§ 3.10 p.m.
§ Lord Bruce of Donington rose to call attention to the case for the progressive establishment of a democratic socialist society within the United Kingdom; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, it is my purpose this afternoon within the limited time at my disposal to obtain a cross-party consensus from all quarters of the House as regards the steps that I shall venture to suggest to your Lordships should be taken if we are to avoid some disastrous events which in my view lie on the horizon unless something is done.
§ Forty-nine years ago, some weeks before the invasion of France in the last great war, which many of your Lordships may recall, there was issued by the coalition government of that time a unique document. It was an all-party document and in point of fact it is the first document, so far as my researches indicate, in which a socialist policy was enunciated by a government composed of all parties and predominant-ly composed of members of the Conservative Party. Of course, I refer to the coalition White Paper on employment policy which is Cmd. No. 6527 of 26th May 1944. That is one of the most remarkable documents that has ever been issued because there, for 1748 the first time, an all-party government accepted full responsibility for the maintenance of full employment and made that the cardinal aspect of their policy.
§ Indeed, it went much further than that. It set out the various steps which a democratically elected and accountable government would have to take in order to achieve and maintain full employment. Among other things it included the adjustment of public expenditure from time to time, particularly when consumer demand was depressed, and it sought also by the manipulative powers lying within it—for example, by the buying and selling of our own currency and by the establishment of interest rates at varying levels as necessary—to maintain a reasonably stable foreign exchange rate.
One of the most important powers which it proposed to take was that relating to investment. The White Paper states:
It should be possible for the Government to maintain the stability of public investment when private investment is beginning to fall off at the onset of a depression. But this may not be enough: for the purpose of maintaining general employment it is desirable that public investment should actually expand when private investment is declining and should contract in periods of boom".
Those are the policies that were put forward. They were put forward prior to the invasion and, indeed, they supplemented the earlier proposals concerned with social security of which your Lordships are aware under the Beveridge proposals. Therefore our troops in the field and the people at home were given some vista of the direction which the government would take immediately following the war when the battle for freedom was won.
§ The people were conscious no doubt of the promises which were given during the First World War that we would establish a land fit for heroes to live in. Very properly, in 1942 and in 1944 the coalition government thought it wise that the efforts of our people in the battle for freedom, whether in the forces or at home, should receive that extra fillip by a firm assurance of what kind of world and what kind of country they were fighting for; and there can be no doubt that those assurances and proposals, together with others coming from a government composed of all parties, stimulated powerfully the endeavours of our people during the war.
§ Your Lordships will be well aware that so well was the country administered during the war owing to a very fair system of rationing based on fair shares for all that for many of the poorer people in our country, who were fairly and justly treated under the war-time regime, it became the first time that they had decent and balanced meals, which they could not possibly have had before.
§ Therefore, when I speak this afternoon of steps taken towards the establishment of a democratic socialist society, I am talking about matters within our perception and in continuation of the proposals which were made under different but very urgent circumstan-ces at this country's time of peril. It will be part of my purpose to suggest this afternoon that, for entirely different reasons, we are in peril today in an entirely different way but, nevertheless, in an extremely ominous way with which we must deal.1749
§ It is common knowledge that following the war the policies of the first socialist government were regarded as relatively non-contentious. I well recall a statement by the late Lord Butler, when we called him Rab Butler, in which he said, "We are all socialists now". That did not seem to raise any particular argument. Indeed, the various steps which were taken by the Labour Government in 1945 to 1951, when I had the honour to be a Member of another place, were not very much disturbed by the following Conservative Government who operated very much on the basis of the maintenance of the welfare state, the maintenance of conditions of full employment, and so on. Indeed, I can well recall Mr. Harold Macmillan, the late Lord Stockton, when at a Tory Party conference he made a bid for the building of 300,000 houses. He was bid up in the course of the conference. It was well established and agreed that there was a broad consensus; namely, that the policies followed for the maintenance of full employment during the war should be continued.
§ As time passed the sense of unity began to wear off a little, which is not surprising. Most reforming governments who base their policies on the removal of grievances find eventually that the more grievances that are removed, the more conservative people become. Moreover, to some extent that process is accentuated by the very division of labour itself, the division of labour in industry. which splits into various compartments and sections— whole lines of production—which has resulted in the terrific increase in wealth in the country, mainly, I must say, at the hands of private enterprise. But what happens? In the process of becoming specialist in a particular sphere and in narrowing one's mind to cover the performance of a particular function, so, too, one's mind becomes narrower. Unless we are postmen, we take the postman for granted and unless we are milkmen, we take the milkman for granted. We tend to narrow and restrict our views. But the time must come when we will all have to take a far broader view of what is happening among us.
§ I repeat, during the years following the war, the enthusiasm for further social regulation, whether by change of ownership or otherwise by the Government in the broad interest, diminished. Indeed, that is exemplified in one way by the conflict which emerged between corporate capital and the trade unions in the 1970s, where the orderly progress which had proceeded hitherto was disrupted by a quadrupling in the price of oil. We then had a conflict and a choice. The incomes policy that was necessary at the time to maintain full employment was, to some extent, enshrined in the then Mrs. Barbara Castle's, In place of Strife. I believe that we made a very great mistake there in not taking the opportunity then offered to us of a co-operative procedure between capital and labour in order to ensure stability.
§ I return now to unemployment. The maintenance of a welfare state is the other part of the employment equation. Unless full employment is maintained, the strain on the social services will be considerable. In fact, it is estimated that 3 million unemployed cost about £21 billion, which represents a very considerable strain. Therefore, it is in our interests that full 1750 employment should be maintained. There is also the loss of production by idle factors in terms of human labour. At the same time we are missing out on being able to satisfy human needs. Therefore, unless we take constructive steps by governmental intervention on the lines originally proposed, we shall not produce all the wealth that is vitally necessary.
§ In consequence of the failure of those policies due to the fact that they were not continued, and precisely because the policy of free market forces was adopted thereafter, the result has been absolutely disastrous. The whole social fabric of the country has been put under strain: unemployment is running at 3 million; homelessness is running at a very high level; and there are very wide disparities of income. Society has created an underclass—that is, an underclass which is bitter and which is becoming more and more restive and separated from the rest of society.
§ That position has to be corrected. We must establish a fairer and more just society so that those festering sores within our own living community can be eliminated. Although we may not always be able to establish absolute equality, as some may infer from my use of socialist terminology, nevertheless, we shall be in a position where we can, once again and as we did during the war and immediately thereafter, march ahead together. That is what we have to do. If we fail to do it, we shall live bitterly to regret it. There will be a spread of what many already term "the sick society". My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.25 p.m.
§ Lord Grimond
My Lords, the House will be most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington. The noble Lord is always pointful, forceful and indeed original. Today he has chose a subject which to my mind is of great importance but which may come as a slight shock to some members of the party who had thought that socialism was dead; I am afraid that it is not dead. But the democratic method is suffering from its failure to deliver the ideals of Lincoln; namely, to ensure:Government of the people, by the people, for the people".On the contrary, it has been smothered by bureaucracy and by a certain greed in the ruling classes of the country.
Bureaucratic methods are not confined to bureaucracy itself, but to the general running of the country. With that has gone the great strengthening of capital against labour. Now it is control of capital which determines the power basis of the country. Surely what is needed is to assert the democratic principle and, above all, individualism and effective individual ownership and control of capital.
If democratic socialism means "distributism" as it used to be called, then Liberals and Social Democrats are at one. Further, the driving force both, I think, of social democracy and of Adam Smith's liberalism was a moral force. It rested not so much upon economic measures as upon a moral, ethical or political view of society.
§ Lord Grimond
No, I am sorry, my Lords; there will be ample time to do so in seven minutes.
Adam Smith placed very great importance upon the beneficial effects of the "hidden hand". But he was under no illusion that that hidden hand needed to be controlled and guided, especially by law. All ethics must surely be individual and must not only be concerned with the individual but with the individual's place and his responsibilities towards the community.
Today the idea of responsibility to the community and the idea of a common good is not popular; indeed, it is roundly spewed upon by those who say that the business of mankind is to make money for himself and his friends. But, in my view, the market run simply for profit-making by comparatively few people, who happen to gain control of capital largely through luck, is bound to end in a most amoral and inefficient society. Moreover, too many aspects of our life which cannot be subject to the market are contaminated by the attempt to import into them the ethics and the outlook of the market. For example, surely you cannot run the criminal courts and criminal law by the market; and you cannot run education and, to my mind, health in that way.
Attempts are made to force all those matters into the straitjacket of the market. Much as I admire the market, it must be confined to areas where it is relevant and proper. Even within that relevant and proper sphere, as has been understood since Adam Smith, it requires the regulation of a framework of law and also of society, which on the whole have certain aims in common, and certain lines of behaviour must be enforced.
If by the market we simply mean that each large corporation in the market pursues what is now, I think, called "the bottom line"—that is, the maximum value for the shareholders—then we are bound to have an inefficient and unsatisfactory society. I am afraid that that is what we have. One only has to look at recent events to see that. One only has to look at the handling of our affairs by the Treasury; at the history of Lloyd's insurance; at the use of computers in the Stock Exchange; and at the muddle in all aspects of government from local taxation to the Common Market. One only has to look at our economy, which is one of the most lagging in Europe, to appreciate what a sad state our society is in. Above all, one only has to look at the lack of honesty in society. One firm of accountants has estimated that £25 million of fraud is perpetrated in the City every day. That cannot be a satisfactory or efficient state of affairs.
What then should we do? First of all, we must distinguish between what can be subject to the market and what cannot. We have to decide where profit may properly be made and where it may not, and try to establish other motivations in those areas which should not be subject solely to the market.
We also need to enforce some form of common good, or, if not enforce it, at least encourage it. If that is to have any relevance to most people, with it must go certain common rewards, the opportunity to make one's way in the world, and to benefit from the immense wealth-creating advantages of the present century.
1752 I do not believe that the present Government have any clear idea about the kind of society they want to create. I am not suggesting that governments should create societies but they should have some idea of the kind of society for which they are prepared to do the ground work. The majority of the people in this country do not understand what is in the Government's mind. Unless the people understand what is in the Government's mind, it is impossible to conduct a sensible programme of legislation.
The term "social engineering" has been used but one cannot have social engineering unless one has some idea of the engine one is trying to construct or repair. I see some hope at the moment. The Newbury by-election was a sign of hope, not only because a Liberal Democrat was elected but because it showed that the people of this country are fed up with aimless government. The statement made by the Governor of the Bank of England yesterday was hopeful because he emphasised that top people have an obligation to set an example. He said they are part of the community and they share its aims. If inflation in this country is to be stopped, it must be stopped at the top. If efficiency is to be promoted, it must be promoted from the top. Perhaps the ideals, if not the actual methods suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, may yet prevail. If they do that would be a good thing. However, I cannot endorse all the methods he suggested.
§ 3.33 p.m.
§ Lord Moyne
My Lords, we should be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, for calling this debate. It may be rather theoretical—I think it is—but theory has consequences. Theory consists of seeds which do not, perhaps unfortunately, always fall on stony ground.
I suspect that democratic socialism is a contradiction in terms, but, rather than get bogged down in defining terms, I am taking the expression to mean social democracy, which is that hybrid between socialism and capitalism under which we have been living ever since the days of Churchill and Attlee. The remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, implied that that is what he is yearning to restore.
I believe we are still under that system. It is a system that very much reflects the nature of the Labour Party which engineered it, for the Labour Party as a whole has rarely been fervent in its pursuit of that socialism, which is in fact incompatible with democracy partly because its instincts are democratic but mainly because it is a syndicalist party linked to the trade unions. Trade unions, of their essence, need employers to wrestle with. Abolish employers and trade unions lose their function. If they fight nationalised industries, they tangle with the public. Under the system of complete state socialism of Stalin, the trade unions had to become government poodles. As regards fighting workers' co-operatives, they would have absolutely no function at all because a workers' co-operative and a trade union is in theory identical.
But if the social democratic settlement after 1945 reflects the nature of the British Labour Party, it also reflects more profoundly the propensities of the 1753 British people as a whole. During the early decades of this century there was a radical shift in what may be called the national sensibility; that is, the extent to which British people of all classes would put up with intolerable conditions for the masses that in Queen Victoria's reign were accepted with a shrug. If it was the Labour Party which gave effect to social democracy, it built on foundations laid before and during the Second World War, largely by nonsocialists—the liberals Keynes and Beveridge (the document quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, reeked of Keynes) and the Conservative R. A. Butler. Despite the privatisations and the tax changes of the 1980s and despite the holes that are appearing in the welfare state, the essential features of that settlement remain. Much of what your Lordships will hear this afternoon will amount to little more than the repainting of that familiar facade, the replacement perhaps of the odd cornice and the clearing of the gutter. By that I mean that whatever government are in power must concern themselves with the under-class, though not in the way suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Bruce.
So what shall we do? In seven minutes I cannot, of course, suggest much but clearly we shall not discard the capitalist economy, which is the only possible engine for the good life. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the adoption of free enterprise by the Chinese it would be perverse to adopt the system which has brought those countries to penury. However, I would also like to remind the House of something much more controversial—a principle passed over in silence by most modern Conservatives who are in fact Victorian liberals, followers not of Burke but of Cobden. It is put more succinctly than I could manage by a French correspondent of Keynes. I owe it to the book written by the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, on the life of Keynes which states:Stable fortunes, the hereditary permanence of families, and sets of families of various social standings are an invisible social asset on which every kind of culture is more or less dependent".Keynes replied:I fully agree with this … But I must not allow you to make me too conservative".Is not this almost girlish distaste of conservatism strange among intellectuals of that vintage? For this is a perception more profound than mere elitism. It is not only peers and not only Tories who have contributed to our society precisely because they were shaped by their families and by the history of their families. Without such influences could we have been edified by the writings of Paul Foot, or charmed by the stage performances of Vanessa Redgrave?
§ 3.38 p.m.
§ Lord Harris of High Cross
My Lords, I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, on his unusually restrained and statesmanlike opening to the debate, which I fear I cannot hope to emulate. He certainly produced a Motion that we can all accept, even those of us on the Cross-Benches. After all, he does not state in the Motion that he "recommends" but only that he "calls 1754 attention" to the case. He calls attention to "the case" for his panacea, not to "a strong" or an "irresistible" case.
If he had dared to use the words "urge the case" in the Motion, he would have had to move for rather more than Papers. I would have thought it prudent at least to move for help or to move, like the noble Lord, Lord Healey, in 1975, for an early invitation to the IMF. We should be grateful to the noble Lord because he has raised an intriguing question which no one, apart from Fidel Castro and some ageing Chinese communists, has mentioned recently.
Growing up as a young man in High Cross, Tottenham, I was not unmoved by the strength of the emotional case for socialism. I was never at all troubled by what is called inequality. I have resolved that the reason is that I could look around me and see within the working classes wide inequalities. I could detect that those frequently sprang from differential habits, training, perseverance and even sobriety—what economists call differential contributions to the national product justifying differing rewards.
However, like most people I was then and am still moved by poverty. I once tried unsuccessfully to persuade Lady Gaitskell that my heart was in the right place, which was left of centre. The trouble was that, having gone to Cambridge just before the Keynesian iron curtain came down, I had the idea that on important matters my head might frequently overrule my heart. On poverty both head and heart cry out for a better way than the present all-party socialist method of indiscriminate subsidies to ensure a decent minimum for people who cannot help themselves in my own preferred market economy.
I look forward to hearing the noble Lord, Lord Plant, but unfortunately there is no time to do justice to the great philosophical issues. With due apologies for appearing dogmatic, I offer my view, for what it is worth, that both in theory and especially in practice the apparent delights of socialism—which Lord Robbins used to call the "mystic joys of tribal unity"—are but a snare and a delusion.
I shall not rehearse the superior case for the market on grounds of incentives to efficiency, technical progress and wealth creation to resolve problems of poverty, and so on. Instead, I shall reject socialism in four minutes flat by reference to the single issue of individual liberty.
I found it interesting that one of the great advocates of socialism, Professor Richard Titmuss, always cast his mind back to the example of the war and urged that we should wear the socialist badge as "a badge of citizenship". Even liberals as far gone as myself accept that some form of socialism is indispensable in a state of siege. Indeed, in wartime socialism is inescapable. It does not function very well, but it cannot be avoided. However, it involves—as Professor Titmuss seemed to be unaware—severe suppression of individual freedom of movement, of spending, of consumption, choice of job and the rest.
Briefly recalling another socialist saint—Aneurin Bevan—I would point out that socialism is concerned not only with deciding priorities but above all with imposing priorities. The dilemma is this. First, the 1755 waging of war offers a single overriding criterion by reference to which priorities can be set. Secondly, war brings a shared sense of danger which makes central enforcement more tolerable. Except to serious social engineers, neither of those two crucial simplicities applies in the diverse world of a free society in time of peace.
Despite all equivocations, democratic socialism means a continuing, progressive extension of coercive government far beyond the necessary role of supplying what economists debate as public goods. Democratic socialism means the pervasive spread of politicisation to more and more aspects of our daily lives. I recall a book by a former Labour Minister, now I believe sheltering somewhere in this place, entitled Politics is for People. To that I say "Bah!" and "Humbug!". Normal people have been fed up with politics and politicians for years. My colleague Arthur Seldon quipped that a truer title would have been: "Politics is for political people".
Politicians are, of course, personally often very nice. We would all agree that they are even better when they reach the eminence of the Back-Benches in this House. Mixed up with vanity, histrionics, zest for power or the illusion of power, they mostly have good intentions. Socialism is the means of converting those golden intentions into dross. We have seen that the progressive aggrandisement of the state has been a total failure. The further it has been pushed in Eastern Europe and throughout Africa the greater the failure and the less individual liberty there is left.
Nevertheless, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, for drawing our attention to the case for democratic socialism. He appears in rude health, but I suggest that he should take up a less strenuous and taxing hobby than advocating socialism. I suggest that instead of withdrawing his call for Papers he asks for a copy of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ The Earl of Longford
My Lords, there is no one who is easier to listen to or more thought provoking than the noble Lord. The only thing that puzzles me is why he sits on the Cross-Benches. The noble Lord took a certain pride in his perch there just now, but why is he not among the Conservatives? I suppose that he thinks that they are a lot of softies and crypto-socialists. The noble Lord is so far to the right that he does not recognise that they have anything in common with him. He will forgive me if I do not follow him too closely.
My noble friend Lord Bruce is a fine and vigorous friend of mine. If I was in real trouble I would go to him. He would not ask me whether I was guilty; he would just make sure that the other man did not show his face in public for a long time. He is that sort of friend.
One question which arises is whether these labels are of any importance. I must apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, for interrupting. It is a rather absurd convention of this House that we do not have interruptions. Otherwise, we have addresses to tied 1756 audiences all afternoon. It would be so much more fun if we could interrupt. However, the noble Lord was within his rights and I apologise.
However, I want to raise the issue of phraseology with the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, and other Liberals and with my former pupil the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, is not here today because I understand that he is the leader of the Liberals and in that sense the noble Lords, Lord Grimond and Lord Mayhew, are his underlings. When he spoke the other day in a debate the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, said:although I may have belonged nominally to three parties, it is my firm view that I have remained exactly where I am and that other people have changed. I have held exactly the same moderately social democratic views for at least the past 25 years".—[Official Report, 24/2/93; col. 322.]I do not know whether that applies to the other Liberal champions today, but that is why I question whether democratic socialism and social democracy are the same thing. However, in my few minutes I cannot pursue the subject.
I have often said here that I am a socialist because I am a Christian. When I say that I realise that there are better Christians than I who are Conservatives and members of other parties. One of the most notable on these Benches is my noble friend Lord Soper. When we debated the Education Reform Bill two or three years ago who was it who took the initiative in introducing the word "Christianity" into the Bill? It was the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, who is a strong Conservative. One might almost call her a Right-wing Conservative. Therefore I realise that it is possible to be a Conservative and a Christian. I understand why because I was once a Conservative myself, 100 years ago.
It is possible to believe that capitalism pursued along very unequal lines in the end is the way that enriches everyone, including the poorest. Therefore we have many good Christians. I speak as a socialist because I am a Christian. I realise that there are other traditions in the Labour Party. I do not refer to Marxism. In my view, Marxism contributed nothing to the Labour Party.
In 1947, before most of the Members on the Front Bench were born, I was Minister of Civil Aviation. I went to a dinner at the Russian Embassy and sat between Mr. Molotov and Mr. Ernest Bevin. Mr. Molotov asked me, "Have you studied Karl Marx, Lord Pakenham?", as I called myself at the time. I said, "I have studied Karl Marx". I had lectured on him; I had lectured to the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, on him. I said, "I am afraid that I have not become a marxist". Speaking through the interpreter, he said, "I quite understand, Lord Pakenham, that one would not expect to find a good marxist in the House of Lords". Mr. Bevin then said—I shall not try to copy his voice—"That's where you're wrong, Mr. Molotov. Members of the House of Lords are the only people who have time to read Karl Marx". Still courteous, Mr. Molotov replied: "Mr. Bevin should study the works of Marx in the commentary of Hilfiding". Bevin was not to be defeated. He said, "I have studied Hilfiding and have found him tedious". That finished the discussion for the moment.
1757 Marx has had nothing to do with the development of the Labour Party, although marxists have been included in it. Secularism, taking the Fabians as an example, has had a great deal to do with it. One has had the Christian and the secular tradition. So far as I am concerned, society is grossly unjust and became more unjust throughout the Thatcherite and Conservative years when the inequality of wealth was increased. It had been decreased under various governments, including Conservative governments. It has been increased until now. I cannot understand how any Christian can justify that.
For me at least there is no doubt about the conclusion. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Grimond. We must find a way in which enterprise is rewarded and at the same time justice done to those who are called in the Gospel the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind—in other words, the disadvantaged in this country and other countries. That must be the direction in which we move. No human society can be perfect. No motivation among politicians or others will be perfect. In my eyes—I can speak only for myself—the Labour Party will follow the banner that floats nearest the sky.
§ 3.52 p.m.
§ Lord Plant of Highfield
My Lords, I wish to support the Motion of my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington. I wish to do so by concentrating on one issue: the idea of social justice. I believe that it is absolutely fundamental to socialism, whether in its marxist, democratic socialist or social democratic form. It is a point which Hayek (one of the gurus of the noble Lord, Lord Harris of High Cross) has emphasised; namely, that social justice is in many ways the core value of socialism. Yet that concept of social justice has been considerably undermined by the intellectual prominence of economic liberal and new Right thinking over the past 15 years.
It is important, not to set the record straight, but to say something to balance the other side and to rehabilitate the idea of social justice. It is an appeal to the moral value of social justice that underpins the political attempt to allocate resources as opposed to a market attempt to allocate resources. It is central to the economic liberal's case that markets do not serve social justice. To use the words of Hayek, they are in principle unprincipled. That is to say, their outcomes do not embody any particular moral outcome. Markets are neither just nor unjust. The category of justice does not apply to them. It is important therefore for people on the Left to respond to the criticisms of economic liberals. In the few moments available to me, I wish to refer to some of the criticisms.
One of the central criticisms from the economic liberal front of the idea of social justice is that freedom has nothing to do with the possession or lack of possession of resources. In particular, it has nothing to do with ability. To be free to do something is quite different from being able to do it. To be free to do something is not to be prevented from doing 1758 something by the intentional action of someone else. Freedom is the absence of coercion not ability, and the associated resources and opportunities.
The logic of that position led the noble Lord, Lord Joseph, in his book on equality, published in the 1970s, to argue in one of his chapter headings that poverty is not "unfreedom". Poverty is not unfreedom because the possession of abilities and the associated resources and opportunities has nothing to do with liberty.
To argue that there is a categorical distinction between being free to do something on the one hand and being able to do it on the other is a fundamental error for three reasons. First, if I asked the noble Lord, Lord Joseph—I wish that he were present today—"What is so great about being free from coercion? Why should I wish to be free from coercion? What is valuable about negative liberty in that sense?", surely the answer that he would give is that if one is free from coercion, if one is not prevented from doing things, one can live a life shaped by one's own purposes and values. One is enabled to do various things that one would not be able to do if one were coerced. The value of liberty rests upon what one is then able to do with it. Therefore a categorical distinction cannot be drawn between being free to do something and being able to do it.
The second reason I believe that there is no categorical distinction is that for most people, whether someone is free or "unfree" to do something depends on whether there is a generalised ability to do it. If I asked noble Lords, "Were people free or unfree to fly aeroplanes in the last century?", your Lordships would consider it a silly question because no one was able to fly aeroplanes in the last century. What makes people free or unfree to fly now is that there is a general ability to fly. If that is so, the ability to do something is a necessary condition of being free to do it. Therefore there cannot be, as the noble Lord, Lord Joseph, and economic liberals argue, a categorical distinction between being free to do something and being able to do it.
The third reason I believe that the attempt to drive a wedge between liberty and resources will not work is this. If one said that freedom is the absence of coercion, how would one figure out whether one society is more or less free than another? It would have to be a purely quantitative judgement. How many coercive rules are there in one society compared with another society? That would lead to a very paradoxical conclusion: that a simple society with few transactions, with little complexity in its life and therefore few rules, might be a freer society than a society such as ours. For example, before the recent changes in Albania there were few cars and virtually no financial transactions. There were therefore few rules governing those activities. Yet if freedom is the absence of coercive rules, one would be in the paradoxical position of saying that Albania is a freer society than Britain because there are fewer rules in Albania than in our own country. No one will accept that statement for the good reason that in Albania the people were not able to do things that we were able to do such as to emigrate, to criticise the government, to 1759 invest and so forth. It follows from that argument that freedom cannot be categorically different from ability because what makes Albania a less free society than Britain is a reference to what we are able to do and what they are not able to do.
That may sound very arcane and philosophical. However, it is central to the economic liberal's case that freedom is the absence of coercion and not the possession of abilities and the associated resources and opportunities which go with it. If freedom and ability are linked, and if therefore resources and opportunities are also linked, then the defence of individual liberty also means the securing to individuals, by political action where markets fail, those resources and opportunities, and level of income, which will enable those individuals to do things which, if matters were left to the operation of the market, they would not be able to do. Therefore, I think that social justice has a close and indispensable link with the idea of liberty and thus the defence of individual freedom and the defence of distributive politics, it seems to me, go together. That is a central insight into the socialist tradition.
§ 4 p.m.
§ Viscount Hanworth
My Lords, I believe that we should not use the word "democracy" without first considering what it means. That is particularly important with so many nations at the moment seeking a democratic solution. At one extreme there are people who think that everyone should have access to instant voting on any issue, whether or not they have studied the matters at stake. At the other extreme, democracy is simply equated with our existing system in England.
Whichever view one may take, it must now be clear that election on the basis of "first past the post" or delegation of responsibility to so-called "duly elected representatives" does not always constitute true democracy. A philosophic definition of democracy is hard to find, yet if it is to represent government by all the people it must be the antithesis of complete autocracy. More specifically, therefore, there should be a genuine attempt to consider the public's wishes, and for that reliance on the ballot box is insufficient because the issues at election times are generally very narrow. Maybe reliance on stereotyped election propaganda is the prime cause of the present Government's notable failure to keep in touch with the electorate.
For example, they have received absolutely no mandate or recorded public wish to privatise the railways. Nor, I think, has any other important reason for doing so been canvassed, and that applies to much else.
A government must, of course, be prepared to take unpopular measures where the national interest really demands it. But they should not pretend that party dogma which is not generally acceptable comes under that category. The present Government's extreme attitude to privatisation and the so-called market 1760 place, with their short-term thinking, is a blatant example of dogma. I would castigate the Government for almost everything they have done recently.
They seem not to realise that what the public wants and has a right to demand is gradual change—I say again, gradual change—where it seems generally desirable. What is wholly unacceptable is the introduction of new philosophies and excursions into the unknown without adequate thought. Surely, the Government might even now realise that there is no merit in change for change's sake. They are perhaps following the ridiculous idea that in order to survive, all governments—new or old—have to show their vigour and virility by making dramatic and irrelevant changes. It is certainly not democratic to do so in the teeth of the public's wishes to follow a more sensible road.
One wonders how far party interest, coupled with the need for the advancement of Ministers, is now the predominant motivation of so much unfortunate parliamentary thinking. I would go even further—to question whether the existing parliamentary system ought not to be improved to serve the national interest better than it seems to today.
§ 4.4 p.m.
§ Lord Ardwick
My Lords, 25 years ago I was reporting a Conservative party conference for my newspaper. At the bar, an obvious former empire builder mistook me for one of the Tory faithful. He said, "I didn't return to this country to see it led by a ruddy communist". I told him that I knew Harold Wilson well and I could assure the man that he was no communist. "I am not talking about him", he said, "I mean Rab Butler"—and he was not being funny.
Many of us rejoiced in the days of what was called "Butskellism" in which the Tories accepted the achievements of the Labour Government of 1945, with full employment, the welfare state and nationalisation of the utilities and the Labour party had discarded its dream of a total socialist society. Indeed, Gaitskell wished to get rid of Clause 4 in its constitution, and my noble friend Lord Jay wanted to change the name to the Labour and Radical Party.
However, beneath the unwritten consensus at Westminster there was a profound middle class disquiet and often bitterness in the country at the failure of Tory Governments to lower taxation and to restore the privileges and differentials which the middle classes had once enjoyed. Indeed, Mr. Heath started with the intention of appeasing them. But it was Mrs. Thatcher who gave them what they wanted and turned consensus into bitter confrontation. The consequence after 14 years is the plight that Britain is in today: a land of unemployment, bankruptcies, personal debt, with great institutions at war with the Government and the Government at war with themselves.
So I heartily endorse my noble friend's case for the progressive establishment of a democratic socialist society, though I wish he had not confined it to this country. There are things which Europe has to show us about the treatment of workers.
1761 I am a cradle socialist. I was brought up in the IOP, the shop assistants' union, the co-operative movement with its splendid women's guild, over which my noble friend Lady Fisher once presided. Just as a cradle Catholic may speak candidly about the Church, so I may from time to time speak candidly about the Labour Party. Mine was one of those many homes which were more Methodist than Marxist; and the conception of socialism was a moral creed of a collective society of brotherly love under the fatherhood of God. It was also concerned about social and political inequality and about a fairer distribution of goods. Only when we came to the application of the creed in order to obtain those good things were we at odds with one another.
Now it will not be easy to preach that full socialism which some people have preached for many years. For a long time most socialists have been disturbed by the Soviet Union and its satellites; but their collapse revealed an even greater cruelty, corruption and chaos than we had suspected, and also the awful inefficiency of a command economy.
However, despite our long-standing contempt for the Soviet Union—the fact that it claimed to be socialist makes it no easier for us—we share a part of its history, and at one time we shared part of its creed. Nevertheless, if we were to see a Labour government, I think we should find a government who would be faced with appalling difficulties, as the President of the United States is now finding.
The Political Quarterly, in a striking editorial, argues that this Conservative Government have no longer the remotest idea of where they are going. They still cling to odd bits of Thatcherite projects of the 1980s, of further irrelevant privatisation here and another mean-minded swipe at the welfare state there, but with diminishing conviction. Not even Ministers today imagine that selling off British Rail or the Post Office will make the British economy more efficient or more productive.
I find some sympathy with the argument that all of us—Liberal Democrats, Labour Left and Labour modernisers—are still trapped in the intellectual categories of an era dominated by the century-long contest between capitalism and socialism. It is certainly a different world now. It is one in which few people can expect to have a job that will last until retirement, in which people are anchored by houses they cannot afford to sell, in which one child in three is in a single-parent family and in which 60 per cent. of housewives go out to work. That is the kind of society we have. It is a fractured society which government have to work in and try to put right.
Fortunately, the Conservatives, if their Financial Secretary is to be heeded, believe that the market is no longer "the thing". He denounced it yesterday. He said that it had never been part of real Conservative philosophy, and that they must be concerned with the kind of thing with which the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, was concerned in his opening speech.
§ 4.11 p.m.
§ Lord Desai
My Lords, we are grateful to my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington. We have already seen an excellent debate in which the philosophical, economic and political foundations of democratic socialism have been examined. I value democratic socialism. Such democracy as we have today in advanced capitalist countries has been fought for by socialists. If trade unions had not fought for basic freedoms and extension of the franchise—from the Chartists onward to the trade union movement in the 1850s and 1860s—universal adult franchise would not have been seen. Let us not forget the contribution that socialists have made.
Also, socialists have in a sense humanised capitalism. Every shortening of working hours, every health and safety measure at work and every little comfort were fought tooth and nail by the capitalists, who said that if one shortened working hours, profits would disappear. They said that if any freedom was given, such as the right to strike or making factories safer, profits would disappear. Despite that, profits grew and capitalism became possible, and civilised, thanks to socialism.
In the 1920s and early 1930s, when capitalism was going through its worst crisis of mass unemployment and deep depression, it was (for all practical purposes) the New Deal in America—the sort of ideal of democratic socialism that Lord Bruce has put forward—and later on its full incorporation in western Europe through full employment and the welfare state, which saved capitalism for posterity. Indeed, I would argue that the success of that experiment maintained full employment for the first time in the history of capitalism for a period of 25-years. No previous 25-year period in the history of capitalism had seen full employment, sustained economic growth and high mass consumption. Yet those very victories caused the problem for socialism. Once they had been won, it began to threaten profitability. That threat took the form of inflation; and it was the reaction against inflation that undermined the case for socialism.
I am not at all despondent. I take democratic socialism to be the twin of capitalism; the one twin that is needed to civilise the other. As we have already seen, and as my noble friend has emphasised, if we are to avoid an underclass in a two-thirds rich and one-third poor society; if we are to guard the stability of the system against financial speculation and the fragility of financial institutions; if we are to guard the system from running into an ecological crisis; if we are to achieve true democracy, in which everyone has the ability—as my noble friend Lord Plant pointed out in his excellent speech—to fulfil his or her potential as a citizen—if all those things are to come about, capitalism always needs socialism. It would be a false idea for those who are against socialism to believe that somehow they have seen the last of socialism. Such delusions have been entertained for a long time. Alternatively, people say: "We are all socialists now". Fifty years ago Rab Butler said it, and Sir William Harcourt said it in 1896. People occasionally become socialists when it suits them. Socialism is indeed necessary for capitalism.
1763 I believe that when finally mature capitalism runs to its limits—as one of my favourite authors, Karl Marx, predicted—when mature capitalism finally cannot solve problems and cannot grow any further, it will be out of mature capitalism that proper socialism will come to this country. At that stage we shall have prosperity and liberty. It is only when fully utilising the human potential, which capitalism frequently forgets or neglects, that we shall have a proper free society. I commend to the noble Lord, Lord Harris, not just the Wealth of Nations, but also the Theory of Moral Sentiments, which is probably a better book.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ Lord Marlesford
My Lords, I have always been fascinated by socialism. Therefore, when the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, put down his Motion, I was quite unable to resist the temptation to take part in this short debate.
Unlike the noble Earl, Lord Longford, I became hooked on socialism rather earlier in my life. I was first seduced by the gentle charms of William Morris in News from Nowhere. In preparation for this debate, I have been looking at it again. It is a book I strongly recommend to those who have not read it. As an undergraduate at Cambridge in the 1950s, I was fortunate enough to be taught by Maurice Dobb and Eric Hobsbawm and was once described by Joan Robinson as a revolutionary youth. It was only a little later, when I realised how nasty human nature really is, that I realised socialism was not such a practical proposition. I believe that it was Juvenal who said that a statesman who assumes that the world is populated with angels will be sorely disappointed.
I much enjoyed the trip down memory lane which the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, gave us. I certainly do not dissent—it would be presumptuous of me to do so—from his account of history. It is true that there was a central direction of the economy by the wartime coalition. It is true that this was continued after the war by the 1945–51 Labour Government. That government had two great triumphs of enduring value, for which I continue to salute it. One was the introduction of the welfare state; the other was the introduction of planning laws, which have enabled our country to retain its rural beauty to a far greater extent than most countries in Europe.
I would agree also that the socialist consensus continued after the defeat of that government, although some of the controls which had been continued after the war were dismantled by the Churchill government and succeeding Conservative governments. But there was indeed a socialist consensus between 1951 and 1964. It was then revitalised to some extent by Mr. Wilson (now the noble Lord, Lord Wilson) in his Government of 1964. In 1970 the socialist consensus was cheerfully accepted by Mr. Heath. Then the mantle became rather more sinister. It became a corporatist mantle. I personally found that so-called tripartite government profoundly undemocratic. It was based on power sharing between industry, the trade unions and government, with remarkably little look-in for Parliament. Indeed, it 1764 was at about that time that the Liberal Party produced an election poster in which they showed Mr. Heath and the then Mr. Wilson under the slogan: "Which twin is the Tory?"
The socialist government that succeeded Mr. Heath continued along much the same lines, although there were rather charming and enlightening moments when one wondered whether they had had second thoughts. I remember a passage from Tony Benn's diaries when he tried to persuade the Cabinet to go for the socialist solution—I believe it was during the IMF crisis of 1976. He said that if one was in a lifeboat and had one loaf of bread one could either ration it or auction it. Jim Callaghan (now the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan) chimed in, "You could always eat it."
But it was only after the departure of that government that the socialist consensus was challenged. It was challenged originally by the thoughts of my noble friend Lord Joseph. Then history itself was challenged by my noble friend Lady Thatcher. I believe that she has produced an irreversible shift of power from unions, bureaucrats and tax collectors at home. She ushered in the decay of socialism in Europe and beyond.
I fear that the Labour Party of today has still not learnt the lessons of its own history. It has suffered from the rather unsuccessful first year of the present Conservative Government and has been enabled to continue with its same traditions. It is not much further forward than it was in April last year when it could be said that it was socialism which caused the defeat and in particular issues such as Mr. John Smith's tax policies. When he put forward the proposal for increasing the rate of tax from 40 per cent. to 60 per cent., many people in the Labour Party believed that it was a very low rate compared with taxes in the old post-war days. In fact, people were looking at 40 per cent. No matter how much general support there was for the idea that higher taxation is fair and desirable, in the privacy of the polling booth people tend to vote on the self-interest ticket.
I doubt whether a political party will ever again win power in this country under the socialist banner, whether it is democratic or otherwise. I do not believe that democratic socialism is much more appetising. That is what I believe it was called in East Germany. Democratic centralism is another horrible use of the word "democracy", and was, I believe, a form of Leninism.
There will come a time when a change of government in this country is desirable. I hope when that time comes that the Labour Party has cast aside the nostalgia of its own history and arrived at the moment when it can join with the Liberal Party and can march to the polls under the banner of liberalism. But that is some time off. So the present Administration has much more time and much more to do during its tenure of office.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ Lord Rea
My Lords, I risk being accused of living in the past by opening with a quotation from a Dr. P.H. Holland, who investigated a suburb of Manchester in 1844. I hope to explain why I go that far back. Dr. Holland said:When we find the rate of mortality four times as high in some streets as in others … invariably high in those streets which are in had condition, and almost invariably low in those whose condition is good, we cannot resist the conclusion that multitudes of our fellow creatures, hundreds of our immediate neighbours, are annually destroyed for want of the most evident precautions".We have come a long way since then. The health of all social classes has improved vastly. But the differences in health between social classes are still evident. Professor Douglas Black's report on inequalities in health, published in 1980, showed that infant mortality in Social Class 5 (unskilled workers) was 2.5 times as high as that in Social Class 1 in 1932. In 1972 it was 2.6 times as high. Across the board the same kind of social class differences in almost all causes of serious illness or death was demonstrated. Later work shows that the trend has continued and, despite overall improvement, social class differences are as wide as ever.
In his introduction to Professor Black's report the then right honourable Patrick Jenkin said:It will be seen that the Group"—the working group that produced the report—has reached the view that the causes of health inequalities are so deep-rooted that only a major and wide-ranging programme of public expenditure is capable of altering the pattern. I must make it clear that additional expenditure on the scale which could result from the report's recommendations—the amount involved could be upwards of £2 billion a year—is quite unrealistic in present or any foreseeable economic circumstances … I am making the report available for discussion, but without any commitment by the government to its proposals".In fact the findings were so awkward for the Government that he only issued a few cyclostyled copies. Publication was delayed for two years until Penguin Books published a report to a worldwide audience which appreciated its scholarship and profound implications. However, it is true that even the worst off in Britain have far better health than the average person in the South, the developing world. The infant mortality and other health indices are still in many countries as bad as they were in Victorian or Edwardian Britain. In the same way it is the workers and poor farmers of the South who are now being exploited—that is, when they are working at all, for wages at subsistence level—by capital, much of which comes from the North.
The working classes in the North in comparison have achieved wage levels and a social security system which protect them from deprivation, starvation or destitution even when out of work or unable to work. As many noble Lords have said, that is far too high a proportion of the workforce. When in work, a majority in the North are now sufficiently highly paid to buy houses, cars and other products of a consumer society. They have been hooked into the system. They are therefore not too keen to rock the boat, a phenomenon which is very well described by the veteran economist J.K. Galbraith in his latest 1766 monograph, The Culture of Contentment. But while the increasingly skilled working class—when in work, as I said—is relatively affluent, the really rich in this country have become even richer, especially during the sojourn of this Government.
My noble friend focused on democratic socialism in Britain. But I suggest that he should look beyond these shores also. A democratic socialist government worth their salt would be doing just that. At present not only are wages abysmally low in the third world but there is in fact a net transfer of wealth from the South to the North because of very low commodity prices and international debt, aided by the structural readjustment programmes imposed by the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. For those reasons, many of the poorest countries in the world, especially Africa, cannot get economic lift-off.
One of the first priorities of a democratic socialist administration should be to cancel or buy up the debts of the poorest countries. They would then be more able to buy much needed capital goods or machinery to restart their development, which has been at a standstill for the past decade. Our development aid budget should rapidly be raised to the 0.7 per cent. of GNP recommended by the United Nations, or more. That would still, at around £4 billion, be only a fraction of our defence budget but it could bring the long-term dividend for this country of being able to trade with more active and well disposed economies. That would help us who live in the capitalist world to ameliorate perhaps the inevitable recessions and booms that afflict us at the moment.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Lord Sefton of Garston
My Lords, in seven minutes I do not believe it is possible to add more than a footnote to the opening speech of my noble friend Lord Bruce. It is not possible because he struck at the fundamental roots of the subject that we are discussing.
We are discussing the kind of society we want, not only in the economic sense in that we want to make a profit, but also in the sense of relationships between people within our society. Unless we talk of that it is no use talking at all. That is the most important point.
One lesson we must learn in that regard is that there is no such thing as "human nature". One may think that human nature is something that is created and then stays always the same; that it is the attitude of standing to one side, seeing people suffer and doing nothing to help them. I do not accept that that is the character of the human nature. The noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, said that he changed his mind because he began to realise what human nature was all about. Fundamentally he was saying that we are greedy and want it all. I do not accept that as a reason for changing one's mind about politics.
The danger about politics and power, as has been said so often, is that power corrupts. When one has absolute power within society—never mind what the original intentions were; for example, the original intentions of 1944 as outlined by my noble friend Lord Bruce—it will corrupt that society. The practice of the power will corrupt it still further.
§ That is one reason why the good aims of the revolution in the Soviet Union went so badly awry. No socialist worth his salt was unaware, way back in the 1920s and before, that the trouble was that the powers in Russia had been corrupted by the very power they sought—on a false pretence. Ultimately that led to its breakdown.
Let me bring your Lordships up to date. The battle between the trade union movement and capitalism in this country will shortly lead to a situation where both will collapse unless a solution is found to the terrible social problems that are being suffered.
Last week we debated the creation of wealth. In opening the debate the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, said that one of the joys of the last century was that the subject of the economy rarely raised its ugly head. Of course it was a joy to the capitalists. But what caused socialism—the desire for a better way of life—to rear its head? Did it have something to do with the terrible privations being suffered by the labour in the coal-mines and mills of this country, from which capitalism had originally made so much of its money? Did it have something to do with the fact that children in Lancashire in the last century were being taken out of warm beds and put straight into the bobbin-mills and those already in the mills were being taken back and put into the same beds? Did it have something to do with the fact that we were conducting society, in a free capitalist society, in such a way that Liverpool, as a local authority, was compelled to introduce the first medical officer of health because of the scandalous conditions of the working class? Of course it did.
It was the power of capitalism that finally created the trade union and Labour movement as a protest and as a means of finding some way out of the dilemma the country was facing. Those are the fundamental facts of society. Today, when we see somebody standing on one side and boasting that he has taken £200,000 in salary but is going to freeze the amount for five years and at the same time we see a wage freeze of 1.5 per cent. for other people, it is obscene.
One of the leading building societies has conducted a campaign of cutting staff numbers, reducing wages and increasing hours, yet the managing director received an increase in salary of something like £100,000. That is an obscenity. I make no apologies for the fact that I believe that a moral issue arises in all this. What kind of society led the Church of England, having an investment income in the City of London of about £400,000, to appeal for funds for the poor third world? That is accepted as normal.
The truth is that the capitalist society perverts everything that it touches. The desire for money seems to give the people who want that money a belief that they have a right to take it, without any responsibility. Until we tackle the moral aspect of our society and talk of the right thing to do rather than the profitable thing to do, we will never advance.
Let me say this in regard to the under-class mentioned by my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington. We must find some way of giving them a fair share. Mrs. Thatcher, as she was, said that there 1768 is no society; there are only individuals; that this is a society where the individual counts. In other words, devil take the hindmost. Unless we get rid of the under-class, unless we give all the people a fair share of the things that they produce rather than the money men in London, that devil will kill us all.
§ 4.37 p.m.
§ Lord Monkswell
My Lords, as they say, follow that! I will, with great difficulty. First, I must thank my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington for introducing the debate. I apologise for not being here to listen to him. It is a reflection on our society that the train on which I travelled to London was late because of lack of investment in British Rail, and yet almost every other day I receive letters from banks wanting to lend me money. If the banks are so awash with money that they want to lend it to somebody like me, and presumably to lots of other people, there must be money available to invest in British Rail to keep the trains running on time.
The debate concerns the case for people. To my mind socialism is about empowering people, in contradiction to the power of money. That can be described as capitalism, market forces or what you will. Basically, that is the fundamental conflict that we are discussing—the conflict between people on the one hand and money on the other.
What are the reasons that we argue for socialism? They are all around us but can be summed up in one word—unemployment. It is the ultimate expression of the devaluation of people. We have mass unemployment of over 3 million at the moment; less than 15 years ago we had 3 million unemployed. We have gone through two periods of mass unemployment with a hit of a dip in the middle. I believe that it was the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, on the Conservative Benches, who said in a debate a few months ago that no society could be successful that had mass unemployment on the one hand and a continuing demand for goods and services on the other.
Socialism is a concept of common sense. One of its ideas is to match the resources to the needs of society. One only needs to look around to see the enormous degree of unmet need. But socialism is also extremely British. It is about fairness, which is an essentially British trait. I hope that your Lordships will agree with me. We British have an almost instinctive concept of fair play. Of course we can all succumb to greed and the idea that it is justifiable to hang on to that which we earn. But is it fair for individuals in this country to earn £1 million a year or more and for the vast under-class to live on £2,000 a year or less? That is a fundamental unfairness which really strikes at the heart and attacks the fabric of our society.
When we talk about the valuation of people it is not just in terms of them having an economic contribution or a job through which to contribute to society. It does not mean simply a monetary value in terms of a fairer distribution of income. It is also meant in terms of democracy. This is where I fall out with some of my comrades. I always think of democratic socialism as being tautologous. We do not need "democratic" 1769 because socialism is democratic. If we had a truly democratic society we would not need to talk about socialism because that would be the net result.
There is the concept of valuing people and democracy. Democracy is about people being in control of their destiny. It relates to the individual and the individual's ability to control his destiny by having the same kind of capabilities, educational standards, physical health, housing, nutrition and all those kinds of things and the same kind of income as other people. Given those circumstances, that person can have the same kind of power as other people.
But when we look at the matter collectively we come to the process of what is normally described as democracy with the business of voting, representation and Parliament. In that regard we can see that our society has come a long way. About 1,000 years ago there was Magna Carta when the barons wrested some power from the King. About 160 years ago we had the Reform Act which gave some representation to householders. Just before the Great War there were female suffragettes. In the 1960s suffrage was extended to 18 year-olds. So we now value 18 year-olds and over, whether male or female, fairly equally. They are still not completely equal because there are some fairly small constituencies which send a Member of Parliament to Westminster and others which are fairly large. So there is a disproportionate valuation of people in that respect.
There is also the lack of power of our democratic representatives themselves which denies the value of the people. One considers the power of the City, the judiciary and of big business. They all operate independently—especially international business—of what our House of Commons says or does, because we have a canker right at the heart of our body politic. Part of that canker is ourselves. The fact is that this undemocratic Chamber contributes to the operation of Parliament and that means that the British people are distracted from what their representatives are doing. Governments which operate almost separately from the House of Commons get away with things. If they were held properly accountable, and if people recognised their own essential value in the process, I suggest that in the past 15 years those governments would not have got away with the terrible depredations which they have imposed on the British people.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Lord Mayhew
My Lords, I felt a keen personal interest in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Bruce. I was the founder and first chairman of an organisation of Labour Party members known as the Democratic Socialist Group. We propagated political views indistinguishable from those given us today by the noble Lord in his nbtable speech. But that was 55 years ago. My question to the noble Lord is: Are there no lessons to be learnt from the events of the past 55 years which might lead us to modify our previous beliefs in democratic socialism?
The noble Lord called for party consensus. He quoted as his annus mirabilis 1944, when, it is true, all three parties agreed on an historic paper on 1770 employment and welfare. But on what was that paper based? It was based on the thought of two great liberals, Keynes and Beveridge. At the time it was not called democratic socialism. I assure the noble Lord that had it been called by that title the Tory Party would not have looked at it for a moment. If he means that there should be a future consensus of parties based on liberal democratic ideas, such as those propagated by Keynes and Beveridge, that is a very promising line of thought.
But so much has happened since then. He and I took part in nationalising five great industries after the war. The results were disappointing. That should be kept in mind because in those days socialism was very much identified with nationalisation. Nationalisation was socialism. I cannot remember what Lenin said, but, whatever it was, it indicated that nationalisation of industry was a key feature.
But the noble Lord's party has tried its best to adapt to the changes over the years. We welcome the changes on these Benches. Each change brings the Labour Party closer to the basic political philosophy of the Liberal Democrats. The Labour Party has carried out a number of notable and important reforms in recent years. Under the leadership of Mr. Kinnock it more or less crushed the lunatic Left. Although Clause 4 still stays, I believe that no one in the Labour Party takes it seriously. I believe that it has abandoned its commitment to public ownership.
Another great development since the annus mirabilis of 1944 has been the enormous growth of the economic interdependence of this country on other countries and especially on Western Europe. Here again, the Labour Party, painfully and slowly, has adjusted itself to the new reality. There was a time when it strongly opposed British membership of the European Community, arguing that the Community was inimical to its Left-wing aspirations. But it has come round now. However, the noble Lord has not quite shown the flexibility of his party on that point. We hope that one day he, like his party, will be converted to the reality that Britain has no future outside the Community. There are many noble Lords who will hope that that conversion comes before the Committee stage of the Maastricht Bill.
There is a further development in the Labour Party which is welcome to us and which follows the lines advocated by the noble Lord, Lord Bruce. The Labour Party is seriously considering introducing an element of democracy into our electoral system. We could not help feeling a slight disappointment in one respect about the admirable speech of the noble Lord, Lord Plant, in that we wished to hear from him the latest news of whether or not the Labour Party believes in a democratic electoral system. He thinks that the Labour Party should change and that it should support such a system, but I read on the tape that the party leader is against it. Nevertheless, it is a sign of hope for future consensus and these Benches welcome the fact that those moves are going on inside the Labour Party.
However, I must warn the noble Lord that there is one major issue on which the Labour Party has not adapted at all, on which it distances itself not only 1771 from the Liberal Democrats but from the electorate of Great Britain. It is still the creature of the trade unions. The unions finance it and dominate all its major decisions, its party conferences, the leadership and other matters. Political democracy is advancing in many parts of the world: in the former Soviet empire and in parts of Latin America. But that civilising trend stops short of the constitution of the British Labour Party, which stands out against democratic reform. It is true that the leader, Mr. Smith, is well aware of this and has spoken openly about the lack of democracy in the Labour Party. He has urged certain reforms, in particular OMOV—that is, one member, one vote. Mr. Smith is urging his party to adopt that absolutely elementary and basic form of democracy and to follow the steps so recently exemplified by the Yemenis and the Cambodians. Let the Labour Party follow their lead and institute the principle of one member, one vote.
However, the party leader may fail in that. In October at the Labour Party Conference we may well be treated to the entertaining spectacle of the block vote being saved by the block vote. It may happen because even Mr. Smith is not willing to propose the abolition of the block vote, but only to modify it by allowing it 70 per cent. instead of 90 per cent. of the total voting power of the Labour Party Conference.
The truth is that there are obstacles to what the noble Lord was saying about party consensus based on the record of the wartime government. There is, we know, tremendous need for such consensus. Noble Lords have spoken about the underclass. One of the outrageous features of our society today is the way in which those who are already too rich are determined to get richer and richer and to spend their money worse and worse. That is the kind of thing which a proper consensus government might join forces to tackle. There are obstacles to face in the future, and although we must take note of the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, may not have a large number of allies now, his basic thesis will command a great echo in this country and should be taken seriously by the Government.
§ 4.53 p.m.
§ Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos
My Lords, like others in this debate, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington for his imaginative Motion and thoughtful speech. During a long political career, my noble friend has been an outspoken advocate of Labour policies and of his own genuinely held views, and he is respected for that. He served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Aneurin Bevan and reflects many of the views of that great man.
My noble friend has summarised his political testament and none of us would quarrel with the basic argument of his speech that democracy is the essential element in the British constitution. The two great wars of this century were fought in large part to preserve it, but it is a fragile plant which needs constant care. We want to see real democracy established in Russia and other former Soviet countries after the collapse of Soviet communism. They called their political 1772 doctrine "socialism", but it was not the socialism which my noble friend has in mind, as he made clear. Surely one of the central objectives of our foreign policy, and that of our allies, must be to do all that we can and all that is in our power to see that democracy survives and grows in Eastern Europe because the return of Russia to the old dispensation would be a major tragedy and a disaster to mankind. We should remember that in this debate.
We value our parliamentary democracy; it is the oldest and probably the most steadfast in the world. But we must never take it for granted. No Gibbon has yet emerged to write The Decline and Fall of the British Empire; the title would be a mistake anyway. The British empire was dismantled. I remember Harold Macmillan saying that "a wind of change" was blowing across Africa.
As to our own Parliament, there are moments in history when reforms are needed, not least in this House, and we must have the sense and the courage to grapple with them, as otherwise our parliamentary system itself will suffer. For example, Edward Gibbon in his great work wrote:The principles of a free constitution are irrecoverably lost, when the legislative power is nominated by the executive".In our own time, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, warned some 15 years ago that,an elective dictatorship could arise by a government taking advantage of the virtual absolute sovereignty of the House of Commons to behave in a manner which is undeniably anti-democratic".Time does not allow me to pursue this theme, but I say again that we must face up to the need for reform and I believe we would be wise to set up a commission along the lines of the admirable Bryce Commission of 1917.
Over a century ago, our predecessors in this Parliament had the imagination and drive to extend the boundaries of democracy by creating county and district councils with powers to govern well-defined communities. But they were elected authorities and they have been one of the great successes of the century in this country. I deeply regret to have to say that over the past 14 years, successive Conservative Governments have eroded the powers and undermined the confidence of local authorities without adequate cause and without proper consultation. They have dealt democracy a cruel blow at its grass roots. After all, the elected council is the most effective counterweight to central government, which acts as the alternative channel for democratic participation. The truth is that the powers of local government over this period have been transferred to Ministers, to Whitehall, to the Executive and not least to quangos to an extent that is unprecedented in peacetime. It has been a questionable process. I was glad to see that this week's House Magazine has a number of interesting articles on the problems posed by quangos.
Consider what has taken place: in the past 14 years there has been a flood of local government Bills, over 14,000 pages of local government legislation and several major changes in local government finance. 1773 This treatment has dealt a blow to conscientious men and women of all political parties and of none who have served their communities as councillors.
What is dangerous is the shift away from democratic accountability, and this has taken place across a wide range of our national life. Those who criticise my noble friend's aspirations choose to overlook that. Huge sections of our lives in Britain are sliding from well-established democratic practices into a dangerous web of quangos.
Let us get this straight—I know that noble Lords opposite will be as concerned about it as I am—unelected people who are not known to the general public are running a vast range of our public services. I understand that last year there were 1,846 quangos, with 114,400 board members and staff, and that they spent over £14 billion, of which £10.5 billion was taxpayers' money. Forty thousand of the posts were directly in the gift of Ministers. I must point out that the NHS, with its £37 billion budget, is additional to that. Where is the democracy in all this?
What is equally serious is that there is more political patronage in those appointments than there has ever been in modern times. There is a deep feeling in Wales about the political influence exercised in making appointments to nominated bodies, of which there are 81 with an overall expenditure of £1.4 billion. It is a dangerous trend. The time is approaching, and it will come very soon, when the public will demand a major examination and inquiry into those developments and their implications for the democratic system in Britain. Let me say to the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, to whom I listened with interest, that it is this Government, not the Labour Government, who have lessons to learn at this time.
In his speech, however, my noble friend Lord Bruce advocated a democratic socialist society, and he did so with sincerity and conviction. A good deal of what he said was sensible, but I know that he will agree that the word "socialist" has been damaged and polluted by a generation of twisted dictators who were responsible for the deaths of millions of people. But their so-called socialism was as far distant from that of my noble friend as the policies of Adenauer and Willy Brandt were from those of Hitler. Christianity itself has, over the centuries, produced sects which bear no relationship whatsoever to the teachings of the New Testament.
The late Alexander Dubcek, who suffered in the cauldron of post-war communism in Eastern Europe, said in 1968:We wish to meet people's longing for a society in which they can feel human among human beings. This active, humane, integrating quality of socialism, a society without antagonisms, is what we want to realise systematically and gradually".It is hard to quarrel with that. My noble friend referred to the Government of 1945, and those, I believe, were the objectives of the Attlee Government, one of the great reforming governments of our history—something that the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, who was a member of that government, failed to mention in his speech when he was criticising the Labour Party. 1774 In this country we have our own concepts of socialism. We must concede that they vary, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Let me remind the noble Lords, Lord Moyne and Lord Harris of High Cross, whose speeches I enjoyed, that it has been said that the Labour Party, as my noble friend Lord Ardwick reminded us, owes more to Methodism than to marxism. Of course we have always had our Christian socialists whose influence upon the Labour movement has been profound. They have outstanding representatives in the House who are respected throughout the country. I hope that I may be allowed to mention two of them; namely, my noble friend Lord Longford, whose speech we much enjoyed, and, as he said, my noble friend Lord Soper. Their aspirations rise above party politics. As for myself, I still believe in a mixed economy sensibly achieved. I take the view that most of the current privatisation programme is against the real public interest. As the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, said of nationalisation, privatisation is "a real disappointment".
People are led to believe that they must choose between a command economy and a market economy and that there is no other option. As my noble friend Lord Plant said, that is misleading. We should know that the one can lead to disaster and collapse and the other, at its worst, to gerrymandering, the Fraud Squad and to what Edward Heath called,the unacceptable face of capitalism".We know that there is a better way. It must be the objective, struggle and hope of political parties to find that better way.
We believe in a democratic government, which implies consultation with people at all levels, accountability to elected Parliaments and councils which carry out policies which have been approved by the electorate. I fear that we are drifting away from that. We need, above all, leadership with strength and total integrity which can retain the confidence of the people of this country. The noble Lord, Lord Grimond, rightly pointed out that people are disillusioned with the Government, as the Newbury by-election revealed so dramatically.
Above all, we need a compassionate Government who give priority to the urgent needs of all the people: the priorities are housing, health, education, the needs of the elderly and the provision of work; 3 million unemployed people are no foundation for a fair society. The under-class; to which several noble Lords have referred, must go. We need a Government whose objective is to raise not just material but moral standards in a free society and to tackle the breakdown of civic order, the family and other institutions which make up a civilised community. Let us work together to achieve that and to make Britain great in things that really matter.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie)
My Lords, I enjoyed the debate more than I expected. I appreciated especially the elegant and eloquent settling of rather elderly scores on the Benches opposite and the posing of what appeared to 1775 me to be some rather ancient questions. I was particularly enthralled by the account the noble Earl, Lord Longford, gave of sparring with Molotov at a time when the height of my vaulting conservative ambition was to get out of my playpen. That is a fitting metaphor for what it seems to me the Motion calls for: it was not to leave me as a child in a playpen but to leave me as an adult within it as well.
What struck me as somewhat of a surprise with the Motion was that I was unaware that there was a case,for the progressive establishment of a democratic socialist society within the United Kingdom".Nor, frankly, was I aware that there were any socialists left. The peripatetic Leader of the Opposition in another place has made what I understand he describes as a raft of keynote speeches since taking up office last July. One would need to go through the speeches with a fine-toothed comb to find the word "socialist". Many years ago, Aneurin Bevan said that the Labour Party was a crusade or it was nothing. When the Leader of the Labour Party shies away from the use of the word I can only conclude that it may be nothing.
Within recent days and weeks the only occasion upon which one has seen the word "socialist" used was on a banner in Dundee marching towards Timex. The words "socialist" and "worker" were used together. What is astonishing about the way that matters have developed there is that no respectable member of the Labour Party would have anything to do with those seeking to march behind that banner. The definition of what is socialism has now become so elusive as to be essentially meaningless. If the Labour Party ever espoused a socialist philosophy, what now appears to be espoused is a philosophy of "soundbites" and the politics of a press release.
Outside the Soviet Union, if the expression "socialism" means anything it was used in its grossest form in Germany when the word "national" was put in front of it. However, the noble Lord in his Motion prefers to put in front the word "democratic". That particular variety has not faired too brilliantly, either. The people of France have the dubious distinction of possibly being the last major country to have a socialist Government, which was recently comprehensively swept from office. Surely it is now time for socialism to face up to its failures. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister recently observed:Socialism has been discredited by experience. Conservatism has been validated by history".The trouble with socialism is that it goes against the grain of human nature. As the estimable author, Michael Oakeshott, observed, human beings are impelled by an acquired love of making choices for themselves. Choice is anathema to socialism; it is, on the other hand, at the centre of Conservative philosophy.
I like the description given by my noble friend Lord Moyne. He said that from time to time those who would have described themselves as liberals or socialists came close to accepting some of the tenets of conservatism but at the last minute swerved away. My 1776 noble friend described it as "girlish". In these modern times I am not allowed to follow him down that path but I certainly understand what he meant.
In the past 14 years the Government have sought to extend choice at every turn. And, frankly, at every turn socialists have sought to stop that choice. As was said by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of High Cross, rather than allowing choice, socialism imposed priorities.
Thirled still to the view that the state can manage economic and personal relations between people better than businesses or families, if socialism ever held the emotional or moral high ground mentioned today it has sadly degenerated into little more than a busybodies' charter founded on the premise that people cannot be trusted to make the right decisions for themselves.
The world is filled with monuments to the failure of socialism. Africanised socialism is little more than a password for a Swiss bank account. My noble friend Lord Marlesford had the generosity to say that he applauded parts of our public life which have been introduced by the Labour Party. He made reference in particular to the welfare state. The noble Lord, Lord Ardwick, correctly spoke of the moral ground which the Labour Party claim to have held. I hope that it is not heretical to my noble friends if I say that I too can think of occasions when a high moral ground was held by the Labour Party, in particular during the time of the Founding Fathers. Anyone who comes from a Scottish background cannot but acknowledge the correctness of the appalling evils which Wheatley discerned when he looked at housing in the west of Scotland during the first decades of this century—and rightly so.
However, one has only to contemplate the consequence of the socialist solution to those evils; the vast municipal housing estates. They are totally without humanity, totally without a sense of community and are frequently a centre of what is least attractive in our public life. What is right and what ought to have been appreciated is that those solutions, which were at once idealistically engaged upon, were not the right way forward. Our techniques of extending home ownership and strengthening the rights of tenants is a far preferable way to move forward.
The noble Lord, Lord Plant, adopted the terminology of "bottom line", which the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, so dislikes. I shall read his speech carefully; but he appeared to say that socialism was "where markets fail". If that is correct, I am intrigued by the definition because it is implicit within it that the primacy of the market must first be acknowledged.
It appears that socialism has now degenerated into little more than a confusion of free market revisionism where, according to the Leader of the Opposition in another place, ownership of industry—an astonishing idea when one contemplates the period of time to which we have referred—is largely irrelevant. If ownership of industry is largely irrelevant so too, one must assume, is Clause 4 of the Labour Party's constitution. I sometimes wonder which particular 1777 Morrisonian model the Labour Party would hold to be appropriate with regard to the ownership of industry or any public assets.
One becomes confused when, again according to the Leader of the Labour Party, socialism is now about putting power back into the hands of the citizen. That may be a fine phrase fashioned in the dulce suburbs of Morningside in Edinburgh but one wonders how vigorously the Member of Parliament for Bolsover will adopt it as a style of campaigning when he is in his native Derbyshire.
Interestingly, the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, homed in on the use of the word "empowering". I suppose that one of the more intriguing political battles of the late 1980s and the early 1990s was that of the differing political persuasions seeking to arrest that word from one another. I loved the noble Lord's remarks about fair play. It sounded like a lovely passage from Trollope. However, there is a yawning gap between rhetoric and reality when it comes to the Labour Party. Its claim to be the party of power to the citizen, individual freedom and accountability is at odds with its opposition to the greater role of parents in education, or the extension of trusts and GP fundholding in the health service, or the reform of local government which has the extension of accountability at its heart.
My noble friend Lord Marlesford referred in passing to my noble friend Lord Joseph, who regrettably cannot be here today. Some of us will never forget my noble friend's great speech at a party conference in which he said that our task was not merely to put a ratchet on the advance of socialism but to reverse it. I must say that there were those with faint hearts who listened hopefully but with some scepticism. I agree with my noble friend Lord Marlesford that the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, in seeing a way forward to the progressive introduction of democratic socialism, might better have reflected on and appreciated the fact that things have changed. The opportunity to move forward relentlessly, which appeared to be the option available until my noble friend Lady Thatcher became Prime Minister, has well and truly gone.
I accept that the British Labour Party has a distinctive British character. However, it must begin to understand the changing role of government and to become open-minded and realistic. The party claims to have a fellow feeling for the Democrats in the United States of America. In spite of the desire progressively to move forward it has failed to understand as yet that, in the words of Mario Cuomo, the Democratic Governor of New York, it is not necessarily the Government's obligations to provide the services but to see that they are provided. If that is understood, a wealth of different opportunities then opens up as regards the way in which the country might be governed. The noble Lord, Lord Grimond, and the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth, do not like some of our privatisation proposals. But if that approach is accepted, it is in no sense wrong or unthinking to see how best the market might provide for those services that it is the duty of government to see are provided.
1778 In winding up the debate, the noble Lord on the Front Bench opposite referred to local government. As I understand it, he felt that if there is one place that socialism and democracy is still satisfactorily to be found in place, it is in local authorities in various parts of the country. I should like the noble Lord to think long and hard about the local authority of Monklands in Scotland. There are hugely undemocratic procedures in place there: there are jobs for the boys; there is bias in the distribution of resources. If you seek to obtain a job in Monklands, there are different colours of forms which will indicate where you come from, whom you know and—perhaps worst of all—what your religion might be. There are green forms and other coloured forms. I should have thought that anyone describing himself as democratic or socialist would believe that to be utterly reprehensible. It is the feeblest plea in mitigation that I have ever heard to say that those coloured forms are of no importance because by the time the forms appear before a committee they have been through a photocopier and are all reduced to white.
Those allegations do not emanate from the Conservative Party, the Scottish Nationalists or the Liberal Democrats in Scotland. Those allegations are made by Labour regional councils, Labour district councils, constituency party chairmen and Labour party members. In spite of those exhortations on behalf of his constituency association, both the Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland have been deafening in their silence as regards offering any condemnation of those practices on the part of that district council, where both have their seats. As was said recently, the present Leader of the Labour Party threatens to go down in history as the only Member of Parliament to be picketed outside his surgery by his own constituency party, as happened recently. With friends like that, who needs enemies?
At one point during the debate when no very clear explanation was being given to us as to how we might advance democratic socialism within the United Kingdom, I sat up when the noble Lord, Lord Rea, said that it was wrong—and he criticised his own party—not to look beyond our own shores. I am sure that a number of noble Lords sat up wondering on what trip to which exotic land we were to be taken. Were we to be taken to Ghana, to Cuba, to Chile, to Mozambique, Cambodia or where? We subsided in our seats when it became clear that no promised land was to be offered to us as an example because, quite simply, there is no promised land to look to.
Such is the unwillingness of those who espouse the socialist cause to show any intellectual vigour that they have not put forward any new model for us to consider. There is at best a Trabant motor car which has had a change of its external colour but little else. It remains smelly, inefficient, uncomfortable and the people do not want it.
The socialist perspective, and add to it what you will in terms of the democratic or otherwise, is still wrong because it feeds the presumption lying not in favour of the individual but in favour of the state. Edmund Burke said: 1779I am not one of those who think that the people are never in the wrong. They have been so, frequently and outrageously, both in other centuries and in this. But I do say that, in all disputes between them and their rulers, the presumption is at least on a par in favour of the people".I did not deny the early moral beginnings of the Labour Party, and I do not deny that many are so motivated. What some fail to appreciate is that the presumption which lies behind the course which they run is one which the people do not want. For my part, I hope that the progressive movement which the noble Lord seeks will stop. I believe that it was stopped in the 1980s and I hope that its progress will never be resumed.
§ Lord Macaulay of Bragar
My Lords, before the noble and learned Lord sits down, perhaps I may ask him whether he has read the report published yesterday—and I have not yet had the opportunity to see it—on Monklands District Council. That report indicates that there was no undue interference in the democratic process in the Monklands area any more than in any other place in Scotland. The report makes certain recommendations. Obviously, one must look at the report. However, the noble and learned Lord has made certain assertions about what is happening there which have not been borne out by the report.
§ Lord Fraser of Carmyllie
My Lords, my response to that is that, as I indicated, the allegations are not made by me nor are they made by other political parties in Scotland but are made by members of the Monklands District Council and Labour Party members there. I should be interested to hear their response to the report. I hope that sooner or later the Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland might give us the benefit of their views on what is clearly a matter of considerable anxiety.
§ 5.26 p.m.
Lord Bruce of Donington
My Lords, I am most grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate this afternoon. I am grateful also for the fact that quite a large number stayed to listen to it. Noble Lords who have participated will forgive me if I do not refer to them individually.
The debate was extremely friendly and until the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, made his speech, there was a remarkable consensus. I could not help but feel that the standard to which the noble and learned Lord dragged the debate was rather lower than one would have expected of a person replying to a debate of this kind. In view of the fact that he made certain allegations about individual members of my party that are not the subject of the debate—and I attacked no one—I give him notice that next time he rises to his feet in a debate such as this I shall be less merciful than I propose to be today.
The noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, was a former colleague of mine in another place. He made some extremely interesting observations which I thought were in the nature of trailing his coat for me to reply. He paid some tribute to my regard for Keynes. My 1780 regard for Keynes, like his own, was largely derived from his general theory, contained in a book which I acquired early on. It said:I conceive, therefore, that a somewhat comprehensive socialisation of investment will prove the only means of securing an approximation to full employment".It said also:Moreover, the necessary measures of socialisation can be introduced gradually and without a break in the general traditions of society".I can hardly be blamed for admiring Keynes when he set forth views which are almost identical to my own.
The noble Lord did chide me about my attitude towards the Maastricht Treaty. I shall respond briefly because I cannot anticipate my Maastricht statement. When he makes his strictures in the future, I invite the noble Lord to bear in mind that my principal objection to Maastricht is its lack of democracy and the growth of a bureaucracy without any accountability to anyone. No doubt we shall hear his tributes to democracy in due course.
When one intends to make a reference to a Member of the House, I know that it is customary to give that noble Lord notice in advance. However, I was not able to give the noble Lord in question the notice that is normally required, mainly because I do not intend to do anything other than support him. However, I should like your Lordships to pay attention to the remarks made by a very distinguished member of the Conservative Party in the debate last week on wealth creation. I think that they probably more nearly reflect the views of most Members of the House of any party than those reflected in the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser. Therefore, in complete endorsement, I refer to the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, no less, in that debate. He concluded with the following words that I commend to your Lordships:I do not want to wander into theology or to be carried away by my own enthusiasm. But I believe that the context in which we look at the generation of wealth will be entirely lopsided if we do not recognise that…wealth has to be put to a purpose which serves the whole of the nation and the whole of mankind and that we shall not be fit to discharge that function if we do not again recognise those values on which we stood in two world wars and which are fit for an eternity of peace".—[Official Report, 12/5/93; col. 1302.]Those are my sentiments and, I venture to suggest to the noble and learned Lord, those of the majority of the people in this House. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.