Iron and Steel Industry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th February 1951.

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Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot 12:00 am, 7th February 1951

I am sure the House is always glad to hear a speech from the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones), who is universally liked and respected. I want to pick out of his speech something with which we on this side of the House all agree—the fact that the records of production which have been achieved by the steel industry are, in the main, due to the efforts of the workers in the industry. They could not have achieved these records without good management, but it would, indeed, be ungenerous not to pay such tribute as I can to these efforts at the beginning of my speech.

The fact that no Minister of full Cabinet rank has taken part in this debate and that it is to be wound up by a junior Minister—and there is nothing personal in this matter at all, because we all appreciate his assiduity and his courtesy—shows, once again, the frivolity of the Government at this time of national crisis and shows, once again, how out of touch they are not only with the needs of the time but with the wishes of the people.

I may say that it is the first time in my Parliamentary experience that I have heard an hon. Member from the Government benches, before a Minister had made his speech, ask Mr. Speaker whether he would be in order in moving "That the Question be now put." After hearing the speech of the Minister of Supply I may say that I understand the motives which actuated the hon. and gallant Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton) although I do not, of course, necessarily applaud them.

The attempt to play down this debate, to give the impression that everything over the nationalisation of iron and steel has already been settled, is a petty manoeuvre and will be recognised as such by every man of good will. I may say that I greatly deplore the fact that the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes), should have lent all the weight of his legal authority to the idea that the Amendment on the Order Paper attempted to upset the law of the land. When I get a little further in my argument I will show how badly he has been briefed on this question.