Utility Goods (Prices)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd November 1949.

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Photo of Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd Mr Alan Lennox-Boyd , Mid Bedfordshire 12:00 am, 3rd November 1949

I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Chippenham. He is entitled to speak as much as he likes for himself. [Interruption.] I suppose it must come as a surprise to a party which has such drastic discipline within its own ranks that occasionally people are entitled to make their own speeches, on our side of the House, in their own way. What I understood my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham to say was that it would be better to have half a million unemployed this year than three million next year. That, to me, seems to be a sensible statement of fact, although under a good Government, there would be no need to have either alternative. As we are largely tied up with the American economy—and it is to the United States that the working population as well as the retail traders owe a great deal—we should not, I think, go into questions about what the bankruptcy figures would be if there were no American aid.

But it does seem to be a very good thing that we should discuss these orders briefly. There are a great many of them, and if they were discussed at enormous length, there would be no time for any other Parliamentary Business. Let us remember that the average citizen, of whom it is welcome to notice the Government are becoming increasingly conscious as the Election draws near, is more intimately affected by these statutory instruments than by anything: else. The ordinary citizen may not know—probably does not—that the rationing of his clothes, his food and his fuel is effected by statutory instrument very often; but our procedure allows us to discuss them only at this late hour.

My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames moved a Prayer against three orders, and I hope that the House will not forget that only because of a chance remark by the President of the Board of Trade did we realise that one of these orders had been withdrawn. That, surely, shows the handicap under which the trading community, quite apart from the most diligent Members of this House, have to suffer. I try to read the two thousand odd statutory orders which come out every year—it is about that number—and it happens to be one of my particular responsibilties so to do; but I had not realised that Order No. 1600 had been withdrawn and replaced by Order No. 1920. If I cannot keep pace with all this, how can the traders? [Laughter.] I see nothing very funny in that. I happen to be an M.P.; the traders have to earn their own living—[Laughter]. Hon. Members opposite, who seem to think everything so funny, must surely realise that what I mean is that the traders have to look after a business as well as read and understand all these orders. Now, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, the amended order to which reference is made, No. 1920, and which, to be in Order I must link with Order No. 1600, because a Prayer is put down for the annulment of Order No. 1600.