Sittings of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th July 1960.

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Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East 12:00 am, 26th July 1960

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, What I would say to, the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) is that I, as a fellow back bencher, will seek to assist him in doing his duty if he will assist me in claiming the right of back benchers to demand a debate on this Motion.

I will now come back to the unpleasant topic of why we should not adjourn now. I say that we should not do so because w; remember what happened in a similar African crisis three years ago. During the Recess, partly as a result of party pressure from hon. Members who have been putting on pressure today, a disastrous decision was taken by a Tory Government. By the time that the House was brought back it was too late to prevent the disaster.

We must now ask ourselves seriously whether we can afford to allow this Government to face the Congo crisis and al; crisis in Central Africa—because those is a serious situation in Southern Rhodesia, as has been pointed out—while the House is in recess. Great pressures will be brought to bear upon the Government, both from Central Africa and from hon. Members opposite below the Gangway, to take another fateful decision, although we have had no kind of assurance from the right lion. Gentleman that he will promise not to listen to anything that is said from below the Gangway opposite but will stand by the United Nations and ensure that this vacuum in the Congo is filled, so giving the United Nations a chance to prevent a world war.

If we are thinking of parallels, I would point out that there is a parallel with the 1914–18 war where we had a situation—[An HON. MEMBER: "We are anxious that the United Nations should not make war."] That is a most illuminating intervention, indicating how important it is for the Government to make up their mind between accepting the advice of their own back benchers or following the course of sanity. There is a great gulf between the Government teetering on the edge of insanity, on the one hand, and taking wise advice on this issue on the other.

I wish to return to one other point before the right hon. Gentleman makes a third and what, I hope, will at least be a respectable and respectful reply to the House. We in the City of Coventry have to face a crisis in the motor car industry. There has been a sensational drop in the exports of British motor cars so that for the first time exports were actually less than twelve months ago. This has resulted partly from direct Government action and the deliberate creation of a lack of confidence. Of course, there are other factors—for instance, the state of the market in North America—but the crisis in the industry has been induced by the decision of the present Chancellor to create this crisis of confidence.

We wish to know what is to happen over the next three months if figures show that during that time conditions are as bad as they are now. What will be done by the Government? Will action be taken? It is not only the motor car industry which is affected but our whole economy because of the important effect which that industry has upon the economy. The whole prosperity of our economy depends upon keeping the motor car industry going, and we have had no kind of answer from the Government. We do not even know who will be the next Chancellor, except that we have the threat that the Foreign Secretary may be moved there. We shall have a Chancellor appointed and we shall have no knowledge of his intentions with regard to the industry.

Perhaps the Leader of the House will once again try to give us some indication that he takes this question seriously. If he does not, it may be that we shall have to vote after all in order to discover the opinion of the House.