Orders of the Day — Personal Incomes, Costs and Prices

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th February 1948.

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Photo of Mr Stanley Evans Mr Stanley Evans , Wednesbury 12:00 am, 12th February 1948

That could be. The point I am making is that we can put in the most modern machinery, but it does not produce anything unless the men are there to operate the machinery. I think that it may be, and indeed, is a fact that production in certain industries has gone up despite the reduction in hours. What I suggest is that in the present situation we must keep the machines at work for more hours than they are working at the present time. Therefore. I am asking my friends of the trade union movement not only to consider this matter of the freezing of wages but also to discuss with the trade union branches these great national and international economic problems; breaking them down into proportions that fit the minds and stomachs of their members, so that they may be induced, temporarily, at any rate, during the period of national crisis to resume the 3½ hours' work which I have mentioned.

I know that some of my hon. Friends have ideological sympathies which they think that I do not share. I believe most fervently that the most important thing in the world is that Britain should get on to her feet at the earliest moment. We must try to infuse into our people a sense of their own importance. Speaking as one who has travelled many thousands of miles and visited 14 countries in the last two years, I say that it is ironical, but it is a fact, that one finds on both sides of Europe that the experiment we are carrying out in this country is being watched with keen attention. There is more sympathy and good will for Britain today than ever there was before, because people recognise that Britain is the halfway house between boom and slump, on the one hand, and a totalitarian police State on the other. This country has always been the laboratory for social experiments which we have subsequently exported to the world. Today, we are engaged in the greatest social experiment of all time—to abolish want, without, at the same time, abolishing human liberty. If all our people can feel this as keenly as I know most Members in this House feel it, our problem will be solved