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 James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan , Cardiff South East 12:00 am, 12th November 1951

I thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman might be writing out his letter of resignation. There are very real fears about this, and we shall be watching very carefully to see what the party opposite are going to do about Excess Profits Tax in relation to the basis of taxation of companies' profits.

Finally, I want to put on record my very strong protest to the Home Secretary that he should have spoken in this narrow way tonight. He did not say a word about the larger prospects about transport. He did not tell us what is going to be the result of this carve up of British Road Services, or of the effect on the railways.

I should have thought that when dealing with a particularly important piece of legislation like this we would have had from him some glimpse of the mind of the Government; of how they are to attempt to reconcile conflicting interests of road and rail and of private transport. Perhaps they have not fully thought out their policy, but they should not come down with a sectional policy designed to appease and satisfy the road hauliers, who are intent only on their own profit and do not care—I will not use the word I was going to use—anything about the national interest, but are merely concerned to be taking the cream off the best traffic in the country.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has a wider responsibility than that, and he has not fulfilled it tonight. The nation will look to him, and we shall certainly watch him, to fulfil the task of making certain that the transport facilities and services of the country are run in the national interest and that the proper national resources are put into those services to make certain that they are run properly and efficiently. If hon. Members opposite give way to private profit what they are not prepared to put into a national pool it will be a particularly sordid piece of party politics.