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 Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West 12:00 am, 12th November 1951

I think the general public and hon. Members of this House must be the people to judge whether integration is even in sight. I have still to learn what is the definition of hon. Members opposite of the word "integration." We are still waiting to know. We wondered when the Act went through whether, sooner or later, we would be told. But integration is not there today, and there is still no sign of it coming about.

We believe, of course, that the very essence of an efficient road haulage system must be that intimate, close association between the user of transport and the provider which existed in the past. It really is no good saying, as the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), said, that if we go around we will find that it exists. There is probably not an hon. Member of this House who has not been told stories—some of which were almost impossible to believe—and who, when he checked up on them, found they were incorrect. I will give the House an example which happened in my own constituency; it might quite possibly be something which could be put right in this particular case. But, in the nature of a great nationalised industry, what is put right here will, we believe, go wrong there, and will continue to go wrong elsewhere. I only propose to give this example because it is a perfect one.

A not very small market gardening firm which used to do a steady trade with Holland through the port of Leith has given it up because, while in the old days before the Transport Act they could get a shipment through from Leith within at the worst 36 hours, after the Act came into operation they could not get a shipment through at all in two weeks. As I say, that is the sort of thing one may get rid of in one case, but how can one expect to get real efficiency in the transport of this country if that kind of thing is happening?

We are quite convinced that it is in the national interest that we should have the most effective and efficient transport system we can achieve. It is quite unworthy to say that we are concerned with profits. The test must always be how we can achieve the most efficient service for the economic life of the nation, and I can assure hon. Members opposite that that will be our objective in all our work with transport. We want to keep what is good where it can be kept, and we will do what we find is necessary as we know more exactly what has to be done.