If the party opposite had been prepared to accept our advice they could have postponed the vesting date as late as 1st January, 1952, under the terms of the Act. As things have turned out, how much better that would have been for the iron and steel industry. If the late Government had postponed the vesting date until they could have tested the opinion of the nation—[An HON. MEMBER: "We did."]—today we would have found none of the uncertainty that is complained of in the Amendment. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why do you not wait to test it too? "] We are not waiting because, as I have already stated, at two successive elections a majority of electors in this country have voted against the nationalisation of the industry.
The late Chancellor of the Exchequer in his speech last week, to which I have already referred, criticised us not so much because we were proposing to denationalise the steel industry—though I have no doubt he is opposed to it—but because we were choosing to introduce this Measure at a moment when the country was in the throes of an economic crisis.