Petrol Rationing

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th May 1950.

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Photo of Sir Arthur Harvey Sir Arthur Harvey , Macclesfield 12:00 am, 19th May 1950

First of all, I would like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Arbuthnot) who moved this Motion, because he did so in an excellent manner, and the Motion was seconded in a similar way. I hope the motorists of Coventry will be able to draw some consolation from the remarks of the hon. Lady the Member for South Coventry (Miss Burton) about courtesy. All the courtesy in the world will not help them when they want to go out on a Sunday or to go away for a holiday in their motor cars.

I was surprised that the hon. Lady also spoke about herrings, because only this week, Scottish fishermen have been tipping them back into the sea because they could not be sold. If that is planning—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, private enterprise."] Not a bit; hon. Members opposite have got it quite wrong. I do not want to be taken away from my main theme in this Debate, but it is because there has been no "feather-bedding" in the fishing industry. There were maximum prices, but no minimum prices.

The hon. Lady went on to say that the Government had had the courage to do a lot of unpopular things. I would mention the fuel crisis of three years ago, on which the Government were warned six months before by hon. Members on this side of the House. I can well understand that hon. Members opposite are not enjoying this Debate. I would not, if I were sitting on the other side. I remember that three or four years ago the Lord President of the Council slated us on this side because we did not oppose sufficiently; now that the Opposition is stronger, hon. Members opposite cannot take it. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen choose to laugh, but it happens to be true. There is no question of "snap Divisions" in these Debates. Hon. Gentlemen opposite know perfectly well when these things are coming off, and it is sheer humbug to pretend that it is otherwise.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. L. Hale) said that he did not receive any complaints. I am amazed, because I have a steady stream of them, as the Parliamentary Secretary well knows, and I might say, in passing, that he deals with them in a very careful and fair way. I noticed that I got far more satisfactory replies in the few weeks preceding the election—I do not know why—than at any other time.