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

I have a higher opinion of the intelligence of the ordinary steel worker and of the T.U.C. than hon. Gentlemen opposite appear to have, judging by their arguments.

The divisions in this House are not necessarily divisions of private interest. They mark also two distinct attitudes of mind which we shall always have in politics. We shall always have people who think that the only way to reform is to recast wholesale. There are others of us who think that the better course, even if the less ambitious course, is just to develop and extend this intricate legacy which the past has brought down to us. It is a sense of the greater wisdom of that second attitude of mind—a conservative attitude of mind—that has made me, with origins very similar to those of the right hon. Gentleman who is to wind up the debate on behalf of the Opposition, gravitate to this side of the House.

But there are some moments even more than others when this attitude is the wiser one—when we have dangers outside which press very hard while we are undertaking the work of recasting. That is the situation today. If we leave this Act on the Statute Book, what do we do? We continue a work of recasting which has scarcely yet begun, and while we are doing it our balance of payments crisis will not remain in suspension. Surely, the more practical course is to bring a halt to recasting, to stop venturing blindly into the void and to build again on what is known.