Schedule. — (Amendments of Army Act.)

Part of Home Guard Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th November 1951.

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Photo of Mr George Wigg Mr George Wigg , Dudley 12:00 am, 29th November 1951

I do not propose to keep the House long and I am certainly not going to cover the ground I covered before during the passage of the Bill. First, I wish the new Home Guard well. There has never been any doubt in my mind that the real issue between us was one of timing. If we must have a Home Guard, let us have the best Home Guard we can and ensure the utmost economy and efficiency. I still, of course, hold the views I have put forward during the debates on this Bill; but certainly in my constituency and in every capacity I shall do all I can to make the building up of this Home Guard go easily.

The Secretary of State for War said that some of the things said on this side of the House had perhaps cancelled out the hard things said on the other side. As perhaps an early casualty, though not a heavy one, I can console myself over the passage of the years for what I was called on Second Reading with what was once said by a great Liberal—that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. I do not claim much vigilance myself, but I do not withdraw one jot of what I said at the beginning about the possible use of the Home Guard in an industrial dispute.

I accept the assurance of the Secretary of State for War. During the coming months he might bear in mind that what he is facing here is a crisis in confidence. He has to accept the fact that a Conservative Administration cannot do something in the industrial field that perhaps can be done with ease by hon. Members on this side of the House. I am not making a controversial point here. [Interruption.] Well, I do not want to put it in an acutely controversial way. What I am saying is that if the right hon. Gentleman had borne in mind what I said in the debate on the Address he might have avoided some of the difficulties he has had to face on this Bill. Whether he chooses to notice or ignore the view I have expressed is his business, but it is also the nation's business. This view is not mine only, and has not been expressed by me only. It is the view of the trades unions—their doubts; and doubts expressed by them of the people they represent. If he wants to build up rapidly a proficient Home Guard he will be wise to remember those doubts.