Michael Warren, Kenneth
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Silvester, Fred Watt, Hamish
Osborn, John Sims, Roger Weatherill, Bernard
Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby) Sinclair, Sir George Wells, John
Skeet, T. H. H. Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Page, John (Harrow, W.) Smith, Cyril (Rochdale) Wiggin, Jerry
Paisley, Rev. Ian Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) Wilson, Gordon (Dundee, E.)
Pardoe, John Spence, John Winstanley, Dr. Michael
Parkinson, Cecil (Hertfordshire, S.) Spicer, Jim (Dorset, W.) Winterton, Nicholas
Pattie, Geoffrey Spicer, Michael (Worcestershire, S.) Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Percival, Ian Sproat, Iain Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Peyton, Rt. Hn. John Stainton, Keith Worsley, Sir Marcus
Pink, R. Bonner Stanbrook, Ivor Young, Sir George (Ealing, Acton)
Price, David (Eastleigh) Stanley, John Younger, Hn George
Prior, Rt. Hn. James Steel, David
Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Steen, Anthony (L'pool, Wavertree) TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Quennell, Miss J. M. Stewart, Donald (Western Isles) Mr. Walter Clegg and
Raison, Timothy Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Mr. Paul Hawkins.
Rathbone, Tim Stodart, Rt. Hn. A. (Edinburgh, W.)
Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Stokes. John

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 311, Noes 290.

Division No. 48] AYES [7.21 p.m
Adley, Robert Bryan, Sir Paul Drayson, Burnaby
Aitken, Jonathan Buchanan-Smith, Alick du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Buck, Antony Dunlop, John
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Budgen, Nick Durant, Tony
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Bulmer, Esmond Dykes, Hugh
Ancram, M. Burden, F. A. Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Atkins, Rt.Hn.Humphrey (Spelthorne) Carlisle, Mark Elliott, Sir William
Awdry, Daniel Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Emery, Peter
Baker, Kenneth Chalker. Mrs. Lynda Ewing, Mrs.Winifred (Moray&Nairn)
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Channon, Paul Eyre, Reginald
Banks, Robert Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Fairgrieve, Russell
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Churchill, W. S. Farr, John
Beith, A. J. Clark, A. K. M. (Plymouth, Sutton) Fell, Anthony
Bell, Ronald Clark, William (Croydon, S.) Fenner, Mrs. Peggy
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Fidler, Michael
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Fareham) Cockcroft, John Finsberg, Geoffrey
Benyon, W. Cooke, Robert (Bristol, W.) Fisher, Sir Nigel
Berry, Hon. Anthony Cope, John Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh, N.)
Biffen, John Cordle, John Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Biggs-Davison, John Cormack, Patrick Fookes, Miss Janet
Blaker, Peter Corrie, John Fowler, Norman (Sutton Coldfield)
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.) Costain, A. P. Fox, Marcus
Body, Richard Craig, Rt. Hn. William (Belfast, E.) Fraser, Rt.Hn.Hugh (St'fford&Stone)
Boscawen, Hon. Robert Critchley, Julian Freud, Clement
Bowden, Andrew (Brighton, Kemptown) Crouch, David Fry, Peter
Boyson, Dr. Rhodes (Brent, N.) Crowder, F. P. Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D.
Bradford, Rev. R. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. James Gardiner, George (Reigate&Banstead)
Bray, Ronald Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Gardner, Edward (S. Fylde)
Brewis, John Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Gibson-Watt, Rt. Hn. David
Brittan, Leon Dixon, Piers Gilmour, Rt.Hn.Ian (Ch'sh'&Amsh m)
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Dodds-Parker, Sir Douglas Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Dodsworth, Geoffrey Glyn, Dr. Alan
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Goodhart, Philip
Goodhew, Victor Mactarlane, Neil Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Goodlad, A. MacGregor, John Rost, Peter (Derbyshire, S.E.)
Gorst, John McLaren, Martin Royle, Sir Anthony
Gow, I. R. E. (Eastbourne) Macmillan, Rt. Hn. M. (Farnham) Sainsbury, Tim
Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury) St. John-Stevas, Norman
Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Scott-Hopkins, James
Grieve, Percy Madel, David Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Marten, Neil Shelton, Wiliam (L'mb'th,Streath'm)
Grist, Ian Mather, Carol Shersby, Michael
Grylls, Michael Maude, Angus Silvester, Fred
Gurden, Harold Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Sims, Roger
Hall, Sir John Mawby, Ray Sinclair, Sir George
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Skeet, T. H. H.
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mayhew, Patrick (RoyalT'bridgeWells) Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Hampson, Dr. Keith Meyer, Sir Anthony Smith, Dudley (W'wick&L'm'ngton)
Hannam, John Miller, Hal (B'grove & R'ditch) Spence, John
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Mills, Peter Spicer, Jim (Dorset, W.)
Harvie Anderson, Rt. Hn. Miss Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Spicer, Michael (Worcestershire, S.)
Hastings, Stephen Moate, Roger Sproat, Iain
Havers, Sir Michael Money, Ernle Stainton, Keith
Hayhoe, Barney Monro, Hector Stanbrook, Ivor
Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Moore, J. E. M. (Croydon, C.) Stanley, John
Henderson, Barry (Dunbartonshire, E.) More, Jasper (Ludlow) Steel, David
Heseltine, Michael Morgan, Geraint Steen, Anthony (L'pool, Wavertree)
Higgins, Terence Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Hill, James A. Morris, Michael (Northampton, S.) Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Holland, Philip Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Stodart, Rt. Hn. A. (Edinburgh, W.)
Hordern, Peter Morrison, Peter (City of Chester) Stokes, John
Howe, Rt.Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Surrey, E.) Mudd, David Stradling Thomas, J.
Howell, David (Guildford) Neave, Airey Tapsell, Peter
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, North) Neubert, Michael Taverne, Dick
Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Newton, Tony (Braintree) Taylor, Edward M, (Gl'gow, C'cart)
Hunt, John Normanton, Tom Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
Hurd, Douglas Nott, John Tebbit, Norman
Hutchison, Michael Clark Onslow, Cranley Temple-Morris, Peter
Iremonger, T. L. Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Margaret
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Thomas, Rt. Hn. P. (B'net,H'dn S.)
James, David Osborn, John Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Jenkin, Rt.Hn.P. (R'dgeW'std&W'fd) Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby) Townsend, C. D.
Jessel, Toby Page, John (Harrow, W.) Trotter, Neville
Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Paisley, Rev. Ian Tugendhat, Christopher
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Pardoe, John Tyler, Paul
Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Parkinson, Cecil (Hertfordshire, S.) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Jopling, Michael Pattie, Geoffrey Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Percival, Ian Viggers, Peter
Kaberry, Sir Donald Peyton, Rt. Hn. John Waddington, David
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Pink, R. Bonner Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Kershaw, Anthony Price, David (Eastleigh) Wakeham, John
Kilfedder, James A. Prior, Rt. Hn. James Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Kimball, Marcus Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Quennell, Miss J. M. Wall, Patrick
King, Tom (Bridgwater) Raison, Timothy Walters, Dennis
Kirk, Peter Rathbone, Tim Warren, Kenneth
Kitson, Sir Timothy Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Watt, Hamish
Knight, Mrs. Jill Redmond, Robert Weatherill, Bernard
Knox, David Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal) Wells, John
Lamont, Norman Rees-Davies, W. R. Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Lane, David Reid, George Wiggin, Jerry
Langford-Holt, Sir John Renton, Rt.Hn.SirDavid(H't'gd'ns re) Wilson, Gordon (Dundee, E.)
Latham, Michael (Melton) Renton, R. T. (Mid-Sussex) Winstanley, Dr. Michael
Lawrence, Ivan Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Winterton, Nicholas
Lawson, Nigel (Blaby) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Le Marchant, Spencer Ridsdale, Julian Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Rifkind, Malcolm Worsley Sir Marcus
Lewis, Kenneth (Rtland & Stmford) Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey Young, Sir George (Ealing, Acton)
Lloyd, Ian (Havant & Waterloo) Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.-W.) Younger, Hn. George
Loveridge, John Roberts, Wyn (Conway) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Luce, Richard Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Mr. Walter Clegg and
MacArthur, Ian Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Mr. Paul Hawkins.
MacCormack, Iain Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)
Abse, Leo Barnett, Joel (Heywood & Royton) Boothroyd, Miss Betty
Allaun, Frank Bates, Alf Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur
Archer, Peter (Warley, West) Baxter, William Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)
Armstrong, Ernest Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Bradley, Tom
Ashley, Jack Bennett, Andrew F. (Stockport, N.) Broughton Sir Alfred
Ashton, Joe Bidwell, Sydney Brown, Bob (Newcastle upon Tyne, W.)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Bishop, E. S. Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)
Atkinson, Norman Blenkinsop, Arthur Brown, Ronald (H'kney,S.&Sh'ditch)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Boardman, H. (Leigh) Buchan, Norman
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Booth, Albert Buchanan, Richard (G'gow,Springb'rn
Butler, Mrs.Joyce (H'gey, WoodGreen) Hatton, Frank Orme, Rt. Hn. Stanley
Callaghan, Rt.Hn.James(Cardiff, S.E.) Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Ovenden, John
Callaghan, Jim (M'dd'ton & Pr'wich) Heffer, Eric S. Owen, Dr. David
Campbell, Ian Hooley, Frank Padley, Walter
Cant, R. B. Horam, John Palmer, Arthur
Carmichael, Neil Howell, Denis (B'ham, Small Heath) Park, George (Coventry, N.E.)
Carter, Ray Huckfield, Leslie Parker, John (Dagenham)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Parry, Robert
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Hughes, Mark (Durham) Pavitt, Laurie
Clemitson, Ivor Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, North) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Cocks, Michael Hughes, Roy (Newport) Pendry, Tom
Cohen. Stanley Hunter, Adam Perry, Ernest G.
Coleman, Donald Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (L'p'I.EdgeHill) Phipps, Dr. Colin
Colquhoun, Mrs. M. N. Irving, Rt. Hn. Sydney (Dartford) Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg
Concannon, J. D. Jackson, Colin Prescott, John
Conlan, Bernard Janner, Greville Price, Christopher (Lewisham, W.)
Cook, Robert F. (Edinburgh, C.) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Price, William (Rugby)
Cox, Thomas Jeger, Mrs. Lena Radice, Giles
Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, Maryhill) Jenkins, Hugh (W'worth, Putney) Rees, Rt. Hn. Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Crawshaw, Richard Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (B'ham, St'fd) Richardson, Miss Jo
Cronin, John John, Brynmor Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Johnson, James (K'ston uponHull, W.) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Cryer, G. R. Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.) Robertson. John (Paisley)
Cunningham, G.(Isl'ngt'n, S&F'sb'ry) Jones, Barry (Flint, E.) Roderick, Caerwyn E.
Cunningham, Dr. John A.(Whiteh'v'n) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Dalyell, Tam Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Rodgers, William (Teesside, St'ckton)
Davidson, Arthur Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Rooker J. W.
Davies, Bryan (Enfield,[...].) Judd, Frank Roper, John
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli) Kaufman, Gerald Rose, Paul B.
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Kelley, Richard Rowlands, Edward
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Kerr, Russell Sandelson, Neville
Deakins, Eric Kilroy-Silk. Robert Sedgemore, Bryan
Dean, Joseph (Leeds, W.) Kinnock, Neil Selby, Harry
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Lambie, David Shaw, Arnold (Redbridge, Ilford, S.)
De'a[...], Hugh Lamborn, Harry Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Lamond, James Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (S'pney&P'plar)
Dempsey, James Latham, Arthur(CityofW'minsterP'ton) Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'ctle-u-Tyne)
Doig, Peter Lawson, George (Motherwell&Wishaw) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hamp'n, N.E.)
Dormand, J. D. Leadbitter, Ted Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (L'sham, D'ford)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Lee, John Silkin, Rt.Hn.S.C. (S'hwark, Dulwich)
Duffy, A. E. P. Lewis, Arthur (Newham, N.) Sillars, James
Dunnett, Jack Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Silverman, Julius
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth Lipton, Marcus Skinner, Dennis
Eadie, Alex Loughlin, Charles Small, William
Edelman, Maurice Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
Edge, Geoff Lyons, Edward (Bradford, W.) Snape, Peter
Edwards, Robert (W'hampton, S.E.) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Spearing, Nigel
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scunthorpe) McCartney, Hugh Spriggs, Leslie
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) McElhone, Frank Stallard, A. W.
English, Michael MacFarquhar, Roderick Stewart, Rt. Hn. M. (H'sth, Fulh'm)
Ennals, David McGuire, Michael Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Maclennan, Robert Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow. C.) Stott, Roger
Evans, John (Newton) McNamara, Kevin Strang, Gavin
Ewing, Harry (St'ling,F'kirk&G'm'th) Madden, M. O. F. Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Faulds, Andrew Magee, Bryan Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E. Mahon, Simon Swain, Thomas
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Mallalieu, J. P W Thomas, D. E. (Merioneth)
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.) Marks, Kenneth Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Flannery, Martin Marquand, David Thorne, Stan (Preston, S.)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Marshall, Dr. Edmund (Goole) Tierney, Sydney
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Tinn, James
Foot, Rt. Hn. Michael Mayhew, Christopher G'wh.W'wch.E.) Tomlinson, John
Ford, Ben Meacher, Michael Tomney, Frank
Forrester, John Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Torney, Tom
Fowler, Gerry (The Wrekin) Mendelson, John Tuck, Raphael
Fraser, John (Lambeth, Norwood) Mikardo, Ian Urwin, T. W.
Freeson, Reginald Millan, Bruce Varley, Eric G.
Galpern, Sir Myer Miller, Dr. M. S. (E. Kilbride) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Garrett, John (Norwich, S.) Milne, Edward Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, Ladywood)
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
George, Bruce Molloy, William Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Gilbert, Dr. John Moonman, Eric Watkins, David
Ginsburg, David Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Weitzman, David
Graham, Ted Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Wellbeloved, James
Grant, George (Morpeth) Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) White, James
Grant, John (Islington, C.) Moyle, Roland Whitehead, Phillip
Griffiths, Eddie (Sheffield, Brightside) Murray, Ronald King Whitlock, William
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Newens, Stanley (Harlow) Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Hamilton, William (Fife, C.) Oakes, Gordon Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Hamling, William Ogden, Eric Williams, Alan Lee (Hvrng, Hchurch)
Hardy, Peter O'Halloran, Michael Williams, Rt.Hn. Shirley(H'f'd&St'ge)
Harper, Joseph O'Malley, Brian Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Orbach, Maurice Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Hattersley, Roy Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Wilson, William (Coventry, S.E.) Wool Robert TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Wise, Mrs. Audrey Wrigglesworth, Ian Mr. James A. Dunn and
Woodail, Alec Young, David (Bolton, E.) Mr. John Golding.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That this House regrets the Government's damaging industrial policies based on a massive extension of nationalisation and control of individual companies.

The Prime Minister rose

Mr. Heath

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I ask the Prime Minister to state that he will acknowledge the will of the House which has been twice demonstrated tonight in the Lobbies and announce that his administration will abandon the thoroughly damaging programme of nationalisation and State control which he has so singularly failed to justify tonight in what must have been the most inadequate and appalling speech ever made from a Front Bench by any Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. The Government will, of course, consider the implications of these two important votes. We shall also consider the implications of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has taken a vital part of the manifesto on which we were elected, submitted it to a vote and collected his hon. Friends in the Lobby. That raises important political and constitutional implications following the speech of the right hon. Gentleman seeking to tell Europe what a minority Government could and could not do in negotiations with Europe, and following four defeats in Standing Committee. The right hon. Gentleman can be fully assured that we shall consider all the implications following what he has succeeded in doing today, and that in due course our decision will be made known.

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