My hon. Friends and I have selected the salary of the Minister of Transport as the subject of discussion during the second half of this Supply Day. Whatever may be the views of the Lord President of the Council, we are of the opinion that there cannot be too many Debates upon the problems of the transport industry, whether those problems arise out of the industry itself, like the complicated relationship between road and rail, or whether they are artificially imposed upon the industry, such as the tax of £86 million which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has put upon the road haulage side in recent weeks.
In the short time at our disposal this evening, we thought it would be convenient if we concentrated attention upon the problems of the free road hauliers—that section of the road haulage industry which is not yet nationalised. It is a branch of the industry to which far too little attention has been paid so far. It is not a small branch. The lorries in the hands of the free road hauliers are two or three times the number of those in the hands of the Road Haulage Executive. It is, therefore, no minor or insignificant section of our economy which we discuss in the few hours before 10 o'clock.
We claim—I certainly hope to demonstrate it in the course of my argument—that the men engaged upon this important service have been treated with grave injustice by the British Transport Commission and His Majesty's Government. We believe that they have a real grievance, and we also believe that if their problems and the injustices to which they have been subjected are brought into the open and published, the men and the organisations who have inflicted them will rightly be condemned by the British public.
It is not for me to prescribe the area of debate tonight, because that is a matter for the Chair, but, having regard to the shortness of the time available, I suggest that we do not range over the whole subject of the 9d. on the Petrol Duty or the 33-i per cent. on commercial vehicles. That is certainly a very grave burden to place on the shoulders of these men, but we shall have further opportunities—of which we shall avail ourselves in full—of discussing this in a few weeks' time. Nor would it be proper to discuss alterations in the law on a Vote in Supply. However, I might observe that if the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues had had the exiguous majority which they now enjoy, they would not have been able to pass the Transport Act in 1947.
It is not the passing of the Act but the abuse of the powers conferred under it to which we wish to draw attention tonight. The case we wish to put can be stated quite simply and shortly. It is that His Majesty's Government and the British Transport Commission have been engaged upon a deliberate attempt to force these men out of business, to smash them up and to ruin them, and to extend the field of Government monopoly and, having captured the whole field, to be free to put up the fares and the rates against the British public.
In opening my remarks, I remind the Committee of the background and the motives which are involved. The background to this case is as follows. As the Committee will remember, long-distance road transport was nationalised and the firms were taken over under the Transport Act, 1947. I should not like the Committee to think that the owners were paid for being taken over. I do not want to talk at large about compensation today, but to my knowledge there are firms which were expropriated in January, 1949, who have certainly not been paid any substantial sum of the amount of money which is owing to them. By a coincidence, I got a telegram from one of these people this morning. He says:
As one with 10 vehicles compulsorily acquired on 19th May, 1949 "—
that is, a year ago—
and still without settlement, please do your utmost for the dispossessed in the forthcoming debate. Thanking you.
They ought to thank the Minister. That is all I want to say about the compensation side of the matter, but I must add that if private people acquire other people's businesses they generally have to pay in a rather shorter space of time. It is about time His Majesty's Government began to honour some of the obligations which they have incurred in this matter.
Long-distance road haulage was taken over by the 1947 Act, but there were certain exceptions to the take-over. There was, for example, the short-distance haulier. Such a man may operate his lorries within a narrow radius of 25 miles. If he is unfortunate enough to live on the coast, he has only half of that circle in which to carry on his trade. For any journey or traffic beyond that radius he has to apply for a permit, not to an independent tribunal but to his principal competitor, the British Transport Commission. That was the legislation which was inflicted upon us by the Socialist majority in the last Parliament. In addition, there are certain traffics, notably the carriage of livestock, household removals, the bulk carriage of liquids and a few others of that character, which were not included in the take-over, but the Government have to some extent encroached upon them because some of the firms which they took over, like Pickford's, had branches engaged upon these traffics.
Our charge against the Government—I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would wish me to put it absolutely plainly—is that they have abused their position under the Act, that they have used the vast resources of the State and their immunity from any need to apply to an independent licensing authority—a remarkable advantage which they took for themselves—to encroach upon the excluded traffics, and, so far as the short-distance hauliers are concerned, that they have used their power to refuse to grant licences or permits in such a way as to drive many of them—they are attempting to drive many more right out of business.
The hon. Gentleman makes these charges of unfairness and all that kind of thing and of driving people out of business, but are there not now three times as many such vehicles on the road as there were when the Transport Act was passed?
The hon. Gentleman is obviously mixing up " C " licences with " A " and " B " licences. I suggest that he takes a little more trouble to understand just what is involved here. He sets himself up as an expert on every subject.
To turn to the argument which I was addressing to the Minister of Transport, before I finish I shall justify the charges of unfairness which I have made. I have evidence, my hon. Friends have evidence and hon. Members opposite also have evidence of the unfairness with which these men are being treated. There can scarcely be an hon. Member who has not had a letter from some road haulier or other saying exactly what is being done to him at the present time.
Before coming to the precise methods adopted by the right hon. Gentleman and the British Transport Commission, I want to say a word or two about their motives. After all, if a criminal is in the dock one is entitled to examine the motive of the crime. The motives for the crime in this case, for the treatment of these free hauliers, are, I think, twofold. First, there is the desire of His Majesty's Government to nationalise anything and everything they can lay their hands on. With their present majority they are finding that there are difficulties about nationalising new industries, but they have these powers under the Transport Act and they intend to use them to get as many transport concerns as possible into their own hands. It is a sort of backstairs nationalisation.
That is the first motive. The second motive is to bolster up the rather groggy finances of the British Transport Commission. The Committee will recollect that at the time of our last Debate that Commission were and still are, losing public funds at the rate of £50 a minute, and quite obviously the right hon. Gentleman and his friends had to do something about it. One of the things which they have done recently is to announce the increase of railway rates by 16½ per cent. But they cannot stop there. Under the system to which they have adhered, it is necessary for them to do what they call " co-ordinating or integrating inland transport." That means that incompetence and high prices in one sector have to be reflected in incompetence and high prices in any other sector. That is the modern interpretation of fair shares for all. If we study their statement of the principles of a common charging policy, we shall see that it follows, as night follows day, that road charges, sooner or later—I do not say at once—will have to be correlated with the increases which at present have been imposed upon railway freights.
What is the public reaction to all that? The public reaction, of course, is quite obvious. What any business man would do in such circumstances would be to try and get " C " licences of his own or employ private hauliers, and the concern of the Government is to try and stop up those two last refuges of a free society—to close them down, if they can. We are not discussing " C " licences to-night, but the idea there is to impose savage and discriminatory taxation. The road hauliers are to have the same taxation. but, of course, there are even further methods which can be adopted in cases of that kind and I turn now to the precise methods which are being adopted to hound these men from the businesses which they built up over many years.
The first thing which the Government try to do is to smash them up even within the limited field which has been left to them—the 25-mile limit. Bearing in mind the difficulties which confront them —with much of their outside traffic shorn off they are compelled to compete within the narrow confines of a 25-mile radius —one would have thought that they might at least have been left to get on with that little bit of their business; but if any private road haulier applies for extensions to his licence or his fleet within the 25-mile limit, who opposes him? He is opposed not so much by his fellow hauliers as by the Road Haulage Executive themselves, composed of concerns with long-distance haulage. They are the people who come before the licensing authority, briefing counsel and using every argument and method they can—
I agree—and using public money to stop these men from extending and from trying to save what little is left of their business. But the Road Haulage Executive do not have to go to a transport tribunal or a licensing authority at all. When one has these powers and these immunities, it is amazing what one can do, if one is quite ruthless, to ignore all the advice of every licensing authority in the country.
Let me give one practical example, and I take it from Salisbury. In Salisbury, early in 1949, British Railways, Southern Region, decided that they would deliver their goods direct from the railhead in Salisbury instead of taking them by rail to railway stations—a perfectly sensible proposition, if I may say so. They asked Hay's Wharf, a subsidiary of theirs, to apply before the local licensing authority for a licence. The free hauliers, who had been delivering the goods, objected to that licence. Hay's Wharf came before the independent tribunal, briefing counsel and all the rest of it; the local firms opposed them, and won. Hay's Wharf were refused a licence and the local firms allowed to do the job.
What happened? Shortly afterwards, Hay's Wharf came into the Road Haulage Executive. Did they pay the slightest attention to the arguments and the judicial decision which had been reached? Not at all. They sailed straight in, took the traffic and did not worry a bit about the decision which had been taken. We could not have a better example of the wasteful operation of traffic, of unfair competition within the 25-mile limit and of utter indifference to the judicial processes. And that sort of thing is also going on in areas other than Salisbury.
I turn next to the question of excluded traffic. The Road Haulage Executive are branching out into that as well, and, again, they have no need to apply for a licence, whereas the free hauliers have to do so. The right hon. Gentleman may say that I am complaining about competition between the State and the private firms. I am not. What I am complaining about is competition when one of the competitors has his hands tied behind his back.
Of course, the right hon. Gentleman has other weapons at his disposal, too. There is petrol rationing. That has proved a most convenient method for injuring the interests of the free section of the road haulage industry. I cited a case in the last Debate on transport, an example which I will not repeat today but in which a firm in my division, with seven lorries, was at a standstill for three weeks because it had no petrol on which to run its lorries. How can anybody run a transport firm if it is suddenly brought to a standstill for three weeks because of the lack of such a vital commodity? I think the Government have now succeeded, by that and other methods, in forcing an acquisition notice on that firm. That is the method they adopt, the way they try to do it.
I came across another case last weekend. It was a case of a road haulier whose petrol ration has been cut by one-quarter. The arguments are most ingenious. What happens is this. First, the Road Haulage Executive refuse to grant any permits for the firm to travel outside the 25-mile limit. The moment that is done, the petrol authorities who are responsible for the allocation of petrol—still under the same Ministry—come along and say, " Now that you cannot travel over 25 miles, you do not need any petrol." Some clerk in the petrol office says, " What shall we do here? Shall we halve what they had before? No; the Minister made a speech about petrol and economy, and I think a quarter will do them perfectly well." Thus the man is brought to a standstill. Yet these men are expected not only to carry on their business in these conditions, but to try, and compete against one of the greatest road haulage monopolies which has ever been set up.
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman what rationing of petrol there is for the Road Haulage Executive. Will he describe to the Committee the processes involved? What steps are taken to see that the lorries of that Executive, which are running up and down the country, very often empty, are rationed? I will warrant that the only form of rationing of red petrol in this country is the petrol rationing of the free haulage industry. It is not used to conserve petrol but to smash competition, and the sooner it is stopped the better.
I now turn to what is perhaps the most important weapon which the Government and the British Transport Commission use for eliminating the inconvenient competition of road haulage—the refusal of permits. May I open by saying that on 22nd June last year, Sir Cyril Hurcomb, head of the British Transport Commission, made a statement which some of us hoped might mean that at least some justice was to be done in this matter. I will read it, and then I want to compare what he said with what in fact happened:
It is our intention that the latitude to issue original permits to continue operation shall be exercised in a manner and in a spirit which will acknowledge the importance of just treatment of the individual haulier and the interests of the trade as well as the convenience of administration, which should be a secondary consideration.
That is what he said. I am bound to say that that is not what has happened.
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman tonight will attempt to quote the figures of permits which have been asked for, permits which have been granted and permits which are to be refused. He did it the other night when my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir), was speaking on a Scottish question. They bore no relation whatever to the facts. The Transport Commission and the Government lump together under " permits granted " any permit which is given upon any terms whatever. Some of them are given for one ton a year. Some are given for the outward load but not for the return journey; and all sorts of things of that kind. They are all shown as " permit granted." I hope, therefore, that we shall not have any figures of that kind quoted this evening. I hope, however, that if any figures are quoted, we will have details of the terms upon which the permits have been given. The methods about the granting of these permits can be summed up as follows. First, there is the outright refusal—there are quite a lot of these.
I have a case here—I make no apology for quoting individual cases, and I hope that my hon. Friends will do so also, because only by the piling up of these individual examples can we see exactly what has been done to these people. I start with a case from near my own constituency, that of a Mr. E. J. Roberts, of Newport. He applied for an original permit for all goods for a 50 miles radius for one vehicle and for 30 miles for the other. The permit was issued for household goods and effects only. I did not think that a permit was needed for items of this kind. The Road Haulage Executive were asked to reconsider the matter. but the application was refused.
Mr. Roberts then applied for an ordinary permit, which means that if that was withdrawn he would not get any compensation, but even that was better than nothing—he could carry on his business. The permit was issued for a 40-mile radius on one vehicle only. The district manager of the Road Haulage Executive—his competitor—was again asked to reconsider the case. The application was refused and no reason what ever was given for the refusal. This man of whom I am speaking served throughout the war and restarted his business in 1946. He is now in hospital suffering from tuberculosis, and has a wife and four young children. Is that justice to the individual operator? I challenge any hon. or right hon. Gentleman opposite to say that that was the way in which Sir Cyril Hurcomb's pledge ought to be carried out. That is not just one individual case; there are dozens of cases of that character, and no doubt some of my hon. Friends may quote them.
I will take another case, and I give the right hon. Gentleman the name of the firm. It is the Reliance Transport Company, of Radstock, which is run by two brothers named Moreton. They were not here in 1946, so they could not get an original permit. Why were they not here? Because they happened at that time to be serving their country in India. Everybody had been appealing for people to go on staying in the Army in those places, because it was said that their services were necessary to their country. Nobody can blame them for not having been here on the " appointed day " or during the " relevant period."
What happened is that they applied for an ordinary permit, and their business was slashed effectively by about one half. They tell me—and I have no doubt that it is true—that of their whole business they are left with only three of their customers for whom they are allowed to carry. In such circumstances, probably the only thing they can do—unless, as I hope, some alteration is achieved by this Debate—is to apply to be acquired by the Transport Commission.
Here is another case, from Scotland. This is a letter which is addressed to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South. I will read one paragraph to illustrate what is happening in that area:
Having read of your criticism in last night's debate, I hasten to inform you that we received an original permit for 50 instead of 200 miles
For only 50 miles! It does not matter to these people whether they have to stop in the middle of moorland in Scotland
carrying two classes of goods instead of 20 as applied for.
Their appeal failed. They operate five vehicles on an " A " licence. They built up their business from a start of £30 in 1933 throughout the whole of that period, except for the four years from 1941 when they were in the Army. One of the most tragic things is the extraordinary number of ex-Service men who are involved. I am bound to say that they deserve rather a better deal from the Government than they are getting on this particular question.
Another, and most ingenious, method which is adopted—and this all counts in granting permits—is to grant a permit for the outward traffic but to deny it for the return load. The economics of road haulage is always to try to get a load back, and that is what the Road Haulage Executive sometimes are rather failing to do. U they can impose these difficulties on the free hauliers, they will be able to knock them out much quicker.
My next example is that of a Mr. Thomas, who served in the Forces from 1940 to 1946. He was given back his pre-war " A " licence and re-commenced his normal work in October, 1946. This consisted, among other things, of a regular weekly trip to London with livestock and a return load of agricultural goods. such as hay, corn, straw and implements. What he does, of course, is to carry livestock, but he is denied the opportunity of any return load at all and so he will, probably, come out of business in the same way. I dislike, but I almost admire, the ingenuity with which this operation is being carried out.
I do not want to quote too many cases. but let me give just one more example.
Of course, applications are turned down right away if any flaw whatever is found in them. No lawyer could be so pedantic as are the Road Haulage Executive in exercising a judicial decision upon their principal competitors. Here is a man called Mr. Gretton, who comes from Abergavenny. His application was refused because his form gave insufficient information. He offered to give more information but was told that it would not make the slightest difference. Who would have thought that this was to be the calm, impartial, judicial decision as to what was to be done to these men?
But I sympathise with Mr. Gretton for not having given too much information, and I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to what happens when any information is given. The information, of course, is promptly used to tout the customers of the firm which is being refused a permit. There is a standing form of letter which is used. The one I have here is sent to me by a well-known solicitor in Norwich, in a case which came to his notice! I am not quoting the name of the firm but the solicitor no doubt could inform the right hon. Gentleman of the full particulars. This is the letter which the Road Haulage Executive sent out. They say that this firm
have made application for a permit to carry goods for you and in view of the facilities which this Executive has available, it has not been possible for the application to be granted beyond the end of February.
With the very large organisation we now operate, I am sure we can meet your needs, and if you desire, it will be arranged for. a representative for our King's Lynn group at North Everard Street, King's Lynn, to call and give you full particulars.
I would assure you of the Executive's ability and desire to give manufacturers, traders and the public at least as efficient a service as that which they have enjoyed in the past, and as the organisation of British Road Services develops,"—
they are, obviously, going to develop pretty fast—
the additional advantages of our wide ramifications will become increasingly available.
I will read the answer:
Thank you for your letter of the 28th February the contents of which come as a bitter disappointment. The cartage of vegetables to different markets in London and the Midlands is never an easy job, particularly
when done on the scale on which we grow, and it has been a constant pleasure to work with this firm who have taken a personal interest in our problems and have given us every satisfaction. It seems quite iniquitous that two such hard-working people as the proprietors should be squeezed out off business by this confounded bureaucracy which now pervades our once free country.
It may interest you to learn that our loading sometimes amounts to some 4–5,000 bags per day and during the 1949 pea-picking season the services of British Roadways were used by a firm of Great Yarmouth for whom many of our peas were grown on contract. In this job it is impossible to forecast the day's pick even to within 2,000 bags and the situation changes constantly throughout the day. The lack of flexibility of your services became grossly apparent and there was a constant muddle concerning collections. It then took more than a fortnight to sort out the accounts as the system of records, though extremely cumbersome, appeared to be inadequate.
You can understand, therefore, that we view the prospects of being forced to place all our transport with your services with very grave misgivings but we suppose that it would be advisable for your representative from King's Lynn to call on the writer by appointment as soon as possible.
If anyone seriously suggested that that is giving justice to the individual road haulier, or showing concern for the interests of the traders involved, I should be amazed. I would say it was an open and obvious breach of the pledge given by Sir Cyril Hurcomb and we always said that this would happen. We always said that, in our view, the moment the Government had got these powers they would use them, by unfair means, to throw the system right out. I remember a Debate on the Transport Bill when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport, who is now the Minister of Supply, said, when we had been suggesting that just what I have said has happened would happen:
Therefore I suggest, in the first place, that if it "—
that is, the British Transport Commission—
started out to try to drive the local haulier out of business—and I cannot understand why in the world it should want to do so—but, if, by any chance, it wanted to do so, it would be directly flouting the duties placed upon it by Parliament. That duty, I say, is to integrate the existing public services in the country and see that they are as efficient as possible and serve the public as well as possible. It would be quite contrary to the direct instructions given to the Commission by Parliament if it proceeded along the lines suggested by hon. Members.
These are the words to which I wish to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman:
Any Minister of Transport would inevitably give the Commission directions, if he suspected for one moment that they were setting out on a line which was contrary to that imposed by Parliament."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 29th April. 1947; Vol. 436, c. 1865-6.]
We invite the right hon. Gentleman to give them some directions. I suggest that these pledges have been broken. We say to the British Transport Commission and the Government: " You have broken your pledges and abused your power," and to the road hauliers we say: " Hold on and hang on until we get in, and we will rid you of these ludicrous restrictions."
I am very grateful for the opportunity of addressing the Committee this evening. Some hon. Members may remember that I was fortunate in the Ballot for Private Members' Motions and put down a Motion on the subject which we are discussing, and I am grateful that this discussion has been advanced this evening because it gives an opportunity for the Minister to reply on a Monday instead of a Friday and I hope he will be more amenable than he might be late on a Friday afternoon.
In that optimistic hope, I want to support the appeal made by my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) to the Minister to give those directions which lie in his power in order that the grave injustice at present suffered by private road hauliers might be put right. I feel it is important for us to remember that the original Transport Act, which it does not lie within our power to discuss this evening in detail, was passed at a time when the House was differently constituted than it is at the moment. Because of the great powers given at that time and because the discussion was very much curtailed, due consideration was not given to all the various complications which would arise unless the Act was interpreted in the spirit in which it was commended to the House.
It is our contention that the measures adopted by the Road Haulage Executive are against the intentions of the House when the Act was passed. In spite of many warnings given from this side of the Committee at the time, we find there have been grave injustice inflicted on road hauliers. I do not doubt that in due time we shall be told by the Minister and others that all these things of which we complain are necessary for the more efficient integration and co-ordination of their transport arrangements.
I remember that on the last occasion when the activities of the British Transport Commission were discussed here we were told by the right hon. Gentleman that in spite of the deplorable state of affairs to which we drew his attention, these things could be justified because the death rate was lower than previously. I hope he will not tell us that these things have to be put up with now because there may well be an increase in the birth rate, but that he will advance a more sensible argument than he did on the last occasion when deficiencies in the industry were discussed. I have no doubt that we shall be told that the Minister through the Transport Commission is attempting to build up the integration of road-rail transport and that steps are being taken for the bulk of transport of goods formerly taken by road to be taken in some cases by rail. This is no innovation. Private organisations such as Suttons were engaged in similar bulk transport of goods long before the Commission was set up.
I should like the right hon. Gentleman to point out where there are any great advances as the result of the measures he is taking to crush the private road haulier out of existence. We are told that hon. Members opposite believe in a policy of fair shares for all. They have repeatedly given expression to that view. Yet having entrusted this vast transport monopoly, the Road Haulage Executive, with complete powers for the transport of long-distance goods subject to such other limited powers as are given to " A" Licence holders under very difficult conditions, one would have thought they would have left to the private haulier some little field in which he could operate.
But what do we find? We find this vast organisation in every advertisement they issue seeking to acquire the benefit of those particular forms of traffic which originally were excluded under the Act—furniture and bulk liquids and things of that kind winch were excluded traffic are now the main object of attainment on the part of the advertising section of the Road Haulage Executive. Surely that is not in pursuance of the policy of fair shares for all.
We are further told that "A" and " B " licensees are now restricted to a 25-mile radius except under permit. Hon. Members who represent some constituencies may think that 25 miles radius suggests a diameter of 50 miles, but to a person like myself representing a coast town it represents nothing of the kind. I do not doubt that those responsible for planning our future will in due time draw attention to the great inefficiency of the Tories for not building our towns the correct number of miles apart to conform with their plans today and this will be held up as a relic of Tory misrule.
Nevertheless, the fixing of this arbitrary figure of the radius in which people ara allowed to operate has not paid due regard to the conditions which should obtain between one district and another. A sense of grievance is felt in my district. In a radius of 25 miles of Southend-on-Sea we find that half is in the sea and a large proportion is across the Thames in Kent. The main transport of goods from Southend is not in the direction of Kent but towards London, but because London is 37 miles away we are placed in a disadvantageous situation.
We are not suggesting any change in legislation but it is possible for the Road Haulage Executive, if the Minister would drop them the hint, to issue permits for a greater distance than at present without any change in the law so as to enable those in that part of Essex which I believe the right hon. Gentleman knows fairly well to indulge in some form of business. The right hon. Gentleman knows that 25 miles from Southend towards London along the arterial road does not take them very far but that a few more miles would do the trick. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, not only so far as my own division is concerned, but also in respect of other coast towns, to have regard to the circumstances of the case and not worry too much about the niceties of the charts drawn by, planners in various departments under his control.
The original permits issued to people engaged in long-distance haulage prior to November, 1946, are granted in the first instance for one year and subsequently they may be granted for a further three years. It is our contention that very severe restrictions are operating in the issue of these permits, and that every technicality that can be devised, as has been instanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth, has been made use of by the Road Haulage Executive in order to deny the issue of original permits, with the compensation rights which they carry with them.
We find, in the case of the business of a man who may have died and whose widow has taken over the concern, that the change in title of the business has put her outside the compensation benefits to which the operator would have been entitled under the Act. If the Road Haulage Executive adopted a sensible way of looking at these matters, without seeking to crush their competitors out of business, they would not take advantage of technicalities such as these.
Let us further remember that the compensation to which these people are entitled is based on the long-distance traffic which they carried in the year previous to the revocation of the permit which they may be granted. If the Minister, through his subsidiaries, is to use his power in order to restrict the volume of traffic which these concerns carry it will seriously and adversely affect the compensation right to which these people are entitled. We find that the ordinary permit is, in practice, being granted only for a period of something like three months in order that the operator may have the chance to try to arrange some kind of business within the 25 miles' radius. That permit does not entitle him to any compensation. In spite of that fact, we find the Road Haulage Executive entering into the fiercest competition in order to prevent him earning the very meagre livelihood which is available to an operator who works within such a limited radius.
Turning again to my own constituency for an example—the principle applies throughout the country—I can tell the Minister of a case of a firm which, for years before the Labour Party was formed, was engaged in the transport of goods from the railway in the whole of the district from Shoeburyness to Pitsea. The name of the concern was Jacobs. [An HON. MEMBER: " By motor vehicle?"] They have had this contract for years, and they have been carrying the railway parcels over that area. We find that, since nationalisation, the railways have given notice of the termination of their contract. The business which they built up and have carried on for years has been taken away from them. They have been refused any kind of compensation and any kind of licence except to operate within a 25-mile radius, which as I have tried to point out is in itself very considerably restricted—
I said that they were responsible for the distribution of these goods for years before the Labour Party was born. I did not say and never have suggested that motor vehicles were then in existence, but these private enterprise people, unlike the Labour Party, move with the times. Having found a more convenient and better method of transport, they took the earliest possible opportunity of introducing motor transport for delivery work, whereas the party opposite, having evolved a policy in the middle part of the 19th century, have not paid any regard to changed circumstances, but still stick to it today.
I wish to refer to the helpful intervention of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth, in which the hon. Member drew attention to the fact that there has been a very large increase in the issue of " C " licences. I wonder whether hon. Gentlemen have given any thought to this question? Surely the fact that there has been this large increase in " C " licences can be shown to be due to the fact that people who want their goods transported from place to place do not think much of the service of the Transport Commission, are prevented from having the services of a private haulier and so intend to take advantage of the best service they can get. It is because that is true, that the party opposite is seeking to put this savage tax on the motor vehicles which supply this best and most economical form of transport. I hope that the private hauliers will be supported in their fight against a party which professes not to believe in monopolies but which spends all its time building them up as strongly and viciously as it can.
I intervene to call the attention of the House to the apparent concern of the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) about the competition which the British Transport Commission had organised against hauliers in the different areas of the country. During the passage of the Transport Act we realised that a large number of these small firms would inevitably disappear from the road haulage business. We took a lot of pains to ensure that when they went out of business fair compensation terms were offered to them. Both on the Floor of the House and in Committee we took the opportunity of making sure that the compensation terms were really just and fair.
I am quite sure that no hon. Member opposite can point a finger to a case in which these fair and just terms have not been carried out. If they know of any such cases we should all like to hear of them. That pledge was given throughout the passage of the Transport Act, and I for one am prepared to stand by any promise which we, in the Committee, obtained from the Minister during the passage of the Act, and do all I possibly can to see that those terms are honoured.
The half-circle which the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. McAdden) mentioned in relation to the coast towns was also discussed. There was nothing which we could devise, and nothing has ever been devised to overcome that fact of geography. It has been a condition under which the road haulage firms on the coast have operated ever since road haulage firms have been organised there.
We even went so far as to discuss deep-sea operation for hauliers on the coast. But everyone found that the conditions operating in coast towns would be the same after the passing of the Bill as before.
They operated in the half circle before and they operate that way now.
A point of importance was made by the hon. Member for Monmouth when he was discussing the issue of permits and new licences. I suggest that for a long time now road hauliers have not been in a position to face fierce competition. There has always been a great limitation in the number of firms permitted to operate in any given area. That was a factor of road haulage for a long time before nationalisation, and it is because of the relatively exclusive position of many of those road haulage firms at the present time that the advent of competition is something new in many areas.
Another point made by the hon. Member was with regard to excluded traffic. It was never suggested, and it is not contained in the Bill that the Transport Commission's road undertaking should not compete for this particular traffic. The condition in the Bill was that such traffic of that character conveyed by road hauliers should be excluded from nationalisation. But it did not exclude the Transport Commission's vehicles from competing with those road hauliers for that particular traffic.
The hon. Member for Monmouth and the hon. Member for Southend, East, seemed to fear the developing competition of the British Road Haulage Executive not only in regard to this excluded traffic, but also in general in regard to short-distance traffic. I am very pleased to see that the Road Haulage Executive have so developed their business that they constitute a real and substantial competitor to these private firms. It indicates that the Road Haulage Executive have developed a standard of efficiency which is a threat to the ordinary road undertakings. I am very satisfied because from it I deduce that the Road Haulage Executive are doing their job. Because they are doing their job efficiently hon. Members opposite complain so bitterly. The passage of the Bill visualised the condition we are facing tonight and fortunately from the point of view of the nationalised industry the Road Haulage Executive seem to be holding their own. They are holding their own in spite of an efficient road haulage service, and I am pleased to hear it. We never expect hon. Members opposite to give credit in that particular direction, because we know that, lock, stock and barrel, they are against and opposed to any idea of the nationalised industries succeeding in any direction.
The hon. Member for Monmouth sug- gested that the Transport Commission's road vehicles were coming back empty from their journeys and were therefore running watsefully from the point of view of the economics of the industry, I would challenge him to submit to this Commit- tee any substantial evidence on that point. He makes an allegation without giving any idea of any evidence which might exist, and I challenge him to submit evidence that the vehicles of the Road Haulage Executive are going out loaded and coming back on a substantial number of occasions empty, and therefore running uneconomically.
If we could obtain such evidence it would, of course, reveal an unsatisfactory state of affairs, but I am of opinion that such evidence does not exist. Taking into account the short time they have been in existence, I consider that the Road Haulage Executive have done a lot to eliminate journeys with empty vehicles and that they are making a tremendous success of the road haulage undertaking. I am particularly gratified to hear the complaints from hon. Members on the other side of the Committee, because they do testify to the ability and efficiency of the Road Haulage Executive.
It would be extremely easy for us all to be successful competitors, if our ideas of fair play in business were first of all to tie the hands of a competitor behind his back, and then to knock him out. We could all do that, and the complaint we are making is that the Transport Commission and the Road Haulage Executive are using their powers improperly to curtail competition. None of the hon. Members on this side of the Committee has ever liked nationalisation of Road Transport and the hon. Member for Nottingham, East (Mr. Harrison), is perfectly correct in saying so.
But when his party and the Socialist Government admitted the principle that private owners and privately operated units might operate alongside a State-controlled concern, we were entitled to expect that the units would receive fair treatment. During the last few weeks that hope has weakened, and by the examples which have come to us in our constituencies, and by the examples already given by my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) and the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. McAdden) it is pretty clear that this hope will be finally extinguished unless the right hon. Gentleman will take action this evening. Examples of harsh treatment are so numerous and so widespread, and their pattern is so uniform as to leave no reasonable doubt at all that the Road Haulage Executive are pursuing a subtle policy of discrimination against the private haulier in order to squeeze him out of business.
I propose to give two detailed cases. The first one is according to the method described by my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth and is a case of a haulier carrying cement from Carlake in Lanarkshire to Ayr. He is given a permit to carry his cement but he is refused a permit for the return journey, without which of course the whole of his business is uneconomic. That case, to my certain knowledge by conversations with hon. Members, is repeated time and again all over the country. That is a typical case and I will give the Minister the name of the firm if necessary.
Let me give a case which illustrates another method. This is a case of a man and his brothers named Mitchell in the village of Douglas Water in Lanarkshire. For 20 years they have been hauliers running between Douglas Water and Annan and Carlisle, a distance of some 60 to 65 miles. The right bon Gentleman has had particulars of this case because I sent them to him. He may remember that it is a case of eleven men all of them ex-Service men, all of them married with families and all of them with established homes of their own in this village. For 20 years they have carried out this service, except for a period of four years, including the year 1946, when they were directed by the Ministry of Supply to carry timber; but, of course, that was not their fault. Along come the Road Haulage Executive and they limit the distance over which this haulier can carry his goods—building materials—to 40 miles. That, literally, leaves him high and dry in the middle of waste moorlands.
I have examined it to see whether in this system of re-zoning there is, first, any uniformity of treatment and, secondly, any gain in efficiency. It might be that in re-zoning there were compensating areas to the Carlisle area which this haulier could pick up and in which he could practise his business. But that is not so. What is more, I find that the firms who have taken over Mr. Mitchell's business come from 30 miles or so south of Carlisle. They actually pass Mr. Mitchell's door and are allowed to operate 30 or 40 miles to the north of him in the Glasgow and Edinburgh districts. I will give details of that case to any hon. Member. They can examine it in every way and I defy anyone to find any justification for it either in equity, common sense or in efficiency. That is, in my opinion, a clear example of biased treatment by the Road Haulage Executive to a competitor.
If this man is to lose his business it will cause a minor social upheaval in this small village. The people whose goods he hauled will have to find other and less satisfactory transportation. I have made inquiries, such as those which the hon. Member for Nottingham, East suggested, about the return journey of the lorries. In five cases out of 10 they return empty. I wrote to the Minister and asked for his assistance; but in this matter he is an untouchable. With the greatest courtesy in the world, I am bound to say, but with absolute firmness, he puts on an act of non-intervention. He washes his hands of responsibility and says that he cannot intervene.
But the right hon. Gentleman and his party were responsible for this Act. They put it on the Statute Book. If injustice on the scale that we see it is perpetrated, it is up to him to put it right. He must take action, because this is a real case of hardship which is duplicated many times in the experience of my hon. Friends, if they would get up and say so, in the experience of hon. Gentlemen Opposite.
The Minister says that if this firm does not like the conditions, they can get compensation. There is provision for that in the Act. But these people are proud of their business. They have built it up over 20 years. They are a fine team of ex-Service men and they give good and efficient service to the public. They do not want to be compensated; they want to carry on their business and to continue to give good public service. What is more, they have a shrewd suspicion that it may be many years before they get their compensation, even if they ask for it.
This is a serious matter and we feel it deeply. I ask the Minister, first, to make a definite declaration tonight, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, that it is intended that small privately-owned road haulage concerns should have a fair deal. Secondly, I ask him to give a general directive to the Transport Commission to that effect, and to tell them that they should employ much more elasticity in the granting of permits and much more common sense in the whole affair. Lastly, although, of course, we are not allowed to suggest anything tonight which would involve legislation, the Minister must, in all fairness, set up some impartial machinery for appeal if he is not ready to take action himself.
I wonder what the attitude of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite is to an industry which has become, as the Road Transport Industry has to some extent become, the property of the public and, to that extent, their responsibility as well as ours? I listened to the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft), and to those who spoke after him, and I felt that he, particularly, was prostituting his undoubted talents in standing up in this Committee as such a partisan advocate of certain private interests. He also has a responsibility in the Government of this country and he should be as anxious as those who sit on this side of the Committee that public undertakings should succeed. I asked him that question and gave him an opportunity to deny, if he so chose, that he wished success to public road traffic. I got no denial, and I hope that I get none, because in spite of what he said he may perhaps still feel his responsibility for the success of an undertaking which has been taken over as a public service for the public interest.
I regard it as of some importance that the Opposition should state clearly what their attitude is in these matters. I can understand them if they desire to complain of this or that incident, of this or that practice, but I completely fail to understand an attitude which appears to be that the public service, whether the Transport Commission or the Road Executive, is always wrong and the so-called free haulier is always right. I have listened most attentively to the Debate. It seemed to me that hon. Members opposite were not keeping clear in their own minds—and still less, perhaps, in the minds of those who might read their speeches—the distinction between the functions of the Road Executive and those of the free hauliers.
It is the intention of the Act that the Road Transport Executive should deal with long-distance goods haulage, and where permits for it are given they are intended to be, as I understand it, somewhat exceptional, the intention being that the free haulier should operate within the 25-mile radius. I will not go again into the question of the 25-mile radius, which was discussed ad nauseam in Committee and when the Bill was before this House. How many times have we heard the argument that, if one is on the coast, half a circle is not the same as a whole circle? That geographical platitude has been stated and discussed so often that I should have thought that even hon. Members opposite might have found something new to talk about on this occasion.
What I listened for, and what I failed entirely to find, was what the noble Lord the Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass) called a lack of common sense in dealing with these applications. I wanted to know what the criterion was that hon. Members opposite wanted to be applied to an application for a licence beyond the 25-mile radius. We have not had a word about that. We have had a number of cases brought forward, coupled with what I can only describe as some exceedingly wild suggestions. I agree that if one gets enough swallows one can have a summer, but certainly if those are all the swallows that can be produced, and if they arrive with such a cacophony of abuse, I would not attach too much importance to them.
We have to remember that the Road Hauliers' Association has from time to time shown itself to be a somewhat politically-minded body, and that hon. Members opposite have had the advantage of briefs which often cover every possible case of a " grouse " or hardship. I would have expected that, instead of these isolated instances, delivered with all the vehemence which they could possibly command—and I certainly do not blame them for that—we should have had some serious criticism of the principles that were being applied.
If I understood the hon. Member for Monmouth correctly, and I am sure he will stop me if I misrepresent him in any way, I understood him to say that the object of this incredible and improbable malevolence of the Road Transport Executive was to enable them to acquire other undertakings. Surely, the position is that, as regards undertakings which had to be acquired under the Act, they were in the first instance, a matter of negotiation, until the end of June, 1948, when no further voluntary purchases of that type of undertaking were made and steps were taken to complete the compulsory acquisition which was required by the Act itself.
Any acquisition that can be in question now, unless I am entirely mistaken, is the acquisition of some undertaking which is carrying on a purely local business, but the instances given to us were not that kind of thing at all. They were instances of long distance transport. If the hon. Member for Monmouth will make his point clear, I shall be only too glad to give way to him. There appears to be no answer to that, and, therefore, I can only assume that the confusion which his speech produced in my mind must have originated in the substance of the speech itself and not in any lack of understanding on my part.
There is one other point on which I want to touch. A casual reference was made to some unjust tax or something of that sort—I have forgotten the exact language used—on road vehicles and its effect on road haulage. I imagine that everyone in the Committee recognises that a duty on petrol and commercial vehicles is a serious matter. It has to be recognised, of course, that the money raised in that way is being applied for a purpose which commands the full sympathy of hon. Members on this side, and I should have thought also the sympathy of hon. Members opposite. It is to reduce the incidence of Income Tax on its lower level, and, for that purpose, I feel sure that all of us would be prepared to give a great deal. I only want to say this.
Looking at the figures, I am struck by two things. The first is that there has been a very rapid increase in the number of road vehicles on the roads of this country, and that is a matter which requires to be taken seriously, not only as regards such questions as public safety and convenience in our large cities, but also on the question of whether, when we are having to economise in many directions, we should allow this very large expansion in one particular direction. I have no doubt that the view of some hon. Members opposite who attribute it to the increase in " C " licences is perfectly right.
I think the question of " C" licences needs careful consideration for this reason. As long as it is open to anyone to operate a " C " licence, there must be the risk that the " C " licensees will, within the limits where they are available, cream the traffic which might otherwise be gathered. I cannot believe that creaming of that sort is in the interests of the most efficient operation of the transport system, apart from the question whether the rest of the transport system were in public or in private hands.
The same thing happened, I believe, in Northern Ireland, where again it was found that the " C " licensees, or the people in Northern Ireland who were in the corresponding position, were using the facility thus provided beyond the requirements of the best system of transport and were doing it half deliberately and half unreasonably to such an extent that, instead of transport being cheap and efficient, it was to that extent made expensive and less efficient. I am not saying that that has happened fully here; I only say that the figures look as if there is some considerable danger that way, and I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister, when replying, will let us have his views on the question of the considerable increase in these commercial vehicles and the apparent increase of " C " licences.
I want, with respect to the Committee, to say to every hon. Member here that it is really impossible that the Opposition, whether it is the present Opposition or any other Opposition which there may be in future, should continually take the attitude that a public service is wrong and that the individual, whoever he may be —the free road haulier in this instance—is always right. I do not believe that the Government of the country and the best interests of the public can really be helped by tactics of that sort.
I am aware that road haulage is the only one of the nationalised industries which, at the General Election, the Tory Party showed some signs of wanting to put back into private ownership. I am bound to say that I took a very poor view of what they appeared to propose, since, apparently, it was intended that it should be put back into the ownership of the former owners, and, so far as I can see, there was no provision for the reality of free enterprise by allowing new blood in the industry. That is a matter that falls to be considered, and I cannot claim to be an authority on the policy of the Opposition.
Surely, however, it does not stand to good sense that, while we leave the railways in public ownership, we should be willing to take back, and only willing to take back, road haulage. The history of this long dispute between road and rail shows that, at any rate, some form of co-ordination and integration between the two is now imperative in the public interest, and that to put one back into private ownership while leaving the other in public ownership cannot be a step forward and cannot be in the best interests of the country.
I am not going to waste the time of the Committee by indulging in a long argument against the nationalisation of road haulage. I do not agree with it at all. The hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) talked about the public service, but there is a great difference between the public service and a service to the public, and I think he has forgotten that difference. What we want to see is the public getting a proper service. But the point which I wanted to discuss tonight is not the costs which are inherent in the nationalisation of road haulage, but the injustices which have been done to road hauliers.
I wish to mention one case which is typical of many in my own division and in every other division in the country. I choose it because it happens to be a case which has had a most recent development. It concerns a Mr. Scott of Walcott, who took over his step-father's business in 1947. He, like many others, had been away on other service, and was therefore precluded from having a permit under Section 53 of the Act. However, the Road Haulage Executive agreed that his case was one in which the provisions of the Act operate with severity—I quote their words—and they wished to alleviate any hardship. They promised that an ordinary permit would be granted for one month—from 1st February until 28th February.
When that expired, they issued him with another permit carrying certain conditions. He was allowed to carry one ton of agricultural produce per annum outside the 25-mile limit. What was the point of that? Such a permit was useless to him, especially as he was giving a service to the public—to the local public, I agree—by taking their goods to market in the Midlands and Yorkshire. I do not know why such a condition was made except perhaps to give him a breathing space in which to decide whether he should apply to the Road Haulage Executive to serve him with notice of acquisition, and then look for another job, or carry on in the 25-mile limit. As I say, it was his step-father's business which had been built up from practically nothing. This man decided to carry on and to try to " make a go " of the business within the 25-mile limit. It will be very hard for him to make a livelihood.
That is bad enough, but, even worse, his licence has expired, and he has applied to the local licensing authorities for another. One would not think that mattered, but who should object to the granting of another licence but the Road Haulage Executive! I ask the right hon. Gentleman to find out why that should happen. If this man wishes to carry on, let him have a licence. If he is going to be of service to the public, they will use him; if not, he will find that his lorry is not being used and will have to get another job. But why should the Road Haulage Executive oppose this extra licence? Do they want to push him out of business altogether? Or is it because I and many others have tried to help him? Is it a question of victimisation? I do not know.
Before taking up the case I asked whether it was worth bringing it to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman. I was told that it was absolutely useless to do that as he had no power to interfere. Even if he has no power to interfere, I should like the right hon. Gentleman to do something to help such people and to see that they are not pushed out of business when they are giving a useful service to the public. This is only one of many similar cases. Why not let these people carry on? Why oppose their licences? The public do not use these men because they like their faces; they use them because it is worth their while to do so. We are asking for no more than justice. If hon. Members opposite do not know of similar cases in their own constituencies, then they are not doing their job.
It also includes a great deal of countryside, and I can only assure the hon. Gentleman that, as it happens, I have not received a single complaint of the kind he mentioned.
Does the hon. and learned Gentleman expect, after the line he took, opposing every possible concession to hauliers throughout the whole of the passage of the Transport Bill in this House, that they would think of writing to him?
All I can assume is that people in the hon. and learned Gentleman's division do not think it worth while writing to him. [Interruption.] This is my second speech, and I can be interrupted; indeed, I am very pleased to be interrupted. [An HON. MEMBER: " Do not get excited."] I am not excited. The only time I get excited is when I see in justice being done to people in this country, and all I wish to do is to ask the Minister to see that justice is done.
I always say that I am not going to take part in a transport debate in this Chamber, because on transport matters I certainly do not hold the views of hon. Members opposite, and nor do I know of any hon. Member on this side of the Committee who holds the same view as I do on this question. But, transport being in my blood, I suppose I cannot keep out of these Debates. I find myself following this Debate, so far, with mixed feelings. Before I forget, I wish to take up the point of the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. M. Smith) who said, regarding a particular man, " If he wants a licence, let him have it. I invite him to tell us—or, if he will not, I invite the right hon. and learned Gentleman—
—who is replying for the Opposition to say whether it is his party's policy in regard to transport, that everyone who applies for a licence should have a licence granted to him. I hope he will deal with that point, because it never has been the policy of the party opposite to grant licences to everyone who wanted them. I want to know whether the back benches and the Front Bench opposite are of one mind on this question of licences.
I regard the complete integration of transport in this country as the only sane and intelligent policy to adopt. It is a case I have argued with my own colleagues, and some day I hope to carry the Minister with me. I can understand the policy which the hon. Gentleman has just put forward of allowing everybody who wants to have a go, to have a go.
As my hon. Friend says, that is setting the people free. They do not understand this policy of the Conservative Party of allowing a certain number of people to come into transport and then shutting the door and opposing every other application which goes to the licensing commissioners—a policy made possible by Conservative legislation and carried through in extenso, in all the years between the wars.
I am glad to see in the Chamber the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. G. Wilson), who in a recent Adjournment Debate on smoking in restaurant cars, said that he was probably the only hon. Member who had had the opportunity of prosecuting people for smoking in non-smoking compartments. I am one of those—I do not suppose I am the only one in this Committee—who had the job of going to licensing commissioners on behalf of the privately-owned railway companies to oppose applications of road hauliers for road licences. It is no use the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) weeping crocodile tears about the poor ex-Service men who have now lost their licences, because after the 1914-18 war thousands of ex-Service men who bought ex-Army vehicles and tried to set themselves up in the road haulage business were smashed by his road haulage friends.
The Opposition really ought to make up their minds whether they believe in a coordinated transport system or whether they do not. If they believe in a co-ordinated transport system, they had better do a little bit of hard thinking and decide where they are going to get it from; they had better decide exactly what they are going to do with all these people who want licences, whether they be " A ", " B " or " C " licences. But if we are an intelligent community with any regard to the economic user of transport in this country the present position, even under the Transport Act, is intolerable.
There was some challenge made when my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) criticised the present position regarding " A " and " B " licences. Let me put these figures before the Committee, not in order to make a party point but because I am anxious for the successful operation of an economic transport system. In 1947, the number of goods vehicles operating in this country was 555,000. By November, 1949, that figure had risen to 783,000, yet there was very little increase in the traffic operating. In a period of two years there has therefore been an increase of 228,000 goods vehicles on the roads competing for the available traffic.
I suggest that that must result in an entirely uneconomic user of the available transport. How many of those 783,000 vehicles are in the hands of the British Transport Commission to provide the very serious competition we have heard about tonight from the hon. Member for Monmouth? Thirty-six thousand: 4 per cent. of the total goods vehicles today are in the hands of the British Transport Commission, yet they are the great menace to the 96 per cent. who remain outside its operations.
I suggest that those figures show the very dangerous path along which we are travelling. It is a path which must result in fantastic and colossal expenditure on road development during the next few years. It must do that. It will mean that good agricultural land, in which hon. Members opposite claim to be interested, will have to go, to make mammoth roads for these vehicles if they are to continue in operation. Who in this Committee would suggest that in 1949 there was need for 361,000 more road vehicles than were operating in the peak period of the war? I submit that we are getting into a position where the transport situation is rapidly becoming ridiculous.
What has happened in connection with A " and " B " licences? Of necessity there must be a curtailment because the Transport Commission has been operating and has taken over certain undertakings. In 1938, there were 148,000 " A " contract and " B " licensed vehicles. This bears out to some extent the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne. By 1947, the number of those " A " contract and " B " licensed vehicles had risen to 162,000. Today we are asked to assume that so many of them have been wiped out that they are almost non-existent, yet we find that in 1949 there were still 129,000 of them in operation—a decrease of only 13 per cent. in spite of all this viciousness on the part of the Transport Commission.
When we turn to the " C " licences we see the great weakness in the Transport Act because, as I have said so many times in this Committee, the hope of having a co-ordinated and integrated service was given away under the " C " licence system. What has happened? We have suffered a loss, as I have said, of 33,000 in " A," contract " A " and " B " licensed vehicles; but " C " licences to compensate for that have increased by no fewer than 195,000 in the same period. In 1938, there were 365,000 " C " licensed vehicles in this country, and at the time of nationalisation 487,000. In either of those periods there was more traffic than there is today. Yet today we are cluttering the road with 672,000 " C " licensed vehicles.
I should like the Opposition to tell us where they stand with regard to these " C " licences. Is every man who wants a licence to have a licence, as suggested from the back benches, because if so we are completely crazy. It is no new thing in this House to plead for coordination of transport. I have heard it done by Members of the Opposition in the years before the war. Many of those statements by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) are on record, but I think I ought to resist quoting him tonight because his quotations are so damaging to the line taken by other speakers on those benches that I do not wish to humiliate them by quoting their leader against them. They are, however, on record for the coordination of transport.
Tonight, hon. Members opposite ought to say whether they want co-ordination of transport or not. In 1926, the right hon. Member for Woodford—I said that I would not quote him but I will quote him in another connection when he was not keeping company quite as bad as that which he keeps at the present time—was filled with concern over the position then arising. Regarding the building up of the road transport industry in this country, he said then that it was impossible to watch this development which was taking place both with regard to freight and passengers without considering it in its reaction on the railways. The right hon. Member for Woodford was concerned with integrating transport 25 years ago as between road and rail, and it is a great pity that he cannot carry his own party with him at the present time.
I want to make one point about the operation of road transport so far as the British Transport Commission are concerned. The point was made on the other side without figures as affecting the private operators. What is happening in this country as a result of the increase in the number of road transport vehicles is that the percentage of road miles run today is fantastically wasteful, and good dollars are being poured out for petrol for vehicles which are carrying nothing up and down the country. That is the trend of modern transport today.
Let us take the British Transport Commission road haulage executive figures for February of this year—the latest date available. The milage which their vehicles ran loaded was 41 million miles in the four-weekly period. The empty mileage was 10 million. For every four miles which they carried a load they ran one mile empty. I suggest a ratio of one in four empty miles is absolutely fatal to the economy of any transport undertaking. If we perpetuate " C " licences we are going to run empty vehicles on a scale which, I suggest, the economy of this country cannot afford. Therefore, we must have courage in tackling this position
I conclude by saying that I am not happy about the way the small road operators are being treated at the present time. I confess that; but I think that we must now look at the position in the light of the legislation which this House has passed—legislation to which I did not subscribe. I do not think we can justify the position that prevails to day in very many places. I am to some extent with Members opposite here. I cannot think it is right or desirable, or that the House ever intended it, that men should neither be taken over nor left with enough traffic to earn a living. We must do one of two things. Either we must take them over and compensate them, or leave them with their vehicles and traffic. To leave them neither taken over nor with traffic with which to earn their living is an impossible position.
I ask the Minister and the Transport Commission, as quickly as possible to resolve this problem. The House knows the way that I would resolve it. I apologise for using a phrase I have used before, but it is the " overriding national interest " which demands an integrated and co-ordinated transport system. We cannot have that by allowing everyone who wants a licence to have one, or by allowing the number of vehicles that operate on the roads to grow as it has been growing in the last few years.
I was very interested to hear what the hon. Member for Perry Barr (Mr. Poole) said about co-ordination. There is a wealth of difference between co-ordination and monopolistic control. It is a very good thing to have a policeman directing traffic down a street, but we sometimes have the feeling that Members opposite would like to see him driving the cars. As I have said, there is a wealth of difference between co-ordination and exerting a monopolistic control, driving the small man out of business. We have nothing against public services as such. What is important is that the public services should not lose us too much money and should be run efficiently.
I want to say a word about transport as it affects us in the north of Scotland. Transport is our life and breath in that part of the world. We depend upon transport, which is a great deal more important there than it is in other parts of the country, although we know it is important enough there. Without adequate transport, the Highlands cannot develop; indeed, we cannot even live. I am very glad to see that the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland is present, because transport should be the concern of anyone who has anything to do with the handling of Scottish affairs.
I wish to quote one or two examples of how the Transport Act has hit the north of Scotland. The first is the case of a haulier at Newtonmore who built up over a number of years a very good business that operated over a radius of 100 miles. He served the district very well; he was efficient, cheap and he knew the local conditions. Now, under the new regulations, his " B " licences have been restricted to two permits instead of four, and his distance to 25 miles. I do not know whether many Members opposite know the district of Newtonmore, but 25 miles in that part of the world will take one past a certain number of lochs, a few mountains and across some moors, but not very near to any big centre of population. In other words, 25 miles for a haulier in Newtonmore is not much use.
What will happen to this man? His years of business will be wasted and he will have to go out of business. The hon. Member for Perry Bar talked about adequate and fair compensation. I do not know how fair compensation can be assessed when a great monopoly turns a man out of his lifework. What will happen in Newtonmore will be that the Road Haulage Executive will establish a depot and with complete freedom will operate in any direction. All the road operators in the district will simply be swallowed up by the monster.
The Minister of Transport, in the Debate the other evening on road transport, said that for the Highlands there had been 93 original applications, 80 of which had been granted and the other 13 refused. As my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) said earlier, it is no use saying that unless we know the details of what permits were actually granted. In that same speech the right hon. Gentleman referred to the operations of the British Transport Commission and especially to Messrs. Pick-ford's, who have now been taken over by the Transport Commission. He said:
In Messrs. Pickford's the British Transport Commission have an organisation for removals, which perhaps has more experience of removal of furniture than any other firm in the country. I commend their enterprise in extending that organisation and giving the Scottish people the opportunity of availing themselves of a magnificent and very efficient removal organisation."—(OFFICIAL REPORT. 27th April, 1950; Vol. 474, c. 1281-21
I should like to tell the House of one incident that happened when Pickford's succeeded in carrying through a certain deal in Inverness. There was a local firm, which had been furniture removers for many years in Inverness. They applied in November of last year to extend their removal business beyond a radius of 50 miles. There were many applications for them to carry outside that distance, and the only objectors were the Railway Executive. The case was heard on 16th March, 1950. The application was refused. The inconvenience and delay to customers was testified to at the hearing. One of the reasons given was that Pickford's had arrived from London and could now carry furniture in a pantechnicon. They arrived in January, 1950, and, previous to that they were granted the lease of a shop in competition with other offers in the dis-
trict. They got it because they were prepared to offer three times the assessed rent. That is an example of how public money is subsidising competition against local interests.
I am glad to see the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland in her place, because recently, in answer to a Question, she said to me:
The whole Highland area can be given special attention and it has been given it for the past four and a half years. I am certain that that will continue to be done by this Government."--OFFICIAL REPORT. 21st March 1950; Vol. 472. c. 1741]
The Government have of late given very special attention to the Highlands in the shape of a heavy blow in the solar plexus, followed up by a right blow on the chin, first with 9d. on the petrol and then the 16i increase in rail freight charges. Today I received a resolution sent by the Inverness Chamber of Commerce, which reads as follows:
The Inverness Chamber of Commerce views with profound alarm the disastrous effect on Highland economy of the 164 per cent. increase on rail freight couplied with the proposed 10 per cent. increase on road transport rates. The incidence of high transport rates in the Highland area and its geographical position in relation to sources of raw materials, ports, and centres of production, has already had a crippling effect on trade, commerce and industry. The new increased rates will be a severe blow to any plans for Highland development and will inevitably cause unemployment, further de-population, and a cost of living higher than that in other parts of the country.
The Inverness Chamber of Commerce strongly urges the Government to introduce special transport rates for this selective area which will have the effect of: (1) Affording a measure of relief to trade, commerce and industry necessary in the interests of Highland development; (2) establishing the principle of 'fair shares for all ' by. reducing the increased burden on consumers in this area.'
I submit that one of the first things we can do is to give special consideration to transport in the Highland areas, and one of the best ways of doing that is to free the small road haulier to operate. We cannot have too many of them at present in the Highlands
Listening to the contributions to this Debate which have come from the other side of the Committee has confirmed my conviction, previously fairly firmly held, that the Tory Party agree to changes only when they have become inevitable. It is interesting to remind the Committee that in the Coalition Government of 1921, in which the Conservative Party were in a majority, they were responsible for the passing of the first Transport Act in this country which effected any great measure of co-ordination of the transport services of the people. They did not go far enough at that time for the simple reason that, although they were doing something which had become inevitable,they did not really believe in what they were doing; and therefore they did it half-heartedly and in a very unsatisfactory manner. However, the Railways Act, 1921, passed by a predominantly Conservative Government, was the confession of the total bankruptcy of British transport which had been reached up to that time.
Incidentally, there is one other thought that has passed through my mind while listening to the contributions of hon. Gentlemen opposite, particularly that of the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft), who opened this Debate, and it is that one of the shining lights of the Conservative Party 100 years ago was that great railway pioneer the late George Hudson, at one time the Member for the City of York, who ended up his dazzling career as a great railway pioneer by scuttling to the Continent because his creditors were after him.
Anyway, when we get down to this question of the co-ordination of transport, we find it is inevitable that there will be a continuation of the struggle that has gone on during all the years that have passed since we first had a modern transport problem in this country—the struggle between those who fight against every possible improvement in the way of coordination and those who want the best, most efficient and most economic transport system for the service of the people. Therefore, this Debate, in my opinion—I have not time enough to develop the whole of my argument as I would have wished—merely underlines the fact that hon. Gentlemen on the opposite benches are still fighting the rearguard action of a bankrupt system of transport in this country. What they want is not an efficient system for the benefit of the people of the country but a transport setup which still allows people to come into the industry and make a profit at the expense of the general interests of the community.
Nonsense? In fact, that statement has been proved by the action of our political opponents themselves, because in the days of the Labour Government of 1929,.a Bill was introduced by my right hon. Friend who is now the Lord President of the Council for the public ownership of the London passenger transport industry. That Bill did not reach the Statute Book, but a subsequent Tory Government could not leave the matter as it was because London passenger transport had reached such a state of chaos and unbridled private competition that even that Tory Government had to do something about it. It passed a somewhat more modest Bill which became the London Passenger Transport Act, 1933.
Do our political opponents believe in free competition in transport as a principle? If they do believe in free competition as a principle in all forms of transport and announce it as their policy, how do they explain the passing by themselves in 1933 of the London Passenger Transport Act which transformed the privately-owned transport system of London into the first public passenger transport board in this country?
The Opposition's protest sounds hollow and insincere. The Government have taken a further great and necessary step towards the co-ordination of the country's transport services, and it is now too late to go back to the days of the jungle when transport was anybody's business and nobody's business, and when the public were always the sufferers. There is absolutely no basis for the false protests made here this afternoon. I am confident that when the people realise that transport is a service which must necessarily be co-ordinated and that we cannot get the best transport service in a field of unbridled competition, they will support the principles involved in all the Measures relating to transport which have been passed by the Government.
In spite of the gallant attempts, not least by the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. I. 0. Thomas), to draw red herrings across the perfectly clear line of our discussion, we have established our purpose, which was to call attention to the inequitable, unfair and unjust administration of the Transport Act in relation to road hauliers who are still in the free sector of the industry. I have not heard any attempt by hon. Members Opposite to deny that the examples which we have given are examples of unfairness and lack of equity.
tried to get me to express once again what I should do with regard to road transport. I cannot think how often I have expressed it in this House, but tonight we are not dealing with legislation which we might pass; we are dealing with the administration of legislation which has been passed and with the statutory provisions with regard to permits, which are the forefront of our attack.
I am not sure whether hon. Members opposite have appreciated the position under the Act—namely, that there is this sphere of road transport not nationalised and that there are these two forms of permit—one an original permit which, when it is granted, carries with it rights to demand acquisition and compensation and the other an ordinary permit which brings none of these things with it. What we say, broadly, is that original permits have been refused whenever that is possible or have been granted with serious limitations in cases where a refusal would be too bad; and that ordinary permits, again, have been given with conditions which make them quite useless for those who have asked for permits at the present time.
The point we make—and I should have thought that the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) might at any rate have appreciated this—is that if we lay down in our Statutes that applicants have to go to their trade competitors to get these statutory privileges, then that lays a most heavy and severe responsibility upon the trade competitor to act fairly and in every way equitably in considering these matters. Surely that is a fundamental principle from which one cannot depart.
My hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) made this point, which again is unchallenged, that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Supply, then Parliamentary Secretary, said that if there were found to be a policy carried out by the Commission which almost exactly describes the policy of which we are complaining tonight, then it would be the undoubted duty of the Minister to give a general direction to put that policy right. That is what we are asking for, and we have had from the other side of the Committee not one word of sympathy for those people who are put in that position. We are, therefore. entitled not to expect that sympathy.
Let me see why there has been injustice. My hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth quoted—and again it is unchallenged, unexplained, undiluted—a statement made by the Chairman of the British Transport Commission. It was clearly understood, on the indication of the chairman of the British Transport Commission and the chairman of the Road Haulage Executive, that original permits would be granted for the first 12 months broadly as applied for and on terms which would enable the continuance of traffic being carried at the time. This only applied to those who were in the position before November, 1946, when the Transport Act was introduced into this House. The other point which was made perfectly clear was that original permits would not be refused solely because the Road Haulage Executive wished to take over the traffic involved or to acquire the firm involved.
These were the principles that were stated, and there were other matters that were made clear—for example, that road hauliers, if they objected to the decision, were to have the right to put forward reasons for consideration. When that has been done, broadly the answer on all divisional levels has been that it was useless for them to ask for reconsideration because the divisional manager of the Road Haulage Executive had decided to acquire the firm and was certain that R.H.E. units could do the work. That is our point. We say that these were the lines that were suggested and that they have not been carried out.
I have attempted to analyse the principles of nonsense on which I find the various cases of which I have seen so many dozen based. They are mainly negative, but one can extract the principles of nonsense and I want to give them quite briefly to the Committee. The first principle is that one must disregard entirely the needs. not only of the haulier. but of the producer for whom he carries. That is well shown by one example which I will give of a firm who have specialised in the carriage of ships' stores and were carrying to all parts of the country since 1946.
Since then they concentrated on a run to Newcastle and the North with ships' stores and brought all varieties of goods in return. The permit gave them the right to carry ships' stores in the Western and Midland divisions. Sir Charles, your greater knowledge may have given you some experience of the shipping in the Midlands but, apart from a few canal barges, I have not seen it myself. That is the sort of way in which it is done. These people are cut out of the old line.
I said " Midlands " and expressly excepted " Western," and I put the point again. Here we have people who were carrying to Newcastle and the ports on the North-East coast, and the permit is not taken away—no, they are given the permit to carry from South Wales to the Midlands. That is one absurdity.
Let me give another. Even the hon. Member for Perry Barr will find it difficult to get round this one. The regular work of a firm before and since 1946 was carrying coal from South Wales to Cheshire, Shropshire and the Midlands, and bringing firebricks on return. The permit was granted, but it was granted so that they could carry these goods in South Wales only. Hon. Members have told us the position of coal in South Wales and, of course, no firebricks are produced in South Wales. The firm are given a permit, therefore, to carry coal in South Wales, where coal is almost everywhere, and to carry back firebricks which are not made. I say that that is the quintessence of nonsense.
If firebricks are being carried back, yes. The answer was that it was done and served a need for years. The question went before an impartial tribunal, who decided that it was necessary. If there was anything in the point which the hon. Member has made, the Traffic Commissioners and the licensing authority would have decided otherwise. Of course, hon. Gentlemen opposite do not like an impartial tribunal. They want to be the masters themselves.
I have only a limited time. The next principle in this vicious system is to operate just as clearly even if it is only a mile or two over the 25 miles. One of the best examples I have is that of hauliers who carried all sorts of goods within a 30-mile radius. They were refused the original permit and their main work was the haulage of fertilisers, for which it was necessary to go just over 25, but within 30 miles. Although that is their established work, which they have done for many years—and this was pointed out over and over again—they were refused even that small indulgence. That again is a silly way of trying to run a new system.
The third principle is that any technicality is pounced on and used in order to defeat the road haulier. What I have in mind is this sort of thing; a man puts in his ultimate points—in this case it was from a point in South Wales to Shrewsbury—and he is granted permission strictly to the two points mentioned. When he makes representations that he meant a reasonable area around those points and that it was a mistake to put it in that bald way, his representation that it is a mistake is disregarded.
Then, as my hon. Friend said, someone asks for 160 tons per month of goods to be carried to Stourbridge and South Worcester. That is refused because the form gave insufficient information. He offers further information and is not even given a chance to put further information forward. That is not the right way to run anything. Hon. Members have asked if we are never going to give any chance to public enterprise. I would not give a chance to any enterprise which ran on a basis of injustice like that. Of course a faithful statement of goods produces a limitation. There are the most absurd limitations and if one puts down what one carried last year and one is fortunate one is tied to that, although it may be a question of carrying potatoes to Newport instead of to Cardiff, or something of that kind.
The next principle I have extracted is that every possible point is made against the haulier. There were innumerable cases in which in 1946 a 60-mile limit obtained. Since then there has been a great enlargement of production, in some cases a vital enlargement and one meeting the appeals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to increase export trade and the like. There the haulier, because in 1946 there was that limitation, is placed back on the limitation. With all the increased work of the years since then which he has been doing and for which he has been given additional licences by the licensing authority—and he can only get these under two principles, not only that he had a customer but that the existing traffic cannot do it as well as he can—although he has extra vehicles, he is put back to the position of 1946. Again, that is absurd. It has no relation to the growing industrial effort of the country in order to meet our requirements today.
There are many other cases in regard to which I find something distasteful. I am sure that hon. Members, whose views on many matters I know so well, and which I have heard them expressed, would also find it distasteful, too, if they were free to give voice. I refer to cases when someone applies for a permit and honestly and properly gives a list of his customers in his application. Of course he is refused, but at the same time the Road Haulage Executive are round soliciting his customers. I do not like that, and I am sure that hon. Members opposite, in their heart of hearts, do not like it either.
We have heard the answer about the numbers of permits but I do not intend to deal with the figures for the reason which I and my hon. Friend have indicated, and which is clear to everyone in the House—that unless one knows the period of a permit and the limitations that have been imposed, the fact that a permit is granted may mean nothing at all. We have looked in vain for the real answer. which would be impossible to give because m every case, even when a permit has been granted, there has been this incision into the rights of the haulier today.
If one tries to sum up this matter, I am inclined to agree with my hon. Friend that one is almost surprised at the distorted ingenuity which has been used in order to make these applications fail. If we leave that aspect on one side, if we leave aside these technical points which have been taken, and if we leave aside the matter which I mentioned just now, distasteful as it is, about the soliciting of customers, we still come back to our main complaint. That is that there is a disregard not only of the haulier's position but of the position of those who employ him and depend upon him.
As I understood the Chairman's statement and have understood the other statements that have been made, the primary regard that was to be had was to be to the needs of the producer and the customer, with due regard to the position of the haulier at the same time. But that has been departed from, and we ask ourselves what is ignored. Clearly, there is ignored the great problem which we have seen in this country of being a high-cost community in a more and more competitive world. Every speech which has been made by hon. Gentlemen opposite has shown a complete disregard of the problem of lower transport costs. They will not face up to the point that unless people are able to get what they consider to be more efficient and cheaper transport the result will be to add to the costs of our production and affect our chance of competition in the world. All this is disregarded.
What do they regard? First, they want to build up their own road services to be worked in conjunction with the nationalised railways, and any efficient competitor is an embarrassment to them. Therefore, everything is being done to try to force this section of the industry into a condition of inefficiency which is no fault of theirs, but is imposed upon them by this unfairness, and by this going back on the principles enunciated as being necessary to bring this legislation into effect.
In that position we must consider the matter with the seriousness that it de serves. We shall not allow this section of the industry to be trampled on in this way if we can do anything to prevent it. I have given the heads and my hon. Friends have given examples from their constituencies of injustice which, as I say, has not been seriously defended. It could be dealt with by general direction. We have had no suggestion that it is to be dealt with or that any attempt is being made to improve the position.
Therefore, to show our distaste at the methods and our disgust at the treatment that these road hauliers have received, I beg to move, " That Subhead A, I (Salaries, etc.) be reduced by £1,000."
The right hon. and learned Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) commenced by stating that we were not discussing legislation, but no one could have listened to this Debate without at once appreciating that it has been nothing more or less than a side-door attack by hon. Members opposite on the legislation embodied in the Transport Act. Every speech and every case quoted was really a request that the British Transport Commission and the Road Haulage Executive should have acted as if the Act of Parliament had not been passed. An examination of the powers and obligations which Parliament has imposed upon the British Transport Commission would provide a complete reply to all the issues which have been raised tonight. To suggest that the road haulage industry in this country should have been carried on, or was entitled to be carried on, without any disturbance at all after the passage of the Act, does not represent a fair picture of the situation.
The first thing I wish to do—because the right hon. and learned Member made certain quotations—is to quote from the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply, who was formerly Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, in order to show clearly that the issue we have been discussing was fairly and fully and extensively debated both on the Committee stage and on the Report stage of the Bill, and that there was no attempt at evasion of the consequences that must necessarily follow the giving of these powers to the British Transport Commission. We were discus-
sing issues raised on that occasion by the right hon. and learned Member and the hon. Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Maclay), who was then the hon. Member for Montrose Burghs. We were discussing the question of permits. The then Parliamentary Secretary said:
I think I should reply to the further points made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe), and also to those made by the hon. Member for Montrose Burghs (Mr. Maclay). I do not know whether he thought that when the Commission gave a permit to a haulage undertaking to go more than 25 miles, that was likely to be a permanent permit. Of course, it is meant to be nothing of the sort. Normally, it will last for the same period as the licence. It is an un doubted fact that, in the early days "—
I want hon. and right hon. Members to note this, to make it clear that there was no attempt to evade the issue—
when the organisation is being built up and becoming efficient, they will allow a very large number of these licences over 25 miles. Later on they may want to withdraw some of these permits. That is a perfectly fair point. When they do, the undertaking will get the proper and full compensation laid down in the terms of the Bill. I cannot say that the hon. Gentleman is wrong when he says there are likely to be large numbers of permits to start with, and fewer later on. I think that is inevitable. We must face that."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee B, 19th March, 1947; c. 2067.]
That proves conclusively that it was generally understood that the issue we are debating tonight would be a consequence of the passing of the Transport Act.
For the purpose of clarification, I should like to state exactly what has transpired since the Road Haulage Executive took over this function. Clearly, under Part III of the Transport Act, it was laid down that they had to take over those firms the majority of whose work had been long-distance transport. There was no alternative. Although the Commission have acquired a very considerable proportion of those long-distance firms by voluntary agreement, nevertheless it was implicit in the Act that they should eventually take over the whole of those undertakings by the process of compulsory acquisition. That process is now practically complete.
It was also recognised that there would be a considerable number of undertakings which would not come under the formula and be compulsorily acquired, but which had a considerable proportion of work that reached beyond the 25-mile radius.
The provision made by Parliament in the Transport Act was that those individuals could apply for an original permit—and they represent a special category of permit holders—for that part of their business which went beyond the 25-mile radius. If the Transport Commission, functioning through the Road Haulage Executive, imposed any conditions, as it was foreseen that they would, which interrupted their business in any substantial way, their alternative was either to require the Commission to take over the whole of the business, in which case they would receive compensation terms similar to those organisations taken over in the first instance, or, alternatively, they could require the Commission to take over the relevant part of their business which had been seriously interfered with by any limitation of the permit.
Therefore, so far as these firms were concerned—and they are easily the majority of the undertakings applying for permits—they have the alternative of requiring the Commission compulsorily to acquire the whole of their business on the compensation terms laid down, or part of their business if they did not wish the whole of it to be acquired. Apart from that event, the other concerns not covered by that arrangement are dealt with by ordinary and job permits, with which I will deal later on.
Let us look at the facts of the situation, because we all know that it is quite easy for hon. Members to raise individual cases and quote them in a general way without anyone being able to ascertain the facts on the spot. When we deal with the whole of the situation, as I am going to deal with it now, it will be demonstrated quite clearly that, in my view, a vast number of businesses of this kind have been fairly treated, so that individual cases should be considered on their merits. The original permits represent the vast majority of undertakings affected by the -administration of the Road Haulage Executive, and they represent hauliers who were engaged in business on or before 28th November, 1946. Incidentally, that disposes entirely of the case raised by the hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft) when he wanted to introduce the ex-Service men into this Debate.
My hon. Friend did not, because the cases that we had—my hon. Friend had some, I have some and the Minister himself must have had them in the past—are cases of people who got out of the Army in 1946 and restarted their businesses. In one case which my hon. Friend quoted, the date was as late as October, and there were other cases in June. These are the cases of men who had only small businesses in 1946, who have seen them grow and who have been refused permits.
If they were in business before 1946, I think they would be covered by the special arrangements made by the road haulage Executive for hardship cases, because I have in front of me a statement that absence in His Majesty's Forces is one of the circumstances that had to be taken into consideration. [Interruption.] I beg to differ, and it is no use hon. Members making allegations and statements of this kind, because they require to be examined in detail to prove whether they are correct or not. [Interruption.] I intend to state my case here tonight. I have listened to all the Debate without a single interruption, and hon. Members have made all kinds of allegations, many of them, I think, grossly unfair, and I do not think they are entitled to get away with that, if we are to maintain the standard of public life in this country.
In the case of a man who served in His Majesty's Forces and had his business interrupted, if he was entitled to an original permit, the Road Haulage Executive made special arrangements, as they did in cases where, as the result of death, the ownership had changed to another member of the family. When this matter first arose, there was one point raised on the Floor of the House; it was suggested that the case of a change in ownership from one member of a family to another was not covered, and we frankly, thought that such cases were covered in the terms and provisions of the Transport Act. Nevertheless, the Road Haulage Executive have made special arrangements, and many of these have been discussed with the representatives of the Road Hauliers' Association. In many cases, a special arrangement, with a special set of conditions, was made and a permit granted to these individuals, carrying the same rights as the original permit.
It is no use the hon. Member for Monmouth shaking his head. I know for a fact that that is so. If there is any individual case which has slipped through and which does not conform to these conditions, then it is entitled to be dealt with under those provisions. It is no use making general allegations when the majority of them are quite unjustified.
Let me give the figures, because I am confident that when they are stated the statements of hon. Members opposite cease to be of any value. The number of applications for original permits—that is, those who were in before 2nd August, 1949—total 17,246. I remember the accusations and wild statements made here a little while ago that no one knew that they had to apply for these original permits. I find that they did know, as obviously was the case in view of the campaign which has been steadily carried on in regard to this matter. As I say, 17,246 original applications for permits were lodged. The following is the way in which they have been treated: 10,974 have been granted, and 2,214 have been refused; 4,025 were invalid applications or were put in unnecessarily and there is a balance of 33 pending decision. The number of undertakings which have applied to be taken over under Section 54 of the Act is 167.
That interruption supports my first statement, that what hon. Members opposite are demanding here tonight is that the Transport Act should not be applied, and that there should be no interference whatsoever with regard to existing conditions. [HON. MEMBERS: " Answer."] I may tell hon. Members that it is no use shouting at me; they will not extract from me by shouting across the Chamber any reply which is not based on fact. We went through all this in the Committee stage of the Bill, and it was never, suggested and never intended that after the passing of the Act every road haulier who came under the provisions of the Act should carry on as if nothing had happened. What hon. Members want cannot be met in that way.
No; I am prepared to give way at the proper time, but I am not going to have these figures and their presentation interrupted or diverted. The number of undertakings which consider that their business has been seriously injured by the decision, or the form of the permit granted, and which have therefore decided to avail themselves of the facilities of the Act and be compulsorily acquired, either wholly or in part, is 167. It is not the slightest use hon. Members opposite coming to the House of Commons and suggesting that there is widespread hardship under which these individuals would suffer when they have the right to compensation in the form I have already indicated.
Before leaving the question of the treatment of the industry and the assumption that has been running through this Debate that the British Transport Commission and the Road Haulage Executive comprise a huge octopus crushing out all the small and private hauliers, let hon. Members just digest these facts. These flow from the 1933 Act which a Conservative Government passed. The first restriction on and the first interference with the field of the road haulage industry was introduced by the party opposite in 1933. Then, for the first time, they began to lay down conditions and to restrict the free entry of new persons into this industry. They established the test of need, which is applied by the licensing authorities.
Nevertheless, in 1949, 85 " A " licences were granted, 2,606 " A ". contract licences, and 1,735 " B " licences, making a total of 4,426 new entrants into this industry. Since the 1933 Act it has always been the practice for the licensing authorities to impose conditions on any permit granted, so it is not the Transport Act that has introduced the principle of attaching conditions to any licence or permit granted. The party opposite must accept full responsibility for introducing into our road traffic laws the principle that the licensing authorities could impose conditions on the granting of a licence. The Transport Act merely continues that principle into the field of public ownership.
Does the right hon. Gentleman attach no importance whatsoever to the difference between an independent tribunal attaching conditions to a licence and the same sort of conditions being attached by the man's principal competitor?
In the general way, and in the conditions that prevailed before the Transport Act, yes, but with the passing of the Transport Act, Parliament placed upon the British Transport Commission the right and responsibility to have a monopoly in long-distance road transport. That has been the issue. After all, that is the issue which divides hon. Members opposite from those on this side of the Committee. As the Transport Act imposed that obligation upon the British Transport Commission, no one can complain if they carry it out. But that is not the point I am making at the moment. The point I want to make now is on the monopoly issue.
In 1949, as my hon. Friend the Member for Perry Barr (Mr. Poole) has stated, there were 672,301 " C " licensed vehicles in this country. In addition—and this is in the field of the road haulage industry in which hon. Members opposite state that the free haulier has not a fair chance —there are 129,460 under " A " licences or " A " contract licences or " B " licences, making a total on the roads of this country of 801,761 private commercial vehicles. Against that, the Road Haulage Executive have 36,312 motor vehicles and the Railway Executive 13,078, a total of 49,390. In other words, for every British Transport Commission commercial lorry on the roads of this country there are 16 commercial vans or lorries owned by private enterprise. I suggest that it is sheer nonsense to talk about a monopoly, unfair competition or the crushing out of the small haulier or small operator.
I will deal now with the problem of compensation. It is continually suggested that the British Transport Commission, in taking over these undertakings, are not meeting their obligations with regard to compensation. From inquiries that I have made, I find that in almost every case where the full compensation is not paid it is due to the private operator being unable to submit proper and adequate accounts of his business, and in many instances the British Transport Commission, to help him, have brought qualified accountants to the aid of the private operator for the purpose of assisting him in this direction. I suggest that, in view of these facts, it is grossly unfair to suggest that the Commission are withholding payment to many of these undertakings which they are taking over.
The position on 31st March, 1950, was as follows: 1,672 road haulage undertakings had been transferred to the Commission and provisional ascertainments of compensation had been made in respect of 1,234 of these claims. In well over half of the cases outstanding—I want hon. Members to note this—the claims are still awaiting accounts or other information from the transferors. Nevertheless, the compensation provisionally ascertained in the 1,234 cases I have mentioned was £21,546,000, and in making payment on account the Commission retained 10 per cent., in accordance with the Act, pending final ascertainment of the total amount payable in each case. Thus, there was a net total of £19,391,000 payable up to the end of March.
I suggest that these figures do not support in any way the accusation that the British Transport Commission or the Road Haulage Executive are holding up this matter. If we reflect on this attack and many other representations that are being made from time to time, it clearly indicates that hon. Members opposite are not prepared to give a public undertaking a fair chance. I ask hon. Members opposite to quote any instance in the history of private enterprise in this country where any organisation has been charged with the responsibility of taking over 2,000 to 3,000 separate undertakings and welding them into a co-ordinated national organisation.
That is why Members opposite are so zealous and persistent in their attack. They know very well, as they see the British Transport road services spreading throughout the country, that it represents the death knell in a very short space of time to all this propaganda they are able to carry on at the moment. Therefore, when it comes to competition, hon. Members opposite have always stated, particularly tonight, that given the opportunity of free competition they could meet it, whereas I have noticed that they wither and wilt directly pickfords' or anyone else enter the field of competition with them.
I suggest that as the people of this country see the advantage of this situation they will realise that the British Transport Commission, through its road haulage organisation, are doing a better job in conveying goods by road than has ever been done before. Members opposite know that that is the case. The British Transport Commission have re-
duced empty running very considerably. Despite what Members opposite have said, the organisation, as it spreads throughout the country is developing the most economical form of road transport we have seen. Hon. Members opposite know that to be the case, which is why they are afraid to face up to the position.
|Division No. 10||AYES||[9.55 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Crowder, F. P. (Ruislip, N'thwood)||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)|
|Alport, C. J. M||Crowder, Capt. John F. E. (F'chley)||Hope, Lord J|
|Amery, J. (Preston, N.)||Cundiff, F. W.||Hopkinson, H.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Cuthbert, W. N.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss P|
|Arbuthnot, J. S.||Darling, Sir W. Y. (Edinburgh, S.)||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Davidson, Viscountess||Howard, G. R. (St. Ives)|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Davies, Nigel (Epping)||Howard, S. G. (Cambridgeshire)|
|Baker, P.||de Chair, S.||Hudson, Sir A. U. M. (Lewisham, N.)|
|Baldock, J M||De la Bère, R.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)|
|Baldwin, A. E||Deedes, W. F.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)|
|Banks, Col. C.||Digby, S. Wingfield||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Dodds-Parker, A. D||Hurd, A. R.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Donner, P. W.||Hutchinson, G. (Ilford, N.)|
|Bell, R. M. (S. Buckinghamshire)||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord M||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E b'rgh, W.)|
|Bennett, Sir P. (Edgbaston)||Drayson, G B.||Hyde, H. M.|
|Bennett, R. F. B. (Gosport)||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L||Hylton-Foster, H. B.|
|Bennett, W. G. (Woodside)||Dunglass, Lord||Jeffreys, General Sir G|
|Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Toxteth)||Duthie, W. S||Jennings, R|
|Birch, Nigel||Eccles, D. M.||Johnson, H. S. (Kemptown)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Jones, A. (Hall Green)|
|Black, C. W.||Erroll, F. J.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon L W|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Fisher, N. T. L.||Kaberry, D.|
|Boothby, R.||Fletcher, W (Bury)||Keeling, E. H|
|Bossom, A. C||Fort, R.||Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)|
|Bower, N.||Foster, J. G.||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A||Fraser, Hon. H. C. P. (Stone)||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Fraser, Sir I. (Lansdale)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Braine, B.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P M||Langford-Holt, J|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G||Gage, C. H.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Leather, E. H. C.|
|Brooke, H. (Hampstead)||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H|
|Browne, J. N. (Govan)||Gammans, L. D.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G T||Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh)||Lindsay, Martin|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Gates, Maj. E. E.||Linstead, H. N.|
|Bullus, Wing-Commander E. E.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Llewellyn, D.|
|Burden, Squadron-Leader F. A||Gridley, Sir A.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)|
|Butcher, H. W.||Grimston, Hon. J. (St. Albans)||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Grimstan, R. V. (Westbury)||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Carr, L. R. (Mitcham)||Harden, J. R. E.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Low, A. R. W.|
|Channon, H.||Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Lucas, Major Sir J. (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W.S||Harris, R. R. (Heston)||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)|
|Clarke, Col. R. S. (East Grinstead)||Harvey, Air-Cadre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.|
|Clarke, Brig T. H. (Portsmouth. W)||Harvey, I. (Harrow, E.)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Hay, John||McAdden, S. J.|
|Cooper, A. E. (Ilford, S.)||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt Hon. Sir C.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Heald, L. F||Macdonald, A. J. F. (Roxburgh)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)||Heath, Colonel E. G. R||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)|
|Craddock, G. B. (Spelthorne)||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||MoKibbin, A.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Higgs, J. M. C.||Maclayy. Hon. J. S.|
|Cross, Rt. Hon. Sir R.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Maclean, F. H. R.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||MacLeod, I. (Enfield, W.)|
|Crouch, R. F.||Hollis, M. C||MacLeod, J. (Ross and Cromarty)|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Rayner, Brig. R||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Maitland, Comdr. J. W.||Redmayne, M.||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Manningham-Buller, R E||Remnant, Hon. P.||Teeling, William|
|Marlowe, A. A. H||Renton, D. L. M.||Thomas. J. P L (Hereford)|
|Marples, A. E.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)||Thompson, K. P. (Walton)|
|Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)||Thompson, R. H. M. (Croydon, W.)|
|Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Roberts, P. G. (Healey)||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Maude, A E. U. (Ealing, S.)||Robertson, Sir D. (Caithness)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N|
|Maude, J. C. (Exeter)||Robinson, J. Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Thorp, Brigadier R A F|
|Maudling, R.||Robson-Brown, W.||Tilney, J. D.|
|Medlicott, Brigadier F||Rodgers, J. (Sevenoaks)||Touche, G. C.|
|Mellor, Sir J||Roper, Sir H.||Turton, R H.|
|Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.||Ropner, Col. L||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Morris, R. Hopkin (Carmarthen)||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Russell, R. S.||Vaughan-Morgan, J.K|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D||Vosper, D. F.|
|Mott-Radclyffe, C E||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D||Wade, D. M.|
|Nabarro, G.||Savory, Prof. D. L.||Wakefield, E. B. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Nicholls, H.||Scott, Donald||Wakefield, Sir W W. (St. Marylebona)|
|Nicholson, G.||Shepherd, W. S. (Cheadle)||Walker-Smith, D. C|
|Nield, B. (Chester)||Smith, E. M. (Grantham)||Ward, Hon. G R. (Worcester)|
|Noble, Comdr. A. H.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Nugent, G. R. H.||Smithers, Sir W. (Orpington)||Waterhouse, Capt. C|
|Nutting, Anthony||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||Watkinson, H.|
|Oakshott, H. D.||Snadden, W. McN.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Odey, G. W.||Soames, Capt. C.||Webbe, Sir H. (London)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W||Spearman, A. C. M.||Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)|
|Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W)||White, J. Baker (Canterbury)|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles I. (Hendon, N.)||Spans, Sir P. (Kensington, S.)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O. (Bristol, W.)||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, E.)|
|Peake, Rt. Hon. O||Stanley, Capt. Hon. R. (N. Fylde)||Wills, G.|
|Perkins, W. R. D.||Stevens, G. P.||Wilson, G. (Truro)|
|Peto, Brig. C. H M||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Ean|
|Pickthorn, K||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Pitman, I. J||Storey, S.||York, C.|
|Prescott, Stanley||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J (Moray)|
|Prior-Palmer, Brig. O||Studholme, H. G||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Profumo, J. D.||Summers, G. S.||Mr. Drewe and Brigadier Mackeson.|
|Raikes, H. V.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Collick, P.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)|
|Adams, Richard||Collindridge, F||Freeman, J. (Watford)|
|Albu, A. H.||Cook. T. F.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Cooper, J. (Deptford)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Corbel, Mrs. F. K. (Peckham)||Ganley, Mrs. C. S|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R||Cove, W. G.||Gibson, C W.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Gitzean, A|
|Ayles, W. H.||Crawley, A.||Glanville, J E. (Consett)|
|Bacon, Miss A||Cripes, Rt. Hon. Sir S||Gordon-Walker, RI. Hon. P. C|
|Baird, J.||Crosland, C. A. R||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Rossendale)|
|Balfour, A.||Crossman, R. H. S.||Greenwood, RI. Hon. A. (Wakefield)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Grentell, D. R|
|Bartley, P.||Daines, P.||Grey, C. F.|
|Ballenger, Rt. Hon F J||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Griffiths, D (Rother Valley)|
|Benson, G.||Darling, G. (Hillsboro')||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)|
|Beswick, F.||Davies, Edward (Stoke, N.)||Griffiths, W. D. (Exchange)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Gunter, R. J.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)|
|Blackburn, A. R||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughlon)||Hale, J. (Rochdale)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||de Freilas, Geoffrey||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Delargy, H. J.||Hall, J. (Gateshead, W.)|
|Boardman, H||Diamond, J.||Hamilton, W. W.|
|Booth, A.||Dodds, N. N.||Hannan, W.|
|Bottomley, A. G||Donnelly, D.||Hardman, D R|
|Bowden, H. W.||Donovan, T. N.||Hardy, E. A.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Driberg, T. E. N||Hargreaves, A|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. J. (W Bromwich)||Harrison, J.|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Dye, S.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C||Hayman, F. H.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Normantort)||Edelman, M.||Henderson, Rt. Hon A (Tipton)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D||Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Hewitson, Capt. M|
|Burke, 'W. A.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Hobson, C. R.|
|Burton, Miss E.||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Holman, P|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Ewart, R.||Holmes, H. E (Hemsworth|
|Callaghan, James||Fernyhough, E.||Houghton, Douglas|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Field, Capt. W. J||Hoy, J.|
|Champion, A. J||Finch, H. J.||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, N.)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Clunie, J.||Fotlick, M.||Hughes, R. M. (Islington, N.)|
|Cocks, F. S||Foot, M. M.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Coldrick, W||Forman, J. C.||Hynd J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green,||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon G. A||Mort, D. L.||Strauss, Rt. Hon G R. (Vauxhall)|
|Janner, B.||Moyle, A.||Stress, Dr. B|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Mulley, F. W||Summerskill, Rt Hon Edit.|
|Jager, G. (Goole)||Murray, J. D||Sylvester, G. O|
|Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.)||Nally, W||Taylor, H. B (Mansfield)|
|Johnson, J. (Rugby)||Neal, H.||Taylor, R. J (Morpeth)|
|Jones, D T. (Hartlepool)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J||Thomas, D E (Aberdare)|
|Jones, t twyn (Weal Ham, S)||O'Brien, T.||Thomas, T George (Cardiff)|
|Jones, W E (Conway)||Oirlfield, W. H||Thomas, I O (Wrekin)|
|Keenan, W.||Oliver, G. H||Thomas, I R (Rhondda, W.)|
|Kenyon, C.||Orbach, M||Thorneycroft, Harry (C.ayto.)|
|Key, Rt. Hon C W||Padley, W. E||Thurfle, Ernest|
|King, H. M.||Paget, R. T||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E||Paling, Rt. Hn Wilfred (Dearne V'lly)||Turner-Samuels, M|
|Kinley, J.||Paling, Will T (Dewsbury)||Usborne, Henry|
|Lang, Rev. G||Pannell, T C||Vernon, Maj. W. F|
|Lee, Miss J (Cannock)||Pargiter, G A||Viant, S P|
|Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Parker, J||Wallace, H. W|
|Lever, N. H. (Cheatham)||Paton, J.||Watkins, T. E|
|Lewis, A. W. J. (West Ham, N.)||Peart, T F||Webb, Rt Hon M (Bradford, C.)|
|Lewis, J. (Bolton, W.)||Poole, Cecil||Weitzman, D|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Popplewell, E||-Wells, P. L (Faversham)|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M||Porter, G.||Wells, W T (Walsall)|
|Logan, D. G||Price, M. Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||West, D. G|
|Longden, F. (Small Heath)||Proctor, W. T.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|McAllister, G.||Purley, Comdr H||White, Mrs E (E. Flint)|
|MacColl, J. E.||Rees, Mrs D||Whiteley, Rt Hon W|
|McGhee, H. G.||Reeves, J.||Wigs, George|
|Mack, J. D.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.|
|McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Reid, W. (Camlachie)||Wilkes, L.|
|Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading, N.)||Rhodes, H.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|McLeavy, F.||Robens, A||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caer. arvonshire)||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigs)||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Mann, Mrs. J.||Royle, C.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Manuel, A. C.||Shackleton, E. A. A||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Huyton)|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H A||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H||Winterbottom, I. (Nottingham, C.)|
|M.athers, Rt. Hon. George||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Winterbottom, R. E. (Brightside)|
|Mellish, R. J||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Messer, F.||Silverman, S S (Nelson)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Middleton, Mrs. L||Simmons, C. J||Woods, Rev. G. S.|
|Mikardo, Ian||Slater, J.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Yates, V. F.|
|Moeran, E. W||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Monstow, W.||Snow, J. W|
|Moody, A. S||Sorensen, R W||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B||Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir F||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Sparks.|
|Morley, R||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
Question put, and agreed to.