§ 4.21 p.m.
§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Michael Foot)
I beg to move,That—(1) in view of the serious consequences of uncertainty for the industries concerned and for those employed in them, this House affirms the opinion expressed in its resolution of 27th May 1976 in relation to the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill introduced in the last Session of this Parliament that there should be no delay in the passage of legislation to provide for the vesting in bodies corporate established by authority of Parliament of the securities of certain companies engaged in manufacturing aircraft and guided weapons and of certain companies engaged in shipbuilding and allied industries, and accordingly the Order of 29th November that the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills do examine the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill of this Session is discharged and in relation to the proceedings on that Bill any Standing Orders relating to private business and consideration of the application of any such Standing Orders are dispensed with;(2) in the event of the Bill being read a second time, it shall stand committed to a Committee of the whole House, and when the Order of the Day is read for the House to resolve itself into the Committee on the Bill, Mr. Speaker shall leave the Chair without putting any Question, notwithstanding that Notice of an Instruction may have been given, and in the Committee on the Bill the Chairman shall forthwith put the Question that he do report the Bill, without Amendment, to the House without putting any other Question, and the Question so put shall be decided forthwith.This is a procedural motion, although it has political aspects in the background, and I would like to comment on those briefly at the beginning of my speech. I hope that the House will be prepared to pass this motion, no doubt after some discussion. The motion is in two parts, but it has one purpose, namely, to allow the House to assert its supremacy over the non-elected, irresponsible other place and to do so quickly and firmly.
Last Session this House passed a Bill to give effect to proposals to nationalise the aircraft and guided weapons, shipbuilding, ship repairing and marine engineering industries—proposals which were clearly set out in the manifestos on which the Labour Party was returned to office in February and October 1974.
Their Lordships decided that they took exception to the nationalisation of 935 ship repairing. This House insisted on the restoration of ship repairing to the Bill, but the other place threw it out again, and then again. In doing so it threw out at the same time the doctrine that has been adhered to generally since the war by the Conservative majority in another place—the doctrine that it should not use its permanent built-in majority to defeat measures which were clearly included in the manifestos on which a Labour Government had been elected. That doctrine was accepted by the late Lord Salisbury. He was quoted as saying —and his views were enunciated again on the "Panorama" programme the other night—Anything that had been on the programme of the Labour Party at the preceding Election we must regard as having been approved by the British people and therefore measures of that kind we must pass and do our best to improve. And so we did in fact pass all the nationalisation Bills, much though many of us disliked them.That doctrine was accepted by the late Lord Salisbury, who was the leading Conservative authority on relations between the two Houses. It was a doctrine which seems to be the right approach to the matter. The modern proponents of "The Right Approach" in another place seem to be on the wrong tack. I think that it could lead to considerable constitutional difficulties if that course were to be pursued and, worse still, were to be sustained by this elected House of Commons. We may, perhaps, come back to this new attitude on the part of their Lordships in the course of the debate, if any Conservative Members wish to discuss it.
I now turn to the motion which the attitude of the other place has made necessary if this House is to reaffirm its supremacy. I would have thought that all hon. Members would wish it to do so. Certainly Labour Members would. I should have thought that Liberal Members, if they had any allegiance to their traditions on this issue—whatever criticisms they have of the Government on other matters—would wish to support us on this occasion. This is, after all, a constitutional question and not one concerned solely with the merits of the Bill.
§ Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)
Before the right hon. Gentleman moves on, will 936 he clarify one passing reference which he made to the grave constitutional innovation which he sees if this House refuses to rubber-stamp the manifesto of the Labour Party?
§ Mr. Foot
It was not a question of rubber-stamping the manifesto of the Labour Party. I was quoting the doctrine that had been accepted and laid down by the late Lord Salisbury. I shall come to the hon. Gentleman's point in a moment, but I was talking about Lord Salisbury's doctrine. I shall reiterate it because the hon. Gentleman did not seem to appreciate what I said. My attitude to the other place ranges over many wider questions. I was quoting to the hon. Gentleman what was said by the late Lord Salisbury about what he thought should be the proper relationship between the two Houses. His view was different from that of the present Leader of the Conservative Party in another place.
The view of the late Lord Salisbury was that the other place should take into account what had appeared in Labour Party manifestos. That view has now been set aside by the peers and particularly by the Leader of the Conservative Party in another place. All that I was saying to the House was that relations between the two Houses would be very much easier if the doctrine accepted by Lord Salisbury were sustained, rather than the novel doctrine operated by Lord Carrington and his supporters in another place.
§ Mr. Peter Rost (Derbyshire, South-East)
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether that Labour Party manifesto also specified that the Socialist programme would be financed on borrowed money?
§ Mr. Foot
The programme which the Labour Party presented to the nation in February and October 1974 warned the country that we were faced with the gravest economic crisis since the war, thanks to the policies of the Conservative Government, supported by the hon. Gentleman. Certainly that part of our manifesto has been proved more true even, perhaps, than we knew at the time.
I turn to the first part of the motion, which makes clear that we intend to treat this Bill as it was treated during 937 the last Session by this House and by the other place, and to proceed with it as a public Bill. Last Session the question of hybridity was not raised in this House until after the Committee stage, and the one question on which a doubt was raised was dealt with fully before the Bill left this House. In another place the Bill was not referred to the Examiners, although there was ample opportunity when this could have happened. All the points raised there were fully and carefully answered, as anyone who studies the debates and the answers given to Lord Campbell and Lord Wigoder will see.
The second part of the motion is as essential as the first to the re-assertion of the position of this House. It provides that the Committee stage of the Bill shall be taken formally, so that the effect of the motion, taken by itself, is that the next stage of the Bill, after the formal Committee stage, will be Third Reading. It does so because the Committee stage can be no more than a formality if this House, as I trust it will, wishes to ensure that the Bill is sent back to their Lordships in the form in which it can, if necessary, proceed to Royal Assent under the Parliament Acts.
This part of the motion asks the House to affirm that it wants the Bill in the form in which it passed it last year, after the greatest number of Committee sittings of any Bill in all recorded time. It does so in very much the same form in which the issue was presented to the House last year in relation to the Trade Union and Labour Relations Bill, and will therefore, I hope, commend itself to the House. The motion follows the precedents of 1913 and 1914, when a similar motion covered three Bills, and 1948 and 1949, when a similar procedure was required.
However, although we are asking the House to pass the Bill with all dispatch in a form that will allow it, if necessary, to proceed to the Royal Assent under the Parliament Acts, we do not intend to deprive the House of the opportunity to consider any amendments that right hon. and hon. Members may wish to propose should be suggested to another place under the provisions of the Parliament Acts. We shall provide time for such suggested amendments to be debated before the Bill receives its Third Reading.
938 I commend the motion to the House. I believe that on general and particular grounds the House as a whole, certainly those who agree with the supremacy of this elected House, will agree with it.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Francis Pym (Cambridgeshire)
We reject this motion and we reject the arguments of the Leader of the House. He talked about the supremacy of this House. I think that he exaggerated the manifesto argument which has, in some respects, got completely out of hand in our debates. This House recognises the sense in which one could say that it has a certain supremacy, but their Lordships also have a rôle to play within Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman dwelt upon what he described as the late Lord Salisbury's doctrine. He conveniently omitted to add what the late Lord Morrison said, when the 1947 Parliament Act was passed, about the proper rôle of the House of Lords and its rights in sending back Bills or parts of Bills. Unless another place has such rights there is no point in its taking part in debates.
It is unreasonable for the right hon. Gentleman to claim that this motion has been made necessary by the Lords. It has not. What has been made necessary is the reintroduction of the Bill under the Parliament Act. It was never envisaged that the Act would be used in a way that would require a guillotine of such fantastic sharpness to be part of it. The purpose of the Parliament Act was to give Parliament another opportunity to consider a Bill that the Lords, upon reflection on more than one occasion, had deemed to require more consideration. The idea that a procedure like this should be introduced is a novel doctrine. It is wrong, and we disagree with it.
This motion is a double-edged guillotine, seeking to suspend Standing Orders for two different purposes. It is a monster which we have never seen here before. Certainly paragraph (1) of the motion is entirely new. I do not think that anything like it has ever appeared before. I thought that the right hon. Gentleman's explanation was, to say the least, thin, and in no way adequate to so major a departure. The subsection affirms the opinion expressed many months ago, that there should be no delay. Accordingly, it sets aside the Order in relation to 939 hybridity. There is no precedent for this being done in this way. I want to remind the right hon. Gentleman that during our debate on 27th May in defending the motion that he presented to the House, he said:We are making a proposal to deal with it that does not set a precedent for future occasions".That seemed to be a pretty clear indication that the right hon. Gentleman wanted to do it once only. When he was pressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton), the Lord President said:It sets a precedent only if one has exactly similar conditions relating to the two industries concerned."—[Official Report, 27th May 1976; Vol. 912, c. 750–53.]But these are not exactly the same conditions. The hybridity case will be made in detail later by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) and, no doubt, other hon. Members. The Lord President give a clear indication that he would not seek to do anything like this again. Yet, six months later, he is doing exactly the same thing.
Paragraph (2) of the motion has been used before. The right hon. Gentleman quoted the debate on 9th December and the precedents relating to this, but there is one new feature in this motion, in its opening words:in the event of the Bill being read a second time".No such motion has been presented in this way before.
I wish to refer to the changed circumstances that face the House, and the changes which have occurred since the last time we debated the Bill. They are different because, as the Lord President reminded us, on the previous occasion the hybridity question arose at a late stage in the passage of the Bill. That is not the present situation, because we have not yet had the Second Reading.
During the debate on 27th May the Lord President made great play of the fact that the situation was unprecedented, because Standing Order 38 did not envisage that a challenge on the grounds of hybridity could be made so late in the passage of a Bill. The Lord President also made great play of the fact that on Second Reading the House had shown by a large 940 majority that it wanted the Bill, and he claimed that that entirely altered the nature of Standing Order No. 38. That is not the position today. Circumstances are different; we have not yet had the Second Reading.
We must consider whether we are departing from the proper procedures to be followed in the House. We have a procedure relating to hybridity, and the application made by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton was found to contain evidence which required that procedure to be followed and that the Bill should be examined from this point of view in order to safeguard individuals.
The protection in our procedures relating to hybridity is intended to ensure equality and fairness of treatment between one citizen and another and between people in the same class or category. It is a subject that has recurred in our debates over the years.
It has been brought to my attention, Mr. Speaker, that in 1962 one of your predecessors said:I accept the true position to be this, that if it be possible for the view to be taken that this Bill is a Hybrid Bill, it ought to go to the examiners. There must not be a doubt about it."—[Official Report, 10th December 1962; Vol. 669, c. 45.]That is not the procedure that we followed in May this year, when hybridity was discovered at a late stage in the Bill, and the Lord President made great play with that argument then. The position is different today, because the ruling was made by the Clerks only a day or two ago, before Second Reading, and therefore the proper procedures have been set aside.
§ Mr. Norman Tebbit (Chingford)
Another difference is that on the last occasion when this nasty procedure was introduced the Lord President's excuse was that he was going to remove hybridity by amendments to the Bill before we dealt with it fully. On this occasion he knows that the Bill is hybrid and he intends to leave it as hybrid—it is certified as such—and therefore his offence is all the more disgusting.
§ Mr. Pym
There is a great deal in what my hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) says. This is a serious matter, and I want to point 941 out what the Lord President said on 27th May. He then said:I believe that many of our most essential freedoms are intimately linked with the procedures of the House."—[Official Report, 27th May 1976; Vol. 912, c. 748.]He was entirely right to say that, but there is more to it. It is a matter not simply of following our procedures as laid down in Standing Orders but of the operation and execution of them in their spirit as well as their meaning. The Lord President is not even following the words of our Standing Orders and proceedings in this motion; he is setting them aside for his own purposes. I do not think that he is fulfilling his own words that our freedoms are essentially linked with the procedures of the House.
This motion is an abuse of our procedures, our democracy and our Standing Orders. It is totally wrong for the Government even to contemplate it. It concerns me very much that the Lord President, who should speak on behalf of the whole House, should take it upon himself, without consultation or recognition of the view of the official Opposition or anybody else, to set aside our procedures. It is particularly wrong that a Lord President should do this. During debates in the summer, the right hon. Gentleman readily admitted that in a different incarnation he had taken a different point of view—and we remember the passion with which he took it—but the minute he gets into his present job he claims that procedure is a tool in his hand to attack the Opposition and anybody else who disagrees with him, so long as he can carry his own party with him.
That is an abuse of procedure, and completely wrong. It is for the Examiners, not the Government, to decide the hybridity of the Bill. Our procedures say that this is a decision for the Examiners. No argument has been adduced by the Leader of the House in relation to another place or to anything else which justifies his putting down such a severe and vicious double-headed guillotine.
The Government must get their legislation right. If they fail, it is their fault. The details of the hybridity case will be put by my hon. Friends, and the responsibility lies with the Government. They 942 have their Departments and their draftsmen. Their official support does a superb job, but if, every so often, it comes out wrong and a Bill falls foul of our procedures, it is no answer to put down such a motion and expect the House to take a different view because the Government are wrong.
If the Government had not been so greedy, they could have had 80 per cent. of the Bill without any fuss. It is because they wanted it all that they have had to bring it all back, introduce the Parliament Act, break the rules, and expect us to think that nothing extraordinary, wrong or unusual is happening.
The Leader of the House has not acted well in his capacity as guardian of the liberty and responsibilities of the House. I have no hesitation in asking my hon. Friends, as well as hon. Members on the Government Benches, many of whom must be just as uneasy as we are about what is being done here, to reject the motion. We heard many hon. Members on the Government Benches expressing their unease about the Bill earlier this year.
The Government do not have a licence to run this place as they think fit, to vote all our procedures out of the window and to do as they like. What is Parliament all about? I do not like the rules being broken in the middle of the game. The excuse used in May does not apply, because we have not yet had the Second Reading. I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to chuck out the motion.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Robin Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) correctly said, the Government have usurped a function which is not theirs. The function of deciding whether a Bill is hybrid is one entrusted to the Examiners. Once they have decided that a Bill is hybrid, the function of deciding whether we should suspend Standing Orders in respect of that Bill is not one which appertains to the Government—whatever their political complexion. That function appertains to the Standing Orders Committee.
The Government have abrogated unto themselves the judicial function of the Examiners and the advisory function of the Standing Orders Committee.
943 At no stage has the Leader of the House justified to the House why the Examiners, in his view, cannot be trusted to carry out their judicial function or why the Standing Orders Committee cannot be trusted to carry out its important function of advising the House.
The Standing Orders Committee is unique among our Select Committees in being appointed not by Government motion but by the Committee of Selection. It is an important Committee with an important duty to discharge.
The Leader of the House now presumes to take that duty upon his own shoulders. The right hon. Gentleman would not invite the House to believe that he is not partisan. His whole career as Leader of the House has been a shoddy one. He has taken upon himself as a partisan the functions of bodies properly constituted to undertake them on behalf of the House.
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
My hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) is correct.
In the last Session, the House of Lords decided, by a majority so substantial that it would still have existed had no Conservative peers voted, to delete ship repairing from the Bill. One of the most important reasons for that decision was that the Members of another place were convinced not just that the ship repairing section contained one technical hybridity but that it was so peppered with hybridities that there was no way of removing them other than by the removal of the whole ship repairing section.
When the Bill was going through this House and the hybridity was detected, the Government disreputably tried to blame the Clerks and said that they should have spotted it. When the incompetence was pinned on the Government, they pretended that it was only a technical hybridity—just a little baby—and by one dishonest vote they succeeded in passing a motion to prevent the Examiners and the Standing Orders Committee from carrying out their proper functions.
However, notwithstanding the amendment to get rid of the Key Victoria issue, the Bill is still hybrid in a multiplicity of examples in the ship repairing section.
944 Why have the Government refused even now to allow the Bill to go to the Examiners or to the Standing Orders Committee? It is because they know that what I have said is true and they do not wish to have the final judgment of the Examiners confirming their own incompetence or worse—and, alas, it is worse. There has been not just negligence but a deliberate attempt by the Government to conceal relevant information from Parliament and to mislead another place in Written Answers.
First, the Government tried to blame the Clerks. Then they claimed that the hybridity was only a technicality. They then descended to a form of chicanery which should be held in contempt by all hon. Members, albeit it was practised upon another place rather than upon this House.
It was necessary, by tabling many Questions in another place, to ascertain many of the relevant facts both about firms which were included in the list for nationalisation on page 82 of the Bill and about firms which were not included although they fulfilled all the qualifying conditions for inclusion.
There are two distinct categories of hybridity. There are firms included in the list although they do not meet the qualifying conditions and firms not included even though they do meet the qualifying conditions.
This is what hybridity is about. It is when fiddles of this kind are perpetrated that the whole process of legislation and government falls into disrepute. There can be no better example of the deliberate deception and dishonesty of the Government than the correspondence between Tate and Lyle—a holding company which owns Richards (Shipbuilders) Ltd., the Sugar Line Ltd., and Clyde Wharf Limited—and the Department of Industry.
Lord Peart answered Questions in the House of Lords on 6th October 1976 and reference to Richards (Shipbuilders) Limited appears in Lords Hansard in column 1485. Richards (Shipbuilders) Limited fulfils all the qualifying conditions for being taken into public ownership but it has been excluded. Lord Peart said:It follows that Sugar Line Limited was not engaged in the business of repairing, refitting 945 or maintaining ships at the end of that year." —[Official Report, House of Lords; 6th October, 1976, Vol. 374, c. 1486, 1487.]The Group Financial Controller of Tate and Lyle, Mr. N. A. Birrell, wrote to Mr. R. A. Dearing, Deputy Secretary at the Department of Industry on 8th October 1976 as follows:Dear Mr. Dearing,Mr. D. W. Hardy, our Finance Director, wrote to you on 29th September confirming certain facts with regard to the operation of Richards (Shipbuilders) Limited, Sugar Line Limited and Clyde Wharf Limited.It has been drawn to my attention that in Hansard for 6th October 1976 there is the following sentence:'It follows that Sugar Line Limited was not engaged in the business of repairing, refitting or maintaining ships at the end of that year.'In case there should be any misunderstanding we wish to put on record that we, as any other good ship owner, are in the business of maintaining our own ships. I am just writing to you to ensure that the record is straight and I would like to confirm that during the financial year ended 29th September, 1973, the situation was as laid out in our letter to you of 29th September, 1976.Back came a letter from the Government in which they claim the right to conceal the facts and mislead Parliament. [Interruption.] The letter, dated 11 th October 1976, came from Mr. R. A. Dearing at the Department of Industry and was addressed to Mr. N. A. Birrell. It said:Dear Mr. Birrell,Thank you for your letter of 8th October about the passage in Hansard for 6th October which deals with certain aspects of the activities of companies in the Tate and Lyle group.It is certainly understood on our side that the statement made to Parliament that'It follows that Sugar Line Limited was not engaged in the business of repairing, refitting or maintaining ships at the end of that year'is one made on the responsibility of the Department. It was fully understood between us at the meeting that your company was being asked only to provide certain factual information in relation to the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill and it was not a matter on which the company was offering comment; such inferences as were to be drawn would be for the Department to make and justify.In other words Parliament must be denied the facts, and the Government will deliberately mislead Parliament and keep it in ignorance of the facts.
§ The Minister of State, Department of Industry (Mr. Gerald Kaufman)
If the hon. Member refers to the answers in the House of Lords Hansard he will see that Lord Peart makes it clear that the statements of fact are derived from the companies, but the inference is that of the Government. We do not expect the companies to interpret what is in the Bill. The hon. Member is concealing that from the House in order to make a fraudulent point.
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
But the question at issue is this—was the company in business on 31st July 1974 engaged in repairing, refitting or maintaining ships? Does the company meet that qualifying point? The Memorandum of Association of Sugar Line Limited, an associated company, and the company with which we are now concerned, includes this item:The objects for which the company is established are (a) to purchase or otherwise acquire, contract for the building of, equip and maintain and alter ships and vessels, aircraft and land vehicles of every description.In the Memorandum of Association it gives one of the objectives of the company as that of maintaining ships. That is part of its business.
There is nothing in this Bill whatever which says that the business of repairing, refitting or maintaining ships must be the repairing, refitting or maintaining of ships which do not belong to the company concerned. The Government may wish that they had put that in the Bill, but they did not. They have endeavoured to mislead Parliament in a clear case of hybridity so that that hybridity would be concealed from Parliament.
The reason the Hansard of another place is available in the Vote Office of the House of Commons is so that Members of this House can, among other things, see the replies given by Ministers in another place and accept them as if they had been given in this House. The Government have tried a lot of spurious arguments. They have claimed, among other things, that a company is not in the business of repairing or maintaining ships if it repairs, maintains or refits its own ships. But there is nothing to say that in the Bill anywhere. This is a classsic example of a company being wrongly excluded from the Bill—a company which meets all the criteria for 947 inclusion. Naturally the Examiners would have seen that just as clearly as the Public Bill Office did.
There are many examples. The London Graving Dock Company was included in the Bill although it does not, in fact, fulfil the conditions because it was not, on 31st July 1974, engaged in the business of repairing, refitting or maintaining ships. My evidence for saying that is letters from the London Graving Dock itself, and one assumes it would know. The managing director of the company, Mr. Donald S. Crighton, wrote on 21st March 1975 to the then Secretary of State for Industry. His letter said:Dear Mr. Benn,I am writing to you direct as time does not permit an approach through the usual channels.Together with the Boilermaker's Society, this company is endeavouring to decasualise all trades on the London River. This can be achieved by obtaining additional work which is currently available if we had additional investment to create the necessary facilities to construct the submersible pontoons and SPM's etc.The necessary funds could be obtained quickly by disposing of certain non-shiprepairing assets and companies which will not fit the new nationalised corporation. Two years ago we placed our entire ship repairing operation under the control of LGD Ship Repairers Limited; London Graving Dock Company Limited no longer repairs ships.That was on 21st March 1975, yet the Government claim that that firm meets the requirements of the Bill.
On 31st July 1974—which is the date specified in the Bill—the London Graving Dock Co. was not engaged in the business of repairing, refitting or maintaining ships. It therefore does not meet the necessary qualifying condition given at the beginning of the Bill which I quoted.
There is further correspondence between Mr. E. V. Marchant at the Department of Industry, who is replying on behalf of Mr. Wedgwood Benn, and that firm. Writing back again on 8th April 1975 is Mr. F. J. Eaton, the company secretary. He is writing because Mr. Crighton's fellow directors want the company to be nationalised. Mr. Crighton, on the other hand, believes that there is a certain duty of honesty and truth both to the Government and Parliament. The company secretary takes over the task, as Mr. Crighton is not 948 prepared to help pull the wool over the eyes of Parliament. Mr. F. J. Eaton writes a letter to Mr. Marchant at the Department of Industry in which he says in the third paragraph:At the meeting of the board of directors on April 8, 1975 it was recognised that the group contains activities which, when viewed as a whole, fall within the definitions laid down. Included amongst the group are, however, activities which do not fall within that definition. Because of group reorganisations, the activities of the London Graving Dock Co. Ltd. are now in the form of a holding central services company but the company continues to hold title to various assets which are used elsewhere in the group for ship repairing purposes. Thus, neither LGD Ship Repairs Ltd. nor the London Graving Dock Co. Ltd. in isolation appear to satisfy the definitions, but these two companies together with other companies in the group engaged in ship repairing, or closely related activities, which collectively satisfy the definitions. We therefore reply to your numbered paragraphs in the context of the above situation as follows:—1. We believe that the London Graving Dock Co. Ltd. with its other subsidiaries, excluding the Electrical Mechanical Industrial Division comprising Ayrodev Processes Ltd., Ayrodev Processes (U.K.) Ltd., Devroome Developments Ltd., and Ayr Engineering and Constructional Co. Ltd., is the company which most nearly meets the criteria set down.A company does not say that it most nearly meets the criteria if it meets them.
Clearly, the managing director having been forbidden by his board to communicate truth to the Department, and the secretary of the Company having been given the job of trying to accommodate the Department to back up this untruthful representation to Parliament, we get this unhappy situation that, even when given that task, the secretary has to say not that the company has met the conditions laid down in the Bill but that it is the company which most nearly meets the criteria set down.
I turn to Westminster Dredging Co. Ltd., which meets all the criteria in the Bill but is not included in the list to be found on page 82. The Government say that it does not fulfil the qualifying condition (a), because it was not engaged in the business of repairing, refitting or maintaining ships for the following reasons. The first given is that the company has from time to time carried out repairs of its own vessels. Certainly it has, but that brings it into the Bill, it does not exclude it.
949 The second reason given is that on rare and irregular occasions it performs repair work on pontoon vessels for one fellow member of the same group. Indeed it did, but that again brings it into the Bill.
Thirdly, the Government say that this work was done on a non-profit-making basis. There is nothing in the Bill which says that a business has to be making profits. If it were a requirement for a firm to be profitable before it is taken into public ownership, Scott Lithgow—and indeed most of the names—would not be found on pages 81 and 82 of the Bill. That clearly is not one of the conditions.
Fourthly, the Government say that it was not in any way a separate business. The Bill does not require that it should be a separate business.
Fifthly, the Government say that its principal activity is and was dredging and land reclamation. So it may well be, but the Bill does not require that the maintaining, refitting or repairing of ships should be the principal business.
Sixthly, the Government say that the company did not at any time hold itself out to be or regard itself as a ship repairer. Nowhere in the Bill does it say that it has to hold itself out as being a ship repairer.
Let us look at the Memorandum of Association of the Westminster Dredging Co. Ltd., item 3 of which reads as follows:1. To carry on the business of dredging and general contractors, builders, mechanical, electrical and civil engineers, manufacturers of machinery, lightermen, ship and boat owners, builders and hirers, wharfingers, quarry masters and owners, cement manufacturers, cement and timber merchants, miners, mine owners … builders and repairers of all kinds of ships and craft".If the Government consider that the Memorandum of Association is totally irrelevant, it can only be because they have not read it—and hope that the House has not read it, in which they are mistaken.
As to it being a firm repairing only its own vessels, between 27th July and 9th August 1972 it repaired the dredger "Savik" belonging to the borough of Preston, as the Clerk of Preston Council has certified. As for the company not holding itself out as being in the repair 950 business, the Clerk of Preston Council has confirmed that his council, as others, cannot put out work of this kind except by tender. It was indeed put out by tender.
Between 19th and 28th November 1973 the cargo ship "Vilya" belonging to Coronet Shipping was repaired. Between 10th and 17th May 1974 the tanker "Humeranto", belonging to C. W. van Meel, was repaired. Evidently the Preston Council was a satisfied customer, because between 19th and 24th March 1975 it came back again with a dredger called "Robert Weir".
Even if it is relevant, which it is not, for the Government to claimFor the purposes of paragraph 1 above a company is a ship repairing company if— (a) on 31st July 1974 it was engaged in the business of repairing, refitting or maintaining shipsthere is no question whatever but that the Westminster Dredging Co. Ltd. is wrongly excluded from the Bill, because it does not appear in the list on page 82 although it meets the requirements.
It is no part of my case that the Government should have sought to take into public ownership certain firms that they are not seeking to take into public ownership in the Bill, or that they should not have taken into public ownership via the Bill certain firms that met the qualifying conditions. They were entitled to do any of those things if they had written into the Bill the necessary criteria. In fact, the Government have misdrafted the Bill so badly that its criteria includes firms that they do not want to nationalise as well as firms that they want to nationalise. They have arbitrarily stuck the firms in the list in page 22, or excluded them from that list. That is the kindest way of putting it.
We shall never know what went on behind the scenes. Parliament will never know what deals were done by the Government to exclude certain firms despite the fact that they fall within the criteria or to include other firms despite the fact that they do not fall within them. We shall never know what deals the Government did, nor shall we know why they included firms that did not meet the criteria and excluded those that met them. All we know is that they included firms in the list in page 82 that do not meet the criteria and excluded firms that do 951 meet them. That is the essence of hybridity. Refusal to face that fact is the godfather of corruption.
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
The institutions of the Examiner, the Standing Orders Committee and the Select Committee are the vehicles for ensuring that nothing improper takes place. Those are the institutions that have been set up by Parliament over many years to ensure that the taint of corruption is absent from Government. By cutting away those three instruments that were set up for the avoidance of corruption and the taint of corruption, the Government have taken upon themselves to do these shady and improper things. They have done so by avoiding the instruments that Parliament itself set up so that this sort of thing should not happen.
That is why all Members owe it to themselves to ensure that the instruments that Parliament has appointed—namely, the Examiner, the Standing Orders Committee and the Select Committee, or, exceptionally, a Joint Committee of the two Houses—are allowed to function so that legislation can be seen to be above board, honest and absent from dirty dealings behind the scenes. The Government, by cutting out these instruments, if the motion is passed, are asking Parliament to do a disgraceful thing to itself. I trust that it will not do so.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrewshire, West)
I had no intention of speaking in this debate when I entered the Chamber, but, having listened to the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) and the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop), I feel obliged to do so.
It is an honourable tradition in this House to pursue detail, even nitpicking detail, in the defence of freedom and liberty. History is full of individuals who have pursued constitutional point after constitutional point to ensure that we legislate properly in the interests of freedom and liberty. It is an honourable tradition for Members of this place to focus their attention on a particular subject and to make a reputable public name for themselves on that one issue. How- 952 ever, what has taken place this afternoon has little to do with freedom and liberty. In this context there is no individual facing unjust treatment.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)
Order. Perhaps the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) will not pause in his speech when he hears what is clearly a remark from a Member in a sedentary position.
§ Mr. Buchan
When interjections are made with sufficient loudness it is difficult to avoid hearing them, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) referred to Hitler. Earlier, the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) made a reference to Mussolini. Those comparisons have been made.
I repeat that it is an honourable tradition to fight in the interests of freedom and liberty to defend the poor and the oppressed, but we are witnessing a campaign that has been undertaken in the interests of a conspiracy between the reactionary elements in this place and those in another place. Of course, there is a case for reactionaries to be Members of this place. That is part of our democratic tradition too. They have that right, and the people have a right to elect them. There is a conspiracy between the reactionary elements and members of an unelected, privileged and unrepresentative body.
We have been told that the Bill is peppered with hybridity. Those who make that claim took a long time to make the discovery. They made it during the dying stages of the Bill. They have used every possible method to hold back the Bill, defeat it and wreck it. They have continued with that campaign, and now we are told that the Bill is peppered with hybridity. I can recognise a sieve or a colander when I see it, but if the Bill is so full of holes as Opposition Members suggest, the scrutiny that they gave it originally must have been extremely poor. In fact, that suggestion is a nonsense, and Opposition Members know it.
953 We are now told by the hon. Member for Tiverton, who has left his place, that the Government have behaved disgracefully. He accuses the House. No doubt he will remember that the House, by a majority, supported the Government. We are now seeking by a third method to try to get the Bill through.
I remember that four years ago the House discussed a measure affecting the freedoms, liberties and democratic rights of the House and the Government. The right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire was the Government Chief Whip when that was done. That measure was not discussed on Report. No amendments were accepted. The guillotine was used. That was the greatest invasion of the sovereign democratic rights of the British people that we have ever seen. That Act was conducted under the generalship of the right hon. Gentleman, who now has the impertinence to attack us. I am dubious therefore about the Opposition's motivation.
Incidentally, the House of Lords has not leapt to the attack to protect the poor or the oppressed whose liberty is at stake, but it has acted now in the defence of certain interests by claiming to find hybridity. Its actions have been prompted by a desire to try to wreck the Bill. It excluded a whole section of the Bill. That is how it has acted. That is the same House of Lords that did not introduce a single amendment to the European Communities Bill, notwithstanding its destruction of the democratic powers of this place. There was no attempt by their Lordships to try to defend the democratic structures of this place or this country.
Do not let the people at the other end of the corridor preach to us about constitutional rights. They clearly preach to Conservative Members because they come to this place like lapdogs and lackeys to reproduce the arguments. The unholy conspiracy of the Tory Party, the SNP and the House of Lords is threatening the democratic position of the majority of the British people.
There are grave issues involved. The people on Clydeside, the area from which I come, do not appreciate this sort of nitpicking in defence of business interests. We have already seen the first result of the nitpicking with the closure of the 954 Stephens Yard. Between 200 and 300 men have been thrown out of work in the past week. That is the result of the behaviour of the SNP, the Tory Party and the House of Lords.
§ Mr. Buchan
I always try to tell the truth. When I am faulted in the truth by the Scottish National Party, I shall indeed be in deadly trouble. The SNP has lied its way in propaganda in Scotland for five years, I am repeating the words of the leader of the workers, Jimmy Ramsay, who attributed the blame for the closure directly to there being no means of having the yard taken over by another. That is the truth. It has nothing to do with whether it was in the Bill or not. That was the first sacrifice, the first victim, of the failure to get the Bill through.
The jobs of tens of thousands of other workers are at stake as a result of what has happened. If I am asked to chose between the well-being of the people at the other end of the corridor in the House of Lords and the well-being of the people on Clydeside, I choose the latter. That is the issue at stake.
If there were one individual whose liberty or freedom was at stake or who was being oppressed by this action, I should listen with more respect to the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire and the hon. Member for Tiverton. I respect the hon. Gentleman for having raised this matter. That is the way in which we should work. But, having raised it, it is for this House to examine it and to decide democratically how we should proceed.
I am told that we are going against the democratic structures of this place because we have various Committees whose task it is to defend our rights or to look at the hybridity with which the Bill is supposed to be peppered. But those Committees are not of themselves the institutions to protect us against corruption and to ensure that nothing improper takes place. On the contrary, they are Committees whose purpose is to serve this House. It is we who ensure that nothing improper taks place.
What we are doing today is properly to establish the priority of the position 955 of this House and the Floor of this House in regard to the institutions within it. That is what we are doing and that is what we should be doing. We have had enough of the hypocritical humbug and rubbish which has come from the Opposition. I have nothing but contempt for this excuse for holding up the passage of the Bill, because it is sacrificing the livelihoods of thousands of workers whom I represent.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
I should like to make two brief observations to the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan), to whom I always listen with interest, though by no means always with agreement.
First, the persuasiveness of argument is often in inverse ratio to the intemperance of the language used to advance it. Secondly, one cannot or should not be selective in the application of the protection of the law and the freedom which it provides. One may not pick and choose and say "To this man I shall accord it, because I like his views" and "To that man I shall deny it, because I do not like his views." That is a denial of freedom which I am sure that, on reflection, the hon. Gentleman would not wish to pursue.
I am grateful for the opportunity of adding a word on this latest instalment of the sad and squalid saga of the Government's efforts to deny to Parliament and people the procedures and protection which the law provides for Hybrid Bills. I should make clear that my pejorative epithets apply only to the Government's action. As a compensating factor, the matter has evoked a commendable display of energy, industry and resolve on the part of many Members of both Houses and of all parties.
Events have taken a predictable course. Nobody who has studied the facts and the unsatisfactory explanations and purported justifications of Ministers in another place in the last two months could have expected any finding other than one of prima facie hybridity with the consequential application of Standing Order No. 38 and reference to the examiners.
956 Equally predictable was the Government's reaction in the face of the clear facts of the situation. Nobody who has studied the pattern of their conduct on the Bill could have expected, to what ever dwindling hopes they might cling any action by the Government other than resort to every expedient, however constitutionally disreputable, that might help them to evade the duties which the law and practice of Parliament lay upon them.
Therefore, we have this predictable situation: an order of the House for the examination of the Bill under Standing Order No. 38 based on fact and reason and the Government's effort to suppress it, deriving from a compound of obstinacy, ignorance and authoritarianism.
On 8th November last, as may be seen in columns 105 to 107 in Hansard, I drew attention to the fact that, following a series of exploratory questions in the House of Lords, a clear case had been made out for hybridity in the ship repairing provisions of the Bill. I said that a full and proper opportunity for debate should be provided for the proper investigation of the matter, which was clearly impossible under the proposed guillotine procedure. That was right and it is now proved to be so. Equally my plea fell on deaf ears within the Government.
Of course, on the facts now established the ship repairing provisions make this a Hybrid Bill. I say "the facts now established" because only patient and persevering interrogation by certain noble Lords has wrung from a reluctant Government the facts which they were under a positive and peremptory duty to ascertain and present to Mr. Speaker before asking for a Second Reading in the last Session. The Government have failed in their duty, but the other House has done its duty conscientiously and well.
Of course the Bill is a hybrid. The case or ship repairing is even clearer and more cogent than the case on shipbuilding in the last Session. Then it was a case of one ship and one yard. Now we have a cloud of witnesses, an accumulation of contradictions, and a diversity of disparity of treatment of private interests, which add up to what lawyers call an open and shut case.
957 The definition of a Hybrid Bill given by a former Speaker is:A Public Bill which affects a particular private interest in a manner different from the private interests of other persons or bodies of the same category or class.In the ship repairing provisions we have a double dose of hybridity. Some companies have been excluded which, on a proper understanding and application of the qualifying conditions, should have been omitted. Others have been omitted which, on those conditions, should be included. My hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop), in a very full and comprehensive speech, referred to some of those companies.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
It is an open and shut case when the facts are known. If the Bill goes back to the other place in this form—if this motion succeeds, contrary to all the merits—no doubt that course will be taken in the other place.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
Because it felt that the Bill failed as a Bill in any event, and it does. The right hon. Gentleman—perhaps I may have his attention; he had mine—must try to be logical about this matter. The fact that there is one vice in the Bill does not prevent there being another vice. It has two vices. It is bad in its content and it is a hybrid. Those are not mutually exclusive. Unfortunately, they are cumulative vices in this single Bill.
§ Mr. Foot
I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for permitting me to intervene a third time. That might have been the view of the House of Lords on the first or second occasion. but when the Bill went back for the 958 third time, surely they might then have said that the question of hybridity might be raised in one form or another. Surely at some stage, if it was so unfair a proposal, the House of Lords should have taken action.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
Of course the question of hybridity was canvassed in the House of Lords and I have referred to it. Surely the Leader of the House is not suggesting that because something has not been done in the House of Lords it cannot be done here.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I shall give way to the right hon. Gentleman when I come to a semi-colon.
It is paradoxical that the right hon. Gentleman, who makes such scathing indictments of the other place, and who, at any rate in those now seemingly dim and distant days before he assumed the office of Leader of the House, was a great guardian of the rights of this House, now says that because this was not dealt with in another place this House is estopped from doing its duty.
§ Mr. Foot
I am not suggesting that this House is stopped. My intervention arose from the right hon. Gentleman saying that there was an open and shut case of hybridity. If the case was as open and shut as he claims, why did the House of Lords fail to refer the matter to the Examiners so that the so-called open and shut case could be dealt with? Perhaps they did not agree that it was an open and shut case.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
The right hon. Gentleman and I are unable to interpret the minds of the Members of the House of Lords. Perhaps the House of Lords thought that this democratically elected House should be given an opportunity to do in this Session what the arbitrary conduct of the Leader of the House prevented it from doing in the last Session.
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for giving way. Was not the reason most probably that, as the House of Lords had decided to cut out by amendment the section on ship repairing, it believed that if it had referred to it to the Examiners —which would have taken several weeks—the same Leader of the House who 959 castigates it for not referring the matter would have said that it was using a procedural device to waste time?
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
That somewhat melancholy interpretation of the thinking of the Leader of the House is all too likely to be true.
I was about to refer to some of the companies that are or may be wrongly included—London Graving Dock; J. B. Howie and Western Ship Repairers. Those that may or have been wrongly omitted are Westminster Dredging, Richards, Humber St. Andrews and Helyer Bros.
There are three qualifying conditions in the schedule. The first relates to the business of repairing and fitting of ships, the second to having an interest in possession or licence to occupy, and the third to the turnover. The Government have had the dubious distinction of making mistakes on each and every one of those conditions in respect of the wrongful inclusion or omission of companies. On each of them the Government have, to use the polite language of law, misdirected themselves. Time forbids a full analysis of the unconvincing contentions and uneasy equivocations deployed by Ministers in the House of Lords on 14th October and 16th November.
Suffice it to say that they included a misapprehension as to the meaning of the wordsengaged in the business of repairing, refitting or maintaining".Ministers seem to think that it means "solely or primarily engaged". It does not. If it did it would have been easy to draft the Bill to make that clear. This test is applied where it is meant to be applied in several statutes. I recommend the Government, as persistent and importunate borrowers, to examine, for an example, the Moneylenders Act.
Ministers then sought to introduce a criterion not expressed in the Bill at all—that certain activity was to be disregarded because it was said to be non-profit making. There is no warrant for the Government to graft on to the law things that are not there. The Government have a bee in their bonnet about profits and nonprofits, but I did not realise that it buzzed so frenetically and inconsequentially as as that.
960 In regard to condition (b) Ministers in the other House advance the startling proposition that a company engaged in substantial work of repair at a material date, did not have aninterest in possession or licence to occupy a dry dock or graving dock.In an effort to get away from the clear meaning of condition (a) the Minister in the House of Lords dragged in the improbable analogy of the activities of a laundry. I would have thought that the Government had enough dirty linen to wash already. They even mentioned land reclamation, which awakened some echoes on these Benches.
The Bill is patently hybrid. It applies different treatment to private concerns which are similarly circumstanced. Those concerns should, therefore, have the rights and remedies which the law allows. The protective procedures should be followed according to precedent. Why should they not? The Government say that there should be no delay. This is a cardinal recipe for the subversion of the rule of law and the erosion of democratic procedures. It begs the question of merit. The Government's motion assumes that prompt action is desirable, whatever its nature and content. I see that the Minister nods his head.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I was nodding in agreement with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. The right hon. and learned Gentleman should take nothing for granted.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman, whom we normally regard as a very courteous Member, should be convicted by his colleague of discourtesy in talking during the proceedings.
The Government motion assumes that prompt action is desirable whatever its nature and content, and that speedy progress is desirable whatever its direction. That is not so. If it were, the best example of prompt action would be that of the Gadarene swine. There is no doubt about their sense of urgency or their preconceived and dogmatic choice of direction.
The true reason, of course, for the Government's indefensible proposal is the knowledge of the weakness of their 961 own case. They do not trust the procedures which Parliament, in its wisdom, has evolved for safeguarding the citizen and protecting his rights.
We can test it by an analysis of the procedures and see the various stages at which, and the various grounds on which, a Government may be entitled to proceed with a Bill as a Public Bill, provided always that their case is a good one, and only then.
Let us take the position as we now have it, with the Order inscribed in the Votes and Proceedings of the House and a duty laid on the Examiners the discharge of which is a condition precedent to the Second Reading of the Bill. What is that duty? It isTo examine the Bill with respect to the applicability thereto of Standing Orders relating to Private Business.Those Standing Orders are Standing Orders Nos. 4 to 68 inclusive in the Private Business Standing Orders. That we see in Standing Order No. 224.
If the Examiners report that none of those Standing Orders, compliance with which in a Private Bill would have to be proved before it is applicable, in fact applies, then it proceeds as an ordinary Public Bill. In that case, the wraps are off. The Bill can proceed to a Second Reading with a minimum of delay.
That is the first possibility that would present itself to a Government with the confidence that comes from a clear conscience, knowing that both sides, they and the Petitioners, would have a right of representation to the Examiners as provided by Standing Order No. 224.
But then, if the Examiners ruled otherwise—if they report non-compliance with the Standing Orders applicable to the Bill—their report is referred to the Standing Orders Committee. That, as you will know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is a very reputable and responsible body indeed, consisting of the Chairman of Ways and Means, the Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means and eight Members nominated by the Committee of Selection. That we see in Standing Order No. 103.
In spite of non-compliance, that Committee can report to the House that the Standing Orders should be dispensed with and the Bill allowed to proceed, on specified terms and conditions if need be.
962 That is the second possibility that would present itself to a Government with the confidence that comes from a clear conscience.
If the Government had a good case and a good conscience, they would rely upon these procedures, under which both they and the Petitioners would have a right of audience and representation in what is in effect a quasi-judicial proceeding. That we find in Standing Order No. 107. But no, they refuse those opportunities. They seek to reject the prescribed procedures and to deny them to citizens concerned.
There can be only one explanation. Ministers fear those objective and constitutional procedures. They fear the result of applying them. They fear that the right to petition, once exercised, would reveal beyond the peradventure the unfairnesses and illogicality of their approach and the invalidity of the Government's case.
We are not here concerned only with the pros and cons of nationalisation, important as that is. I accept that Labour Members have a belief, profound and sincere, in the efficacy of nationalisation. I do not share it, but I respect it. On that I say only this. The fact that we operate a mixed economy in this country should remove the question from the realm of general dogma to that of particular pragmatic proof—but such proof cannot derive from a Bill that is as defective in its drafting as this one.
However, we are not concerned only with these economic matters, important as they undoubtedly are. We are concerned with the preservation of the practices and processes, the procedures and protection, bestowed by democratic institutions on a free society. These are fundamental things. The detail of these matters may be dry, but there is nothing arid about the observance of the rule of law. It is a vital part of our way of life, and once lost can rarely be made good.
The motion involves a substantial erosion of democratic rights and a violation of constitutional proprieties. I should regret the presentation and passage of such a motion in any assembly of free men. To contemplate it here in this House of Commons, which I have known 963 and loved for 10 Parliaments and three decades, makes me sad indeed.
I say this in conclusion to the Government. Their case is weak and their motives suspect. I give them this warning. Do not underestimate the percipience of the British people. The British people will neither readily forgive nor speedly forget a party and a Government who use their transient position of political power to take from the citizens his rights and to filch from the nation its liberties.
§ Mr. Ridley
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You will have heard the case put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) to the effect that there is a hybrid element in the Bill. On the last occasion that we discussed such a motion as is before the House now, in May, the House was asked to come to a conclusion on the motion having had Mr. Speaker's ruling that there was indeed a prima facie case of hybridity in the Bill at that time. I believe that it would facilitate the House in coming to a conclusion on the present motion of Mr. Speaker were to rule whether there is a prima facie hybridity in the Bill.
I am, therefore, making formal application to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that either you or Mr. Speaker should give to the House a ruling on the submissions put forward by my hon. Friend and by my right hon. and learned Friend on the point about hybridity before the House is asked to come to a conclusion, because this would clearly greatly affect the way in which many hon. Members wish to cast their votes.
The right hon. Gentleman the Lord President has expressed it as his firm opinion that the Bill is not hybrid, but if he were to be told that the Bill was hybrid, presumably he would, as a man of honour, vote immediately against his own motion. I therefore believe that it is right for me officially to ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to ask Mr. Speaker to rule on the point raised by my hon. Friend before the House is asked to come to a conclusion later this evening.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I have listened most carefully to the point of order 964 raised by the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley). I have listened as hon. Members will have noticed, with keen interest to the speeches of the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) and the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith). From listening to the arguments, it seems remarkable to me that neither of them raised the point of order that the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury has raised, because I think that they have made a detailed study of the whole position. In any case, in my opinion—and this is how I rule—this is entirely a matter for decision by the House itself.
§ Mr. Ridley
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am grateful of what you have said, but perhaps I may suggest that the matter is not one for decision by the House itself because Mr. Speaker has a right and proper duty to rule when a submission is put to him that a Bill is hybrid. The precedent for this is very real and true, in that Mr. Speaker ruled in just that way on a previous occasion on this very Bill. I do not believe that it is at all right to say that the House will resolve the question of hybridity by deciding on the motion, because the House may well come to a different conclusion if Mr. Speaker has ruled that prima facie it is a Hybrid Bill or if he has ruled that it is not.
Therefore, it seems wrong, I suggest, with the greatest respect, to say that this is a matter for the House to decide, when the House would be facilitated in that decision if Mr. Speaker were to give his ruling.
§ Mr. Foot
Perhaps I may say, in relation to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that if there had been anything improper about our motion on the Order Paper, this would have been indicated by Mr. Speaker and the authorities of the House when the motion was put down. There was clearly nothing out of order about it. The House has the full right to decide the matter. Therefore, the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), despite his great knowledge of these matters, is misinforming the House in suggesting that it is not the business of the House to decide the matter but the business of Mr. Speaker.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
We shall get bogged down if I hear too many angles on a point of order. I shall deal with the point of order that has been raised.
The second point of order raised by the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury is based on a misunderstanding of what happened on the last occasion when Mr. Speaker gave his ruling. Mr. Speaker gave his ruling on hybridity after the Second Reading of the Bill. The situation is entirely different this afternoon. I see that the hon. Member for Tiverton is agreeing with me wholeheartedly. I think that if I were called upon to make a choice between the views of the hon. Member for Tiverton and those in the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury, I would always select the views of the hon. Member for Tiverton. There is a fundamental difference between the situation when Mr. Speaker gave his ruling and today. The occupant of the Chair has to give a ruling, and my ruling is that this is a matter for the House.
§ Mr. Tebbit
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I think that the Chair, the House and particularly the Lord President should be clear that the matter before the House is not that of deciding whether the Bill is hybrid. The House cannot take that decision. The matter before the House is to decide whether the hybrid Bill will be treated as though it were not a hybrid Bill, and those two matters are different.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
We have a lot of business to do and it will help if we can get on with it. I have given a ruling and I feel that I have to stick to it. However, I call the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) to raise his point of order.
§ Mr. Onslow
Perhaps it will save time if I put the point of order. It seems to 966 me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that on reflection you will consider it unfortunate that the Chair should reflect upon the value of opinions held by individual Members, even on such a subject as matters of order. I put it to you that what you said about my hon. Friends the Members for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) and Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), was something which, on the whole, you would not care to put down as a ruling.
§ Mr. Ridley
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I agree with you about your relative selection as between myself and my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton but I should like to draw your attention to the point that although on the last occasion the Bill had had a Second Reading, on this occasion it has had only its First Reading. Whether it has had a Second Reading as opposed to its First Reading seems to be relevant. After all, hon. Members on this side of the House, particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton, have been chided continually for being so late to discover hybridity on the last occasion. As the Bill has been challenged as to its hybrid nature on the first day after its First Reading, my hon. Friend is trying to rectify the defect of which he was accused on the last occasion. Surely it is right and proper that, through you, I can ask Mr. Speaker to give a ruling whether the Bill, which has had its First Reading in this House, is prima facie a hybrid Bill. If it is, it will affect the way in which hon. Members vote.
§ Mr. John Gorst (Hendon, North)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I should like to emphasise a unique aspect of the situation, namely, that when we get to the Second Reading of the Bill we shall not be in a position to do anything about the motion which embraces the fact of hybridity. That is an added reason for suggesting that perhaps my hon. Friend has a point for your consideration.
§ Mr. Crouch
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I think that this is a serious moment and that the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. 967 Ridley) is important. I, like my hon. Friend, have sat through the whole debate and heard the deep and thoughtful speeches of my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) in which they advanced revealing and telling arguments to show that without question and without a shadow of doubt the Bill is a hybrid measure. My hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury has put it to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that, in view of such revelations and the complete failure of the Leader of the House to deal with those matters and rebut them, it would save the House a great deal of time if the matter were referred to Mr. Speaker for a ruling. I strongly support the application.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I respectfully submit that a great deal of time would be saved if hon. Members would read the terms of the motion, because that provides complete guidance on what the debate is about. The debate is about whether the matter should be referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills. That is what we are discussing, and no ruling is required from Mr. Speaker.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivor Clemitson (Luton, East)
The hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) accused the Government of a whole series of misdemeanours, if not heinous crimes. There were so many that I ran out of paper trying to write them down. I noted cowardice, deception, corruption and dirty dealing occurring during his speech as accusations against the Government with regard to their behaviour on this Bill. Indeed, by the end of his speech the burglars of Watergate and the plumbers of the White House appeared as knights in shining armour by comparison.
Let us get back to the points at issue, particularly the question of Standing Order No. 38 to which the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) referred. We went over this argument several times during the last Session, but I hope that the House will forgive me for spending a couple of minutes on repeating the 968 point that Standing Order No. 38 refers only to raising the question of hybridity before the Second Reading.
In the last Session the Opposition were trying to raise the question of hybridity after the Second Reading, and from this side of the House we argued—and I argued this on a couple of occasions —that because Standing Order No. 38 referred only to the time before the Second Reading of a Bill, the clear implication was that if the matter of hybridity was not raised before the Second Reading, that issue was out of time. If that were not so, the Standing Orders would provide for the possibility of hybridity being raised and considered at subsequent stages of a Bill after the Second Reading. No one from the Opposition Benches could produce a single precedent of hybridity being raised successfully after the Second Reading of a Bill.
The situation today is that we have a Bill—effectively the same Bill as before —which has been through every stage of the procedures of the House at exhaustive and, indeed, in the case of those hon. Members who were on the Committee exhausting length. We are dealing with what the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East called law, or the rules, the Standing Orders, and the precedents about hybridity. The argument from the Opposition Benches can only be that we have gone back to square one and therefore yet another bite can be had at the hybridity cherry. But we are clearly not going back to square one, because if it is argued that that is what we are doing that is to ignore completely the hundreds of hours of debate on the Bill during the last Session of Parliament.
We know why we are in the position of having to bring the Bill forward in this Session. It is because of the action of the House of Lords.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
The hon. Gentleman has recalled the exchanges that we had in the summer. I well recall the interesting speech that he made and the interesting argument he adduced. I subsequently replied to that in The Times newspaper, as the hon. Gentleman will remember, on 4th June and dealt with the argument that it was possible to do this after Second Reading. The hon. 969 Gentleman will appreciate that we are now faced with an entirely different situation. The fallacy of his present argument is that, if it were so, it would not be necessary for the Bill to be read a Second time at all. Standing Order 38 says:Where a public bill (not being a Bill to confirm a provisional order or certificate) is ordered to be read a second time on a future day".That is precisely the set of circumstances that we have here today.
§ Mr. Clemitson
I can only say in reply —I do not wish to score cheap debating points—that a different interpretation of the hybridity situation is now being offered. The Opposition are now agreeing with the interpretation of the Standing Orders which we argued last Session. During the debates on procedure last session we continually argued that the only relevant Standing Order was Standing Order No. 38 and that it dealt only with the situation before the Second Reading. Technically we now have a situation where we are in the position of being before the Second Reading but we are also in the situation—this must surely be taken into account—of having a Bill before us because of the application of the Parliament Act. That is a very different situation from the one envisaged in Standing Order No. 38.
The hon. Member for Tiverton said that the Bill is peppered with hybridity. The question that inevitably arises in certain sceptical and suspicious minds on this side of the Chamber is: why were these issues not raised before? We heard about the Key Victoria—that peculiar looking vessel—in the last Session but now there is an argument about ship repairing. No doubt the list will be added to day by day. We await the news with interest.
Why were these issues not originally raised last session before the Second Reading?
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
When I raised the matter in debate I said that the external facts, not printed in the Bill, on which hybridity depended—the Key Victoria being on the slipway—were not known by hon. Members of this House before Second Reading. As soon as it was known I raised it with Mr. Speaker. Similarly, I had not been through the accounts of Westminster Dredging and I 970 did not know what ships they were or were not repairing on a certain date. Those facts could not be ascertained even by reading the Bill a million times. They were external facts which could be discovered only by people taking a good look and seeing what they found out.
§ Mr. Clemitson
Those facts were known perfectly well by the companies concerned. Are we to believe that those companies are poor little companies with no facilities and no legal and expert advisers? That is stretching the bounds of our credulity to impossible lengths.
§ Mr. Onslow
I have a feeling that the hon. Gentleman was not present when all these matters were explained. It is a matter of fact that one of the companies clearly wanted to be nationalised, knew that it could not qualify under the Bill, and kept its mouth shut. That is not stretching the bounds of credulity. It is a fact.
§ Mr. Clemitson
Perhaps I might get on with my argument. [An HON. MEMBER: "You have lost it."] The argument is not lost. As Sydney Smith said, we are obviously arguing from different premises. We are on different sides of the House if not on different sides of the street. These facts were known by people—[An HON. MEMBER: "They were hushed up."] They were not hushed up. They were well known to many people who were intimately concerned with the Bill and its effects. It was up to them to raise these matters. They have the benefit of expert advice.
I would make a comparison that I have made before. Hon. Members of this House know about problems which affect ordinary people concerning the immensely complex social security legislation that we pass through this House. All of us have come across people who have been told "I am sorry, you cannot have sickness or unemployment benefit or even redundancy payment because you are out of time. You ought to have known that the onus of knowing what your rights are, and what you should do, is on you." That is said to people without the benefit of expert legal advice. But we are not talking about individuals in this case. We are talking about large powerful companies with plenty of expertise, legal and otherwise, at their disposal.
971 The original Key Victoria attempt to raise hybridity was an attempt by the Opposition to get a second bite at the cherry. But the Opposition knew very well that according to the rules and precedents they were out of time. Not content with trying to get a second bite at the cherry, they are now trying to get yet another bite. The Government are not attempting to rewrite the rules or break them. It has been the Opposition who continually throughout the passage of the Bill have attempted to bend the rules to their own ends. I ask with what objective.
§ Mr. Clemitson
I am sorry, I have given way many times and I am literally on the last sentence of my speech.
§ Mr. Clemitson
Is the Opposition's objective really to achieve justice and equity or is it to wreck the Bill?
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Wainwright (Colne Valley)
Knowingly or unknowingly the hon. Member for Luton, East (Mr. Clemitson) may have blown the gaff on the Government's extraordinary conduct on the probable hybridity of this Bill. It may have been that the Government—unless there has been gigantic incompetence—were made aware of the serious risks of hybridity in the Bill at the beginning. It may have been that the Government were banking on the interpretation of Standing Order 38 which the hon. Member for Luton, East has so persistently upheld. The Government may well have said to themselves that there was a great risk of hybridity, but that by the time the Opposition parties found out what was going on it would be too late for them and Standing Order 38 would not enable them to raise the matter. That is a possible interpretation of what, to me, is still a rather unpleasant mystery.
Only a vandal would deliberately disturb, or attempt to disturb, the reverence which earlier this afternoon the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) showed for the late noble marquess from Hatfield House. This was a partnership of authoritarians in their different 972 spheres. It quite often occurs in British politics and transcends other differences of political philosophy. These people say "It must be done my way", they lay down the law, and they expect people in the middle of the political spectrum to bow down and agree. All that I ask, without disturbing that touching reverence, is that the utterance of the late noble marquess should be seen in a historical context, as any sixth former writing an essay on the subject would be adjured to do.
When the noble marquess made this great deliverance on the subject of how far the other place should go, he was doing so at a time when, in terms of voting numbers, General Elections were substantially two-party affairs and where it was, therefore, in a two-party situation, inevitable that the party which won power would have if not more than 50 per cent. of the vote at any rate a figure approaching 50 per cent. Certainly the noble marquess cannot have visualised the situation in which an important measure would be introduced by a party which obtained only 28 per cent. of the votes of those on the register. This is a fundamental point of democracy.
Furthermore, it is unlikely that the noble marquess, who grew up in a tradition of rather more efficient draftsmanship and more careful legislation, ever envisaged that an important manifesto point would be embodied in such highly defective legislation. He would never have imagined that a Government in this country would come forward with a measure reeking of hybridity in the hope that this would not be discovered until it was too late to raise the matter. Therefore, it is inappropriate for us to be lectured today by the Leader of the House in terms of the late noble marquess, who was in his time a great statesman.
We are confronted with a more than unworthy attempt to abandon a traditional and extremely important arrangement whereby private interests, if they feel that they are being unevenly treated by a Bill, are entitled to be properly heard by a Committee of this House.
What I personally resent most is the suggestion that they can legitimately be deprived of this most important right either because they are not terribly important victims—that was the unworthy 973 assertion of the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan), who said that they were not martyrs who were about to be carted off to prison, as if that were the test—or because it is rather late in the day that this has been discovered. If either of those assertions were ever widely accepted in this House it would be the beginning of the end of any kind of meaningful freedom.
The idea that on a complicated issue of this kind, when the House is breaking completely new ground in nationalising four manufacturing industries of great complexity, there must be a time limit, as though one were claiming sickness benefit, is a monstrous assertion. This is the way that liberties perish. Everyone begins by saying how important they are and how he would go to the stake to defend them, but then turns to a specific case and says that it is a most unworthy one and not the kind of case he had in mind at all. It is unfortunate that that sort of argument has been adduced today.
If we were tamely to give way to this bulldozing procedure for the second time this year we would be setting an unfortunate precedent which would undermine the faith which a large number of worthy private interests of all sorts have in the proper procedures of this House.
I turn now to the other part of the motion. Again, it would be disreputable of this House to pass a motion to carry a Bill virtually to its final stage without the opportunity for debate on it. Under the present system there are in this House parties which, despite having very strong voting support in great areas of the country, have no representatives of their parties in this House from those areas. Therefore, time is naturally required for facts to come to their notice, and it seems wrong that this Bill should be pushed through at this stage without an opportunity for any further such revelations to be reported to the House.
I know of a case in point. Only yesterday, my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) happened to be able to pay a visit at last to an area where my party is grossly unrepresented in this House, namely, the North-East Coast. It was the first opportunity that any representative of my party had had to go up there personally to reconnoitre the shipbuilding situation. My hon. 974 Friend met the shop stewards of Austin & Pickersgill. He found to his surprise that, with one exception, they wished to have it on record that they were wholly opposed to the nationalisation of their shipyard. That is a fact which should at least be ventilated in this House in a proper debate on a large measure of this kind, and one which we shall be unable to develop properly if this motion is passed.
Of course, the will of the other place should not prevail against the wishes of the British people if these are efficiently ascertained and properly embodied in respectable legislation, but that is no reason why this House should submit tamely to a measure which is a great piece of deceit practised on the House on the basis of which no respectable—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
In fairness to right hon. and hon. Members, and in view of the fact that the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright), as is his right, is not giving way at all, I think that I should point out that, immediately after we have disposed of the motion under discussion, we shall proceed to the very matters which the hon. Gentleman says will not be discussed.
§ Mr. Wainwright
If that amounts to an assurance that it will be possible to have a second innings from the Liberal Bench—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
It is not an assurance from the Chair. Hon. Members are making claims which they would see, if they would read their Order Paper, represent precisely what is to happen in the House.
§ Mr. Wainwright
If my fears are groundless that it will not be possible, once this motion is passed, for a further contribution from this Bench to be heard, my cup of happiness is full. But I doubt very much whether I can have an assurance about that.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I do not know whether the hon. Member for Colne 975 Valley wants an assurance that he is certain to catch the eye of the occupant of the Chair during the Second Reading debate. That is a matter for the occupant of the Chair at the time.
§ Mr. Wainwright
It is that very doubt that gave rise to my deep concern with which, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I must therefore, persist.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Let me make it absolutely clear. I think that it is only fair to the House to do so. The Lord President has no say whatever and makes no representations to the occupant of the Chair about who shall be called in the debate.
§ Mr. Wainwright
I understood that from the beginning, and that was the ground of my fear.
As I was saying, there is no doubt that the wishes of the British people must prevail if they are backed by a proper mandate and if they are efficiently embodied in a respectable piece of legislation, but since neither of those conditions is fulfilled in this case my right hon. and hon. Friends and I feel obliged to oppose the motion.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)
The speeches of the hon. Members for Luton, East (Mr. Clemitson) and Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) were absolutely disgraceful. They could be described as "housemaid's baby" speeches, in that they pleaded that the hybridity in the Bill was both very little and discovered very late—in the latter case, more than nine months after conception. For them to seek justification for the Government in those arguments is something of which they should be bitterly ashamed.
§ Mr. Clemitson
The whole thrust of the argument, certainly of the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) was that the Government were bending or breaking the rules; that the law was being undermined. The thrust of my speech was 976 that the rules were being properly interpreted by the Government.
§ Mr. Ridley
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I owe you an apology. Since I raised my point of order with you, I have discovered that the Bill has been virtually declared a hybrid, since the Order Paper contains the words:Second Reading (To be reported upon by the Examiners.)I had overlooked that, and I apologise.
So we are not now in any doubt about the true nature of the Bill. It is a hybrid Bill. All that the hon. Gentleman was arguing was "Yes, but it is only a little bit of hybridity and anyway we have discovered it at the wrong stage in the game." That is special pleading of a sort which, on mature consideration, I am sure the hon. Gentleman will bitterly regret.
It is this expediency about the Government's actions of which I want to talk. I notice that there are only two sad little names proposing the motion—"Mr. Michael Foot" and "Mr. Secretary Varley". The latter is one who would have us believe that the Bill will help Britain to rule the waves; the former is the one who waives the rules.
The Leader of the House gives the game away in the very first line of the motion, with the wordsin view of the serious consequences of uncertainty".Nobody uses those words unless he intends to do something that he knows he should not do. In effect, the Government are saying We know that the Bill is hybrid and we are crowding out the rights of the petitioner, but in view of something which we consider to be of overriding importance, we shall do it."
That is the justification of the Lord President's great friend, Mrs. Gandhi. Why does he not say "In view of the serious consequences of uncertainty, the House thinks that the whole Opposition should be put in prison"? It is just as logical and just as constitutional. The House could pass such a motion. The Lord President does not have many more steps to take to achieve that same high degree of honour which the Prime Minister of India has achieved—in view of the overriding importance of what he wants to do.
977 What does the right hon. Gentleman want to do? He wants to end the uncertainty for the industries concerned. During the long-drawn-out game of tennis between this House and another place over this Bill, I have observed the share values in the Financial Times when something dramatic has happened, making it either more or less likely that the industries would be nationalised. The curious thing is that when it seems likely that the Bill will fail, the shares of half the companies go up a good deal and the shares of the other half go down. Then, if the Government show determination, the reverse happens and the shares revert to the previous pattern.
This happens because the uncertainty, as the right hon. Gentleman calls it, works both ways. For the prosperous and successful companies, nationalisation means that their prosperity and success will be ended. Better uncertainty than that, surely. But for the unsuccessful and unprosperous companies whose shares rise only upon the certainty of nationalisation arising again, there is a very serious point which I wish to put to the House and which goes to the heart of all the arguments used by the Government in these debates.
That argument is that people will lose their jobs if the Bill does not go through quickly. The hon. Member for Renfrew-shire, West, who, in his usual disgraceful manner, did not stay to hear his arguments answered, said the same thing. Will these men really be made redundant if the Bill does not go through, and will they not be made redundant if it does? That argument means that by passing the Bill and agreeing to the motion we should simply add to our economic problems by taking on to the payroll people who should not be on it. That is the most disgraceful argument that could be used by a Government struggling up to their necks with debt and trying to get the economy right—"Give us the Bill so that we can employ all these people whom we know we should not be employing".
The only good piece of news that I have heard this week came from the Chancellor yesterday. He said that the IMF had even suggested that it might try to sell the social contract to some other countries. If we could export the social contract, we might 978 indeed have an industrial revival. We might be able to beat the competition if the social contract, as exemplified in the Bill and the motion, were exported to our chief competitors. That might damage them grievously.
The Bill is hybrid. We have heard good and persuasive arguments from my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) about the number of companies that should be in but are not and the number that should be out but are not. The Lord President and the jack-in-the-box Minister of State who keeps trying to interrupt seem to believe that the list as it is is right, whereas grave doubt has been thrown on it by my right hon. and hon. Friends.
This is not a matter that we should decide; it is a matter that the Examiners should decide, and the Clerk has so ruled. It is wrong for the Government to seek to interpret their legislation even before it has gone through Parliament, to say which companies should be in the list and which should not. That is the reason for the hybridity rule.
If there is a dispute at a later stage, what will happen? Supposing that the Bill becomes law exactly as it is and some rapacious Secretary of State—perhaps the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) will soon take over as Secretary of State for Industry— says "I want Richards or the Sugar Line or I do not want the London Graving Dock Company". He will make an order under the Bill, dragging them in and saying "They are mine. I want them in. I have nationalised them, because they meet the qualifying conditions."
If the companies concerned take legal action, what will be their legal rights? How could litigation arising from this situation be resolved? The law is not clear. The schedule says that they are not in, but according to the qualifying conditions, they are in. This matter cannot possibly be resolved even by the courts. It is not good enough for the hon. Member for Luton, East to say that it does not matter, and that he is more interested in the welfare of the Clyde shipyards than in that of another place. These are large companies employing large numbers of people, with, large capital funds. People's jobs and financial holdings are at stake. That is 979 why the procedure laid down is right as it is and should be maintained.
In moving this motion, the Government are not employing some technical little device to stop my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton raising his usual brilliant procedural points; what they are doing is breaking the rules so as to disadvantage ordinary working people and ordinary working investors. The Leader of the House should be ashamed of the doctrine that he envinced and that he and the noble marquess have cooked up together—that the Lords are not to change anything that is in the manifesto.
Let me remind hon. Members that the manifesto contained proposals for making everybody better off and happier, for stopping the rise in prices, and reducing taxation. There was all the usual Socialist euphoria. What are the Lords to do about this, because the Government have not stuck to that? Are the Lords to throw out proposals because the Government have not kept to their manifesto in what are the more important respects? The right hon. Gentleman would not like it if they did. His doctrine is rubbish. What might apply in one year does not apply in the next.
The right hon. Gentleman sits there shaking his head violently from right to left when anything is said from the Tory Benches, and shaking it the other way when rubbish is spoken from his own Back Benches. He is beleaguered, unhappy and unsure of himself, knowing that the country has failed to support him, knowing that his supporters have drifted away, and knowing that he remains with a majority of only one vote in the House. He has no support anywhere else in the country. Yet he is grimly determined to force through this hated Bill by cheating, by waiving the rules in any way he can. Why can he not realise that in the end democracy must prevail?
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Doug Hoyle (Nelson and Colne)
I used to say that I listened with interest to the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley). I no longer do that. He has just made a disgraceful speech. The speeches from Opposition Members have been loaded with hypocrisy and cant. I include, I am sorry to say, the Liberal Benches. What has 980 happened to all the great radical tradition of which we used to hear? The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) does not display any, either. He has become more Tory than the Tories—apart, of course, from the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury, who represents the extreme Right Wing of the Tory Party. Whenever he makes a speech in this House he attempts cheap jibes and character assassination. He never succeeds, because he does not believe what he is saying. When he speaks about taking into public ownership this and that he forgets that he was on the Government side when Rolls-Royce was taken over within 24 hours. That is the true position. There was not a whisper of opposition then.
When we are examining the aircraft and shipbuilding industries, and when we are talking about people's employment, I wish that more members of the public could come here to listen to the Opposition. It does not matter to them. They do not care. All they are concerned about is hybridity and about the future of the great companies of which they speak—companies which are going bankrupt as they while away their time. They talk about democracy. They depend upon a Second Chamber which has not been elected by anyone. What kind of democracy is that?
I only wish that Opposition Members could have met the frustrated aircraft workers with whom I spoke last night. Those workers told me that their jobs were at stake. They said that they wished that the Government had asked 400 of them to become peers so that the Bill could go through the House of Lords. We want this Bill because the plans for the industry are being held up and no decisions are being taken. This is not good for the workers or for the economy. It may well be that due to the irresponsible Opposition here and in the other place—
§ Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)
The hon. Gentleman is surely aware that the Government could have had the aircraft and shipbuilding industries nationalised a week ago if they had wanted to. It is only the obstinacy of the Government in insisting on including ship repairing that has prevented the aircraft industry from getting what the hon. Gentleman says it 981 wants—although I do not believe that the industry does want it.
§ Mr. Hoyle
That has nothing whatever to do with my argument. We have a mandate to nationalise ship repairing and we are sticking to that mandate. It is necessary to take that step if we are to have a viable shipbuilding and ship repairing industry. As long as the Bill is held up, decisions that are vital to the aerospace industry are delayed. The workers and the economy are suffering. Unless these decisions can be taken fairly quickly we may well miss the market for the new aircraft that ought to be being designed now. That is the indictment of the Tory Party.
In the shipbuilding industry it is even worse. If ever there was a memorial to the fact that private enterprise has failed the nation it is the shipbuilding industry. That is not because it has not been taken into public ownership; it is because, not just now but for decades, the industry has let down the nation by failing to invest money and modernise the yards. That has meant that we are unable to compete. We are starting, rather late in the day but better late than never, to revitalise the yards. We cannot begin to do that until we get this Bill.
In the meantime, in areas of high unemployment, many more people may lose their jobs. The responsibility for that must lie with the Opposition and those representatives of no one in the other Chamber. They are all indicted. It is time to end this synthetic nonsense, arguing about hybridity and the rest. It is time to wake up and realise that the jobs of people employed in these industries are at risk and that the nation and the economy are being sold short by irresponsible action which has been evident throughout the proceedings on this Bill.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)
I suppose that it was inevitable that in support of the Government's grotty little motion someone would make the sort of speech that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Hoyle) has just made. I am bound to say that if he takes word for word the sort of rubbish that is spoken by an ad hoc delegation of five Communist shop stewards who have been drummed up at the last minute to produce a bit of evidence of concern—
§ Mr. Onslow
I have not even begun to provoke the hon. Gentleman. He had better save his ammunition for a little later. We have before us a motion that is justified on the grounds that there will be serious consequences for industry, including the aircraft industry, if the Bill does not go through. As a matter of fact, the aircraft industry is in for a pretty rotten time because of the way in which the Government have consistently mismanaged affairs since they came to office.
There is nothing in the Bill that will make any difference to the number of jobs that will be lost in that industry because of the action, or inaction, of the Government. It is a brutal and callous confidence trick to pretend, as the Government sometimes do when members of its Front Bench are sleep-walking through their scripts, that there would not be a single redundancy in the aircraft industry if we could get this Bill on the statute book tomorrow.
Everyone in the industry knows that there will be a large number of redundancies for reasons for which the Government are largely to blame. The Minister of State who has been bobbing up and down like a ping-pong ball on a jet of hot air was recently in the United States. He was going around trying to persuade people that he was the saviour of the civil aircraft industry in this country and was interested in anything that made commercial sense. He wanted to preserve jobs. He was determined to build the HS146.
At that point, he lost conviction and the interest of anyone who was listening to him. Circumstances have so changed, thanks to the way in which the Government have mismanaged the industry's affairs, that there is no possibility of making money out of the HS146. If the Minister of State is saying that he wants this project to go ahead as a form of outdoor relief for the aircraft industry, or in a vain attempt to save the seat of the hon. Member for Welwyn and Hatfield (Mrs. Hayman), who has had such distressing publicity recently, he may as well save himself the trouble. Everyone who knows the industry knows that these objectives are illusory and cannot be achieved.
It is about time that we got away from the pretence that there is anything in this 983 Bill that will make any difference to the inevitable redundancies that will be experienced in the aircraft industry all over the country. The Secretary of State, who sleepwalked his way through a speech the other night, said that if the Bill does not go through the British Aircraft Corporation plant at Weybridge will have to close. I represent many workers at that plant. If any of them had believed the Secretary of State they would surely have come to me to say that this was a serious state of affairs and that we must support the Bill, but I have not had a single representation or expression of concern and I doubt whether anyone in the industry was so persuaded. The defence industry will keep the aircraft industry in this country alive with orders like the one, initiated by private enterprise and risk taking, for sales to Iran. Nothing will flow from the takeover of this industry by the bunch of incompetents on the Treasury Bench.
The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne will find that workers in his constituency will be done out of work because of the direction of Government contracts to nationalised industries. Lucas Aerospace is in danger of losing work that will be pre-empted by the Government and put into the nationalised company, Hawker Siddeley. He will have to explain that, and good luck to him.
This debate on hybridity has taken place after the event. The prima facie issue was settled on Monday, when the Clerks decided that the Bill should go to the Examiners. The Leader of the House may shake his head, but he should look at the Order Paper, because it appeared as item No. 5 on Monday. If he dissents from what I have said, perhaps he will explain how this happened. Was it because of inadvertence or incompetence, or was it the proper parliamentary process? Perhaps whoever replies for the Government at the end of the debate will touch on that. If the Leader of the House claims that because this House chooses to set its own rules at naught the House of Lords must to the same; that because the Clerks here find the Bill is prima facie hybrid, the House of Lords must not do the same; because we choose to upset the ruling of our Clerks, the Lords must do so also, he is on dangerous ground. He is preparing 984 the way for straightforward tyranny. He shakes his head. We get to know the right hon. Gentleman very well. Last night we saw him on good form, clowning, hamming it up, back to his good old Back Bench irresponsibility.
§ Mr. Onslow
I am not jealous. To be jealous of such Jekyll and Hyde character, a man with such a split personality—to see myself in the shoes of such an incompetent Leader of the House —never ! He is a disgrace. If the Lords assert their right to make up their own minds and decide that this is a hybrid Bill—and their Clerks will advise them—they will be well and truly justified.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Rees (Dover and Deal)
If the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Hoyle) had paid the House the courtesy of listening to earlier speeches, particularly those made by Conservatives, he might have addressed himself to the real issue.
I have not previously sought to intervene in debates on the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill because I have no direct constituency interest, although I suspect that the majority of my constituents have, like myself, watched the erosion of our freedom over the past two years with as much concern as any hon. Gentleman who had the privilege of sitting on the Standing Committe on this Bill. The reason I sought to catch the eye of the Chair today is that I do not want to be party to a repetition of the particularly squalid incident that occurred in this House in May, during the last Session.
I do not complain that the Leader of the House has attempted to project this as another passage of arms between the two Houses. We know that he has a slight fixation about the Lords. But that is not the most important issue that we are debating tonight. I do not complain that the Bill is being reintroduced. The Government are entitled to take advantage of the Parliament Act 1948, in the same way that the House of Lords is entitled to exercise its powers to reject a Bill sent up from this House.
I do not propose to consider the Salisbury doctrine, although I am fascinated that it has now been elevated to the level 985 of a constitutional convention. Perhaps I have not given such close attention to the Labour Party manifesto produced for the last two Elections as I should, but I do not believe that the nationalisation of the ship repairing industry is to be found in it. I am open to correction. The hon. Gentleman opposite who is on his feet could, no doubt, in due course, quote the passage from this remarkable manifesto upon which the Government base their case for proceeding in such a pig-headed way with this Bill.
Another reason why I believe that the Salisbury doctrine, if we are obliged to regard it as a constitutional convention of great significance, should not be enforced on this occasion is that, as hon. Gentlemen who spoke for the Liberal Party pointed out, we have not had for a very long time a Government who had about them such an odour of decomposition and decay. Over the past few weeks the Government have shown that they palpably no longer have the support of their own party in the constituencies.
It is a matter for comment that almost before the last words in the Gracious Speech had passed into the rafters of this Chamber we should be asked once again to consider this Bill. I must confess that I almost felt a twinge of sorrow, practically compassion, for the Prime Minister when in March this year, having demonstrated the level of his own mediocrity so conclusively in 1967, he was called upon to extricate this country from the mess into which it had been led by a more adroit figure. Perhaps it would be offensive to a friedly Power if I compared the Prime Minister to President Ford. It might even be offensive to Mr. Nixon if I compared him to the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson). I do not wish to press the analogy too far, but it appears to me, as it does to many people outside this House, that the Prime Minister is endeavouring to extricate this country from a constitutional and economic Watergate.
The relevance of my remarks is that if the Prime Minister wishes to project himself as a great healer who will bridge the divide between various sections of the country, he was singularly ill-advised to re-introduce this Bill on the third or fourth day of the new parliamentary Session. He has lost a signal opportunity to create a different climate and to demonstrate by 986 deeds, rather than by words in the Mansion House, that he has some regard for the private sector of British industry. It is entirely specious to say, as the motion does, that in view of the serious consequences of uncertainty the House should consider seriously this rather trumpery Order. If there has been any uncertainty, it has been created by legislation for which the present Government are responsible. It ill becomes them to reintroduce this measure when the heat of the previous Session's conflict has barely had time to cool.
The real burden of complaint against these orders is that the Government are seeking, by a pretext which might possibly have had some shadowy justification during the last Session, to suspend the Orders of this House specifically designed for the protection of private interests in order to put through this singularly unattractive Bill.
We have been told that there would not have been time during the last Session to force through the Bill. I am prepared to accept that, although it was open to the Government, with the leave of House, to extend the Session. That pretext is not to them open in this Session. What would be lost if the Order of 29th November were left on the Order Paper? How much time would be lost if the Examiners considered and ruled authoritatively on the hybridity of the Bill? How much time would be last if private interests which will be affected were able to make representations to a Committee of this House? Would the Bill be put out of court and prevented from becoming law in this Session? I very much doubt it.
We are being asked to speed the passage of this Bill in order to satisfy the pig-headed obstinacy of the Government and, particularly, the Leader of the House. If any example were needed of the unarguable case for a Second Chamber, however constituted, it is in this Order.
It is implicit in the Order that there is at least a prima facie case for regarding the Bill as hybrid. I was persuaded by the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) but the House does not have to be satisfied that the Bill 987 is hybrid. The constitutional question that we are debating is whether there is a prima facie case. As I understand the position, Mr. Speaker, you, through the Clerks, have ruled, by implication, that there is such a case by allowing the order of 29th November to stand on the Order Paper.
That is the point which the Leader of the House failed to deal with when he opened the debate. I can only hope that the Minister who is to reply will be able to deal with it effectively.
We know that the Leader of the House is apt to be carried away on flights of fancy and to see everything in constitutional terms as a conflict between this House and another place, but he would have done a greater service to this House if he had addressed himself to the real point at issue—whether we are right to suspend our Standing Orders before the Committee of Selection has even empanelled the Standing Orders Committee. It is quite wrong that we should be asked to do so.
Over the past three decades, we have given various territories of our former Empire their independence and have equipped them with a parliamentary system, complete with a Speaker, a Mace and a Serjeant at Arms. It is noticeable, in some instances, that although the forms have remained the substance has evaporated. I believe that we are getting to the edge of that position here. Over the past two years, we have seen the substance of our constitution and the conventions by which we operate flouted time and again and the responsibility lies entirely with the Government.
Some Opposition Members, perhaps speaking with more vehemence than thought, have sought to equate what has happened over this Bill with the passage of the European Communities Bill. The essential distinction is that every amendment on that Bill was debated. The fact that none was carried may have been due to the composition of this House. There was no Report stage, because there were no amendments. On no occasion that I can recall were the Standing Orders suspended to facilitate the passage of the Bill, important though it may be for our future and important as the country believed it 988 to be in the referendum—though I suspect that the Leader of the House may not have been in sympathy with that vote.
I look around to find the people to blame for this state of affairs. I do not attach much blame to the Secretary of State for Industry. He is no more than the office boy of the Cabinet. The Minister of State—the hon. Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman}—energetic and vociferous though he may be, is no more than the office boy's office boy.
Two right hon. Gentleman stand convicted of having contempt for our constitution. One is the Prime Minister, who has sought to project himself as the Baldwin of our times but has turned out to be a rather less nimble version of his predecessor—the right hon. Member for Huyton—and the other is the Leader of the House, who built a considerable parliamentary reputation on his concern for, interest in and knowledge of the ways and conventions of this House, but who has used his considerable forensic talents, ingenuity and eloquence to destroy those conventions over the past two years.
I shall vote against the motion, not only because these Orders are a particularly unattractive piece of business, but in order to register my lack of confidence in the Leader of the House as the person who, by convention, should represent everyone of us in the conduct of our business. He has proved himself not to be the Leader of the House, but merely a squalid party manager.
§ 6.56 p.m.
§ Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)
I do not wish to comment on everything said by the hon. and learned Member for Dover and Deal (Mr. Rees). He made an extremely vulgar and contemptible speech, but it did him justice. That is the only level he can reach.
I was taken with the hon. and learned Gentleman's remarkable defence of another place and how he was so enamoured of it. I only hope that he will soon be elevated there so that we shall be rid of him and all his vulgarities and the status of this place will be raised.
We know that the sort of behaviour we have seen recently from Conservative landlord and hereditary peers boils over only when there are Labour and Liberal 989 Governments. It is only then that we see such incredible behaviour from the commissars of another place who would do justice to almost any totalitarian reéime. None of them is elected. When Tory Governments are in power, they revert to their rôle as docile puppies.
Some of us have criticised the behaviour of another place and have said that the way they handled this legislation was a disgrace to our democratic procedures. A question that everybody wants answered is whether the statement by the Conservative peer, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, that the House of Commons rather than the House of Lords should be abolished, is supported by the Opposition in this House. Let the record show that some hon. Members opposite approve of the maintenance of the House of Lords and the abolition of this House. They will never be able to raise a single objection to any totalitarian régime in future. Nevertheless, that is not an official answer from the Conservative Front Bench. I believe that the House of Commons and the people outside want to know whether it is the policy of the Conservative Party to see the House of Commons abolished and the House of Lords maintained. We are entitled to an answer, and I hope we shall get it tonight.
§ 7.1 p.m.
§ Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)
Without the ridiculous observations of the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) I would not be feeling so angry now.
I did prepare myself for some comments on the procedure motion, and I have been sitting here all the afternoon, like the Leader of the House. I will say this for the right hon. Gentleman: he never lets the House down. He does sit here and listen to the debates and arguments advanced when Bills and motions are before the House. He has not failed as Leader of the House in this way, but he has failed in allowing the Cabinet to put such a motion on the Order Paper today and in asking us to brook no delay on this Bill.
To advance the argument that the Lords have exceeded their constitutional duties, coming from him, is hardly honest and is not in keeping with his understanding of the constitutional position of the other place. Yet he dared to 990 come here and sneer at the Lords because they gave the Commons, the Press and the public the opportunity to rethink the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] It is not rubbish; it is never rubbish for this House to have second thoughts. It is never rubbish for this House to take a little extra time, or to consider the views of hon. Members from either side or from any extremity.
In this motion today the Leader of the House tells us, in one very telling sentence, that there should be no delay. What right has he to tell Parliament that there should be no delay?
§ Mr. Crouch
Of course it is urgent to those who want the Bill, but it is even more urgent to have freedom—
§ Mr. Crouch
The freedom of our people to have their views and their rights observed by Parliament. The hon. Gentleman has not been in his seat this afternoon and he has not heard the arguments advanced from this side, particularly the remarkable speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop).
§ Mr. Crouch
It was said that this Bill was a hybrid Bill. This was reinforced by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) who gave us the benefit of his very experienced judgment in legal matters. As I said in an intervention on a point of order, there was, in my opinion, and that of many hon. Members, no shadow of doubt that this was a hybrid Bill. I owe the Chair an apology for the intervention I made in support of my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley). When he raised the point, I supported him in seeking your advice, Mr. Speaker, to rule that this was a hybrid Bill. I would have been helpless if the Leader of the House had stood up and said that the Government's Order of the Day made it clear that this was a hybrid Bill. The first Order of the Day—that the Aircraft and Shipbuilding 991 Industries Bill should be reported upon by the Examiners—is a clear statement, and it would have been helpful if the Leader of the House had been so forthcoming when he opened the debate. It did not need the skilful arguments of my right hon. and learned Friend and my hon. Friend to establish that this was a hybrid Bill, because it was already stated to be so. [Interruption.]
However, it no longer concerns me that this is a hybrid Bill. It does concern me that this procedure motion, hustling the Bill through the House, has been put down, thus keeping the measure away from the examination that it should receive as a hybrid Bill. Certain procedures and institutions of the House have been dispensed with. It is a remarkable day in the House of Commons when we are told to rush a Bill through, and dispense with all the recognised institutions of the House. I protest most strongly that we should be asked at this stage to do this just because the Government are determined to get the Bill through. [Interruption.]
I have not taken part in earlier discussions on this Bill, and I was not on the Committee. However, I was disgusted by many aspects of it, and by the way it was rushed through and guillotined. I was disgusted more than ever today by being asked to dispense with the proper procedures of the House. When the Bill goes back to the Lords it goes back as a hybrid Bill and, automatically, it will be referred to the Examiners by the Lords—that is how I understand it.
There has been much talk by Labour Members that the Lords have exceeded their duties in this matter. We have had references to the Marquess of Salisbury. Labour Members might reflect on the the letter in The Times last week from Lord Shawcross, who happened to be the Attorney-General at the time of the passage of the last Parliament Bill, which gave the House of Lords the constitutional right to delay measures. The other place was not given the power to wipe out legislation altogether, and it did not wipe out this measure. The Lords allowed it to proceed and in their wisdom—
§ Mr. Ridley
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There is a running battery of seated comments, ruderies and questions from hon. Members below the Gangway on the Government Benches. This makes it almost impossible for my hon. Friend to make his speech and for us to listen to it.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member is quite right. Continuous interruptions from a sedentary position are unparliamentary, and spoil our debates.
§ Mr. Crouch
It is kind of you, Mr. Speaker, to give me a quieter reception, but the comments were not really worrying me. I regarded the undercurrent as an acceptance of my argument by hon. Members opposite, even though they did not like it.
The House of Lords took out one element from the Bill because they thought it was wrong. Why should they not have second thoughts? They were given this right by the Attlee Administration, after the war. They have used that authority and they have not gone any further than that. There has been a lot of wild and stupid talk about abolishing the other place. I have been critical of the Lords in the past, in the context of the parliamentary democratic situation, but I am not critical of them in this instance. They have done no more than call upon the Commons to reintroduce this measure and get it debated. I am arguing tonight on a procedural motion, which says that we will dispense with certain institutions and measures, and I am strongly against that.
I call upon the Leader of the House to lead the House again. When he used to speak from below the Gangway he was strong in his defence of the rights of hon. Members and the public. His was a clarion voice when he spoke from below the Gangway, but not today. He is nodding while Parliament is trying to ensure that the freedom of the people is preserved. He is nodding, although he is the one man on the Front Bench who should be seeking to preserve Parliament and its institutions.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Lamont (Kingston upon Thames)
One thing that seems to have been lost sight of is that we are in fact discussing a motion in two parts, first to get rid of the hybridity procedure and, secondly, to dispense with the Committee stage when the Bill again goes through the House. It is unfortunate that the two parts should be taken together, and some Labour Members may also feel that there are few precedents for what is being done. On the hybridity procedure there is only the precedent of the last Session, and on the suspension of the Committee stage, other than in the last Session, there is only the precedent of 1913 which the Leader of the House quoted, and I hope to show that that was a different situation. Never before have we had two such motions in one composite motion, and never before have we moved towards invoking the Parliament Act on a prima facie hybrid Bill.
Before dealing with the two parts of the motion I shall deal first with two general matters. Labour Members seem to go red in the face about what the House of Lords is doing but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) said, the House of Lords is only using the constitutional powers that it has been given by a Labour Government. In a previous incarnation the Leader of the House prevented the House of Lords from being reformed It ill lies in his mouth to complain about the way in which the House of Lords exercises its powers. He was one of the people who opposed a previous attempt to reform the Lords. When he destroyed that attempt what did he expect? Did he seriously expect the House of Lords not to use the powers it has?
Another general point was raised by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Hoyle) and others. He and the Government say that it is necessary to get the Bill through quickly because of uncertainty about jobs and the state of the industries. If that is so, the Government are behaving in an extraordinary manner. They brought in the Bill in a leisurely way.
They introduced it in 1974 and let it drop. Six months elapsed between presentation and Second Reading. The time 994 the Bill has taken in the House of Lords has been very short compared with the delay for which the Government are responsible. If the Government think that there is a great problem of uncertainty for the industries, it is also extraordinary that they should have dealt with the questions of hybridity and ship repairing in such a way. Those two issues are inter-related and all the Government needed to do was to reach an accommodation over ship repairing.
In the House of Lords, Lord Carrington said that the Government could nationalise the aircraft industry and the shipbuilding industry and in the next Session introduce another Bill to nationalise ship repairing. But he asked the Government to take back ship repairing and to consider it for a period. All that was required to get the Bill was for the Government to exercise a little care and a little of the conciliation that has been so lacking on the Government Benches. The Government have put politics before the welfare of the industries concerned. It does not lie in their mouths to accuse other people of endangering jobs and industries.
The suggestion for truncating the Committee stage is unfortunate. A suggestion stage is not as good as a Committee stage because the choice of suggestions lies with the Government, and that is to the disadvantage because of the Opposition. It is also a disadvantage because of the limited time available. I appreciate that the Committee stage was lengthy, but this is an unprecedented Bill which nationalises more than 40 companies, transfers 140,000 jobs from the private sector to the public sector and nationalises, some would say, not two but three, four or five industries. The Report stage was truncated. Only three days were allowed to us to consider 208 Government amendments alone. There are many matters to be raised if the House is to operate properly. That is why I much regret that the Government are to truncate the Committee stage.
I suspect that the real reason for the Government wishing to truncate the Committee stage is that they are frightened that the House will change its mind. They are frightened that the composition of the House may change and that they may lose a by-election. They are 995 frightened that there might be an outbreak of democracy and that Members will take a different view of the Bill.
We had very close votes on the Bill. On one occasion we had a tied vote in controversial circumstances. After that, we continued with narrow majorities. There is one great difference between what the right hon. Gentleman is doing now and what was done in 1913, which the right hon. Gentleman uses as a precedent. When Mr. Asquith in 1913 got rid of the Committee stage of three Bills in one go, the majorities on the Second Reading of those Bills were 98, 95 and 103. At the same time the average vote for each opposed Liberal candidate in the previous election was 49.3 per cent. of the poll. How very different is that from today, when we have a minority Government insisting on pushing through legislation supported only by a minority of their own supporters.
It is astonishing that the Leader of the House hardly referred to the controversy about hybridity. He made no attempt to rebut the case that might have been put. He made scarcely any mention of hybridity. This occasion is different in one significant respect from the previous occasion when we discussed hybridity. As my hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) said, the last time we discussed the hybridity procedure the Government said that they would alter the Bill to take account of the parts that were alleged to be hybrid. Now they say that they will go ahead regardless of whether the Bill is hybrid. Does any hon. Member believe that that is sensible? Is it not at least possible that if we push through a hybrid Bill without observing the proper procedures the will of Parliament may be challenged in the courts? Is that what the right hon. Gentleman wants? Is that sensible?
This debate is not just about technicalities. It is a pity that the term "hybridity" is used. It might be to do with almost anything under the sun. It would be much better to talk about a procedure for Bills that involve "unfair discrimination". This is not a technical matter. It is about the rights of individuals and equality of treatment for people in the same category or classes. Above all, it is about minorities. That is why I regret that the Members of Plaid Cymru 996 are not here and will not vote in the Lobbies. Representing a minority party, they above all others should be concerned about this issue.
Procedures have been built up in the House to protect the rights of citizens and minorities. The Select Committee procedure replaced the procedure by which people petitioned at the Bar of the House, safe in the knowledge that they would get a fair hearing and would see justice done. Some people say that the House of Commons can do anything provided it has a majority of one, but is it right that the House by a small majority should cast aside the procedures for securing justice and equality of treatment for minorities? If that is what the Government are proposing, it is an end to impartial law and another step on the road to arbitrary government.
The facts are that the Bill has been judged by the Public Bill Office to be prima facie a hybrid Bill. It should not be open to the Leader of the House to question that. It should not be open to him to prevent the Bill from going through the normal procedure to a Select Committee. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) quoted the ruling given by Speaker Hylton-Foster when he said that, in his opinion, if a Bill were prima facie hybrid it should go to a Select Committee. It should not be open to us to question it. That is where I disagree with the right hon. Gentleman, who seems to want to be judge, jury and executioner. The trouble is that when he is being judge and jury he acts those parts in the spirit of executioner.
The Leader of the House of course does not know on which grounds the Public Bill Office reached its decision. My hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) has indicated some of the grounds and some of the submissions that have been made. He has indicated a number of cases that give good grounds for believing that the Bill may be hybrid. But it is not necessary to go quite as far as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) and to say that it is clearly hybrid.
The point is that it should not be for the House to judge. It should not be up to us. It is not a proper decision to be 997 taken on a whipped vote. It is a decision that should not be taken following a debate that has been attended by only half the House. The procedure laid down should be followed, one that has been laid down over a long period—namely, the Select Committee system.
The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan), who is no longer in his place, asked "Who are these individuals? What are these interests that are arbitrarily affected?" My hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton, to whose research and industry I pay tribute and to whom the House is greatly in debt, demonstrated quite clearly that the criteria for inclusion in the Bill are very arbitrary. The line that determines whether one is in or out of the Bill is extremely fine and comes down rather suddenly. Some people whose firearms are included in the Bill have a sense of grievance because firms that they do not regard as their competitors are not included. That is the unfairness.
Although the Government may not like it, they must face the fact that the Bill is imperfectly drafted. They cannot escape from that. Let them face the consequences.
The hon. Member for Luton, East (Mr. Clemitson) asked why the hybridity had not been discovered earlier. Surely people are entitled to protect their interests. They are entitled, even at a late stage, to point out an unfairness. One reason for it taking a considerable time to find these examples is that we have had to base our case on companies outside the Bill which, by any logic, should be inside the Bill.
We are opposed to nationalisation and we are not saying that any more companies should be included. I do not want to get them in the Bill. All we are saying is that at present the Bill is imperfect. It is unfair, arbitrary and not in accordance with the traditions of the House.
The Leader of the House has a reputation as a defender of Parliament—[Hon. Members: "Had".]—and as a most eloquent speaker. He still has a reputation as a most eloquent speaker. However, some people are beginning to think that the view that should be taken of him is rather like that which Mr. Austen Chamberlain took of Asquith in the 1913 debate. That is the debate which the 998 right hon. Gentleman has cited as a precedent. Mr. Austen Chamberlain described Mr. Asquith as a very eloquent speaker and went on to say:the more mellifluous the language in which he commends it to the House the greater is the outrage which he proposes to perpetrate upon our … liberties."—[Official Report, 23rd June 1913; Vol. 54, c. 824.]The Public Bill Office has ruled that this is prima facie a hybrid Bill. In our view it is clearly the duty of the Leader of the House, if he is the Leader of the House and not merely a party manager, to let the normal procedures of the House go through. The desire of the Government to get this Bill should not overrule the requirement that it should be fairly drafted and equitable.
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is challenging the ruling of the Public Bill Office. I do not think he is entitled to do so. Perhaps he is saying that he does not care whether the Bill is hybrid and that he will get it through. However, he is trampling underfoot not only the rights of a free Parliament but the duties of a free Parliament.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Speaker
No. The right hon. Gentleman does not need permission on this occasion, it being a substantive motion.
§ Mr. Foot
No one who has listened to this debate could deny the importance of the issues that have been raised. As the hon. Member for Kingston upon Thames (Mr. Lamont) has said, the motion deals with two matters at the same time. I shall seek to deal with the two important issues.
First, there is the general question of hybridity and its effect upon the Bill. Secondly, there is the question how the House should properly deal with Bills that come from another place when the Parliament Act procedures are to be applied. Although it is the case that those are two separate subjects. and I 999 understand that they are two separate arguments, they overlap to some extent. Are we to acknowledge the authority or the power of the House of Lords to overthrow legislation that passes through this place? That might be done by various Members. That is a factor that has to be taken into account as well. However, I agree that the two subjects, to some extent, must be dealt with separately.
Many fierce charges have been made throughout the debate. Much strong language has been used in the accusations made against the Government and against myself particularly. It has been said that we are riding roughshod over the rights of Parliament. I shall answer the charges as they have been made although I must say that the language used in making them has gone very far to destroy the arguments themselves.
As everyone acknowledges, and as I acknowledged previously, the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) is entitled to claim the credit for the original appeal that he made successfully to you, Mr. Speaker, on the ground of hybridity, and all the more so because the Bill had gone through such a lengthy procedure. I shall deal with that again in a moment. However, the hon. Member for Tiverton today and on other occasions, but especially today, has gone far beyond anything which can be drawn from his first deduction. He has made accusations of concealment on the part of Government Departments and Ministers, and presumably on the part of civil servants. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry and I are fully prepared to take all the responsibilities that are ours, but if anything like the charges of the hon. Gentleman are justified they will be charges against the whole of the Departments concerned. I repudiate those charges in every respect.
There has been no attempt by the Department of Industry to conceal the facts from the persons to whom they should have been presented, including the authorities in this place and the authorities in another place. I repudiate in entirety the whole of the charges that the hon. Gentleman makes in that respect. But he goes further and tries to build charges of corruption. That is to use language that brings the rest of his arguments into discredit. It is like the 13th 1000 stroke of the clock that casts suspicion on all the previous 12 strokes.
We know that the hon. Gentleman had a great triumph once—and we shall never hear the end of it—but that does not mean that he has been right on any of the subsequent occasions. In my opinion he was not right in the presentation of his case today. At least he can claim that by the use of his exaggerated language today he is in very good—or rather, very bad—company. He is in the company of the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith). The right hon. and learned Gentleman should never have used such language as he used if he is ever to appear in the courts again. He said that it was an open-and-shut case of hybridity. That is the language he used. Whatever else it is, it has never been that. Maybe it has been a marginal case. Many of us thought when the hon. Member for Tiverton raised the issue originally that there was not a case of hybridity. But I understand that others took a different view. It certainly was not an open and shut case, whatever else it was.
The hon. Member for Tiverton said that the Bill is now peppered with hybridity.
§ Mr. Foot
If this Bill reeked of hybridity, was peppered with hybridity, or was an open and shut case, why did not their Lordships, who are not noted for their fairness and eagerness to assist this Government, take the step of sending it to the Examiners, as they could have done?
I must say that their Lordships listened to the argument maybe a little more carefully than some hon. Members in this House. Their Lordships listened to the argument which came from the Department of Industry and was presented by Ministers in the other place. It may be that they were convinced by that 1001 argument, as many here would and should be, because it was formidable. I do not think that every noble Lord was convinced, but in the end their Lordships were convinced in the sense that they did not send the Bill to the Examiners in another place.
I shall give way to the right hon. and learned Gentleman shortly. I hope that whatever else he does when he gets to his feet, he will withdraw the absurdity that he tried to palm off on this House of this being an open and shut case of hybridity.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
It has taken the right hon. Gentleman a good deal longer to get to his semi-colon and give way to me than it took for me to get to mine and to give way to him. The right hon. Gentleman is wrong about this matter, which is perhaps not unsual, though regrettable. This is a hybrid Bill. The fact that the Examiners have got it under their jurisdiction makes it a hybrid Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, it does. They are now charged with the duty of considering whether the Standing Orders applicable to it—Standing Orders 4 to 68 in the Private Business Standing Orders—have been complied with. If not, then the procedure is as for a Public Bill. But it is a hybrid Bill, although the Standing Orders can be dispensed with or may have been complied with.
§ Mr. Foot
I am sure that the House will have noted that the right hon. and learned Gentleman ran away from the precise question. I asked why, if this were an open and shut case, the House of Lords did not resort to the action that it could have taken. I suggest that he should not use language about open, and shut cases, nor should hon. Members say that the Bill is peppered with or reeks of hybridity when that was not the view taken by their Lordships who looked at this matter a few weeks ago. Such language as that applied to this Bill brings into disrepute the arguments put forward by their Lordships. It also brings into disrepute those right hon. and learned Members in this House who try to palm off their legal knowledge upon us and think that we have to accept it. It never was an open and shut case. It is not an open and shut case now. 1002 I do not believe that anybody, looking fairly at the details which have been presented, would say that it was an open and shut case.
§ Mr. Foot
I shall come to that point. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I shall come to it immediately. I shall not try to dodge the question put to me by the hon. and learned Gentleman as his right hon. and learned Friend dodged the question which I put to him. The motion on the Order Paper about the reference is a statement that it is a prima facie case of hybridity. But that is not the same as saying that it is a case of hybridity. The case is not proved. It is certainly not the same as saying that it reeks of hybridity or that it is peppered with hybridity. What the Opposition have left out of account altogether is what happened to the Bill when it went to another place, which further substantiates the case that I am presenting to the House.
The Bill went to another place. It was not proved to be hybrid there. It was not referred to the Examiners. A number of new points of alleged hybridity were raised, this time relating to ship repairing. These related to such unlikely propositions as the BP Tanker Company, with a turnover of £400 million moving oil in every quarter of the globe, being part of the British ship repairing industry.
Three times detailed points were made in another place, each of which was answered in great detail. I think that certain noble Lords professed not to be satisfied. But the Bill was not referred to the Examiners in another place, and no move was made to do so.
This is the same Bill generally and in particular as regards the ship repair definition as was introduced into this House a year ago and as was introduced into another place in the summer. It is the same Bill as fell—[An HON. MEMBER: "The same hybrid Bill."] If it 1003 was the same hybrid Bill, why did not their Lordships take some steps to deal with it? They did not do anything of the kind. It is the same Bill as fell at the end of the Session because the other place disagreed with this House. That is why we propose to treat the Bill in this Session as it was treated in the last Session.
§ Mr. Norman Lamont
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree, first, that the issue of hybridity was raised in some detail in the House of Lords by the noble Lord, Lord Colville and, secondly, one reason that the House of Lords did not raise with the Clerks the issue of hybridity was that they had deleted the ship repairing part of the Bill which was also the part involving hybridity?
§ Mr. Foot
That is not so. The hon. Gentleman is misinformed on that subject, just as he was misinformed when he said that we would not be able to raise matters in later discussions on the Bill in the procedure that we have laid down.
This is the same Bill as fell at the end of the Session because the other place disagreed with this House. That is why we propose to treat the Bill in this Session as it was treated in the last Session. The first part of the motion has that effect. It ensures that doubts raised now on minute points of alleged potential hybridity shall not obstruct the progress of the Bill, impeded as it has been in another place.
Nobody has suggested that the Bill is a hybrid in the sense that it reeks of hybridity. The Bill is said to involve an element of hybridity because, on the facts and on an interpretation of the wording of Schedule 2, certain companies which repair ships may possibly satisfy the conditions in the schedule and yet are not included in the list of companies to be nationalised whereas others in that list may not satisfy those conditions. The Government are satisfied that the Bill is not in fact hybrid in that the list of ship repairing companies is correctly described in the schedule and no other companies come within the description.
Furthermore, our view is that the points which have so far been made do not involve any such doubts as would justify 1004 a reference to the Examiners, although —here I repeat what I have already underlined—we appreciate that a different view has been taken by the House authorities.
I understand that those who wanted to destroy the Bill in the past want to seize on every possible opportunity for doing so. In any event, the Government are clear that the doubts are not such as would justify the delays to the Bill which, of necessity, would be caused by the reference. I could analyse many of the individual cases mentioned by the hon. Member for Tiverton to prove that case.
I say to the House that it is not a case of a Bill which has just appeared before the House. This is a Bill which has been before the House for many months. It is a Bill which has had a longer examination—and this refutes what was said by the hon. Member for Canterbury—than any Bill presented to us since 1945.
A further absurdity is the way in which the argument has been presented to the country to suggest, as the newspapers have suggested, that we have curtailed and truncated discussions and that the issues have not been properly discussed. It is absurd to suggest that people have not been able to defend their individual interests. Of course they have. There have been more opportunities in this than in any Bill presented to the House since the war. If hon. Members opposite did not raise some of the questions for more than a year, it is their fault and not ours.
When the question of hybridity was raised last time by the hon. Member for Tiverton we were faced with a unique situation. [HON. MEMBERS: "It was hushed up."] There was no hushing up. It was all above board. Everyone knew what was happening. It was not hushed up. We came to the House of Commons. We said that the Bill had been through a lengthy and detailed examination and no question of hybridity had been raised in the early stages, and that to disrupt the whole Bill for that reason would make a mockery of the procedures of the House and that the whole procedures of the House would have to be put aside.
§ Mr. Crouch
Will the Leader of the House help us at this late stage? He 1005 talks about sweeping aside certain institutions and procedures of the House regarding the examination of a Bill which is considered to be hybrid. Is he honestly saying, as Leader of the House, that he is advising hon. Members to vote to dispense with those procedures because the Table has recognised that the Bill is hybrid and that the rights of individuals to be heard under the right procedures of the House are now to be swept aside?
§ Mr. Foot
The hon. Member for Canterbury has not got the facts correct. The authorities of the House have not pronounced that the Bill is hybrid. They have said that, in their view, it should be regarded as a prima facie case of hybridity. They apply the rule as they have it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] This Bill is not appearing before the House for the first time, although some hon. Members seem to speak as if that were so. On the previous occasion, when we said that we would dispense with the procedure for referring the Bill to the Committee, we said that the case for doing that was that it was a unique situation. For the first time in our history the matter was being raised after the whole Committee stage had been completed.
Far from that being an attack on or an invasion into the rights of the House, what we propose and what we proposed last time amounted to a protection of the rights of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] I know that hon. Members opposite do not care much about the protection of the House, particularly when their property interests are involved. They do not care about protection at all. I know that they do not care about the protection of the rights of majorities in this House. But I say that when a Bill, for the first time in our history, has been through such long procedures as this Bill—
§ Mr. Foot
The Opposition are suggesting that the House of Commons should have accepted the proposition that hybridity should be used to disrupt a measure. That is their defence. For the same reason I say that if the hybridity arrangements are permitted to destroy the passage of a Bill which has been discussed at such length, the effectiveness of the House of Commons will indeed be undermined.
I know how sensitive the Opposition are on my next point, and I therefore address my remarks particularly to the Liberal Party and to the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) who referred to how we should deal under the Parliament Act with matters that come from the other place. The hon. Member for Colne Valley said that it was improper to truncate debate as is proposed in the motion. He criticised me for citing the case of Lord Salisbury. I cited that case because it was apposite. He explained how the House of Lords should deal with measures that had been put to the country in party manifestoes. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about Gladstone?"] I will not go back to Gladstone, but let us look at Asquith. They were great defenders of parliamentary liberty, but the Conservatives did not defend liberties then, nor are they doing so today. They are defending their property interests. I hope that the Liberal Party will save themselves from the humiliation of siding with those who shouted down Mr. Asquith in the old days. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It happened. The Opposition know so little about their own parliamentary history that they do not know that the Tories used to behave as badly then as they do today.
When the procedures were established under the Parliament Act by the Liberal Party to deal with intervention by the House of Lords, certain steps were taken. We are dealing with a precedent in this case. The Opposition are now complaining that I am using precedent. They are never satisfied. There were precedents on how to deal with Bills which were obstructed by the other place. They are Liberal precedents. Lord Asquith said:It is quite obvious, and it is admitted already, that it would be a waste of Parliamentary time to propose Amendments which ex 1007 hypothesi cannot be adopted without destroying the identity of the Bill, and that clearly was contemplated when the Parliament Act was passed."—[Official Report, 23rd June, 1913; Vol. 54, c. 818.]Therefore, what our motion does in this respect is to protect exactly the situation that Mr. Asquith defined. It is to protect the identity of the Bill, because if we were to agree that the House should go through procedures which would disrupt the identity of the Bill, which would be sent back to the other place in a very different form, the Parliament Act could not be invoked. That is exactly what the Liberals did in having to deal with the House of Lords before the last war, and that is exactly what we must do now if the House of Commons is not to be obstructed by another place.
§ Mr. Richard Wainwright
Does the right hon. Gentleman not accept at least part of what I was trying to say earlier? That is that this precedent largely falls
§ because in the case of Asquith and the Marquess of Salisbury they were talking about virtually a two-party system. Asquith in particular was in possession of a majority of over 80 in the House and had the support of over 50 per cent. of the electors at the previous election.
§ Mr. Foot
The hon. Gentleman is misinformed and he misunderstands the situation. The Liberals in that Parliament were dependent on other parties, and we shall see whether we are, too. The question for the Liberal Party, which Liberal Members should face, is whether it will try to sustain the supremacy of this elected House of Commons. That is what we on the Government side of the House are doing, and in doing so we shall be sustaining the liberties of the British people as well.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 286, Noes 268.1009
|Division No. 5]||AYES||[7.51 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Corbett, Robin||Freeson, Reginald|
|Allaun, Frank||Cowans, Harry||Garrett, john (Norwich S)|
|Anderson, Donald||Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)|
|Archer, Peter||Cronin, John||George, Bruce|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony||Gilbert, Dr John|
|Ashley, Jack||Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)||Ginsburg, David|
|Ashton, Joe||Cryer, Bob||Golding, John|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)||Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||Gould, Bryan|
|Atkinson, Norman||Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)||Gourley, Harry|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Davidson, Arthur||Graham, Ted|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Grant, George (Morpeth)|
|Bates, Alf||Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)||Grant, John (Islington C)|
|Bean R. E.||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Grocott, Bruce|
|Benn, Pt Hon Anthony Wedgwood||Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Deakins, Eric||Harper, Joseph|
|Bidwell Sydney||Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Dell, Rt Hon Edmund||Hart, Rt Hon Judith|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Dempsey, James||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy|
|Boardman, H.||Doig, Peter||Hatton, Frank|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Dormand, J. D.||Hayman, Mrs Helene|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur||Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Healey, Rt Hon Denis|
|Boyden, James (Bish Auck)||Dunn, James A.||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Bradley, Tom||Dunnett, Jack||Hooley, Frank|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth||Horam, John|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||Eadie, Alex||Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Edge, Geoff||Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)|
|Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)||Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)||Huckfield, Les|
|Buchan, Norman||Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)||Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)|
|Buchanan, Richard||Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Hughes, Mark (Durham)|
|Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)||English, Michael||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)||Ennals, David||Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton amp; P)||Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)|
|Campbell, Ian||Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)||Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)|
|Canavan, Dennis||Evans, John (Newton)||Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)|
|Cant, R. B.||Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.||Janner, Greville|
|Carter, Ray||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Cartwright, John||Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Castle, Rt Hon Barbara||Flannery, Martin||John, Brynmor|
|Clemitson, Ivor||Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston)||Johnson, James (Hull West)|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)|
|Cohen, Stanley||Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Jones, Alec (Rhondda)|
|Colquhoun, Ms Maureen||Ford, Ben||Jones, Barry (East Flint)|
|Concannon, J. D.||Forrester, John||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Conlan, Bernard||Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)||Judd, Frank|
|Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)||Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)||Kaufman, Gerald|
|Kelley, Richard||Moyle, Roland||Spearing, Nigel|
|Kerr, Russell||Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King||Stallard, A. W.|
|Kinnock, Neil||Newens, stanley||Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)|
|Lambie, David||Noble, Mike||Stoddart, David,|
|Lamborn, Harry||Oakes, Gordon||stott, Roger|
|Lamond, James||Ogden, Eric||Strang, Gavin|
|Latham, Arthur (Paddington)||O'Halloran, Michael||Strauss, Rt. Hon G. R.|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Lee, John||Ovenden, John||Swain, Thomas|
|Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Lever, Rt Hon Harold||Padley, Walter||Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)|
|Lipton, Marcus||Palmer, Arthur||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|Litterick, Tom||Park, George||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)|
|Loyden, Eddie||Parker, John||Tierney, Sydney|
|Luard, Evan||Parry, Robert||Tinn, James|
|Lyon, Alexander (York)||Pendry, Tom||Tomlinson, John|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)||Perry, Ernest||Tomney, Frank|
|Mabon, Dr J. Dickson||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Torney, Tom|
|McCartney, Hugh||Prescott, John||Tuck, Raphael|
|McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Price, C. (Lewisham W)||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.|
|McElhone, Frank||Price, William (Rugby)||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)|
|MacFarquhar, Roderick||Radice, Giles||Walden, Brian (B'hem, L'dyw'd)|
|McGuire, Michael (Ince)||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|MacKenzie, Gregor||Richardson, Miss Jo||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Mackintosh, John P.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Ward, Michael|
|Maclennan, Robert||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)||Watkins, David|
|McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Weetch, Ken|
|Madden, Max||Robinson, Geoffrey||Weitzman, David|
|Magee, Bryan||Roderick, Caerwyn||Wellbeloved, James|
|Maguire, Frank (Fermanagh)||Rodgers, George (Chorley)||White, Frank R. (Bury)|
|Mahon, Simon||Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)||White, James (Pollok)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Rooker, J. W.||Whitlock, William|
|Marks, Kenneth||Rose, Paul B.||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Marquand, David||Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)||Williams, Alan (Swansea W)|
|Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)||Rowlands, Ted||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)|
|Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Ryman, John||Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)|
|Mason, Rt Hon Roy||Sandelson, Neville||Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)|
|Maynard, Miss Joan||Sedgemore, Brian||Wilson(Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Meacher, Michael||Selby, Harry||Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)|
|Mellish, Rt Hon Robert||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)||Wilson, William (Coventry SE)|
|Mikardo, Ian||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Shore, Rt Hon Peter||Woodali, Alec|
|Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)||Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)||Woof, Robert|
|Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)||Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Mitchell, R. C. (Solon, Itchen)||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Molloy, William||Sillars, James|
|Moonman, Eric||Silverman, James|
|Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Skinner, Dennis||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Small, William||Mr. Donald Coleman and|
|Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)||Mr. Peter Snape.|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Burden, F. A.||Fairgrieve, Russell|
|Alison, Michael||Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Fell, Anthony|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Carlisle, Mark||Finsberg, Geoffrey|
|Arnold, Tom||Carson, John||Fisher, Sir Nigel|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles|
|Awdry, Daniel||Churchill, W. S.||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Baker, Kenneth||Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Forman, Nigel|
|Banks, Robert||Clark, William (Croydon S)||Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)|
|Beith, A. J.||Clegg, Walter||Fox, Marcus|
|Bell, Ronald||Cockcroft, John||Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St)|
|Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)||Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)||Freud, Clement|
|Benyon, W.||Cope, John||Fry, Peter|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Cormack, Patrick||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.|
|Biffen, John||Corrie, John||Gardiner, George (Relgate)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Costain, A. P.||Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)|
|Blaker, Peter||Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)||Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)|
|Body, Richard||Crouch, David||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Crowder, F. P.||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Bottomley, Peter||Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford)||Godber, Rt Hon Joseph|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemotown)||Dean, Paul (N Somerset)||Goodhart, Philip|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)||Dodsworth, Geoffrey||Goodhew, Victor|
|Bradford, Rev Robert||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Braine Sir Bernard||Drayson, Burnaby||Gorst, John|
|Britten, Leon||du Cann, Rt Hon Edward||Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, C.||Dunlop, John||Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)|
|Brotherton, Michael||Eden, Rt Hon Sir John||Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Gray, Hamish|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Elliott, Sir William||Griffiths, Eldon|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Emery, Peter||Grimond, Rt Hon J.|
|Budgen, Nick||Eyre, Reginald||Grist, Ian|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Fairbairn, Nicholas||Grylls, Michael|
|Hall, Sir John||Marten, Neil||Ross, William (Londonderry)|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Mates, Michael||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Mather, Carol||Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Maude, Angus||Royle, Sir Anthony|
|Hannam, John||Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald||Sainsbury, Tim|
|Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss||Mawby, Ray||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Hastings, Stephen||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Havers, Sir Michael||Mayhew, Patrick||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Shepherd, Colin|
|Heath, Rt Hon Edward||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)||Shersby, Michael|
|Heseltine, Michael||Mills, Peter||Silvester, Fred|
|Hicks, Robert||Miscampbell, Norman||Sims, Roger|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Hodgson, Robin||Moate, Roger||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Holland, Philip||Molyneaux, James||Smith, Dudley (Warwick)|
|Hooson, Emlyn||Monro, Hector||Speed, Keith|
|Hordern, Peter||Montgomery, Fergus||Spence, John|
|Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Moore, John (Croydon C)||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)|
|Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)||Morgan, Geraint||Sproat, Iain|
|Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral||Stainton, Keith|
|Hunt, David (Wirral)||Morris, Michael (Northampton S)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Hurd, Douglas||Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)||Stanley, John|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Mudd, David||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)||Neave, Airey||Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)|
|James, David||Nelson, Anthony||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd)||Neubert, Michael||Stokes, John|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)||Newton, Tony||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Normanton, Tom||Tapsell, Peter|
|Jones, Arthur (Daventry)||Nott, John||Toylor, R. (Croydon NW)|
|Jopling, Michael||Onslow, Cranley||Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)|
|Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith||Oppenheim, Mrs Sally||Tebbit, Norman|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)||Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Page, Richard (Workington)||Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)|
|Kilfedder, James||Paisley, Rev Ian||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)|
|Kimball, Marcus||Pardoe, John||Townsend, Cyril D.|
|King, Evelyn (South Dorset)||Parkinson, Cecil||Trotter, Neville|
|King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Pattie, Geoffrey||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Kirk, Sir Peter||Penhaligon, David||Vaughan, Dr Gerald|
|Kitson, Sir Timothy||Percival, Ian||Viggers, Peter|
|Knight, Mrs Jill||Peyton, Rt Hon John||Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)|
|Knox, David||Pink, R. Bonner||Wakeham, John|
|Lamont, Norman||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch||Welder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)|
|Latham, Michael (Melton)||Prior, Rt Hon James||Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Pym, Rt Hon Francis||Wall, Patrick|
|Lawson, Nigel||Raison, Timothy||Walters, Dennis|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Rathbone, Tim||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Lloyd, Ian||Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Wells, John|
|Loveridge, John||Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)||Whitelaw, Rt Hon William|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wiggin, Jerry|
|McCrindle, Robert||Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|McCusker, H.||Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)||Wood, Rt Hon Richard|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)|
|MacGregor, John||Ridley, Hon Nicholas||Younger, Hon George|
|Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)||Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Madel, David||Roberts, Wyn (conway)||Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)||Mr. Michael Roberts.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
(1) in view of the serious consequences of uncertainty for the industries concerned and for those employed in them, this House affirms the opinion expressed in its resolution of 27th May 1976 in relation to the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill introduced in the last Session of this Parliament that there should be no delay in the passage of legislation to provide for the vesting in bodies corporate established by authority of Parliament of the securities of certain companies engaged in manufacturing aircraft and guided weapons and of certain companies engaged in shipbuilding and allied industries, and accordingly the Order of 29th November that the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills do examine the
Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill of this Session is discharged and in relation to the proceedings on that Bill any Standing Orders relating to private business and consideration of the application of any such Standing Orders are dispensed with;
(2) in the event of the Bill being read a second time, it shall stand committed to a Committee of the whole House, and when the Order of the Day is read for the House to resolve itself into the Committee on the Bill, Mr. Speaker shall leave the Chair without putting any Question, notwithstanding that Notice of an Instruction may have been given, and in the Committee on the Bill the Chairman shall forthwith put the Question that he do report the Bill, without Amendment, to the House without putting any other Question, and the Question so put shall be decided forthwith.