Government Policy

Part of Orders of the Day — King's Speech – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th October 1947.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore , Ayr District of Burghs 12:00 am, 29th October 1947

I am not going to give way. Now I come to the Minister for Economic Affairs. In many respects his speech was a notable one, and in some respects a noble one. For the first time for two years the real truth was revealed, and it was also revealed in the language of leadership. My only criticism of that speech was that it was made exactly two years too late, and also that it was made by him, instead of by the Prime Minister. Again I wish to say that I hold the Minister for Economic Affairs in high respect. I believe him to be an honourable man of a high, even chaste integrity, but he suffers from many disabilities, his past, his colleagues and his misguided loyalties, and however much we may appreciate his sentiments and admire his exhortations, one's mind inevitably travels back to ill-considered statements, lost opportunities and unwarranted assumptions.

But to come to the immediate present, and that is more important, I cannot understand how the Minister for Economic Affairs can possibly approve the terms of the Gracious Speech, if, indeed, his speech of last Thursday meant anything. They are irreconcilable. If the Minister meant what he said in that appeal, that co-operation and working together was the only way in which we could solve our difficulties, he could not have given his wholehearted support to certain parts of the Gracious Speech. If the Government, of which he is now the chief pillar, agree with my analysis, and desire to ensure the success of the Minister's appeal, there are certain steps which they must take. The first of course is to call in the false prospectus and apologise for it. Secondly, they must withdraw any further nationalisation proposals, since otherwise their appeal for the co-operation of all parties is purely cynical sophistry. The third thing they should do is to withdraw then-intention to alter the Parliament Act, 1911, since even the Archbishop of Canterbury has stated that it will split the country if they pursue that Measure.

Next, they must withdraw all those pamphlets such as the "A.B.C. of the Crisis," which is a deliberate attempt to pass the blame for all our affairs on to the wicked Tories, who incidentally have not been in office for 18 years but of course hon. Members forget that—[An HON. MEMBER: "Oh"]. The hon. Member must really inform his ill-judgment or ignorance, and find out what are the facts before he shrieks "Boo" or "Oh." The next thing is to issue instructions to the Socialist propaganda department to cease their continued lies about the three million unemployed and the homeless population who wandered about under Tory administration in the inter-war years, when they know full well that the Tories built houses while the Socialists merely lay foundations, and that the only time unemployment ever rose to nearly three million was under the Socialist Government of 1929. Finally, if indeed we are to obey the instructions of the right hon. and learned Gentleman and try to save the country by our efforts, then both the Government in general, and his colleagues in particular, must be restrained from making these constant and vicious attacks, both by speech and by legislation, against every one who does not belong to organised labour.

I turn briefly to the question of leadership, which is referred to in the Amendment. It is rather unfortunate that the Prime Minister, with that tidy mind of his, seems to think that every problem can be solved by an Act of Parliament, that every shortage can be met by fixing a target, that every obstacle can be overcome by making a plan. We all know that it just does not work like that. Acts of Parliament do not make saints out of criminals, or vice-versa, that targets for coal, houses or steel do not produce themselves, but that skilled artificers, skilled masons and skilled mine-workers are required to do that, that plans must be reinforced by knowledge, capacity and experience, instead of being filed in Whitehall, as most of them seem to be.

There are two or three points with which I must deal in regard to the right hon. Gentleman's Ministers. I think that they and the Government are guilty of three main defects. One is muddled thinking, another is lack of foresight and the third is general incompetence.