Clause 1. — (Extension of powers under 9 & 10 Geo. 6 c. 10.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th August 1947.

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Photo of Major Samuel Haughton Major Samuel Haughton , Antrim 12:00 am, 11th August 1947

In the course of his peroration to a long speech last Thursday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer suggested that during the Recess we should ponder, study and explain the economic crisis to our constituents. That was hardly the type of message we expected. We expected some inspiration which would send us back to rouse our constituencies to try to raise agricultural and industrial production to overcome the crisis. I am sure that the hon. Lady the Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mrs. Braddock) will forgive me if I do not follow her speech, because I cannot think that a speech of that kind is calculated to bring about that unity of effort which we need to solve our problem. Over and over again, the President of the Board of Trade has gibed at the Opposition for trying to remove controls. I think that he knows in his heart of hearts that those of us who are concerned with businesses are trying to overcome the petty frustrations and difficulties which face us in trying to get production. I have with me a number of examples of petty frustrations which have to be overcome. Members in all parts of the Committee receive representations of this kind. I derive no satisfaction in overcoming one of these difficulties by correspondence with the President of the Board of Trade, or with some other Government Department, because I feel that they should never have arisen. Why should it be left to Members of Parliament to remove some petty frustration in connection with the issue of a licence to encourge the export trade?

What has struck me during this Debate is the inconsistency of hon. Members opposite. I do not want to be petty or indulge in recriminations, but two months ago the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) was deriding the Government because a Measure gave the Home Secretary power to do whatever he liked, or let someone else do it for him. During the course of that same Debate, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) and the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) gave unqualified support to that view. That was on a Measure which is very similar to the one we are discussing today. During the weekend I went to the cinema, and the caption, "The Clarion Call," came up on the screen. Then the Prime Minister was seen and heard, in his earnest, quiet, way, describing the crisis, and explaining why the country will have to tighten its belt and accept the rules, orders, and regulations which will be brought forward as a result of this Bill. At that moment, I could not help thinking of the message which was sent out to our troops by Field-Marshal Montgomery just before the battle of El Alamein. Those who were there at that time, or thereabouts, will remember that it was a simple and unexpected message, in view of all that had gone before—the disorganisation of the Eighth Army and its regrouping and redrilling. The message was—"How proud …