§ Mr. Robin Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)
With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I wish to present 19 petitions. They are all different, though they have some common points. They are all objection petitions against the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill and in 1768 each case the petitioner humbly prays that the petitioner or counsel may be heard against the provisions of the Bill and:that such relief may be given to your petitioners as your honourable House shall deem meet.Two of the petitions are from corporate bodies and 17 from individuals. If hon. Members wish, I can read them out in toto, but I propose to summarise the contents of some and to give a few as examples.
The petition under the common seal of Dowsett Holdings Ltd., which is the majority shareholder of Brooke Marine Ltd of Lowestoft, sets out the damage which the firm has already suffered through the Government's nationalisation proposals and the ability of the firm to remain a good employer without nationalisation and prays that the House does not enact the Bill.
The second petition is that from Bristol Channel Ship Repairers Ltd. under its common seal. It says:(2) Your Petitioners are named in Schedule 2, Part 1 of the Bill and humbly beg to state that
- (i) they have been unfairly and prejudicially selected for nationalisation
- (ii) they have on numerous occasions, in writing, sought a meeting with the Secretary of State for Industry, all of which have been ref used
- (iii) the Secretary of State for Industry has failed to explain to them how their nationalisation would improve or maintain the service which has to be provided to attract and retain customers and, therefore, maintain or increase employment.
- (iv) the Secretary of State for Industry has failed to explain to them how their nationalisation could improve the employee participation programme being enjoyed by shiprepair workers in South Wales.
- (v)(a) the Minister of State for Industry when winding up the Bill's Second Reading Debate, said in your Honourable House on 2nd December 1975:'I hope, without difficulty, to be able to convince Bristol Channel Ship Repairers Limited of the overwhelming case for its own nationalisation'.(b) to your Honourable House's Standing Committee D the Minister of State for Industry said on 13th January 1976 he had already made his arrangements to visit them and that he was intending to:'to consult with management as well as workers…'(c) the Minister of State for Industry has not at any time made contact with or visited them(3) Your Petitioners submit that, in all the circumstances, the Bill should not be allowed to pass into law but if, in spite of the objections of your Petitioners, your honourable House sees fit to allow the Bill so to pass, your Petitioners submit that it should be amended to meet the points of concern to your Petitioners.Therefore, your Petitioners humbly pray that they or their counsel may be heard against the provisions of the Bill and that such relief may be given to your Petitioners as your honourable House shall deem meet. And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray…I think it may assist the House if I take the principal points from a representative selection of a few of the petitions. For instance, there is a Mr. James Tallboy, a shop steward of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers, who says:As a shop steward in the AUEW employed in the shiprepairing industry in South Wales, I have wanted to meet the Secretary of State for Industry in order that he can explain to me how nationalisation of the ship repair industry in South Wales would benefit me and my fellow employees, but he has refused to see me.Mr. Tallboy then says:Your Petitioner submits that in all the circumstances the Bill should not be allowed to pass into law.He ends by asking that he may be heard by himself or by counsel against the provisions of the Bill.
Mr. Tallboy is not alone among the petitioners from that distinguished union. Mr. Bernard Bulpin, also a shop steward of the AUEW, speaks in the same terms:I am also very worried that due to the inevitable centralisation of the industry after nationalisation, the work which we now receive through our efficiency will be diverted to much larger yards where there are many more men employed than in South Wales; this will entail a reduction in my earnings and eventually my job will be in danger.1770 Mr. Bulpin also asks to be heard in person or by his counsel by this honourable House.
Mr. Colin Scammell, of the Plumbers Trade Union, has similar apprehensions—[HON. MEMBERS: "Read them out."] I must accede to the wishes of the House He says:I am a member of the PTU and an employed in ship repairing in South Wales. I have wanted to meet the Secretary of State for Industry in order that he could explain to me how nationalisation of the ship repair industry in South Wales would benefit me and my fellow employees, but he refused to meet us.He asks that in all the circumstances the Bill should not be allowed to pass into law, and that he should be heard by the House either in person or by counsel praying in support of his petition.
Then there is Mr. David Cotter of the Amalgamated Society of Boilermakers, Shipwrights, Blacksmiths and Structural Workers. He says, among other cogent and telling points to which the House ought to give consideration:I believe nationalisation of the ship repair industry in South Wales will entail a reduction in the volume of work and therefore in the number of available jobs. I believe that the proposal to nationalise the ship repair industry in South Wales is wrong because many foreign owners will no longer send their ships to South Wales to repair. Nationalisation would swamp our small firm. Nationalisation without consent would be tyrannical.He goes on to submit that, in all the circumstances, the Bill should not be allowed to pass into law and asks to be heard, either in person or by his counsel, against the provisions of the Bill and that such relief may be afforded to him as a petitioneras your honourable House shall deem meet.He ends by saying that he will pray for us. That is something of which this House may well be in need.
Then Mr. Roy Pearce of the Transport and General Workers Union says:I believe that the proposals to nationalise a ship repair industry in South Wales is wrong because many owners will no longer send their ships for repair to South Wales and therefore our national economy will suffer.
Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) would be best advised to continue in the way he was going.
§ Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not correct that an hon. Member who presents a petition is entitled either to read it or to summarise its contents and not to make comments, contentious or otherwise?
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
If the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) wishes me to read in toto each of the 19 and thereby to keep the servants of the House up for a late night, it will be on his head and not on mine. Not to do that is my only motive for summarising the contents and not reading them in toto.
§ Mr. Greville Janner
I am entitled to raise a point of order. I have no objection to the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) summarising the contents of the petitions. I accept that, subject to your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that is totally proper, but it is totally improper for him to make contentious comments.
Mr. Deputy Speaker
Comment or debate would be out of order, but I am under the impression that the hon. Member was summarising 19 petitions.
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
Yes. I was doing so with the object of saving the time of the House, although if the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West finds my summary inadequate to convey to him the contents of the petitions, I shall, of course, accede to a request to read them in toto.
This petitioner, like others, wishes to be heard in support of his petition, either personally or by counsel, and prays the House that he may be accorded that.
Next we have Mr. Paul Ross of the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers. As an employee-director in the ship repair industry in South Wales, and a member of the AUEW, he expresses the same view of the danger which will be caused to the level of employment in South Wales. He says: 1772I believe nationalisation of the ship repair industry in South Wales will entail a reduction in the volume of work and therefore in the number of available jobs.He also asks to be heard.
As you will see, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and as you will have noted, these are but a small proportion of the petitions, every one of which has been certified by the Journal Office as being in due form and which I present to the House on behalf of the petitioners.
Mr. Deputy Speaker
On behalf of the House and of the Chair, I express appreciation of the way in which the hon. Member for Tiverton has presented the 19 petitions and the brevity that he has shown.
§ To lie upon the Table.