War Situation.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 25th February 1942.

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Photo of Mr Daniel Lipson Mr Daniel Lipson , Cheltenham

I have had an opportunity in going around factories to meet representative members of these committees, and on one of these occasions the representative of the management has been present at the request of the workers themselves. It has been quite obvious, from the experience I have had, that the workers have some very valuable and helpful ideas on production, that they appreciate the mere fact that they are consulted, and that they can bring the difficulties which are holding up production before the management and, at least, satisfy themselves whether the management is to blame or not. In many cases it turns out that the factors which are holding up production are beyond the responsibility of the management. In any case it creates a much better feeling in the factories. These councils have purely advisory powers, and I consider that everything is to be gained by putting these men in a position where they can feel they count, and that the old idea of the management saying "We are here to do the thinking, and you are here simply to work" is out of date. They could feel, too, that this new spirit in the factories will survive the war and will perhaps be one of the best hopes upon which we can build our ideas of a better world and a better understanding between all classes in future. We want to increase the quantity of production, of course. We want more ships, aeroplanes, tanks and guns, but I hope that in production the need of the user will be taken into account and that we shall not think that quantity is the only thing that matters. We have seen in Libya and in other campaigns that it is important not only to have sufficient equipment, but equipment of the right kind. Therefore, the concentration should be not purely on quantity but also on quality.

People generally feel that we have reached a critical stage of the war. They have no desire to be unfair to the Government, but what they ask is that the strong urge which they all feel to make the best contribution to victory should be given by the Government the right kind of leadership, so that the sense of frustration can disappear. The Government have been asked a great many questions and have been given a good deal of advice. With much of that advice I find myself in agreement. I particularly agree with the views expressed by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Professor Hill) yesterday about the need for new ideas with regard to our weapons of war. The important thing is that there should be a lead from the Government, that the people should have the feeling that there is organisation and planning, that we are not just blundering from one situation into another, and that we do look ahead and try to make the most of our resources. It is not sufficient to say that we have all these resources; we must be determined to make the best possible use of them and to show that in practice.