I hope that the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Summers) will excuse me if I now try for the time being to switch this Debate to the second part of the Amendment relating to the de-nationalisation of the road haulage industry. I shall try to make a reasonable statement of the position, as I see it, in relation to that industry.
No hon. Member in any part of the House will dispute the fact that transport, whether it be by road or rail, is vital not only to national defence but to the industrial life and prosperity of the nation. Its growth both in terms of man-power and in vehicles is an important factor which we have to consider.
The commercial and road passenger transport fleets of this country have been steadily expanding since the war. In 1945, the commercial fleet numbered 446,879 vehicles, and in 1949 the privately-owned commercial fleet—A, B, and C licences—had increased to 801,761 vehicles. If one adds the British Transport fleet of 48,300 the expansion over the first five years has been from 446,879 to 850,061 vehicles.
The figures show the vast increase in the use of man-power and materials which must be given serious attention in face of the alarming shortage of labour in essential industries. We should look at the serious man-power problem—