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 Roland Jennings Mr Roland Jennings , Sheffield, Hallam 12:00 am, 12th November 1951

I cannot give way. When we asked them to put the national interest before the narrow political line, the party opposite took no notice of the appeal, and it is, therefore, somewhat audacious for them to talk now about putting the national interest first, for they put the whole industry into the political arena. The tables are completely turned on them—[Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite may laugh, but I was here and I know the facts. That is why I feel it my duty at all times to fight against this Bill—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Perhaps if hon. Members will read my speech when they are quieter, and in their greater wisdom, using what God has perhaps given to some more than to others, they will read the sense of what I mean.

Hon. Members opposite are now appealing for us to put national interest before party politics. The situation is reversed, for it was they who put the industry into the political arena and we are now seeking to reverse the present position and to put the industry back on a proper footing. Hon. Members opposite put it into the political arena. [HON. MEMBERS: "Are you taking it out? "] Of course, we shall take it out. We cannot allow all the mess created by six years of Socialist Government to remain. We have to take some positive action. Hon. Members opposite may not realise it, but we are fighting for our very lives economically in this country. Further, our problems will be intensified as soon as German and Japanese competition is increased. When those days come, many hon. Members may wish they had not tinkered with this industry, if we are to maintain our export market in steel.

I am very glad indeed that the Prime Minister has undertaken to do what he promised to do. I am certain that he and his Ministers will give a great deal of thought towards handling the problem of handing back the steel industry. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite got the industry into such a mess that no barracking in this House will alter the very grave fact that, owing to six years of Socialist mismanagement, we are in a terrible position. That has not come home to hon. Members opposite yet, but it will come home to them. They will find out, in a city like Sheffield, that their mismanagement will need a lot of clearing up. I am glad that the Minister is to give a Ministerial directive to the Corporation. I congratulate him on that, because I think that it is right and proper that nothing harmful should take place in the industry before a well-thought-out Bill can be considered on the Floor of this House.