On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I presume that you are not calling my Amendments—in line 2, after the first "the", insert "occasional" and after the first "and" insert "partial"—because of the Ruling that the enacting words:
Be it enacted by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons
etc., are not subject to Amendment. But that Ruling was given 15 years ago when Parliament was free, and surely it ought
not to be strictly applied today, when, owing to the Guillotine, our consent is only partial.
On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I do not want to be tiresome but the position as I understand it is that the hon. Member was not allowed to make his point of Order because it was not a point of Order. May we get that Ruling absolutely clear, because it is a very important principle?
The clear answer is that one cannot question the selection of Amendments. The two Amendments in question have not been selected and, therefore, one cannot make a point of Order or enter into any discussion of them.
I beg to move, in page 1, line 16, after "shall", to insert:
be required to give his exclusive services to the Commission and subject thereto shall.
At 8.15 p.m. on the second of the three Allotted Days we now start the Report stage of this Bill. We have until two o'clock tomorrow morning, and then five hours tomorrow, and there are still some 350 Amendments to be dealt with. It therefore behoves me and everyone who speaks, to try to make our remarks as brief as possible, but I do not think anyone will begrudge me at any rate this one sentence, when I say how grossly and wholly inadequate that time is for matters which touch so nearly the lives of millions of people in this country.
The object of my Amendment is that the five members of the Commission should be required to give their exclusive services to the Commission. It is necessary that I should indicate just a very small amount of the background to this Amendment. The original suggestion of the Opposition was that the number in the Commission should be increased from five to a greater number and that, with that greater number, it would be possible to have some whole-time members and some part-time members. That proposal was rejected at the instance of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister and, therefore, we are driven to contemplate only a five member Commission. We say that a Commission of five members cannot do its job, unless the members are obliged to give their whole time to it.
I ask this House to consider what the Commission has to do. Let us take first merely its supervisory work. According to the right hon. Gentleman it is to be a policy-planning body. If it is to be a reality and not a mere mouthpiece of Whitehall the policy and planning work is something stupendous. Let us take, for a moment, the three great problems which it is the professed objective of this Bill to solve—co-ordination and integration of the forms of transport, that is rail, road, docks and then London transport, and the hotel branch taken into a sort of subsidiary position to be dealt with at the same time. That is a tremendous job, but the right hon. Gentleman has not indicated the basis on which it is to be done. That is to be left to this Commission, and is, in itself, a colossal task.
Then there is the question of the geographical basis. The Commission has to engage in geographical planning, which the functional executives are to work. Again, that is an enormous task. I would only make reference to the allocation of road haulage to long-distance needs. That will not work unless the allocation is done with great care, and is decentralised. I do not believe it will work except in small units, but assuming I am wrong, there must be local adjustment, and that is another task this Commission will have to do. On the question of charges, the right hon. Gentleman has said many times, mainly in answer to pressure from myself, that the Commission is to put forward schemes for charges. These schemes will be passed to the Tribunal, and will then go back to the Minister, and so on. Take this problem alone. I put it to hon. Members who approach this matter from a very different point of view: What are the right standards for road transport rates, which are bound to be considered? What are the proper factors in regard to operational costs, and how much is to be allowed in future for raw materials, and what are the shortages going to be? The Commission has to be responsible for all these matters.
I have merely dealt with three of the major problems, but as everyone knows, there will be 5o others to be dealt with. It would be a stupendous task even if we stopped there, but of course it does not stop there. Let us take the question of staffing. The right hon. Gentleman may be able to tell us what sort of staff he contemplates the Commission should have. Unless it is to be a mere affirmatory mouthpiece of the Ministry of Transport —and no one puts that forward as its conception—it must have a staff running into hundreds. This is the head of this public corporation, which is to be a great public trading corporation—that is the conception—and it must therefore have staff. This Commission of five will have to be responsible for organising the staff and seeing that it has the right people. I ask hon. Members to approach this matter from the point of view of the facts. In 1923, the four main line railway companies came into operation. Many people said that they were too big. If my recollection is right, the L.M.S. is the biggest railway company in the world. But imagine trying to run the four main line companies as one unit. Hon. Members opposite have said many hard things about the boards of directors of railway companies, but I would put this point in their favour. Broadly speaking, the directors were selected because they came from different parts of the area the company served, and they represented the big business interests which might send traffic to the company. There may have been defects which are more apparent to hon. Members opposite, but if did provide a geographical basis, and some expert knowledge of industry in respect of the different parts of the country the directors represented.
I ask the House to consider the responsibilities in regard to road haulage. Let hon. Members remember that after this Bill is passed, no goods can be moved more than 25 miles except by the Commission or by permission of the Commission. I am asking the House to con- sider the large amount of responsibility there is for all the hauls over 25 miles. Then there are the docks and harbours, and the hotels, which are being taken over at the time when tourist traffic is put forward as a serious contributor to our dollar exchange. I ask hon. Members opposite to consider this public corporation strictly from their own point of view. They must agree that a public corporation has to have the most severe tests as to efficiency, and the personnel it employs. It is a more severe test than any private firm could have, and unless it is a severe test the corporation must fail like inefficient private firms have failed. Consistency would demand that hon. Members be the last to prescribe any lower standards of efficiency for the public corporation.
These five people are to be responsible for running this corporation, and apparently they are to be free to hold other occupations. I agree that they are not to be conflicting occupations, but I would ask hon. Members where the line is to be drawn as between conflicting occupations and membership of the Transport Commission. Hon. Members opposite probably think that membership of the executive of trade unions or high posts in the Transport and General Workers Union would conflict with membership of the Transport Commission. Suppose it was some other union. Suppose it was one of the great mineworkers' unions. Is it possible for someone with an important job in that sphere to do this work of which I have given the merest outline? Would it be possible for a director of I.C.I. or Unilevers, which is one of the biggest conglomerations. to be a member of this Commission?
The hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies) has suggested that it might interfere with the philanthropic or political activities of the members of the Commission. I am glad that an hon. Member opposite got up and supported the view I am putting forward to the House. I view with considerable perturbation the suggestion that when somebody is put on the Commission to run a great public corporation, he should, at the same time, be permitted to carry on political activities—whether Conservative, Labour, Liberal, or Communist. If you are putting someone in a position of this responsibility, with a corresponding salary and allowances, I do not think you ought to subsidise him in that way, to carry on party politics as a half-time job.
Suppose the man is employed full time, and has certain free time. After all, he will not be working day and night. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman say that, in his own time, the man should not be allowed to attend a political meeting?
I say that he ought not to take a prominent part in politics. Every citizen is entitled to vote, and to instruct himself in politics, but a clear line can be drawn here between taking a responsible interest in politics— which is the duty of every citizen and playing a responsible part in politics. I say that if the man is prepared to take a position in helping to run a great public corporation like this he ought not to take a prominent part in politics. To subsidise him, to put him into a well-paid position of this kind, and then permit him to take a prominent part in party politics. would be a retrograde step.
The hon. Member is putting the personal case of the present occupant of that office against me. I would point out that for 40 years this has been possible in connection with this authority, and that it has been found possible, in a local public authority of that kind, to permit it. The same principle has been applied to many other docks which are on a trustee basis. But this is a national body, which is to run a public corporation for the whole country directly under the Minister, which is to be answerable to him, and subject to his interference on a great many points.
I have not the least idea of what the hon. Gentleman is talking about. I do not see how the two things are on the same level at all. The officials of the National Coal Board, from the way he described them, must be of a very different status, and in a completely different position, from the five men who are to be chosen, by this Bill, to run the country's transport. I say that with these responsibilities it is ludicrous to imagine that the work will be done properly unless these men are employed on a whole time basis. By extending the number on the Commission it would be possible to provide for part-time employment, but with only five I suggest that part-time employment would be simply ludicrous. The only conclusion one can draw is that the Commission will be merely the mouthpiece of the Minister and Whitehall. If we are to have a public corporation let us have one which has a chance of doing the work.
I rise with some reluctance to support this Amendment, my reluctance being due to the fact that I think that, under appropriate conditions, it would be extremely useful for part-time people to be associated with the more important parts of this great transport organisation. But I support the Amendment without hesitation because I think it is both unreasonable and illogical that the Minister should insist on being bound by Statute to having no more than five members of this Commission, and at the same time on being given the option of making those members either part-time or whole-time. I have said that part-time members would be useful on the Commission. I think it is a most useful function of the directors of railway companies at present, that they do afford a channel of communication between the services which they direct, and the Community and users who are the consumers of those services. That form of communication, with the fertilising influence that comes from users' and consumers' interests and needs, is even more required when you are setting up a system under which you no longer have the constant and pervasive influence that comes from a competitive system. I would, therefore, like to see part-time members on the Commission.
It seems to me, however, most unreasonable that the Minister should not only refuse a proposal that the Commission should be increased in numbers, but refuse even to give himself the option of increasing that number if, partly as a consequence of having some part-time members, he should find that desirable. I cannot understand why he refuses himself that option. Surely, if we have regard to the duties of the Commission it is obvious that if it is possible at all for five men to carry out those duties effectively, it certainly will not be possible if some of them are only working part-time. Just think of the range of activity to be covered by the Commission—railways, roads, canals, hotels, docks, and harbours. Their responsibility for making policy must range over this field, and they must infuse energy into the whole of that vast organisation. The precise division of function between them and the different executives is difficult for us, at present, to foresee or estimate. I would describe a few of the tasks more fully, but for the fact that they have been covered so admirably by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby (Sir Maxwell Fyfe). But I should like to put a little emphasis upon just one of their tasks. Whatever work may fall on the Executives, the task of co-ordinating the work of one Executive with another, and securing co-ordination over the whole system is a task which must fall upon the Commission itself and only on the Commission. It is a task of the utmost importance. It is the one legitimate purpose with which, I think, people on all sides of the House will agree if the Bill is to have some reality and some value in it. Most of us think that the different sections of the transport system would be better run under the present arrangements. But we all know that whether or not the main system is changed, better co-ordination is required, and for that purpose now something like a Transport Commission is desirable and necessary.
Think what that involves—the original inquiry, the constantly keeping up-to-date, the improving, the amending, the adjustment of co-ordination, between one part of the transport system and another. It is a terrific task, and even if the Transport Commission had not many other tasks in hand, how is it to be possible for a Commission of five men only, to carry out this task? It is not really a Transpor t Commission of five men, if only two are whole-time and three part-time. If the Minister is not prepared to say "If I have them part-time, I must have more on the Commission," why will he not say, at least, "I will give myself the option to increase the number." If he would do that I personally—and I think others would be in the same position—would not oppose him on the particular point of exclusive service. Otherwise, if we have to choose between the Amendment and a Commission of five, some of whom are part-time —but in no case more than five—then certainly I shall support this Amendment.
The Minister, I hope, will take the view that it is very right that the House as such should consider this extremely important matter of the constitution of the British Transport Commission and the way in which the function of its members should be distributed. It is plain from the slenderest acquaintance with this Bill that the Commission is charged with powers and responsibilities which are immense. It will, in fact, direct the whole policy of the nationalised system of transport, and everyone, accepting that, desires to see the best shape in the Commission and the best men members of it. There is to be a chairman and three or four members. I urge the House to consider, in view of the magnitude of the powers of the Commission, the desirability—indeed, this is essential—of its members giving their exclusive services to the duties which flow from their particular task. The House will observe that by Subsection (6) of this Clause there is a protection against a member of the Commission having an interest in a company, and, further than that, the Minister has power to investigate and to select only those who may have no real interest. I take the view that this Clause should not be necessary, for by including the words which my right hon. Friend has submitted, these matters would not be necessary, that we should have men who would give their whole time and would not be in a position to be objected to. We are not alone in holding views similar to this, because I observe that the hon. Member for East Bradford (Mr. McLeavy) in Committee upstairs said:
My own view, which I am sure is shared by the whole of my colleagues on this side of the Committee, is that there is nothing more essential in this Bill than that the members of the Commission shall be whole-time members, that they shall be in no way connected with outside interests, and that they
shall be in a position impartially to apply the policy which they think will best suit the transport industry throughout the country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee B. 4th February, 1947, col. 12.]
Indeed, the Minister himself said it was desirable to see members of the Commission serving whole time. It does not appear therefore that there is a great conflict in different parts of the House, and I hope the Government will find it possible to accept the Amendment.
I do not think there is a very great difference between the right hon. Gentleman and other Members on that side or on this side of the House. In fact, it is indeed remarkable that an Amendment of this sort should have been necessary to have been moved by a. right hon. Gentleman on this side rather than by the Government themselves, because we have continuously heard not only in various Debates in this House, but in various Debates upstairs, criticisms from hon. Members opposite of people who were directors of private enterprise companies who were only part-time directors, and great criticism has been levelled in this particular instance against directors of railways that they were not whole-time directors. Some sneers have been made against them that they were not whole-time servants of the railways and I think. therefore, it is rather remarkable that this Amendment should not be favours ably considered by the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. and right hon. Friends. A point was made by an hon. Member opposite as to what would be our attitude on this side of the House if someone who was employed on the Coal Board was mainly occupied in organising the Conservative Party. I would suggest to him that that point is covered by an Amendment which is going to be moved by the Minister himself immediately after this Amendment has been disposed of—in page 2, line 6, after "financial," to insert "or other".
I think that is the whole point of that Amendment, which I believe the right hon. Gentleman will move as a result of a request which I made to him during the Committee stage. Therefore, it is rather odd that there should be any resistance to this Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman the senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) has rightly pointed out that many of us feel it would have been much wiser had the Commission been larger in number only because part-time people could have been employed.
We are faced with two alternatives. It could be said that the ramifications of this Commission are very wide, covering a vast variety of different types of transport, and it would, therefore, be advisable to have members on the Commission who had experience of operating different types of canals and docks, but who would not be whole-time members. The argument could very easily be sustained, that we could have a large Commission of members who could be called upon to give extra technical advice—not detailed advice, because that would come from the Executive—people who could make broad decisions and who would not be required all the time. But that has not been the decision of the Government who have taken exactly the reverse view. They have said: "No, we want a different type of Commission. We want a chairman and we want four members, not people who are going to give extra technical advice, because that will come from the Executives—and the Minister will appoint the Executives—who have expert knowledge of canals, docks, buses and trams. We want four people who are going to take a view of the situation from the broadest angle and take decisions on that." There is no point in going over the argument against, because much was said upon it in the Committee upstairs. We have accepted that, for better or for worse, because it is the decision taken by the Government. All we say now is if the Government are to have four members on the Commission, who are going to carry out these duties, they must be whole-time members so that they can give us knowledge and security in the vast ramifications of a nationalised industry.
I think it is rather a quibble which was raised by an hon. Member as to a member of the Coal Board being the organiser of the Conservative Party, because if he glances at the Order Paper and sees the Amendment which the Minister is to move he will see that his argument cannot be sustained. Therefore, as the Minister has taken this decision, rightly or wrongly, that the Commission should consist of four, I urge him to go the whole hog, and justify his own decision by saying fairly and clearly, "We will have a few people who are going to have a tremendous task to do, but they will be employed solely on that task." In this way he will let every- one in the industry know that these people are engaged in no other business; that we intend to pay them a salary to compensate them for what they have to give up outside, and that we will engage them as whole-time members for this important work.
If I remember aright, when this matter was being taken upstairs the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Transport was unable to be present. I am not complaining about that, because he was a very good attender and was never away except when engaged on matters of great importance. The argument used by the Parliamentary Secretary was that he was not rejecting the Amendment on the ground that we were wrong in making the point, but on the ground that the Minister should not commit himself so far ahead, as in 15 or 20 years' time it might be necessary to have part-time people. My answer to that is that if it is necessary to have part-time members of the Commission, we must have more members. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to allow himself a loophole for having part-time members of the Commission, he should allow himself a loophole for having more members of the Commission. If he is going to take the rigid line, "I shall limit the Commission to this number" then we must accept that for better or worse, but we must insist that the Commission should consist of four full-time members.
The argument put up by hon. Members opposite on this Amendment is a condemnation of the fraudulent character of the capitalist method of production. There are Members on the other side of the House and maybe one or two on this side who are Members of Parliament in addition to being directors of large companies which embrace perhaps 10, 15 or 20 smaller companies. What a situation and what awful arguments we are getting from those who are in that class. Even if the arguments were good, it is desirable that Members on the other side of the House should be put out of pain as quickly as possible. I was interested in the speech yesterday, of the right hon. Gentleman who, in my absence, was confused with the Member for West Fife—a situation which I hope does not arise again. The right hon. Gentleman made very good arguments, but what is our attitude towards this? Our attitude is simple. The right hon. Gentleman may have made good arguments, but the Minister has a very good Bill and we think that the Minister is a very good Minister.
Like the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Poole) and the senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter), I do not object to the principle of part-time members of the Commission. But I agree that if we are to have part-time members we certainly need more. I do not understand why the Minister has resisted the enlargement of the Commission. The Commission will consist of the chairman and four members. There are obviously tasks which cannot be delegated to the chairman, so that really there are four members and they will have a tremendous lot of work to carry out. For example, one of these members is to be on the Central Transport Consultative Committee. I hope that the Minister is going to try to make that committee function, because if he is that is going to take up a lot of the time of one member of the Commission. I really think they are going to have their hands pretty full.
What are we doing? We are setting up a new hierarchy over and above the existing hierarchy. Take the case of the Southern Railway. Decisions are now made by that body. In future there are to be three tiers above it—the Railways Executive, the Commission and then the Minister. The Commission stands between the upper millstone of the Minister, and the nether millstone of the Executive. The Minister has been particularly careful in this Bill to deprive the Executive of a lot of powers which we on this side of the House thought necessary. For example, they are not allowed to make certain appointments which I thought they should have made. It therefore follows that a great deal of work has got to be done by the five members of this Commission if the whole thing is going to work. It is true that the Minister has obtained very wide powers over the Commission itself, but he has been at pains to assure us on the Committee stage, and on the Second Reading that he is going to use those powers as little as he can and is going to allow this Commission to review the whole field of transport, and the various industries which make up transport. I just cannot believe that if one or two of the four members of the Commission, excluding the chairman, are only part-time members, it is going to be possible for those permanent members to do a really big job as is intended under this Bill.
I sincerely hope that in order that we may form a proper estimate of this Amendment, the Minister will use the opportunity to explain clearly what the functions of the Commission are to be. We have gone through 31 sittings of the Standing Committee in a day and a half here, and it is not yet clear what this Commission is to try to do. It was on that argument that we based this Amendment. The Commission is obviously a policymaking body. The Parliamentary Secretary looks at me as though I were stupid, but I do not believe that he could at this minute define what the functions of the Commission are to be. We know that it is to be a policy-making body, but the Commission falls between the Minister and the Executive. The point which I should like to bring to the attention of the House is that if the Commission is really a financially responsible body, it ought to have a financial autonomy, and if it has not a financial autonomy, then the Minister is not a responsible man. I feel very strongly that hon. and right hon. Members on this side of the House who have been moving Amendments to this and other Bills to take powers from the Minister, may have been working on the wrong lines. I believe that we ought to have been moving Amendments consistently to put complete responsibility on the Minister.
I was trying to develop my point. If we really knew whether it the Minister or the Commission was responsible for this enormous undertaking which is contemplated, then we could come to a very clear view on whether or not these officials should or should not be full-time. I would not develop my argument further, because I would not dream of incurring your displeasure, Mr. Speaker. I think I have made my point sufficiently clear. If the Minister would explain whether he or the Commission is responsible, I should be very grateful and I should know how to vote.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) when he moved this Amendment prefaced his remarks by saying that it was now 8.15 p.m. on the second day and we had reached the Report stage of the Bill. I would remind him and his hon. Friends that the greater part of the 12½ hours which we have spent in consideration of the Bill has been spent on Amendments which he and his hon. Friends, quite rightly and properly, moved. A considerable number of them had already been discussed at some length during the Committee stage of the Bill. This Amendment which we are now considering was exhaustively debated and considered during the Committee stage of the Bill. I do not complain of that. I recognise that the question of the size and the functions of the Commission has a very important part in the consideration of the whole set-up. I think it is desirable, when we are considering the number of points that the Opposition are happy to remind us have not been discussed, to remember how they are using the time at their disposal.
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent the case. Far from being exhaustively discussed, the Debate in Committee was started at 10.35 a.m, and the matter was disposed of before 11.0 a.m. on the same day. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is really quite right in saying that it was exhaustively discussed.
On a point of Order. The interjection made by the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. O. Poole) is not strictly true. At the first meeting in Committee upstairs we spent two and a half hours and only reached line 15, by the end of the sitting.
Further to that point, the Minister must admit that we have not taken up time in discussing many of his Amendments, most of which we have accepted. Therefore, it is not unreasonable that hon. Members on this side of the House should expect hon. Gentlemen opposite to listen to our arguments and Amendments.
I do not know that I am alleging that it is unreasonable. I was reminding the right hon. and learned Gentleman, who opened the Debate on this matter, of one or two points which I thought were of general interest. In regard to this Amendment, the position of the Commission cannot be separated from the division of function between a Commission and the Executive. On the Second Reading, and at subsequent discussions in Committee, I made it perfectly plain that one of the major reasons why the Commission has been formed with the small constitution of five persons, is to ensure that it carries out its main task as a policy body and that it should not be led by the breaking up of the Commission as a team—which very often happens if the membership is enlarged—into the process of becoming intimately responsible for the management and operation of this transport undertaking. That is a function which, clearly, is delegated to the Executive bodies.
Therefore, if we take the number of the Commission, which is a policy body, and if we consider it in relation to the Executive, which will be established from time to time to deal with the functional services, I contend that the total number of persons detailed to run these services is quite adequate for the purpose. I see no sense in merely adding to the number of highly salaried persons just for the sake of doing it. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for West Derby emphasised three main tasks which the Commission will have to carry out. Before I proceed to deal with those three main tasks, I would remind hon. Members that in Committee upstairs I stated quite clearly that it is the intention of the Government that the five members of the Commission shall be full time Members. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Poole) was quite right when he indicated that the difference is more imaginary than real. If it is the intention of the Government that the five members of the Commission shall be full time members, I fail to see why my hon. Friends will persist in Amendments of this description.
I apologise for interrupting. The right hon. Gentleman said that I used the word "imaginary." It is not imaginary at all. All we are asking the right hon. Gentleman to do is to put into the Bill what he says he wants. That does not seem to me to be imaginary.
I have pointed out that it is not necessary to put what is the intention of the Government into the Bill. If hon. Members will reflect for a moment they will see that there is advantage in matters of this description in leaving the matter free. It becomes increasingly difficult to get legislative action to deal with matters that vary from time to time, and one can easily see, and foresee, that there may be circumstances in the future of a character that would justify a departure from the general practice to meet some emergency or special circumstances that may not last for a long period. lit may be desirable from time to time to depart from the rigid position that we must always be bound under all circumstances and in all cases to insist upon this rule being applied to the members of the Commission. Therefore, in economic matters of this description, there is considerable advantage, provided the Government make their intention clear— there is nothing to be lost and there is sometimes everything to be gained—in just leaving that freedom to meet any special circumstances that may arise.
What I am visualising is just the opposite. Once this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament its advantages will be so apparent to the people of this country that it will become a permanent institution. The public transport service is a public institution and one must look ahead and make provision for circumstances that arise from time to time in the life of the State. We have had two experiences in our lifetime of the strategic value and importance of the transport services in two world wars, and the necessity to be able to accommodate ourselves to circumstances of that character. Even recently we have passed through a fuel crisis of some magnitude, and it is to meet emergencies and contingencies of that character that I feel it is an advantage to leave the position free. Therefore, the provisions that govern the Commission at the present moment do not prevent the members of the Commission from being fulltime members; the intention is to start off with fulltime membership but to leave it free in the future to meet any circumstances that may arise.
I want to emphasise that the function of the Commission, in my view, does not represent that exhaustion of its time which has been assumed by many hon. Members who have spoken in this Debate. All its functions are of a policy character and policy decisions do not require the same amount of time as the day to day management of large undertakings. The Commission's job is to fulfil the purpose which Parliament has in view in passing this Bill. It will be responsible for co-ordination, it is true, but it will not have to carry out the task of co-ordination. That will be done from day to day by the executive bodies. The Commission will be responsible for seeing that the Executive work together to a common purpose.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman emphasised that road haulage services would have to be organised on probably a local or an area or a district basis. I do not disagree with that contention. It will not be the Commission's job to organise the road haulage services on a local or a district or an area basis. That will be the job of the Road Haulage Executive. He stated finally that the Commission would be responsible for preparing this charges scheme. That again is true, but the Commission, I assume, will have around it a very small but high-powered technical staff that will be able to do all the preparatory work of that description.
Therefore, having examined this matter from the beginning and listened to the arguments of hon. Members, I do not see that there is any case for increasing the number of members of this Commission. If the members were increased it would, I suggest, eventually lead them into the departmentalisation of their own individual work and functions. That is the position which we must avoid in a policy body. We do not want the members of the Commission to form themselves into a body of departmental Executives supervising any particular branch of transport. The purpose of the Commission essentially is to see that the purpose we have in mind of an adequate, co-ordinated, efficient transport service is carried out and performed by the Executives. That being the case, I trust the House will support the Government in this decision, because I believe that keeping the Commission small will compel it to act as a team. It will not break down its services, it will assume collective responsibility for this purpose and, by assuming collective responsibility as a Commission, by that process more than any other, the Minister and Whitehall will be relieved from the responsibility of conducting the affairs of this public transport service. Again, I regret that I am unable to accept this Amendment.
All questions affecting the Commission and the Executive as individual appointments. The Minister does not carry, of course, the day-to-day operations of the service. That was one of the reasons why it was felt desirable in Committee that the Minister should appoint the Executives, and that Parliament should have access to information about the Executives from the Minister.
I will give way if the hon. Member wants to interrupt. I was saying that I would like to imitate that trustful attitude, but I think it would represent a surrender of the critical functions of Parliament. I agree with much of what the Minister has just said, but I suppose that hon. Members who are incapable of supporting the Government when it is right, and opposing it when it is wrong—
I agree with the Minister that the function of the Transport Commission should be a policy-making and not an executive one. I think he is to be complimented on drawing that distinction as sharply and clearly as he has done, because it is vital to the good administration of that body in the future. I agree that these men should not be executives. I agree that they ought not to be heads of departments within the Transport Commission. On all that I could not agree with him more, but what is he asked to do? He is asked not to tie his hands too closely, either about the numbers of people on the Board or whether they should be full or part-time. That is the whole point and pith of this argument. I should have thought that the right line for the Minister was to be utterly inflexible in principle, and infinitely adaptable in administration, but what do I find? I find that when we are dealing with issues of principle like compensation, he is so flexible that Heaven alone knows what the compensation will be. But when we are dealing with administration, he is so utterly inflexible that it has to be five members on the Board—not six and not four. Five alone will satisfy the requirements of the Minister. He himself is a passionate pleader for restraint on his own freedom in future. He is not merely not in favour of liberty for the rest of us, but is specially opposed to liberty for himself. The sensible thing to say here would be, "Certainly we do not want a larger Commission than is necessary; we want it to be policy-making and not executive, but we want it to be flexible, and to leave our hands free to increase or diminish the number as is necessary. We will leave it to circumstances to determine whether it is necessary for full-time or part-time."
No, Sir, but with respect, it deals with whether it should be full-time or part-time membership, and I submit that there is a connection between that, and the number required on the Commission. I should have thought the best thing was for the Minister to keep his hands free, whereas he emerges as a passionate advocate of slavery for himself in the future.
I must remind the hon. Member that we have got past the Subsection which says that the Commission shall consist of a chairman and four members. That is over and done with.
I was not aware of that, Sir, if I may say so. I make the simple suggestion that there is a connection between the number of people to be employed, and whether they are to be employed full-time or part-time. If we cannot discuss them in a related fashion, we cannot discuss them in any fashion at all.
The right hon. Gentleman put up a good case for part-time directors, and it might well be that if we had more information, we would agree that part-time members would be desirable. I can understand his argument for a small Commission. It has many advantages, which were discussed in Committee, and on balance I see the value and validity of the argument. But what worried me about his speech is how the benefit of co-ordination is to be achieved unless each member of the Commission functions 100 per cent. He mentioned technical staff. That is one thing about which my hon. Friends and I are perturbed, and which I believe worries hon. Members opposite. We do not wish to see great executive power handed over to civil servants—
May I interrupt the hon. and gallant Gentleman? They will not be civil servants in this case; they will be experts, and technicians, drawn from the transport industry.
I fully accept the point. My point is that they will not in fact be executive officers. They will be staff officers without responsibility. What worries me is that unless these members of the Commission are whole-time members, they may quite inadvertently spend more time on other duties than they would if it were not possible for them to have outside duties. I am sure the Minister accepts that as a most difficult point—[Interruption.] I wish the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) would either leave the House or be quiet to take some interest in this serious Debate.
The hon. Member does not listen and interrupts with sneers and without rising in his place. The point I want to make is that there are only five members of this Commission, and that at any time during five or six months of the year one member will be on leave. It will be necessary for one member to be off duty for a month or so at any given time during the six summer months. It may also be necessary for one or other of the members to go abroad. I hope that will be insisted upon by the Minister. I am sure that if the right hon. Gentleman who is now Minister remains Minister, he will insist that Russia and Canada and other countries should be visited so that the problems there can be studied. This absence will weaken the Commission very much. It will mean that during half the year there will be only three or four members of the Commission in the country. One member may be sick, which will leave only three, and if they take on other part-time directorships, there may be only two members. This is a serious point, and I hope the Minister will consider the difficulties. Surely, the real answer is to increase the size of the Commission, to have whole-time employees, and to make quite certain that there is no question of outside influences from the Socialist, Conservative, or Liberal Parties, or even the Communist Party. Let us keep politics out of the Commission; let us see that it is efficient and that it works. The members of the Commission must give all their working hours to their job.
The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) is perfectly satisfied with the Bill as drafted, and is ready to accept it. It is a small matter to him that about 200 Amendments have been accepted by the Minister. I am sure the hon. Member would not have bothered about any of them. Some of us, however, are taking this Bill seriously, and I want to put one or two points about policy. What we have to decide is whether the members of the Commission, of whom there are to be five, should be whole-time or part-time. That is the issue. In Committee the Opposition pressed very hard for a larger Commission, because they felt it would be useful to have some outside members who were not full-time members, and they thought that could be achieved only if the Commission were as numerous as nine members; but with only five members, the Opposition took the view that it was necessary that they should be full-time members. The Minister has told us that these five members will deal with questions of policy, and policy only. What I am a little doubtful about is what the Minister includes under the term "policy."
I would remind the House that the Commission are to take over at least five very big different interests. They are to take over the railways. I might point out that the two largest railway companies, the L.M.S. and the L.N.E.R., which are by far the biggest railways in the world, are respectively the second and third biggest companies in the world, including all the companies of America. Secondly, they are to take over the whole of the road transport business. Thirdly, they are to take over, or to make arrangements for, the docks and harbours. Finally. they are to take over all the railway hotels, of which there are more than 70. The L.M.S. is the biggest hotel keeper in the whole of Europe. The Commission will be undertaking a fairly big business, and the House must recognise that. What are the kind of questions of policy which the Commission will discuss? I want to give one or two illustrations to the Minister so that he can tell us. I will draw my illustrations from the railways, about which I know rather more than I do about some of the other topics. Take the question of staff relations. There are more than 600,000 railway employees at the present time. May I take it that the major aspect of labour relations will be a matter of policy for the Commission to discuss? Will that be among the problems which the Commission has to consider?
I have a number of questions to put to the Minister before he replies. That is the first one; would that subject be considered a question of high policy? I should have thought it would. Then we come to the physical management—to the track, for instance. The railway companies have 52,000 miles of track. It is a matter of great importance to them, a matter of high policy, as to whether they are to make use of concrete sleepers instead of wooden sleepers, owing to difficulties in getting timber. Would that be a matter of policy which the Commission would discuss or not? Then the railway companies own more than no steamships. It is a matter of great importance to the railway companies to decide what type of ship they are to use and order. Would that be a matter which the Commissioners would consider or would it not?
Again, there are locomotives—the railway companies have more than 20,000 locomotives, and there are all sorts of differences of opinion between the different companies as to the best type of locomotive. We consider, in the railway companies, that that is a matter of high policy. Would it be a matter which the Minister would think the Commission should deal with, or would it be left to the Railway Executive? Then again the railway companies own for example more than 50,000 houses. Would it be a matter for the Commission to consider whether those houses are to be equipped in a certain way, whether they are to be brought thoroughly up to date—as some of them unfortunately are not? Would that be a matter of high policy for the Commission or would it be left to the Railway Executive? Would it be a matter of policy for the Commission to decide what is to happen to the horses, of which the railway companies have more than 9,000? Is the problem of dealing with the horses one for the Commission or will it be left to the Railway Executive?
I give these illustrations of some of the matters which are high matters of policy. Supposing there are differences of opinion on the Railway Executive, which is possible, on the kind of locomotive to be used. Will that go up to the Commission for their decision? Finally we come to such large questions as rates. That is an immense problem. The question of rates and the policy to be adopted in regard to rates and fares, and the whole problems of co-ordination, are obviously problems for the Commission. Until we know the answer to all these questions I find it a little difficult to conclude what will be the duties of these Commissioners. If they really have to consider all the matters of policy which may come up from the Railway Executives, I cannot believe that five men can possibly do the work. I would certainly agree with my right hon. Friend and others behind me who have supported this Amendment in insisting that those five men should be whole time. If the Minister would be good enough to give an answer to a few of the questions I have put to him, they are only a small selection out of a large number, I think the House would be in a better position to come to a conclusion.
I can answer them all. Staff relations, tracks, concrete or timber sleepers, locomotives, housing for railway staffs, horses—they all come under the Railway Executive. Rates and charges will be the responsibility of the Commission in the first instance, to frame and submit to the tribunal.
|Division No. 156.]||AYES.||[9.34 p.m.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V||Pete, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Houghton, S. G.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hogg, Hon. Q||Poole, O B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Hollis, M. C.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Howard, Hon. A.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Hulbert, Wing-Comdr. N. J||Renton, D.|
|Birch, Nigel||Hurd, A||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Bowen, R.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cdr. Clark (Edin'gh, W.)||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W.||Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland|
|Brown, W J. (Rugby)||Keeling, E. H.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Kendall, W. D.||Ross, Sir R.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A|
|Butcher, H. W.||Lambe[...], Hon. G.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Byers, Frank||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Langford-Holt, J.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Cole, T. L.||Linstead, H. N.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Lipson, D. L.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Strauss, H. C. (English Universities)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Low, Brig. A. R. W.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Lucas, Maj. Sir J,||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Crowder, Capt. J. F. E.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||McCallum, Maj. D.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd'ton, S.)|
|Digby, S. W.||MacDonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Teeling, Willlam|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Macdonald, Sir P. (Isle of Wight)||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P W.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Drayson, G. B.||McKie, J, H. (Galloway)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Drewe, C.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Macpherson, Maj, N. (Dumfries)||Touche, G. C.|
|Elliot, Lieut.-Colonel W.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone)||Marsden, Capt. A.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Maude, J. C.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Gage, C.||Medlicott, F.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.||Mellor, Sir J.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. G.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Grant, Lady||Nicholson, G.||York, C.|
|Granville, E. (Eye)||Nield, B. (Chester)|
|Gridley, Sir A.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Grimston, R. V.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Mr. Studholme and|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Major Conant.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Bramall, Major E. A.||Davies, Edward (Burslem)|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Brook, D. (Halifax)||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Bruce, Major D. W. T.||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Buchanan, G.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Burden, T. W.||Deer, G.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Burke, W. A.||de Freitas, Geoffrey|
|Austin, H. L.||Butler, H. W (Hackney, S.)||Delargy, Captain H. J.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Callaghan, James||Diamond, J.|
|Baird, J.||Chamberlain, R. A.||Dobble, W.|
|Balfour, A.||Champion, A. J.||Dodds, N. N.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Chater, D.||Driberg, T. E. N.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Chetwynd, G R.||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)|
|Barton, C.||Cobb, F. A.||Dumpleton, C. W|
|Battley, J. R.||Cocks, F. S.||Durbin, E. F. M.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Coldrick, W.||Dye, S.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Collick, P.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C|
|Benson, G.||Collindridge, F.||Edelman, M.|
|Beswick, F.||Collins, V. J.||Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Colman, Miss G. M.||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)|
|Binns, J.||Comyns, Dr. L.||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Cook, T. F.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Evans, John (Ogmore)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)|
|Boardman, H.||Corlett, Dr. J.||Ewart, R.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Cove, W. G.||Fairhurst, F.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Crawley, A.||Farthing, W. J.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Creasman, R. H. S.||Field, Captain W. J.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Daggar, G.||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Daines, P.||Follick, M.|
|Foot, M. M.||McAllister, G.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Forman, J. C.||McEntee, V. La T.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Foster, W. (Wigan)||McGhee, H. G.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C.|
|Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Skinnard, F. W.|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||McKinlay, A. S.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Gaitskell, H. T. N.||Maclean, N. (Govan)||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Gallacher, W.||MoLeavy, F.||Solley, L. J.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Macpherson, T. (Romford)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Gibbins, J.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Soskice, Maj. Sir F|
|Gilzean, A.||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Gooch, E. C.||Mann, Mrs. J.||Stamford, W.|
|Goodrich, H. E.||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Steele, T.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Stephen, C.|
|Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Marquand, H. A.||Stewart, Capt. Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Strachey, J.|
|Grey, C. F.||Mathers, G.||Strauss, G R. (Lambeth)|
|Grierson, E.||Mayhew, C. P.||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Medland, H M.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Messer, F.||Swingler, S.|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Middleton, Mrs. L.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Mikardo, Ian||Symonds, A. L.|
|Gunter, R. J.||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Guy, W. H.||Mitchison, Major G. R.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Monslow, W.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Hall, W. G.||Moody, A. S,||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)|
|Hardman, D. R.||Morley, R.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Hardy, E. A.||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Harrison, J.||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Tiffany, S|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Mort, D. L||Timmons, J.|
|Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Moyle, A.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Murray, J. D||Tolley, L.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Nally, W.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Hobson, C. R.||Naylor, T. E.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Holman, P.||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Ungoed-Thomas, L|
|Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Usborne, Henry|
|House, G.||Noel-Buxton, Lady||Vernon, Maj. W. F|
|Hoy, J.||Oldfield, W. H.||Viant, S. P.|
|Hubbard, T.||Oliver, G. H.||Walkden, E.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Walker, G. H.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Hughes, H. D. (Wolverhampton, W)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Pargiter, G. A.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Parkin, B, T.||Watson, W. M.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Irving, W. J.||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Weitzman, D.|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Pearson, A.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Peart, Capt. T. F.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Plaits-Mills, J. F. F.||West, D G.|
|John, W.||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)||Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Porter, E. (Warringtn)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Price, M. Philips||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Proctor, W. T.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Pryde, D. J.||Wilkes, L.|
|Keenan, W.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Kenyon, C.||Randall, H. E.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|King, E. M.||Ranger, J.||Willey, O. C. (Cleveland)|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E||Rankin, J.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Kinley, J.||Raid, T. (Swindon)||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Lang, G.||Rhodes, H.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Lavers, S.||Richards, R.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Lee, F. (Hulme)||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Williamson, T|
|Leo, Miss J (Cannock)||Robens, A.||Willis, E.|
|Leonard, W.||Roberts, Goronwy, (Caernarvonshire)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Leslie, J R||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Levy, B. W.||Ross, Willlam (Kilmarnock)||Woodburn, A|
|Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Royle, C.||Wyatt, W.|
|Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Scollan, T.||Yates, V. F.|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Scott-Elliot, W.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Logan, D. G.||Sharp, Granville|
|Longden, F.||Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Lyne, A. W.||Shurmer, P.||Mr. Hannan and|
|McAdam, W.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Mr. Popplewell.|
I beg to move, in page 2, line 6, after "financial," to insert "or other."
This Amendment—and the following Amendment—is designed to meet an undertaking which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for East Bradford (Mr. McLeavy) in Standing Committee, and seeks to ensure that the Minister should satisfy himself that no member of the Commission should have a financial or other interest which is likely to affect the proper discharge of his duties.
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to withhold credit where it is due. He will recall that a considerable time was spent in Committee in discussing a similar Amendment moved by the Opposition and I hope he will agree that we played some part in persuading him to make this alteration.
The hon. Member's observation illustrates the progress of our forces. I was talking about the policy presented at the General Election. At the General Election, I remember, a programme of a more modest character was put forward. For my own part, I had no doubt as to what the Government's intentions were. I was always clear that having taken over long-distance road haulage as a first step, they would, as soon as possible, get as many hauliers as possible under their control. Let me take the provisions of the Bill. The acquisition of the short-distance haulier takes place in two ways. One is that they take over a haulage firm without taking the whole of it, if they are satisfied it is predominantly long-distance. In the process they take over many short-distance hauls as well, and in taking over the railways, they take over firms like Pickfords and a great deal not only of short-distance hauliers but also of cut price traffics which under the proposals of Clause 38, would have accepted carriage of livestock and liquids in bulk.
I should like to direct the attention of Members to the situation which will result. There will be left a number of hauliers operating within the narrow and restricted limits of 25 miles. These private hauliers may not at any time go beyond their 25 miles limit, except by licence, application for which will have to be made to their present competitors. They will, therefore, be normally limited to 25 miles from their operating centres. Against them will be competing this great national transport monopoly, with all its resources and powers at its disposal. Hon. Members opposite may say, "Well, don't you believe in competition?" We do but we believe in competition on something like fair terms.
I hardly thought the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) would hold up I.C.I. as an example to the Government. The way in which this competition will be conducted will, I think, inevitably be unfair. To start with, the resources of the Commission and the Transport Board are immense. It will be a comparatively simple thing to undercut one of the short-distance hauliers at any time when it pleases the Commission to do so. They can lower their prices and their charges and they can do so by putting up the charges upon the long-distance traffic. No one can complain because you cannot go to anyone else except the Commission. So far as the Commission are concerned, they can put up prices on long distances as high as they like in order to subsidise short-distance competition. The Commission can go to the trader in a town and say, "Do not bother whether it is 25 miles or 26 miles; we can carry your goods any distance you like, so give us a quotation to carry your goods and we will deliver them." Whereas the private haulier cannot offer those promises, not because he is not willing, but because the Government are preventing him from doing so.
In those circumstances it is plain that what will happen will be this. The smaller private hauliers operating in this narrow 25 miles will rapidly be driven out of business altogether. Their earnings will be reduced and at an appropriate time they will be taken over, but taken over of course in a more or less bankrupt condition, to which they will have been reduced by the operations of the Commission. These operations can be very easy and cheap to conduct, and though I am not concerned with the firm mentioned by the hon. Member for West Fife, there are private combines which use these methods to crush out competition in their awn industry, a thoroughly undesirable thing, which this Government have made no attempt whatsoever to stop. No legislation has been proposed or suggested by any Member of the Front Bench opposite.
I am sure the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks) does not wish to mislead the House. He asked whether my right hon. and learned Friend could give a single instance. My right hon. and learned Friend did not say that there was not one single instance.
I think the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks) is under a slight misapprehension. It was not the transport industry in particular which was mentioned. It is common knowledge to Members on all sides of the House that taking British industry as a whole, we could all say that we have found instances in which a group of firms have placed themselves in a powerful position, not by producing better things but by undercutting their competitors and on the basis of the immense finances which they had at their disposal have crowded out the weaker element.
During the Committee stage it was suggested to us that the Amendment which we put down to achieve this end would be impracticable because there was a certain amount of road haulage of a short-distance character which would have to be carried out by the railway companies in order to effect a clearance from those railways. I think that the Parliamentary Secretary will agree that that point is adequately dealt with at the end of the Amendment, because in those circumstances we allow the Commission to conduct traffic of that kind. This surely is the position about road haulage, that the Government should carry out the policy which they stated they would carry out when they took over the long-distance haulage, and that they should not start carrying short-distance traffic which they admitted they were hardly suitable to undertake.
As far as the second Amendment is concerned, I do not want to elaborate it a great deal as some of my hon. Friends will wish to speak on it, but the point here is very similar. Under the Bill the Government take over, as far as the passenger traffic is concerned, the London Passenger Transport Board. Later on, under Part IV of the Bill they may, without a scheme being put up, take over road passenger transport in a particular area. Under Clause 2 (2, e)—if I may have the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary for one moment. [Interruption.] I do not need to apologise for asking for his attention. We on this side of the Committee do not always get satisfactory replies to our suggestions, but we do like to think that our arguments are listened to.
Under Clause 2 (2, e) it appears to me—and the Parliamentary Secretary will correct me if I am wrong—that the Commission is empowered to take over by agreement any road passenger undertaking. That would include road passenger undertakings which have nothing to do with the London Passenger Transport Board, and would be wholly unconnected with any general scheme. In fact, the Commission could take over haphazardly, between now and the scheme being put up, any particular undertaking, finance it out of the rest of the reserves of this great Commission, run it below cost, and drive out of business the road passenger man operating in that area. That would be entirely within the powers of the Commission. I think that is a position which ought to be guarded against. Whether it is on the goods or on the passenger side, we seek to see that the rather narrow limits of private operation should, at least, be safeguarded and able to go on without being subject to the unfair competition of a great State monopoly.
I beg to second the Amendment.
At the same time, in accordance with the Ruling which you have given, Mr. Speaker, I wish to mention the Amendment which stands in my name and those of my hon. Friends relating to passenger services. Before proceeding to the subject matter of the Amendment which stands in my name, I wish to supplement very briefly the case put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) with regard to goods services. He referred to the 25-mile "cells," as they have been called on occasions since this Bill was introduced. There is a certain amount of confusion of thought on both sides of the House as to the exact attitude to competition. I believe that hon. Members opposite think that competition is a thing that can be dispensed with quite easily in all circumstances. Certainly they arc quite wrong when they think that we suggest that all competition is necessarily good at all times. We do not think so and, indeed, legislation of prewar Governments, now represented on the Opposition side of the House, has proved that conclusively. We say that there is such a thing as unnecessary and wasteful competition. In the Acts of 1930 and 1933 serious and, I consider, successful attempts were made to eliminate such wasteful and uneconomic competition and to ensure that there is competition which is beneficial. Within those 25-mile "cells" now to be created, there is no doubt that the competition will be wasteful and unnecessary. I would say that the provisions of this Bill in setting up those "cells" are not only killing but intended to kill.
I proceed to passenger services. In Clause 2 (2, c) the Commission will have power to acquire by agreement any passenger undertaking. Under Part II of the Bill the London Passenger Transport concerns will be taken over, and, under Part IV, area schemes may be made embracing passenger transport services by road. A considerable time will elapse before those schemes are brought into effect. That is beyond dispute. It was referred to earlier by the Parliamentary Secretary. Bearing in mind that a number of years will elapse, there will be a sort of interregnum before the area schemes are made effective, and we have to consider what is to happen meanwhile. One of the purposes of this Bill is to secure a co-ordinated system of transport. As matters stand at the moment, far from it being a properly coordinated and integrated system, so far as road passenger transport services are concerned, there will be, at least, a dual system. There will be those vehicles licensed by the Traffic Commissioners, as they have been since the Act of 1930 came into force, and there will be the area schemes. Surely, it would be very much better if, instead of setting up a dual system in a Bill which is intended to coordinate, the Government had a unified and integrated system?
There is a simple process right at hand for the Government to achieve that, but they do not appear to wish it. That was made perfectly clear in Committee. The Government do not wish to use the Traffic Commissioners and to put the Commission under the jurisdiction of the Traffic Commissioners, so that the careful co-ordination which the Traffic Commissioners have exercised over recent years can continue. In mentioning that, I remind hon. Members that the Traffic Commissioners sit in public, they sit locally, they hear all points of view, and they are able to achieve a great measure of co-ordination, not merely between one road passenger service and another, but even between rail services and road pas-senger services. The Traffic Commissioners are in the habit of getting hold of railway timetables. Surprising though it may seem to hon. Members opposite from the criticisms one sometimes hears them make of the present system, that is a fact.
However, as the Government are not prepared to make the fullest use of that system and are prepared during the period of interregnum to have this dual system, we considered it necessary to put down this Amendment to save the Government from the chaos which it appears to us they will be introducing. We therefore say that the Commission should not be allowed to operate services, except in accordance with a scheme made under Part IV and to operate the London passenger transport system, which is obvious, under Part II. We suggest to the House that if that precaution is taken there will be a continuance of the wellplanned and well-ordered system which has applied to road passenger transport for the last 15 years.
It seems to me that the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) would make absolute nonsense of this Bill. The Amendment to restrict the Transport Commission to the operation of road haulage over long distance is quite impracticable. It would destroy the very purpose of this Bill. I say that for this reason. In the first place Clause 38 provides that the Transport Commission shall acquire road haulage undertakings, and it will acquire those undertakings as units. When it takes over those undertakings, it will take over both long-distance and short-distance services. It will acquire vehicles which are engaged both in long distance and in short distance work. If when a unit has been taken over it is said that the undertaking cannot continue to carry goods for a short distance, which it has been doing in the past, the Transport Commission can no longer operate that unit properly because the short-distance haulage and the long-distance haulage were operated together in the organisation, one working in with the other and the profits of the concern depending upon the two. But more important than that is the fact that if we take over a unit which is operating long and short distance, as the Transport Commission will be doing, and we acquire vehicles, there will be no vehicles available to continue to do the short distance work. If we are forbidden to do short-distance work, who will cater for the traders who still want their goods carried short distances? There are not the new vehicles available, people are not available to go into the business, and it will be impossible for the traders to be serviced in the way that they have been serviced in the past. This severance of the business which is suggested, not of the physical assets, but as regards the requirements of the trader, is impossible and, as I have said, unnecessary.
Certainly. The Transport Commission is taking over short distance to the extent that short distance is carried on by those undertakings which the Transport Commission acquires. That is laid down in Clause 38. At the same time if is taking over that short distance which is operated by the railway companies today, which includes Pickfords and Carter Paterson, and that part of Carter Paterson and Pickfords which is inter-related with railway traffic will have to continue. That is another reason why this Amendment is not sensible, because the purpose of this Bill is to provide for the co-ordination of all forms of transport, and a successful transport system of this country must depend upon the co-ordination of road and rail traffic. If there is to be true co-ordination between road and rail traffic, then the Transport Commission has to be free to use the road transport to the extent that it desires to do so, and rail traffic to the extent to which it desires to do so. There will be certain distances which will emerge as time goes on in which it is more economic to use road transport, either to feed the railways or for the purpose of carrying the traffic without feeding the railways at all. If you restrict the carriage of goods to distances exceeding 25 miles, then you will not be able to work in your road traffic with your railway traffic in the way this Bill intends to provide.
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves that point, perhaps I did not make my question quite clear; does he, supported by his hon. Friend, desire to nationalise all short-distance transport? That is the issue.
Might I ask the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) to study the Bill? It lays down clearly the extent to which the Transport Commission takes over long distance and short distance. Clause 38 provides for the taking of long distance and short distance where both are operated by undertakings. Other Clauses provide for the taking over of railway undertakings which already engage in a certain amount of short distance. It is not provided in the Bill that undertakings operated within the short distance of 25 miles should be taken over automatically but, where the undertakings desire to be taken over, there are provisions in the Bill for it. It is laid down clearly in the Bill, it came out in the Committee upstairs, on which the hon. Gentleman sat, and it has been debated on the Floor of the House.
One point in reference to the speech of the hon. Member for Monmouth. He suggested that, in the case of long distance, the Transport Commission would be free to make what charges it liked for carriage, that there would be no competition and, therefore, it could put up its charges to whatever extent it liked, and if engaged on short distance, it could charge unfair rates and enter into competition. I think the hon. Gentleman was overlooking the fact that the "C" licensee continues unrestricted under this Bill—
And as the "C" licensee continues unrestricted, there is that check on the operation of all long-distance traffic, that, if you charge more than a certain price for the carriage of goods, it would pay the trader to carry the goods himself. So there is that check on the charge which the Transport Commission will make and there is competition, and his argument as regards being able to charge high prices for long distance in order to undercut the short-distance haulier does not enter into it.
On the question of competition as between fair competition for private enterprise and unfair competition as is suggested, in effect, for nationalised undertakings, if this Amendment were carried there would be unfair competition for the Transport Commission because the Transport Commission would not have the advantage of the profitability of short. distance, but would be engaged only in long-distance traffic. It would, therefore, be at a disadvantage as regards competition with the short haulier. So I ask the hon. Member for Monmouth to think again about this Amendment; to think whether it is practicable, and should be carried out, or whether it is not designed to make nonsense of the Bill so that the Bill will not work.
I think the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies) has put before the House an extraordinary argument. He said that because the Commission takes over a particular undertaking, which has both long-distance and short-distance traffic, it must continue to run short-distance traffic. Do the Government intend that when this change takes place the particular present stratification of the transport system in this country should be perpetuated for ever? Is it not the intention to reorganise and rationalise the system, leaving to private enterprise what is most suitable to private enterprise and to public enterprise, what is most suitable to public enterprise? I thought that was the purpose. If it is the purpose, it is perfectly clear that the problem to which the hon. Member refers can easily be dealt with.
Surely, the right hon. Member is aware that the vehicles are not allocated as between long-distance and short-distance traffic, but the same vehicles will be carrying certain goods on long distances, and certain goods on short distances?
Of course they will. But, when the change takes place, the existing transport of the country is going to be put upon a rationalised basis with a re. arrangement between the kind of traffic most suitable for one form or another. For a long time I have thought that while there is a great difference between the two sides of the House in regard to much of this Bill it was common ground that the short-distance part of this traffic was better left to private enterprise. We may clear out of the dispute the question of collecting for rail for the Amendment deals with that. But, dealing with the rest, if it is the case that it is proper and right that the short-distance traffic should normally be left to private enterprise the purpose behind these Amendments is perfectly simple and reasonable. It is that where private enterprise is not legislated out of business, and thus automatically put out of business, it should not be later inevitably frozen out of business. But, that will be the effect unless we have a safeguard of this kind. Hon. Members ask if we do not believe in competition. Certainly we do, but in reasonable, fair and equal competition. Competition between a Dreadnought and a dinghy is neither useful, interesting, nor likely to last long; but that is really not an unfair analogy. Competition between this vast Transport Commission on the one hand, and a small road haulier on the other, is so unequal as to make it quite impossible for the smaller party if the first is bent on aggression.
I can hardly think the hon. Member was serious when he talked about the unfairness to the Transport Commission of the advantage which a small, modern, shortdistance haulier would have. Let hon. Members think of the situation on the other side. It is not only, as my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) said, that the Commission can put up the rates on the long-distance traffic and use that income to subsidise competition on short-distance traffic. They can also draw upon the resources of higher rates on the railways, profits on hotels, profits in relation to the docks—profits upon anything in the whole sphere of their vast combined enterprise, all of which goes within one fund. It is completely impossible competition if the Transport Commission are out to kill the short-distance haulier. Can we have any assurance that they will not do that?
The hon. Member said that there is at least the protection of the competition of the freedom given to the "C" licence holder. That is no thanks to the hon. Member. He argued, on the Second Reading of the Bill, that any such concession as has subsequently been made by the Government would be fatal to the whole of this transport system. I agree that, to the exent to which that concession has been made, the Bill is better. But how inadequate that concession is as the sole protection against the kind of competitive pressure that the big Transport Commission could bring to bear upon the small haulier. It is obvious that, if they wished to do it, they could freeze out the small haulier altogether, and I have very little confidence indeed that they will not be tempted, and successfully tempted. to do so.
I will answer the hon. Member. When we were discussing the question of "C" licences, the House will remember that the Parliamentary Secretary, rather giving away the Minister, who had said that all bona fide traders had no cause for alarm. He said that the Transport Commission could not afford to lose the cream of the traffic. If in the first days of the Bill, before it is law, those are the lines on which the Government are thinking, what is likely to be the temptation to the Transport Commission a little later when they see, as they will see, that purely from the point of view of their own finances, it will be very attractive to freeze out, to under-cut, to throw out of business, some of these small hauliers? It will be convenient and profitable for them to do so, and unless we have some safeguard, they will certainly be very likely to do so. Hon. Members also said, when we were talking about the prospective fate of the small hauliers of being squeezed out by a large concern, "Is that not what private capitalism has done in the past?" Yes, there have been such instances; they have been the abuses of part of the capitalist system. We all know what happened in the early days of the railways. We know that the railways used their power to squeeze out the canals, not only in regard to that part of the business which, in view of the advent of the railways, had become less economical to the consumers, but also in respect of that part of the business which it would have been very much to the advantage of the country to maintain.
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware of the very great difference? These capitalist companies were running the business for the profit of the few. The Transport Commission will be running the business in the interest of the many, and will not have the same desire or interest to indulge in unscrupulous conduct such as that to which he is referring.
I do not think that that is an argument which need be carried very far. I will merely repeat the remark I made just now that when this Bill was having its Second Reading the Parliamentary Secretary said that the Transport Commission could not afford to lose the cream of certain traffic in connection with which, under subsequent pressure, the Government have since been compelled to give a safeguard for private enterprise. It is undoubtedly true, as I have said, that here and there in the capitalist system there has been an abuse of a monopoly in the form of the use of overwhelming financial power to squeeze out a small operator. There are, however, two things to say about that. First, such occurrences have not been the normal characteristics of the capitalist system of the country; they have been occasional and exceptional abuses.
Is not Tillings one case of the growth of the road transport undertakings—with which we are concerned in these Amendments—at the expense of the small passenger road transport proprietor?
I really must get on. was making two statements, neither of which can be answered. The first is that there is nothing in the present system comparable with the exemption from competition contemplated under this Bill, and the second that the use of an enormous and overwhelmingly stronger financial power to squeeze out small competition has been exceptional and not the rule. That is the first point I wanted to make on this matter. The other is that whenever cartels and monopolies and semi-monopolies have developed at least they have done so without the specific intention of Parliament and without the specific allocation of powers by Parliament to help them to do it. That is the difference. I quite agree that where a monopoly has developed and is used in that way either it is ripe for nationalisation or it calls for other action by Parliament. But when we have one of these alternatives and nationalisation is proposed what do hon. Members opposite say? They say, "That which we have for many years been denouncing as the abuse of capitalism—though it has only been a relatively small part of the capitalist system—we will now make our very model and pattern."
An Amendment similar to this was moved in Committee and, despite the illustrious names which were attached to it, I pointed out that its effect would be that the Transport Commission would not be able to collect or deliver any goods and carry them by rail. That was admitted on all sides as being perfectly plain, and I want to point out again that although it is probably not what the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) or any of his supporters intend, this would be the effect of the actual words now on the Order Paper. I submit that although it was not their intention the promoters of the Amendment have provided only for the collection of goods and not for their delivery. The essential words used here are:
except for traffic originating from, or destined for, carriage by rail.
Let us assume that the Commission collects goods from a trader, carries them to the railway station, and takes them by rail. It can do that. But it cannot deliver these goods by road, because the goods have not originated from the railway system; they originated somewhere else. Therefore I suggest that those who put forward this Amendment will have to revise it if they wish to make sure that the Commission will be able to carry out the ordinary business of transport, that is, collecting goods, carrying them by rail, and delivering them to the trader.
The other vital principle which is contained in this Amendment is even more interesting. We on the Government benches have been accused of taking by this Measure something which belongs to the private individual and handing it to the State without giving proper payment for it. All the arguments with regard to the payment for shares were based on that contention. But let us see what this Amendment would accomplish. Under this Bill, the State will purchase two valuable things.' One is the short-distance traffic which the railway companies carry at present; and we shall pay for that as a going concern. The other purchase is that referred to by the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies), the case in which we purchase a road transport concern which has both short-distance and long-distance traffic. That will be paid for by the British people as a going concern. What does the Opposition propose to do to this concern which now becomes the property of the British people under this Bill? In this Amendment the Opposition propose to take that which belongs to the nation, and hand it to private concerns for nothing. They would take the valuable consideration for which we pay under this Bill, and hand it over to private enterprise without receiving any payment for it. We on this side of the House deny that we have acted unfairly in any way, and assert that we are giving fair compensation; but the Opposition cannot deny that they propose here to commit the crime with which they have charged us, only in the opposite direction. The central purpose of this Amendment seems to be to take something which belongs to the nation and hand it over to private enterprise without any payment.
The hon. Member has thrown out something of a challenge, and I think it ought to be put on record that we completely deny his suggestion. The extremely tortuous argument which he is making would not bear examination. Even though there is not time to answer his arguments in detail, I think it ought to be put on record that he has completely misconstrued the argument put from this side of the House.
The hon. Member is well aware that the usual plea in the places in which he is very often seen is "Not guilty." But that plea does not interest the jury at all. The evidence is weighed and considered by those who are charged with that duty. I think the evidence I have put forward tonight will be weighed very carefully by hon. Members who carry that responsibility. Now I say that to carry out this proposal made by the Opposition would be to cripple the Commission in its work of organising British transport. If one takes away from the Commission all the short-distance traffic that the railway companies are doing at the present time, one is committing a great crime against the British people. Far better that we should be honest and say that, if we are to do this, we should abandon the whole Bill. I suggest that this Amendment should go under the heading—and I have had to use this description before—of "wrecking Amendments."
The hon. Member for Monmouth has, however, made some progress between the Second Reading and the present stage of this Bill, because on the Second Reading he advocated a "free for all" system of transport. During that Debate, he said "Let everyone have a go." He was challenged, and leading Members of the Opposition were asked to give him support, but there was a grim silence all along the Opposition Front Bench on that occasion. I can only recall an almost inaudible "Hear, hear" from the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers). So much for the support of the Tory Party. However, the hon. Member has come some way from his "free for all" policy. He now proposes to place a restriction on the principal transport authority in this country, and to exclude the Commission from the carriage of short-distance traffic by road. The intention is only to cripple the functioning of this experiment which, I am quite confident will nevertheless be a success so far as this country is concerned.
I suggest to the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor) that he should get together with the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), because he understands the Bill without having read it. We are, of course, aware of the hon. Member for Eccles, who was with us for two months in Committee upstairs. I must say that he tried hard. But, if anybody wonders why we, on this side, have put down these two Amendments, their doubts would have been removed by the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies) who has done so much to clarify for us what is really behind the Government's mind on this subject. The point which I should like the hon. Member for Enfield to answer is whether he is in favour of short-distance road transport being treated in this way. I ask him to "come clean" and tell the House whether, in fact, he is in favour of it.
The question which I would ask the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) is, "Has he studied this Clause"? Does he suggest entire nationalisation? We nationalise a small section. When we nationalise long-distance undertakings we take over railways, which include short-distance road transport.
The hon. Member is again avoiding the point. It is clear from all his speeches during the Committee stage and in this House that he, in common with the hon. Member for West Fife is in favour of total nationalisation in this country. That, I suggest, is a terrible thing, but it is allowed in totalitarian countries. If the hon. Member wishes to put that forward, let him say so, and let the people of this country know the fact.
Further to that point of Order. The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) accused me of raising a point which was not a point of Order. I did raise a point of Order which has been supported by you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not think the hon. Member's observations were called for at all.
If I may conclude the few words I intend to say on this particular subject I would put it that hon. Members should realise that there is a considerable section behind the Government Front Bench who are in favour of the all-out nationalisation of transport in this country, both long-distance and short-distance. Let them "come clean" and be honest about it. That is the point I have been trying to make. The trouble is that the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies) will not "come clean." It is clear that it is his intention to nationalise all short-distance transport.
I think the House would prefer to consider the Bill which the Government are asking the House to discuss on its Report stage, in relation to the particular Amendments moved by hon. Members opposite. May I first relieve the mind of the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft), who seemed worried that in permitting the Commission to take over some short-distance work on the roads, we were exceeding the mandate which we received at the General Election— He seemed to be under the impression that in our pamphlet "Let Us Face The Future" we limited ourselves to long-distance road haulage. That was the argument which he developed at some length. I want to tell him that he is quite wrong. We did not define the exact spheres of transport which we would be nationalising but contented ourselves with the general statement that unification of inland transport was desirable under public ownership. So the hon. Member need not worry about that.
We are in this Bill giving the Commission certain functions and certain duties and their prime duty is to provide an efficient inland transport service which will be convenient, cheap, and effective for agriculture, industry and the public. And having given the Commission that duty under Clause 3 of the Bill, we find ourselves constantly faced with arguments from Members on the other side who seek to restrict and hamper and prevent the Commission carrying out those general duties which the Bill is placing upon them. This is one of these restrictive Amendments which, if it were carried, would make it very difficult—even impossible—to carry out the policy imposed by Parliament on the Commission. What would be the effect of the acceptance of the Amendments? The Commission would be unable to carry out any local deliveries in regard to haulage of short-distance road goods. It would be unable to do any collecting work or delivery work for goods which are to be carried on canals. I do not know what the mover and seconder of the Amendment would do with Carter Paterson when it comes over to the Commission. If the Amendment is carried, they would have to sell the whole concern, because the purpose of the promoters and supporters of the Amendment is that the Commission should divest itself of all services doing short-distance road work.
Carter Paterson do a great deal of door-to-door delivery directly, both long-distance and short-distance. Therefore the Commission if this Amendment were passed, would have to get rid of all or a large part of the present Carter Paterson organisation. Further the Commission would be in this situation, which was touched upon by my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies). The road haulage firms which would be taken over would consist almost entirely of firms which do long-distance and short-distance work. Very few do long-distance only; nearly all combine it with short distance activity. It would mean, in fact, that the Commission would have to sell to private enterprise a bit of each of these organisations which it would take over. They would have to split up each organisation, which would make it wholly inefficient in most cases, and sell a bit of it to somebody who might come along and want to run a short-distance haulage undertaking. I suggest that that would not be in the public interest. The Commission would be hampered in carrying out the work which Parliament is placing upon it because the undertakings which it would take over would be severed. What would happen would be that a great deal of the short-distance work these firms have been doing would not be done at all.
I cannot conceive how anyone can argue that it is desirable that the Commission, having acquired those firms which are predominantly doing long-distance work, should immediately proceed either to suspend their short-distance work or try to sell it. For those reasons I suggest it would be wholly contrary to the public interest if the Commission was restricted in the way suggested in the Amendment. I suggest that it would be contrary to the public interest if the second Amendment were incorporated in this Bill. The Commission has a duty to see that there is adequate road passenger as well as goods haulage services in this country and where there is no adequate road passenger service it is a duty imposed by Parliament to see there is such a service. It may be the case that before any general road passenger schemes are worked out and carried into effect it may be desirable to run a local road passenger service linking up stations with other transport services where there is no convenient link at the moment. It would be ridiculous if the Commission were prohibited from starting a service of that sort, which might not pay for the time being, where there is no existing service doing the work. Therefore, I say, we must not in any way restrict the Commission in carrying out the general function which Parliament is imposing on it to see that there is an efficient transport service, both for passenger and goods traffic, whether the goods service is long distance or not.
I want to say a word about the fears which have been expressed by hon. Members opposite, and particularly by the right hon. Gentleman the senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter), about unfair competition. It has been suggested that the Commission put out of business existing companies which are running haulage undertakings. It struck me that the right hon. Gentleman found it difficult to envisage that this great transport undertaking which we are setting up, will be totally different in spirit and intention from the ordinary great private enterprise firms which have been in the field. The main object of any private company whether in the road transport business or any other, is to make as good return to the shareholders as it can. That is what it exists for, and it is naturally trying all the time to drive out competitors in order to make greater profits. With a Commission of the sort envisaged in this Bill we have an entirely different situation, but hon. Members opposite seem to be unable to imagine any kind of undertaking other than the ordinary private capitalist one. I do beg hon. Members opposite to appreciate that it is possible for a great undertaking to be established whose object shall be, not private profit but public service.
This body is to be established as a public service and its main purpose is, as stated in Clause 3, to bring about good transport services throughout the country and to integrate those services. Therefore I suggest in the first place, that if it started out to try to drive the local haulier out of business— and I cannot understand why in the world it should want to do so—but, if, by any chance, it wanted to do so, it would be directly flouting the duties placed upon it by Parliament. That duty I say is to integrate the existing public services in the country and see that they are as efficient as possible and serve the public as' well as possible. It would be quite contrary to the direct instructions given to the Commission by Parliament if it proceeded, along the lines suggested by hon. Members. Any. Minister of Transport would inevitably give the Commission directions, if he suspectded for one moment that they were setting out on a line which was contrary to that imposed by Parliament.
There is another reason why it is exceedingly unlikely that the Commission could, even if they wanted to do so, carry out such a policy. The Commission will. have to carry out the charges, both in respect of passengers and goods, imposed by the charges schemes, which will be worked out first by the Commission and then by the Tribunal. They will not be free to make any charges they like, to drive out competitors. They will have to work in accordance with the charges schemes which the Tribunal considers to be fair and proper. The Commission would be unable to drive the small man out of business, even if they wanted to; if they did that, they would as I have pointed out be flouting the duty placed upon them by Parliament. If the Commission were to have imposed on them' the restriction suggested here, it would hamper severely the public transport services of this country, and would be wholly contrary to the public interest. The fear that this body may try to imitate the objectives of private enterprise in driving its competitors out of business to make greater profits is groundless. It cannot happen, because the Bill tells the Commission directly that it must not happen. Moreover, they will be prevented from doing so by any Minister of Transport, and by the charges schemes which it will have to work. We, in Parliament, are telling the Commission they have a duty to provide an integrated and efficient service for the people, for industry and for agriculture. It is ridiculous to try at the same time to impose restrictions which would make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to carry out that duty.
The lowest common factor. in the three speeches we have had from the Government benches, has been that these Amendments seek to make 'nonsense of the Bill. That suggestion has run through the speeches of the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. Ernest Davies), the lion. Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor) and the Parliamentary Secretary. Let us consider what the Bill sets out to do. It sets out to nationalise long-distance transport, and it specially excepts two forms of transport, one being excluded traffics, and the other being transport under 25 miles. I do not think anyone on the other side will deny that the object of the Bill has been stated, time and again, to be the nationalisation of long-distance transport. When the hon. Member for Enfield sought to grasp the nettle, he said "Oh, yes, but the Bill also says that it is taking over the whole of the business included in the formula set out in the relevant parts of the Bill." But what is the formula designed to do? On what ground was it recommended, in our Debates in the Standing Committee? It was on the ground that it fairly gave a definition of what was long-distance road haulage transport. It is a reductio ad absurdum to say that because the formula does not work, you can say your Bill is no longer designed to be limited to long-distance road transport, and that the object is to take over short-distance road transport as well. That was the argument of the hon. Member for Enfield.
Although I am not unaccustomed to legalistic argument, I have not heard anything to equal the sort of argument developed in excelsis, or in profundis, by the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor). Traffic does not originate with the carrier at all; it originates with the consignor, who is a merchant or producer. This extension of our Amendment has been made not only with accurate intention, but with accurate wording to cover the point that was objected to when we moved a slightly more limited Amendment in Committee, namely, that it would not cover collection and delivery from the railhead. It is a poor argument to suggest that when we meet a point which has been put to us, we ought to squeeze into the word, "originate," a meaning which no reasonable person could possibly give it. The Parliamentary Secretary came down to the Pickford-Carter Paterson- Hay's Wharf postwar carriage argument. Let us consider what that group do. Of their traffic, 73 per cent. deals with excluded traffics—liquids in bulk, furniture removals, the carriage of meat, and of abnormal indivisible loads.
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will allow me to develop my argument. These are traffics which, by the design and intent of the Bill, it is intended to nationalise. Of the remaining 27 per cent., 22 per cent. are traffics which are under 25 miles—again the form of traffic which it is the intention to exclude from the operation of the Bill—and we remain with the 5 per cent. which would come within the purview of the Bill. I quite accept the point, and this is really the argument of the hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary. He did not mention the number, but he knows and I know that Pickfords have some 3,000 vehicles. The hon. Gentleman said, "You are not going to suppose for an instant that the Transport Commission are going to sell 95 per cent. of the 3,000 vehicles. Would not that be a terrible thing for this great State monopoly which I have described to you in such poetic language to have to break up its business and to have to sell its vehicles."
I did not notice that a single wither of the Parliamentary Secretary was wrung when he was describing all the innumerable transport businesses he was prepared to burst up and whose vehicles he was prepared to dispose of, when we were discussing the compensation Clauses. But, of course, when it comes to Pickfords it is a terrible business. He would not have the least difficulty on the terms of payment for vehicles at the rate that he suggested—new vehicle less a 20 per cent. depreciation at three years' purchase, which he so eloquently urged. There would be a queue of people ready to buy the business on those terms. There would not be the slightest difficulty in getting rid of it, and carrying out the plan—that ghostly spectre of a plan which runs through this Bill, for dividing road transport on lines which give the basis of proper co-ordination. That is, of course, the clear and logical consequence of this Amendment, and it would in that one place at any rate, change this Bill from being a hotch-potch of conflicting ideas into a logical, clear course leading to some form of co-ordination of transport. For that reason, of course, it will not be looked at, but we might as well have its reasonable and logical facets put clearly before the House.
I turn to the other arguments which the hon. Gentleman put forward. If he will allow me to say so, he has dealt with great ability with every argument we have put forward and has deployed every argument which he could command in answer. Sometimes we have had different ideas as to the strength of his arguments, but that the hon. Gentleman has always endeavoured to apply them, I think we on this side fully admit and appreciate. Therefore I want to do the same myself by answering them. I want to deal for a moment with the question of the general attitude of the public corporation which he has put forward today. He has advanced the argument that the public corporation is to be totally different in spirit. That does demand some consideration, but the other great question—and we can never have regard to one aspect only of a public corporation or anything else— which is to be considered is that of efficiency. The Parliamentary Secretary has implied that the State monopoly is to be without the check of the customer being able to go elsewhere.
By the rejection of this Amendment the hon. Gentleman is strengthening that aspect. He is making it more difficult for any checks on efficiency to be in existence. We suggest that there are two motives. One is that we have to try to disguise inefficiency, and the other is that the State monopoly, from its very origin and from its method of working, is prey to one of the most sinister defects which we have seen in the 20th century, the lust for power and the determination to get a dominant and ever more dominant position. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite may take these matters facetiously today. It is always easy for them to be facetious about anyone who suggests to them that they are riding roughshod over, and dealing harshly with, minorities, and restricting the right of those minorities because they themselves happen to be in a majority. But it is sometimes quite useful to look at these matters objectively and to consider that these positions have been reversed in the past and will be reversed again. I put it to hon. Members opposite who have approached this Bill with all the emphasis on one aspect—that is the feather-bedding of the position of the railway unions—that they should remember this. I ask hon. Members opposite to remember this that road transport has been built up in such a way that the number of vehicles in this country has risen from 20,000 to 500,000 in 20 years.
It is a remark which is denied by everyone connected with the road transport industry, and by the legislation which that industry has had passed during the past 20 years. I ask hon Members opposite not to approach this in the easy way from the point of view of their own concerns, but to remember that this industry, which has grown in this way, will not be put down by unfair terms being fastened upon it in a House of Commons in which its interests happen to be in a temporary minority. The Government are dealing with something that arose from, and had its being in the healthy life and powers of the people of this country and no unfairness of this kind will check it.
The other point which I want to make clear is with regard to the charges scheme. The Parliamentary Secretary said—and he must forgive our smiles when he said it— that if there were any unfair charges, they would be checked by a scheme. But who makes the scheme? The Commission, of course, but the Commission is concerned in the unfair charges. What happens when the scheme is made? It goes to the Tribunal. What happens if the scheme amended by the Tribunal is not liked? It goes back to the Minister, who can give a direction in order to see that the scheme does not offend any principle, which commends itself to him as being in the national interest. All we are asking in this Amendment is that those forms of traffic which were excluded from the purview of this Bill should be given a fair chance to operate. That is all we are asking, and when the answer is given to us, "Oh, but you will receive a guarantee of fairness by a tribunal which can only operate on schemes put forward by the Commission, and then cannot operate outside the blinkers imposed by the Ministry," we on this side of the House must be forgiven if we do not attach very much importance to that.
The kernel of this Amendment comes to this, that we are asking that the Commission should not come into, broadly, two forms of transport of goods—first, the short distance, which is the descendant of the old horse carriers, and has always had many of the same qualities, and secondly, the very traffics that were excluded from the Bill. We say, so far as passenger transport is concerned, take the London traffic, make the schemes of which we have heard so much this afternoon, but do not—and why should you?—go outside these proposals today. For that reason, I shall advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote for this Amendment when they get an opportunity.
I am very glad the hon. Member for West Swansea (Mr. P Morris) has put that question. What I am suggesting is that the railway unions, in considering this Bill, have approached it entirely from a railway angle, and have not been able, in spite, I am sure, of genuine efforts, to give an objective and correct view to the problems of the roads. I shall not withdraw that remark, because I am a frank as well as a fair controversialist, and that happens to be my opinion. I hope it will not be thought that I am depreciating or denigrating the work the railway unions have done as far as the railways are concerned. That has been wholly admirable, and the war years are a great testimony to that.
|Division No. 157.]||AYES.||[11.19 p.m.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Glyn, Sir R||Nicholson, G.|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Nield, B. (Chester)|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Grant, Lady||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)||Gridley, Sir A.||Nutting, Anthony|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R||Grimston, R. V.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Barlow, Sir J.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Poole, O. B S. (Oswestry)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Naughton, S. G.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.|
|Beechman, N. A||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Birch, Nigel||Hogg, Hon. Q.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Bowen, R.||Hollis, M. C.||Renton, D.|
|Bower, N.||Howard, Hon. A.||Roberts, Maj. P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Hudson, Rt Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Robinson, Wing-Comdr, Roland|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N J||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P G. T.||Hurd, A.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A|
|Butcher, H. W.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Scott, Lord W.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'Id'n)||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Channon, H.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Cole, T. L||Langford-Holt, J.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A H||Strauss, H G. (English Universities)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Linstead, H. N.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Low, Brig. A. R. W.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. E||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Teeling, Willlam|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Thorneycroft. G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Thorp, Lt..Col. R. A. F.|
|Digby, S. W.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Touche, G. C.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Walker-Smith, D.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Ward, Hon. G. R|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Manningham-Buller, R. E||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Marsden, Capt. A.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Fraser, H. C P. (Stone)||Medlicott, F.||York, C.|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Gage, C.||Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. E.||Mr. Drewe and Mr. Studholme.|
|George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Neven-Spence, Sir B.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Edwards, W. J, (Whitechapel)||Logan, D. G.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Longden, F.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Lyne, A. W.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||McAdam, W.|
|Alpass, J H||Ewart, R.||McEntee, V. La T|
|Attewell, H. C.||Fairhurst, F.||McGhee, H. G.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R||Farthing, W. J.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Field, Capt. W. J.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W)|
|Bacon, Miss A||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||McKinlay, A. S.|
|Baird. J||Follick, M.||Maclean, N (Govan)|
|Balfour, A.||Fool, M. M.||McLeavy, F.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Foster, W. (Wigan)||Macpherson, T. (Romford)|
|Barstow, P. G.||Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Barton, C.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.|
|Battley, J. R.||Gaitskell, H. T. N||Mann, Mrs. J.|
|Bechervaise, A. E.||Gallacher, W.||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon F. J||Ganley, Mrs. C. S||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)|
|Benson, G.||Gibbins, J.||Marquand, H. A.|
|Berry, H.||Gibson, C. W.||Mathers, G.|
|Beswick, F.||Gilzean, A.||Medland, H. M.|
|Bing, G. H C||Gooch, E. G..||Mellish, R. J.|
|Binns, J||Goodrich, H. E.||Messer, F.|
|Blackburn, A. R||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R|
|Blyton, W. R.||Grey, C. F.||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Boardman, H.||Grierson, E.||Monslow, W.|
|Bottomley, A. G||Griffiths, D. (Bother Valley)||Moody, A S.|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llonelly)||Morgan, Dr H. B.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Morley, R.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Morris, Lt-Col. H. (Sheffield C.)|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Gunter, R. J||Morris, P. (Swansea. W.)|
|Bramall, E. A.||Guy, W H.||Moyle, A.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Murray, J. D.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Hall, W. G.||Nally, W.|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R||Neal, H. (Claycross)|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T||Hardman, D. R||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J (Derby)|
|Buchanan, G.||Hardy, E. A.||Noel-Buxton, Lady|
|Burden, T. W||Harrison, J.||O'Brien, T|
|Burke, W. A.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Oldfield, W. H|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Callaghan, James||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Carmichael, James||Hewitson, Capt M.||Palmer, A. M. F|
|Champion, A. J.||Hobson, C. R||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Holman, P.||Parkin, B. T.|
|Cobb, F. A.||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)||Paton, Mrs F. (Rushcliffe)|
|Cocks, F. S.||House, G.||Paton, J (Norwich)|
|Coldrick, W.||Hoy, J.||Pearson, A|
|Collick, P.||Hubbard, T.||Pearl, Capt. T. F.|
|Collindridge, F.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Platts-Mills, J. F. E|
|Collins, V. J.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)|
|Colman, Miss G. M||Hughes, H. D. (Wolverh'pton, W.)||Popplewell, E.|
|Comyns, Dr. L||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rushotme)||Porter, E. (Warrington)|
|Cook, T. F.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Porter, G. (Leeds)|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Hynd, J. B (Attercliffe)||Price, M. Philips|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)||Irving, W. J.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Corlett, Dr, J.||Janner, B.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Cove, W. G.||Jay, D. P. T.||Pryde, D. J|
|Crawley, A.||Jager, G. (Winchester)||Pursey, Cmdr. H|
|Crossman, R. H. S||Jager, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Randall, H E|
|Daggar, G.||John, W||Ranger, J.|
|Daines, P.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Reeves J|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Rhodes, H.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jones, J H. (Bolton)||Richards, R.|
|Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Ridealgh, Mrs M|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Keenan, W.||Robens, A|
|Deer, G.||Kendall, W. D.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Kenyon, C.||Roberts. Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Key, C. W.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Diamond, J.||King, E. M.||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Dobbie, W.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.||Royle, C.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Kinley, J.||Sargood, R.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Lang, G.||Scollan, T|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Lavers, S.||Scott-Elliot, W|
|Dumpleton, C. W.||Lee, F. (Hulme).||Shackleton, E. A A.|
|Durbin, E. F. M.||Lee, Miss J (Cannook)||Sharp, Granville|
|Dye, S.||Leonard, W||Shawcross, C N. (Widnes)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Levy, B. W.||Shurmer, P.|
|Edelman, M.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Silverman, J. (Erdinglon)|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Skeffington-Lodge, T. C||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Skinnard, F W.||Thurtle, E.||Wigg, Col. G. E.|
|Smith, C. (Colchester)||Tiffany, S.||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|Smith, S H. (Hull, S.W.)||Timmons, J.||Wilkes, L.|
|Solley, L. J||Tolley, L.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Sorensen, R. W.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Soskice, Maj. Sir F.||Ungoed-Thomas, L.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Sparks, J. A.||Usborne, Henry||Williams, D. J. (Heath)|
|Stamford, W.||Vernon, Maj. W. F.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Stephen, C.||Viant, S. P.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Strachey, J.||Walkden, E.||Williamson, T.|
|Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Walker, C. H.||Willis, E.|
|Stubbs, A. E.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Swingler, S.||Wallace, H W. (Watthamstow, E.)||Wise, Major F. J|
|Sylvester, G. O.||Warbey, W. N||Woodburn, A.|
|Symonds, A. L.||Watkins, T E.||Wyatt, W.|
|Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Watson, W. M.||Yates, V. F.|
|Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Taylor, Dr S. (Barnet)||Weitzman, D.|
|Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Wells, P. L (Faversham)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES|
|Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||Wells, W T. (Walsall)||Mr. Michael Stewart and|
|Thomas, George (Cardiff)||West, D. G.||Mr. Simmons|
|Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
I beg to move, in page 2, line 41, to leave out "and," and to insert:
whether or not those goods have been or are to be carried by the Commission, so, however, that facilities for the storage of goods shall not be provided by the Commission except at places where such facilities are required for the storage of goods carried or to be carried by them.
This point was raised by the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) in Committee. The hon. Member asked for an assurance that the Commission would not establish warehouses and storage accommodation outside the natural requirements of their business undertakings so as to enter into wholesale competition. This Amendment gives that assurance and places that limitation on the Commission.
I beg to move, in page 3, line 9, at the end, to insert:
Provided that the Commission shall not have power to carry passengers by road in a hackney carriage adapted to carry less than eight passengers and used in plying or standing for hire in a street.
The right hon. Gentleman has accepted a suggestion made by the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker) and I hope he will receive this Amendment in the same frame of mind. It is required
to give effect to a statement which the Minister made in Standing Committee, on 19th February, that taxicabs are not being brought within the provisions of the Bill. The object of the Amendment is to qualify the wide general power in Clause 2 (I a). The words in the Amendment, are, I am advised, the most suitable for the purpose and follow the Road Traffic Act of 1930. I very much hope, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to accept it. It might perhaps be convenient for the Committee, if the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Digby) in page 5, line 3, which covers the same point, were also discussed.
I beg to move, in page 3, line 37, at the end, to insert:
(g) to enter into and carry out agreements with any person carrying on business as a carrier of passengers or goods outside Great Britain providing for the carriage of passengers or goods by or on behalf of the Commission and that other person under one contract or at a through charge or in the same vehicles or containers, whether belonging to the Commission or not.
The railway companies have a practice of booking through carriage rates from this country to various places on the Continent, and this Amendment enables the Commission to have a similar power and authority.
I beg to move, in page 5, line 3, at the end, to insert:
(7) Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing provisions of this section the Commission shall not run contract carriages or motor vehicles adapted to carry less than eight passengers for hire or reward.
This Amendment is similar to that which has just been accepted by the Minister, with this exception that, as well as vehicles which are covered by the definition of taxicabs, contract carriages are included. In Committee the Parliamentary Secretary told us it was not intended to include the operation of contract carriages within the functions of the Commission. That statement was made on 23rd April, at col. 1057. Furthermore the Minister at the seventh Sitting of the Committee told us he did' not intend to include taxicabs and I gather that this point has also been covered in letters from the Minister to the Passenger Vehicle Operators Association. If that is the case, I cannot see why the Minister should not accept this Amendment. If there is no intention that the Commission should in any circumstances operate either taxicabs or contract carriages, it is clearly unnecessary for them to have powers to do so under the Bill. Therefore I hope the Minister will agree to this Amendment.
I think there must be some misunderstanding. I never said in Committee, as far as I remember, and I never intended to convey to the Committee that in no circumstances would the Commission be able to run contract carriages. If I did say so, it must have been in some other connection. It was not in my mind at the time that there should be
any prohibition of this sort. May I suggest to the House that it is desirable that the Commission should have powers in certain circumstances to run such vehicles. My right hon. Friend has accepted an Amendment which would prohibit the Commission from running taxis. But it may be very desirable in connection with railway or hotel work, to run small cars. For instance, in London, the Commission may want to run a regular service of small vehicles between the various stations. That would not be a service of taxicabs, but of—
motor vehicles adapted to carry less than eight passengers for hire or reward.
It may be desirable, in connection with the hotel work of the Commission, that vehicles should be run, contract carriages or otherwise, to take passengers to and from the station, or, in helping the tourist trade, from a hotel to a place of historic interest in the neighbourhood. I suggest that it would be unwise, if we want to enable the Commission to function fully and in the best public interest, particularly in regard to the hotel section, to impose a ban of this sort. It is not our intention that the Commission should set up hire-service stations all over the country, and carry on, in the ordinary sense, the business of running hire vehicles for private people. We do not want to do anything of that kind, and the Commission would not want to do that. At the same time we do not think it is wise to prohibit the Commission from running such vehicles as I indicated. It might seriously interfere with the hotel section of the Commission's work.
I think I was referring there to a definition. If my memory serves me aright, I think I said that there was nothing in the Bill to prevent the Commission running contract carriages if they desired. I am pretty certain about that, because a question was asked whether they would be in competition with other undertakings, and I said, "Inevitably."
I think there is some misunderstanding in regard to this Amendment. There is no doubt about what the Parliamentary Secretary stated although I cannot give the quotation in reply to certain questions which arose, when the whole question of contract carriages was discussed. The object of this Amendment is merely to give effect to the statement which the Minister made that taxicabs would not be included. I understand that that was the whole point of the letter which was written to the Passenger Vehicle Operators' Association. If he will look into this matter again, in view of the misunderstanding, and give that assurance, I am sure that my hon. Friend will be prepared to withdraw his Amendment.
If there is some misunderstanding, we shall certainly look into the matter again, especially if we find there is justification for the suggestion that there is something wrong, but we are clear as to our intentions.