Clause 1. — (Finance for Revenue Deficit.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Coal Industry Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th December 1961.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury 12:00 am, 4th December 1961

I return to the Coal Board. There is no economic motive to make the Chairman resist this wage demand. The Board has no shareholders or bankers, with the possible exception of the House. That is why it is right that we should debate the matter and discuss whether we are prepared to go on financing the Board and persuading our constituents that the taxes levied on them are fair for this purpose.

This built-in interest towards inflation makes the position of the chairman of a nationalised industry such as this an extremely difficult one. At some stage the Government must try to solve this problem. I do not suggest that in this debate we could talk about long-term solutions; we are now concerned with the pay pause, which is a small and temporary matter, but one of vital importance to our economy. Hon. Members opposite are quite sincere in their opposition to it. That means, in effect, that they have a sincere desire for a return to inflation and devaluation. That is why I sought to put my name to the Amendment and help in its drafting. I believe that it will give the Minister a more direct responsibility to take Lord Robens out of his present difficult position, and give the Minister the gentlest power to take upon himself responsibility for the policy of the Chancellor.

I am glad to say that my right hon. Friend has gone a little further than he went previously. I am glad that we have had some publicity in the matter. I hope that my right hon. Friend will not only consider whether the Amendment is well meant—although extremely badly drafted—but will also realise that a long-term problem is involved, and that there is no economic motive for the Coal Board's heeding what the Government are trying to do economically. This is a problem worthy of a solution. I am sure that the right hon. Member for Easington agrees.