Orders of the Day — Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th August 1947.

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Photo of Mr James Carmichael Mr James Carmichael , Glasgow Bridgeton 12:00 am, 8th August 1947

During a large part of the discussion today I think many hon. Members have devoted their remarks to the Debate that took place yesterday and on Wednesday. I think it is a pity, because there are points in this Bill that ought to be examined. I want to say at the outset that I support this Measure. I do so because I think we have gone through a political revolution in this country. I am afraid that hon. Members on the Opposition side have failed to recognise that. It is a political revolution in the sense that the forces of the Government today are being tested very fully as to their capacity to govern in the future. They are facing an economic crisis. It was very well explained, I think, by the President of the Board of Trade last night in that while there is an immediate emergency, there is also a complete change in world economic relationships arising out of the first world war.

The question that arises today is, how can the Government deal with this immediate emergency? Some of the hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House, particularly the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft), accuse the Government of trying to take drastic measures with this Bill which are unnecessary. But he concluded his speech by saying that these things ought to have been done 18 months ago. The Opposition cannot have it both ways. We must be quite clear whether the Government are doing the right or the wrong thing; and we must be equally clear whether they are doing it at the right or the wrong time. The time factor may be debatable, but nobody will dispute that there is a state of emergency, and that something out of the ordinary will have to be done. This Bill is intended for that purpose. Clause 1 (1, a) says it is for promoting the productivity of industry, commerce and agriculture. Nobody could find fault with that. I admit that the wording is sufficiently wide to give tremendous powers, but it is not true to suggest that the Government intend dictating to the trade union movement or to employers what shall be done. The Bill merely recognises that at this time the Parliamentary machine, as we understand it, can be so cumbersome as to be unable to undertake the job in hand smoothly. The Government go to the trade union movement and discuss with them the problems to be faced, and faced courageously; but they go equally to the employers of labour and discuss frankly with them the problems to be faced. Surely, that is the duty of the Government at this stage?