Orders of the Day — Steel Industry and Road Haulage

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

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Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Lewisham South 12:00 am, 12th November 1951

In the circumstances—these, I submit, quite intolerable circumstances, and since I can take no other course—I beg to move, "That the debate be now adjourned."

Of course, if I succeed it will be inevitable that the Government give another day for the debate on the Address so that this debate may effectively proceed. The point is a perfectly simple one. We have on the Order Paper an Amendment to the Address which deals with one subject affecting two industries. The one subject is the process of denationalisation. It is true that it affects two industries, the iron and steel industry and the road haulage industry. There could have been nothing easier than for the Government to have arranged for their opening spokesman to have delivered a brief from the other Minister.

This is a point that tells against me a little bit, because I asked earlier why the Home Secretary was going to answer about road haulage instead of the Minister of Transport. If that is so, if the Home Secretary is to answer on something that is not Home Office business, why could not the Minister of Supply have been briefed to make a statement on behalf of the Ministry of Transport on what was to be done about road haulage? Why, they could even have thrust in the President of the Board of Trade, who used to deal with these matters in Opposition.

I submit to the right hon. Gentleman, the Prime Minister, who has a love for the House of Commons, as we all know, who has been in this House a long time—much longer than I have—and who has a love for this institution, that this is really intolerable. When the Government have announced, in the Gracious Speech, that they are going to do one thing, namely, de-nationalise certain industries, and that there are two industries concerned, then it is legitimate for the Opposition to challenge that intention as declared in the Gracious Speech.

If that is so, after my right hon. Friend has opened the debate and dealt with both subjects, it is surely right, reasonable and proper, and a matter of elementary fairness to the House of Commons itself, that the Government should put before us their broad proposals on both these matters in as much detail as they can. Otherwise, what is the situation? We are debating road haulage in the void; we do not know what the Government propose; and then, right at the end, the last speaker in the debate will be the first Government spokesman to tell us what it is all about. Now I put it to the Prime Minister that that is not treating the House of Commons fairly; it is not right; and I therefore think it is wrong that this debate should go on in those circumstances. It is for those reasons, in elementary and fair defence of the rights of the House of Commons, that we should be told what the road haulage proposal is. Otherwise, we shall press this Motion to a Division and ask that the debate be adjourned.