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Mr. Speaker, it is with great humility, pride and thankfulness that I am here in your presence to beg to move,
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide that the savings of the people in any part of the National Savings movement shall not be used for the purpose of extending nationalisation or the State control of industry, without an Act of Parliament.
The scenes which I have just witnessed reminded me of the feelings I had almost five years ago when you, Mr. Speaker, in a very great moment of privilege and kindness, called me to make the first speech in this Parliament following the last General Election. With that experience in mind, I am very glad
that I have followed the tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), because it is better on these occasions to be taking round the whisky and the cigars than serving the hors-d'œuvres.
I do not apologise for introducing the Bill and exercising a back bencher's privilege, even at this late hour in this Parliament. The House may be interested to know that I have, with the help of the Library, ascertained from its staff that in this Parliament, since 1959, 111 Ten-Minutes Rule Bills have been introduced, 35 by Members on this side of the House, 75 by Members of the Official Opposition, and one by the Liberal Party. Of all those 111 presentations, only six have received so far the Royal Assent. Truly, in this field,
To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive
and, whether late or early in the Session, the path is a difficult one. We can only seek to cast our pearls before the Front Benches and hope that someone will act eventually on our brilliant ideas.
The Bill I seek to introduce is an important one, because it defends a vital principle of trust. It is an act of good faith to the millions of our people who have contributed to the success of the National Savings Movement. Over 32 million of our people have accounts at the Savings Banks. Over 17 million of our people own National Savings Certificates. There are over 3¼ million people who belong to industrial savings groups.
I want to draw the attention of the House to the growth of personal savings since the war, a growth which is truly impressive. I am not saying that it is high enough, but the growth is an impressive one, and especially so during this Parliament. In 1950, the personal savings of our people increased by £122 million. In 1960, personal savings increased by £1,418 million. In 1963, the last complete year, the increase had risen to £1,953 million. In this year—1964—it is expected that they will increase by £2,000 million. These are remarkable figures.
The figures of growth in the National Savings Movement are just as impressive. In 1951, the net increase in National Savings was £1 million. In 1963, the net increase was £315 million. Since 1951, those savings have risen by over £1,750 million. In June this year the amount standing to the credit of National Savings Certificates, Defence Bonds, Development Bonds, Premium Bonds, Post Office Savings Bank accounts and amounts in the Trustee Savings Banks totalled £8,043 million.
I wonder whether people realise the tremendous growth of savings. I wonder whether they have yet assimilated the tremendous impact of this saving on our life in these islands. These moneys are at the disposal of the Government. No wonder, therefore, we get more houses, more schools, more hospitals, more roads and less taxes.
Great credit is due to our people for these figures. Nowadays, it is fashionable to decry material progress. The phrase "having it good" is not in itself fashionable. Here is a virtue which is growing in the material progress of these years, the great virtue of thrift. There was an age when only the few saved—the "very few", as Disraeli said. But our people are in these modern days accepting the responsibilities of the spreading of wealth and the spreading of incomes. They are investing in the future.
This is all the more creditable in an age of spending. We are merely invited to save, but we are almost bullied on all sides to spend. The real credit for this progress belongs to our people, not to us. They are the creators, the builders, the producers. Politicians merely create the correct climate for these advances.
I wish to pay a tribute to those in charge of the National Savings Movement. This is one of the brightest gems in our national life, and hon. Members on both sides of the House wish to see it grow. All people contribute—rich and poor, young and old, men and women of all parties, and men and women of no party. Nothing gives me personally greater pleasure than when I see each year Her Majesty graciously honouring ordinary people in the streets and in industry for their service to this great movement.
So far, this great movement has always been free of party strife. It always has been, and I want to keep it so. People tell us to keep party politics out of health, pensions and education. Nearly all those who are standing on the sidelines of life in this country and never take any active part in our life here and in politics tell us to do this. It is very difficult to keep party politics out of the main questions of the day, but my Bill would help to keep this great movement free from party motives.
If the Opposition ever come to power, we are promised more nationalisation. It is certain that the majority of our people are opposed to it. There are doubts created in all our minds in an economic sense on how nationalisation would be financed. We are promised, also, that national superannuation funds will be used for share buying in private industry. At the time of the last General Election it was admitted that national savings might be used for that purpose.
I want to keep the party strife and the bitterness that would follow all these questions out of the National Savings Movement. I want to keep risks out of it, too. This movement is the sheet anchor of our ordinary people in the field of saving. There is no risk of loss of capital, and we can receive our money whenever we need it, without difficulty. There are enough avenues of risk about investment. Let us preserve this one in toto. It would be wrong for any Government to change all this trust by using the savings movement for further nationalisation or for the State control of industry. The doubts created by those suspicions would harm the National Savings Movement.
My proposed Bill would be quite fair and quite simple. It could not prevent this happening, but at least it would make it impossible for it to happen without the House discussing it, so that the whole public would know what was transpiring.