Clause 1. — (Power to establish development councils, and purposes thereof.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Industrial Organisation Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd June 1947.

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Photo of Sir Arnold Gridley Sir Arnold Gridley , Stockport 12:00 am, 3rd June 1947

I think the argument put forward by the Paymaster-General proves the weakness of his own case. If he will cast his mind back, he will recall, I imagine, that there was no industry in this country in which those concerned were more tenacious and stubborn in their point of view than the cotton industry. Yet the President of the Board of Trade went to Manchester on various occasions to address representatives of that industry and succeeded very largely, I believe—perhaps even sometimes against their will—in persuading them that development steps must be taken to help that industry to meet the future. If there is an inefficient industry in which it may seem, in the first instance, difficult to obtain a majority either of the employers or of the employees on the necessity for a body of this kind, is the Paymaster-General asking us to believe that the Minister concerned will not feel it his duty to go to the heart of this industry, wherever it may be, to call together the responsible leaders, and to say, "Look here, for this reason and that reason, we think it necessary that there should be set up one of these bodies to go into the position of this industry"? If he had all the statistical evidence that is to be provided in the future, chapter and verse to support the argument which he will put before the representatives of this inefficient industry, is the Paymaster-General asking us to doubt that the Minister will carry the day? Of course he will.

In this Amendment, it is left to the Minister to decide. If it should appear to him that a large majority of the persons carrying on the business, or a large majority of the workers in the industry, are opposed to the making of an order, it is in his own hands to decide, and I should have thought that, in those circumstances and having regard to the powers and the information which an intelligent Minister could present to an industry in a persuasive way, he would bring them to his point of view. Therefore, I think that there ought to be no difficulty in the way of the Minister accepting this very reasonable Amendment. A great many men engaged in industry are very nervous about what would appear to be the extensive powers sought under this Clause which we are trying to amend. We have all to work together in the future to get through the great economic crisis with which we are now faced, and which may become greater within the next six or 12 months. If we are to get through this crisis, there must be real co-operation between the Government and industry—the Government contributing their knowledge which they alone have, and industry contributing the experience which it alone has. I hope that the Minister will reconsider this matter.