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 Aubrey Jones Mr Aubrey Jones , Birmingham, Hall Green 12:00 am, 12th November 1951

It is unfortunate that we have to dodge from transport to steel and back again. I wish to speak on steel, but I also wish to make one comment on the speech of the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). It is so easy to defend and fortify your arguments by pretending that you and you alone express the public interest, whereas your opponents express just private greed. It is so easy but, in essence, surely so evasive.

My concern from the point of view of public interest is simply this—it is a fact which has not emerged in a single speech on transport from the other side of the House today—that road transport represents an improvement from the point of view of the industrialist over rail transport. Road transport can be integrated and fitted into his business in a way in which rail transport cannot, and it is therefore a technical advance.

The policy of unification and integration followed by the party opposite aims in essence at curbing the newer form of transport in order to protect the older form. I could say that that policy was animated by private interest—ask the hon. Members who come from the railway trade unions ! I am prepared to grant that before the war competition was undoubtedly biased in favour of road transport, but surely the proper policy is to encourage this technical advance if at the same time we can place road and rail on an equitable basis of competition. I share the regret of the hon. Member that this equitable basis of competition has not been sketched tonight, but I profoundly trust that that basis will be developed in the course of this Parliament.