On a point of order. I tried unsuccessfully to raise a point of order when Black Rod arrived. I wanted to know whether it would be possible in certain circumstances to delay going to the other place. I think that all of us would agree that the matter which we are debating is of great urgency. Is it possible when Black Rod arrives for you, Mr. Speaker, to state that we will go at another time and not immediately?
Further to that point of order. It is difficult to raise these questions without appearing somewhat discourteous to you, Mr. Speaker. I assure you that this is not intended in any way. The time has now arrived—this is the opinion throughout the country and in this House—to get rid of some of these archaic procedures which ridicule the House in the light of our attempt as a Parliament to modernise industry and the economy. In this debate we are trying to persuade people to modernise throughout our country and our economy, yet we still have to put up with these procedures which delay the work of the House and often render impracticable some of the ideas of reform about which we are talking. Is there any possible way of determining the time at which this ceremony takes place?
The simple answer to both hon. Gentlemen is that this is a matter not for Mr. Speaker, but for the House. I understand that this particular ceremony has been or is to be considered by the Select Committee on Procedure. Mr. Speaker cannot change the procedure of the House of Commons. The House of Commons has full power to do what it likes in modernising its procedure. There are ways of doing it, but Mr. Speaker cannot do it.
I will naturally not pursue the point or order, save only to say that I am surprised that this topic should be described as the modernising of British industry.
I was saying that there are various reasons why a wage and prices freeze is both futile and dangerous. I said that it had been advanced partly to impress those who influence the £ and that I did not consider that it had any effect in that respect, because it is mistaken.
Another reason which we are given for the Bill is that it will give the Government time to think. I have already referred to the very clear speech of the First Secretary of State upstairs last night, in which he made it plain——
I was seeking to show that we object to the procedure adopted by the Government because of the vital change in the character of the Bill due to the introduction of Part IV, compared with the nature of the original early warning Bill. I am seeking to destroy one of the reasons advanced for the introduction of Part IV by the Government, namely, that it gives them time to think. We were told that all the thinking had been done before the last election, but it is plain that the Government have not discovered how they would run a managed economy.
We have all learned the hard way that it is the Government's belief that the country can operate a managed economy. I do not believe that that is possible outside a Communist State. It is clear that the attempt to do so is failing all along the line. We are constantly told that our competitors are ahead of us in many respects. They operate the capitalist system. We on this side believe in the capitalist system. It is because the Government do not believe in it that they bring forward a Bill of this kind. The sooner they give way to a Government who do believe in it the better for the country and all concerned in it.
It may be some measure of relief to hon. Members when I say that I have no intention of going into the details of the economic situation or into the history of the Prices and Incomes Bill. Nor do I intend to discuss in detail the provisions of the Bill. Instead, I will restrict my remarks to the Motion and the procedural matters which emerge from it.
I must, first, correct a statement made by the Leader of the Opposition. He said that the sitting of the Standing Committee last night represented the longest sitting of such a Committee for 20 years, implying, I suppose, that the Government were sadists and imposing lengthy sittings on hon. Members. I recall being the Chairman of a Standing Committee at a time when hon. Gentlemen opposite were in power and sitting from 4 o'clock one afternoon until 8.35 the following morning. There were several other meetings of that Committee which went well into the night. I did not complain because I realised, as I do today, that the Government must get their business, which is precisely what the present Government are doing.
The Leader of the Opposition then said that he and his hon. Friends had no desire to discuss again the first three Parts of the Bill. I could not make out from that whether he meant that the Opposition did not intend to table Amendments on Report; in other words, that they had finally and completely accepted the first three Parts of the Bill. If my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) had been in his place, he would have told the right hon. Gentleman that when a Bill is sent to a Standing Committee, opportunity must be given for the Measure to have a Report stage. I trust that whoever winds up for the Opposition will make it clear what was meant by the right hon. Gentleman when he referred to the first three Parts of the Bill.
Let us consider the Motion in detail. It states:
That Standing Committee B be discharged from further consideration of the Prices and Incomes Bill and that the Bill be committed to a Committee of the whole House.
I cannot think of anything to which I would take greater exception. For years I have been trying to persuade hon. Members that the Floor of the House is not the place for the detail of legislation to be discussed by 630 hon. Members. The Leader of the Opposition stated that hon. Members should be able to discuss the principles of Bills on the Floor of the House. I agree. The Floor of the House is the place where the principles of legislation should be discussed, but not the details of legislation. I am beginning to wonder whether the Leader of the Opposition and some of his hon. Friends consider that those hon. Members who represent the Conservative Party in the Standing Committee are capable people. I looked in at the deliberations of the Committee last night and the Conservative hon. Members seemed to be doing as effective a job as any of their colleagues would do. A small Committee, such as that considering this Measure upstairs, is the ideal place to discuss the details of the Bill. Let us spend our time on the Floor of the House discussing the principles of legislation.
Nevertheless, the Motion asks for the Standing Committee to be discharged and for the Committee stage of the Bill to be taken on the Floor of the House. It does not say that Part IV should be discussed in principle on the Floor of the House; just that the whole Committee stage should take place here. In any case, I pointed out at the beginning of my remarks that I would concentrate on the Motion, and that is what I am doing.
Many complaints have been made about the procedure of the House preventing Parliamentary time being used in the way hon. Members want it to be used. We have heard a great deal about Standing Order No. 9 and the fact that the procedure cannot be bent to meet the obvious desires of the House. In this case the procedure is being followed and I cannot see how it can be said that the Government are doing anything wrong in making additions to a Bill which has already had its Second Reading.
I gather from the Press this morning that some of my hon. Friends feel that they will not be able to support the Government in the vote tonight. I cannot think of a worse occasion that they could choose to stage such a demostration. It is always a good idea when fighting to make sure that one is fighting on the best possible ground. I suggest that this issue does not represent the best possible ground on which to stage a demonstration.
The Liberals must make up their minds where they stand in this matter because they are continually stressing the need to reform the procedure of the House. The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) and his colleagues frequently say that we must bring our procedure up to date. However, apart from specialist committees, they have made no suggestions. If we are to streamline our procedure, we must get away from the idea that 630 hon. Members can all take part in debating the details of individual pieces of legislation. As I have said, these details should be discussed in small committees upstairs so that the time available on the Floor of the House may be used to discuss the principles involved in legislation.
Since the hon. Gentleman referred to the specialist committees which my hon. Friends and I have suggested, he will be aware that they are intended as bodies which will discuss the details of legislation and not the general principles involved. I understood that the Motion had been tabled because the Government had not afforded an opportunity for the principles of Part IV to be discussed on the Floor of the House.
I am not discussing that point but, since the hon. and learned Gentleman has raised it, it is worth considering Motion No. 183 on the Notice Paper standing in the names of the Leader of the Liberal Party and a number of his hon. Friends. That appears to be a criticism of the Leader of the House in that it states that the House
… deplores his refusal either to arrange for a second reading debate as to the principle of the drastic amendments now put down … to the Prices and Incomes Bill
and wholly unforeseen by the Prime Minister as recently as 20th July …
The Leader of the Liberal Party could not have been listening to my right hon. Friend's statement on that date, since the Prime Minister said:
Within the main field of collective bargaining we shall rely in the first instance on voluntary action. Nevertheless, in order to ensure that the selfish do not benefit at the expense of those who co-operate, it is our intention to strengthen the provisions of the Prices and Incomes Bill … "—OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th July, 1966; Vol. 732, c. 636–7.]
Nobody need have been surprised when that strengthening was done. The Liberal Party's Motion also states:
… or to refer these amendments to a committee of the whole House so that on matters affecting every one of their constituents Members may exercise their normal democratic right of expressing their views and representing those of the people".
Really! If we are to have 630 hon. Members all expressing their views on, say, the new Clauses which have been added to the Prices and Incomes Bill, we had better begin thinking in terms of rising for the Summer Recess at about next Christmas.
When Committee stages are taken on the Floor of the House some hon. Members who wish to take part in them are often unable to do so. Only a fortnight or so ago there was a Motion of censure on the Chairman of Ways and Means because the Chair accepted the Closure after 7½ hours debate on the one matter, although there were still a number of hon. Members who wished to speak. Parliamentary business could not be run effectively on the terms of that Liberal Motion, particularly if it is thought that every hon. Member should be able to have a say on every matter that comes before Parliament.
Considering the terms of the Conservative Motion, hon. Gentlemen opposite must also make up their minds where they stand. They are making every heavy weather indeed of their opposition in this matter. The Leader of the Opposition should be told that merely to be angry for 40 minutes is not an effective way of dealing with an issue like this. I suggest that he pays a visit to Lord Butler and gets some advice.
The Opposition must make up their minds whether they want the present problem solved or want political advantage. They have not objected to things that have been done by previous Conservative Chancellors of the Exchequer; their opposition seems to be confined to this particular matter.
I believe that hon. Members very often underestimate the harm they can do by what they may say in this House. It may be very good politics to attack the Government, but there is a responsibility on Members of Parliament to see that in their attacks they have some regard to what is happening. Only this lunch-time I spoke to a man over here from Rhodesia. He said that Conservative Members did not realise what harm they had done in their speeches in this House on the subject of Rhodesia. What they now say can do harm, and make more difficult the solving of this problem.
The question is whether these new Clauses should or should not be added to the Bill we are discussing, but on Monday we dealt with a Bill in regard to which 17 new Clauses had been put down by the Opposition. If those new Clauses had been added, that Bill would have been an entirely different Measure from that which started out. I suppose that the only objections of hon. Members on this present occasion is that there is good possibility that the Government's new Clauses will be added. We have the same position with the Finance Bill. If we had accepted all the Amendments which were in order, and had added all the new Clauses put down by the Opposition, the Finance Bill would have been entirely different from the legislation as it first started out. There is therefore not much that can be argued on that score.
The Chairman of the Standing Committee last night ruled that these new Clauses are in order. Perhaps it is a pity that on this occasion the Committee did not have a Conservative Chairman, as he would have had to rule in exactly the same way. Of course, the new Clauses are in order, and are well within the terms of the Long Title of the Bill.
This Motion seeks to have certain parts of the Prices and Incomes Bill brought down to the Floor of the House and, as I have said. I can think of nothing to which I would object more. I wish that hon. Members could begin to look upon the various stages of a Bill in a different way from the present; deciding that in Committee a Bill has to be examined in detail. I often think that in Committee we take the wrong attitude. We always take the attitude that the Government must prevail, but it might be far better if we had greater freedom in Committee, as matters could be put right on Report.
The object of hon. Members opposite is not so much to get this discussion taken on the Floor of the House but to stage a demonstration, when they could, by going outside the rules of order, go into detail on the new Clauses that have been put down. I hope that this Motion will be overwhelmingly rejected.
I have always had a very high respect for the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Blackburn). I have been associated with him on many Committees, and have often listened to him with great interest. Nevertheless, I have been greatly disappointed this afternoon because, if I may say so with great respect, the hon. Gentleman seemed completely to have missed the point. I am therefore very glad to have the opportunity now to point out—briefly, I hope—what the real point is.
This Motion ought to be supported by every back bencher, because it seeks to deal with a most dangerous precedent. If a protest is not made, that precedent could be used for the most dangerous action in changing some of the foundations of our whole constitution——
I intervene because this is something that should be cleared up at once. Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggesting that what has been done by the Government is outside the rules of order?
I am not talking about being outside the rules of order but about constitutional rights. That is an unwritten matter, but it is one with which the House of Commons can and ought to deal. I could not disagree with anyone more strongly than I do with the hon. Member when he says that we are dealing with a matter of detail. Let me explain why.
What Part IV does is to introduce a great enlargement in the arbitrary powers of the Executive. The hon. Member may not have read that Part, but the fact is that from beginning to end Part IV makes no reference to the Prices and Incomes Board or to Schedule 2, on which that body's considerations rely. What it does is to enable the appropriate Minister to make judgment on proposed price changes or pay increases without any regard to Schedule 2 and without any regard to the Prices and Incomes Board. In other words, it gives an arbitrary power to the Minister, whereas previously under the Bill the Minister acted in a constitutional way on the report of the Board.
If that is not an important measure of principle, I do not know what is. That is the kind of thing we should be able to discuss in a Second Reading debate in the House, and that is the point with which neither the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde nor the First Secretary has come within miles of dealing. We should insist that it is dealt with.
Again, we find that the Minister has power, if these new Clauses are made law, to issue an order that price or pay increases that have already been made shall be withdrawn and reversed. If that is not an arbitrary power for a Minister to exercise, what is? But the hon. Member says, "Oh, no, we do not want that sort of thing discussed here." Then, if you please, Mr. Speaker, he adds, "In any case, very few hon. Members can speak on Second Reading, so it does not matter whether we have a Second Reading or not." That is an outrageous thing to say. I say without hesitation that I regard this as one of the most important matters on which I have had an opportunity of speaking since first coming to this House, and I believe that there are many hon. Members who think the same. The point is not that every hon. Member should be able to speak in a Second Reading debate, but that he should have the chance of speaking, and we are complaining that we were deprived of that chance.
It is an alarming situation, because although I have noticed, and I am sure that it is so, that quite a number of hon. Members opposite are not happy about this present matter, they will unfortunately have the steam-roller put over them. I thought that that explained the speech of the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde—that it was really a little stimulus to loyalty. It was a rather curious coincidence that he referred to us in that connection; I wondered whether it might not be an unconscious line of thought. I should have thought that there was a good deal more support for the Motion. He said also that the Motion was a request to consider all the Clauses. He must have realised, because from his experience he knows far more about the procedure of the House than I, that this Motion is the only means by which we can seek to get the Bill back again, and we must use what machinery we have. If the Measure is brought back to the House, as has been made clear by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, the purpose will be to get a proper discussion of the kind of thing I have mentioned this afternoon. It is idle to say that we are going to waste a whole lot of time. The hon. Member even went so far as to say that we should deliberately get out of order by discussing details and then have a row about it. That does not seem a very worthy thing to suggest.
The position is more likely to be, and the First Secretary appeared to think, that he might be able to say that this was a Second Reading debate and therefore we had had it—we "had had it" in both senses—but, of course, this is not a Second Reading debate. My right hon. Friend was quite clear that he must keep in order, and so must I. We may refer to the Bill, but we cannot discuss its merits.
I assume that the Government would have been able to put forward a good case on Second Reading of Part IV and to have felt satisfied that everyone had heard it. Instead, that Part is brought in upstairs. I wonder how many hon. Members who are not on the Committee really understood what I have been talking about before they heard the First Secretary's speech.
It is by speeches in Second Reading debates that the public are made aware of these matters. It so happens that in these cases there are not full, detailed or always entirely edifying extracts published about Committee proceedings upstairs in the early hours of the morning. There is no continuous comment and very often people know very little of what is going on in Committee. We have the opportunity this evening of pointing out to the Government what apparently they do not know.
Even one of their most respected supporters, with the greatest knowledge of procedure, apparently did not appreciate that this, as far as I know, was the first use of a piece of machinery which could be used—there is a big enough majority—to bring in by the back door a great many undesirable things. Once it has got in, to get it out again when the Bill comes back to the House is almost impossible.
We had an interesting account by the First Secretary of all the high and worthy motives which the Government have. I do not dissociate him from the highest motives, but, if we are to look for tactics, we might look elsewhere.
I agree with the right hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) that this is an important matter. Since I wish to say some things which are critical of the Government, I wish to express myself with my usual care. Therefore, I start by saying—I say it very sincerely—that I think anyone who listened to the speech of my right hon. Friend the First Secretary and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs today, whatever one might think of the merits of the issue in this debate, will agree that it was a most powerful and effective speech. I was very glad to hear him make it. The other night he made a bad speech. If all of us who make bad speeches were cleared out of this place it would be empty. So when I say that I disagree with the Government in this matter, I acknowledge that in the speech of my right hon. Friend he certainly made a case which has to be answered by those of us who disagree with him.
He also dealt effectively with part of the argument put by the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition grossly overstated his case when he talked of this debate being the great divide between those who believe in liberty and those who want a totalitarian society. That was the language we heard in this House in the years between 1945 and 1951 and the kind of peroration we expected elsewhere from Lord Woolton. When Tories lisp the word "liberty" they always get into trouble, because we are always very doubtful whether they believe in it. I was not much impressed by that part of the right hon. Member's speech.
My right hon. Friend dealt with that, but there are still many matters which the House of Commons has to decide—very important questions. The question whether it was proper for Part IV to be included in the Bill has been disposed of by the Chairman of the Committee. The question of Parliamentary legality has been dealt with. No one questions that. But it is still right for us to debate the questions whether it was wise, whether it was politically expedient, whether it was in accordance with the treatment of genuine rights of free debate in this House for all hon. Members.
My hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Blackburn) tended to suggest—I do not say that he did it in these words—that the argument had been settled by the Chairman upstairs. We cannot accept that. The questions whether it is wise, whether it is expedient, or whether it is right in the treatment and protection of full debate, are questions for the House to decide, not for the Chairman or even for Mr. Speaker himself.
I was rather surprised to hear the First Secretary say that it was absurd to suggest that this matter could be dealt with in some other way. Whether it was right or wrong, feasible or not, it was certainly practicable and possible for the Government to have introduced a separate Bill to deal with this question. No one can dispute that. We could have had a separate Bill incorporating the provisions of the Prices and Incomes Standstill White Paper. If that procedure had been followed it might have meant that we would have had to sit here longer during August for the purpose of having the discussion.
What we are complaining about is that we did not have sufficient time. We may have had to sit longer in August. That may have been inconvenient, but we cannot complain on that score. The measures being introduced will be extremely inconvenient for many people in the country.
I did not agree with the whole of the award for the doctors, but certain numbers of doctors are being treated in the most shameful manner. Doctors in some of the hospitals are getting pay which most people would regard as scandalous. They were promised that they would get something and a date was provided. The promise has been broken. It has been broken by this White Paper and Part IV of the Bill. That is a matter of great inconvenience to the doctors. Railway-men had a promise made to them and that promise has been broken also. This White Paper and Part IV are extremely inconvenient for them. There are many other groups whose claims could be cited. Therefore, none of us would have had any right to complain if the Government had said we shall have to sit for another week in order to get a separate Bill through.
Then there is the question of whether it would not have been advantageous for the Government themselves to have introduced a separate Bill. The First Secretary, I am sure, is passionately eager to see a prices and incomes policy working in this country. No one doubts his sincerity. Whether he can achieve it or not is another matter, but no one doubts his wish to see a proper prices and incomes policy working and no one doubts that he means one in which there is a planned growth of wages.
If that is what the First Secretary wants in the Prices and Incomes Bill now before the Committee, how foolish it was to spatchcock into the Bill a measure which has precisely different ideas. I should have thought the First Secretary himself would have said to the Cabinet—maybe he did—" For heaven's sake don't mix up your standstill with my Prices and Incomes Bill. Let us keep the two as separate as possible. One is designed to have a planned growth of wages over a period with productivity agreements incorporated in it, and the other is designed to give the exact opposite. So for heaven's sake don't attach to my Prices and Incomes Bill the odium of a standstill order." Therefore, in the Government's own interest, it would have been much better to have kept the two matters separate and to have introduced a second Bill.
However, I am not concerned only with looking after the Government's interests. I am also concerned with my own interests. I have every right to be. My own interest is as a Member of the House of Commons. The prices and incomes standstill and the new Part IV are certainly unjust, probably unworkable, and are likely to inflict lasting and grievous injury on the process of collective bargaining and the trade union movement.
Holding these views about the White Paper, I have every right to express them in the House; and so have my hon. Friends who hold these views. We are deprived of the right to express those views on the issue of principle by the procedure which the Government adopted. Not only is that unfair to hon. Members on the back benches on this side, as indeed to hon. Members opposite; but, again, it is most unwise in the interests of the Government.
Nothing could do greater injury to the Government in seeking to get their policy accepted on the wages freeze throughout the country than for it to be thought that the Measure is being pushed through by a kind of conspiracy and that the House of Commons has not had the chance to debate it. It is for the Government's benefit that it should be known throughout the country that their Measure has been subjected to minute criticism by those who happen to sympathise with the critics in the country.
Therefore, my right hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Cousins) is fighting his battle in Standing Committee in the interests of democracy. He is stating his own views, but he is also, in an ironic sense, acting in the interests of the Government, because he is at least doing his best to use such procedure as is available to show the country that a debate is taking place in the House of Commons upon these serious matters.
The Government should have provided, not merely that one or two members of the Standing Committee who happen to share our view are able to express it, but also that all of us, if we caught the eye of the Chair, are able to state our views in a proper debate on Second Reading. There is nothing in our Parliamentary practice—no obstacle of time—which made this impossible. It was a grievous error of judgment on the part of the Government to say that they would try to push through the Measure in this manner.
There are even more serious aspects than that. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) referred—rightly, in my opinion—to the wider economic and democratic aspects. We are not entitled to debate these matters fully on their merits in this discussion. This debate is not a substitute for a Second Reading debate. Nobody is entitled to say that it is. However, it is possible for us to say that we should have been able to debate this matter in a wider economic context. Of course we should. In certain circumstances I might even agree to a wages and prices standstill. I should object to it very strongly; I should dislike it very much; but, if the Government were taking a whole series of other measures of which I approved, I would find it very difficult to pick out this measure and say that I would not support it.
However, the Government are taking very few of the measures to deal with the economic crisis which many of us think should be taken. They are not taking the vital measures we think are required to deal with the enormous defence expenditure. They are not taking the measures we think are required to deal with the international financial situation. They are not taking the measures we think are required to get the instruments of control and planning on the scale we think is necessary. These are the criticisms we wish to make. I cannot elaborate them now. They are exactly the kind of criticisms which can be made only in a Second Reading debate. That is what a Second Reading debate is for—so that we can discuss the particular Measure in the context of the general situation. That is what I and others are being denied by the Government's action.
Therefore, I have to consider what attitude I will take to the Opposition's Motion. I never like voting with the Tories, if it can possibly be avoided. On this occasion my hon. Friends may be relieved to know that it can be avoided. Moreover, the remedy that the Opposition propose does not deal with the disease, because I have been complaining that we have not been able to have a Second Reading debate on this issue. I think that a separate Measure should have been introduced. This is what the Opposition should have proposed. Whether I would have supported it if the Opposition had proposed it they will have to find out by tabling such a Motion. If I were in charge of the Opposition and having to deal with the Government in these circumstances, the Government would not have got off as lightly as they have in the last few weeks. The Government deserve to have got it much harder.
I shall not vote for the Opposition's Motion. I shall not vote for the Government, either. Of course I understand the consequences. I do not abstain from voting on Motions without making the reckoning. If anybody abstains from voting on a Motion, he must abstain on the basis that he is inviting others to take the same course as himself. That is the only honourable basis on which a Member can vote in the House.
If everyone followed the course I am advising my hon. Friends to take, I understand that the Government would be defeated. This would be a severe setback for the Government, but I think that it would be a victory for the House of Commons. It would make for better government in the future. If the Government were defeated, we should have to have further debates on this issue. If the Government have got a very good case, a better case than we have heard so far on the White Paper and the new Part IV, we would hear it in the House of Commons and the country would hear it; so the Government's measures would not be injured if their measures were good.
In this economic crisis some of us go further than fearing that the Government are taking the wrong courses to deal with it. We are critical of the Government, not only because we think their Measures are lopsided. This Measure for dealing with wages, in particular, we believe puts a quite wrong emphasis. There are many other important measures which should be taken to rescue the economy, if we are going to do that.
This is not our only criticism. My fear is about what is to happen in the next crisis. Some of the courses that the Government are following mean that there may be another early crisis of sterling. What will happen then? If that crisis comes before the end of the six months or just after, will the Government then say, "We do not propose to continue these powers"? Of course not. They will try to continue them. How will they do so? They will be able to say, "The House of Commons agreed that we should not have a Second Reading on these powers originally and we are merely following that precedent". I do not propose that the Government should have my approval for the precedent they are apparently setting.
The Government should consider these matters very carefully. Governments never like admitting that they have made mistakes. It is very awkward for them to do so. However, the Government have introduced a Measure which extends throughout the whole economic life of the country. It offends in some degrees against principles that some of us on this side of the House hold very dear indeed, and which I am sure that my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench hold very dear.
I refer to the principles of collective bargaining, which are being utterly ruptured, and to the abandonment of promises made to great sections of the community. A prominent example is the railwaymen, who had to fight long for not very big rises and who, after a long fight lasting many months and even years, got an increase following a meeting in Downing Street. It was signed, sealed and delivered. Now it is to be snatched from them. These are very serious matters. Such matters cannot be dealt with by saying that we shall not have the fullest possible debates in the House.
Therefore, I should like the Government not, perhaps to withdraw their opposition to the Motion, but to introduce a Motion of their own which would remedy the matter. I am not hopeful that they will do so, but I urge them to do it. If they do not, I urge as many of my hon. Friends who agree with me to abstain from voting in the Lobbies tonight. That would be the most effective way of making clear to the Government that we are earnest in what we are saying in these matters.
But if the Government will not take that remedy, a small crumb that they can give us is to say that the fullest possible debate will be permitted next week on the Report stage. I do not agree with the arrangement proposed by the Leader of the Opposition, who apparently suggested that he did not worry very much about debating Parts I, II and III but wanted only to concentrate on Part IV. He has no right to decide these matters. Many of us want to discuss Parts I, II and III, because that is the permanent legislation. Therefore, we think that there should be an extensive Report stage on those parts and on Part IV as well.
The hon. Gentleman, no doubt inadvertently, has misrepresented what my right hon. Friend said. He did not say that we did not want an extensive Report stage on the first three Parts of the Bill. He said that we did not mind the first three Parts having been dealt with upstairs and that the Part we wanted to get in Committee on the Floor of the House was Part IV, which would, incidentally, give the hon. Gentleman the Second Reading he asked for.
If I have misrepresented what the Leader of the Opposition said, I am very sorry, but I do not think that I did. I think that I heard it correctly, but HANSARD will prove who was correct.
But that does not alter my main point. I am now urging the Government to make only a small concession, which is nothing like what the Opposition are demanding. My main insistence is that Part IV should have been introduced as a separate Bill. There was nothing to stop the Government doing that. It would have been beneficial for the country and the House of Commons and the health of our Parliamentary institution if the Government had done so.
I hope that they will consider these matters very carefully in the future and will understand that there are many Members on this side of the House who are determined to protect in the fullest degree the rights of hon. Members to state their views and the views of their constituents on matters of such paramount importance.
Many of us who spoke in the recent debate on prices and incomes are not all that surprised to find ourselves back here again today to discuss an additional part to the Bill. We may be forgiven by the Government if we raise an odd eyebrow now that the warnings that we issued then have come true so quickly.
It is astonishing that, having argued one Bill two weeks ago, we are denied the opportunity to argue a quite different Bill which is now put before us—or rather which is not to be put before us, this being the substance of our complaint.
In the course of the past two weeks, the Government have moved from Ministerial exhortation to Ministerial compulsion. I have here the copy of HANSARD in which the First Secretary made it "crystal clear"—hon. Members may remember the words—that there was nothing in the Bill which placed a ban on any parties concerned
going on to do whatever they think they ought to do."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th July, 1966; Vol. 731, c. 1756.]
We are not accustomed to tropical twilights in this country, but in political terms the concept of free negotiation has slipped into the dark with unprecedented suddenness.
The greatest danger which many hon. Members on this side of the House see today lies in considering the Prices and Incomes Bill out of the context of Government policy as a whole, because it is only a part of a wider pattern which has already dangerously increased the intervention of the Government into the State on an unprecedented scale over the past eighteen months. Every increase in intervention brings its own problems, which inevitably lead to further controls of one sort or another.
Do any hon Members opposite any longer believe, for example, that when the import surcharge is removed in November we shall not see some other form of control in its place, and does anyone now believe that the repayments due under the Selective Employment Tax will be made on time? Exactly the same doubts exist in relation to Part IV which is to be added to the Bill. It is a useful weapon in a Socialist armoury. The implication that we shall not see it repeated at the end of six months or a year does not stand up to examination. If the new Part works there will be such a backlog of claims outstanding that by the time the Bill comes up for consideration no Government would dare remove the controls which they have imposed. It it does not work, the logic if this Government's thinking would be to extend the controls already provided in the Bill.
As I understand it, the only alternative which the policies of the Government leave open to them is that there will be such a level of unemployment that the normal forces of the market will have cured, at a great social and economic cost to the people and to the industry of the country, the need for the Bill. That is the only likelihood in which we shall see it not repeated in twelve months' time.
The pattern of the Bill is coming into effect against a grossly overheated economy, overheated in no small measure by the efforts of the First Secretary to persuade manufacturers to hold down prices at a time when costs have been increasing at one of the fastest rates ever. On the one hand, we have the Chancellor of the Exchequer trying to deflate; on the other, the First Secretary creating a situation where the Chancellor's intentions are being frustrated.
The great weakness of the Government's policy is that they are trying to go in two directions at the same time, and the journey is punctuated by periodic exhortations from the Prime Minister that we should all do our best to get the country out of its economic difficulties. It seems wrong, when we are greatly expanding the weapons available to the Government, that we should not have the opportunity on the Floor of the House to discuss the latest step and the latest weapon that they seek to use.
The Prime Minister has on many occasions put great effort into his attempts to persuade us to co-operate. No hon. Member when faced with the prospect of a drowning man would refuse to help in the rescue of the same man on one, two or even three occasions. But when one finds the same man in the same pond for the same reasons six times in eighteen months, it is not unneighbourly to ask how it is that he came to be there in the first place.
That is the present situation. This vicious legislation is necessary to make up for the Government's mismanagement of the domestic economy over the past eighteen months. During the Second Reading of the Prices and Incomes Bill, I outlined to the House the pressures I saw on professionally and technically qualified staff and the employers of those people from the standpoint of a company, of which I am a director, concerned with the personnel recruitment.
Part IV introduces new principles which must affect anyone involved, and it is quite wrong not to discuss those principles on the Floor of the House. The salary section of our national wages and salary bill is approximately 40 per cent. of the total, and the levels here are forced up by and take their lead from a relatively small number of people. These are the ones changing jobs. Personnel managers are well aware of the sums which they have to pay to attract men and women with the right qualifications, and at half-yearly or yearly intervals they then review the existing salary scales for their present staff, having regard to what they are having to pay to attract people joining the company during that period.
They are helped in this review by specialist surveys which are widely distributed throughout industry to bring to their attention the new levels of salary and wage prevalent for various groups according to qualification and age. It is the figures of salary commanded by job changers which leads to increases in salaries in industry at large.
The great danger of the Bill is that one of its principal effects must be to encourage people to move from one job to another. That is the way they will obtain increases. They will move. It will be totally impossible to quantify promotion in these circumstances, and any company employing over 100 people will, in my view, be powerless to resist the attractions of companies down the road which are prepared to buy their qualified staff at higher salaries.
In judging whether the principles of Part IV should be discussed on the Floor of the House, it is valuable to know to what extent there is pressure within the salary market. It may interest the House to have an idea of the sort of salaries which younger qualified people now feel able to ask for in changing jobs. A survey we recently carried out, published this week in the Sunday Times, showed that 60 per cent. of those between 20 and 25 years of age wanted more than a 10 per cent. increase in salary and 17 per cent. of them wanted a 25 per cent. increase to take them from the approximate level of £1,000 a year to about £1,250.
Pressure of this kind from job changes, which is not in any way affected by the new Part IV of the Bill, will not be removed. So long as it continues, any company is pressed in the most unfortunate way, with the result that, if the Government want to make their policy effective, they must protect the exposed flank of any company which will be at the mercy of people trying to take its staff away. Further, they must consider ways—this is another matter of principle to be considered—by which they can protect companies, which having recruited people at the new increased levels of salary which they are having to pay all the time, find that they cannot then bring their own staff salaries up into line with the new levels. This will create a good deal of difficulty within their own organisation which can only lead to disgruntlement amongst their salaried staff.
I have said, "If the Government want to make the policy work", and I use those words advisedly. I do not believe that this policy will work. Further, if it could be made to work, the distortions to which it would lead would be wholly undesirable.
There is a moment at which every policy is doomed to discredit. It is difficult to be sure which of the four, five or six moments of crisis for this prices and incomes policy one could single out and say that the policy had no chance from that point of being effective. But if I had to choose that moment, I would choose the moment at which the First Secretary of State was allowed to go back into the Cabinet after his "Will you—won't you—resign" period of tension a week or so ago.
I say that for two reasons. First, because within months we shall see levels of unemployment in this country which will make it impossible for the right hon. Gentleman ever again to justify the policy which he advocates in the House or to say that he believed in it against the wishes of the rest of his Cabinet colleagues. Second, and more important, the First Secretary of State's continued presence in the Cabinet will be seen in retrospect as the first sign of weakness on the journey to the next economic crisis. Above all the arguments for the freeze will be heard the neighing of a Trojan horse.
The speech of the hon. Member for Tavi- stock (Mr. Michael Heseltine) was very interesting and contained points of great importance to everyone in the country into which one would like to go further on another occasion. Several of the points he made are in order in this debate, but if one were to discuss in detail some of his other observations one would soon go out of order. I confine myself, therefore, to saying that the concern which he expressed about the long-term prospects for our economy is a concern which I deeply share.
Precisely because the context of this debate is the deflationary measures which the Government have announced, there is urgent need for a proper Second Reading debate on the Floor of the House so that those measures and the powers they propose to take under the new Part IV—the standstill measures, as they are called—may be fully discussed against the background which the hon. Gentleman painted in one way and which other hon. Members might paint in a somewhat different way. But I am at one with him in saying that there is urgent need for that discussion to take place.
I see on the Front Bench my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, representing the Cabinet, and we assume that he will try to catch the eye of the Chair in order to reply to the debate. I do not believe that the Government's decisions on procedure which I am about to criticise are ordinary business decisions taken in the ordinary way by my right hon. Friend on his own responsibility. I believe that they are highly political decisions and that other very senior members of the Cabinet have had a decisive influence on them. I wish it to be quite clear, therefore, that I am not in any way joining the Leader of the Opposition in what I consider to be unwarranted personal attacks on my right hon. Friend. This is not a personal matter.
The main case made by the Government so far, which has to be answered by those of us who dissent from their views in this matter, was made this afternoon by my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State. I join other hon. Members in paying a tribute to him and I express my appreciation of the fact that he was in such good form this afternoon and made such an effective case from his point of view. It will, I hope, dispose for good and all of those irresponsible and unfair headlines which have appeared in some newspapers recently because he happened to be tired out and made a bad speech a week or so ago.
Part of the case put by my right hon. Friend for the procedure adopted by the Government has already been dealt with by other hon. Members, and I shall concentrate on the points which have not yet been dealt with.
My right hon. Friend said—I hope I quote him fairly—that the penalty Clauses of Part IV are the same as in Part II of the Bill and are, therefore, nothing new. I completely dissent from that view because, although the penalties are the same, the offences are different, and this changes the whole aspect of the Bill. It has been common ground among all the lawyers on both sides of the House, and it is part of our established tradition of justice in this country in which we take pride, that the most important legislative departure which the House of Commons can make is precisely the creation of new offences. There can be nothing more serious than the creation of new offences. The greatest care has always been taken when new offences have been approved by the House. New offences against the criminal law have always been examined most carefully, and ample time has been given for consideration of the new principle introduced and the details. It has always been held that the House should not permit the creation of new offences in any other circumstances. That is one of Parliament's oldest traditions.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Cousins) dealt with an important aspect in the Standing Committee. The reports have now been published in the newspapers. I do not want to go into detail, but I think that I shall be in order in referring, as others have done, to the important principle that my right hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton has in the House and outside put to Members of Parliament and to the trade union movement. The point of principle is that if Part IV were in the end to be passed by the House, in certain circumstances the ordinary trade union activity of bringing pressure upon em- ployers would be an offence. That would introduce a substantial change. So it does not matter whether the penalties would be the same as in Part II. It is the application of the penalties to new offences which entirely changes the character of the Bill.
There is a close connection between democracy in the House of Commons and democracy outside. There has been discussion in recent years about the importance of Parliament as the central political forum of the nation. Many people from the academic sphere and many political journalists have said that the House of Commons is beginning to slide away from that central position in the scheme of British politics.
Here we have an attempt by the Government to introduce procedure that will do more to continue Parliament's slide than other measures that have recently been criticised. Why is this? Over the last 12 months various phases of the Government's policy have been considered by the trade union movement and the Labour movement in general. The Government have discussed certain policies with their supporters in the trade union and Labour movements. On those occasions it was carefully emphasised by Government spokesmen, starting with the Prime Minister, that the prices and incomes policy, whatever else it included, did not include a wage freeze or the taking of statutory powers to enable the Government to enforce one, no matter for what period. Those assurances were freely given.
I notice on the Government Front Bench the Under-Secretary of State for Economic Affairs. He was my neighbour at the last T.U.C. Conference. I sat next to him in the gallery. I will not disclose what he whispered in my ear and what I whispered back, but I think it fair to say—[HON. MEMBERS: "Tell us."] Hon. Gentlemen opposite must contain themselves. There must be a limit; privacy must be preserved. However, I think that I am safe in saying that those assurances were seriously given by representatives of the Government. The decision of that conference on voluntary wage restraint had a great deal to do with the assurances given by the Government. This is the connection between democracy in the House and democracy outside.
If on those occasions Government spokesmen had told the Trade Union Congress "We intend at some future date, in addition to the policies that we have announced, to take statutory powers to enforce a wage freeze", the whole Congress would have voted against it and there would have been a completely different picture emerging from the trade union movement, and that picture would have been noticed by the Government.
I am trying to establish a link between what goes on in this House and the procedure that we adopt to add to the law and what people outside know and feel about it. Here we have a case where the Government, by wrongly maintaining that these are mere Amendments and that they do not contain a vital change of principle, are acting contrary to the impression that they honestly gave to the trade union movement during the last 12 months.
Therefore, I invite the Government, even at this late hour, to change their minds. It is never humiliating to come to the House of Commons and agree that a mistake has been made on procedure. It is never wrong to listen to the House of Commons. It is never wrong to accept the connection between democracy in the House and its reflection in the trade union and Labour movement. Indeed, there are involved here a number of procedures that could be adapted in the way in which I suggest. No matter what arrangements people might have made for 12th August, 11th August, or even 15th August, they cannot count for very much against the background of the new departures from our established law that the Government are proposing. If we have to sit on to the end of August to have a Second Reading debate and proper Committee procedures to go into the principle of the matter before we discuss the details, then the House of Commons must accept that we stay here. I am sure that hon. Members would accept that if the Government proposed it.
I turn to another aspect of the new legislation. My right hon. Friend the First Secretary said that it was the urgency of the situation that weighed with him in adopting this procedure. I want to examine this a little. The First Secretary ought to have dealt with, but did not, the way in which the various changes of attitude on the part of the Government have come about so rapidly in the last ten days. At one stage not long ago there was no indication of the completeness of the standstill that was to be introduced, nor that it would be so hurriedly passed through the House It has been suggested by very responsible American newspapers that some of the increased haste introduced by the Government into these procedures arose from the attitudes of some people outside who have an interest in our economic affairs—a not completely selfless interest. That is why I began by saying that I am not in any way holding the Leader of the House personally responsible for this hurried procedure.
At one time not many days ago the Cabinet decided that it did not need immediate statutory powers and that it would make an appeal for a standstill by voluntary action. That was the policy, and it held sway for about four days. It is suggested in the American Press that Mr. Fowler, the Secretary of the Treasury in the United States Administration, then passed through London and had dinner and a long discussion with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Of course, no one has said that Mr. Fowler makes our policy. I am not saying it. The American Press does not say so. No one has said that he redrafted the Bill. But what the American Press has said—and what might be significant—is that it was assumed, after he had met senior members of the Government, that it would be regarded as even more convincing by the United States Government if these measures were made compulsory under Statute. I ask my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to go into this later on, because we are already agreed that this procedural debate is being held against the background of very serious economic circumstances.
I turn to an equally important point. There are on these benches a number of hon. Members who firmly oppose the Government's policy in this matter. I have never been among those who suggest that I and those associated with me in this attitude are better Socialists or care more for democracy or believe more in the policies we put before the electorate than the Government. I assume that all of us on this side of the House are equally concerned and equally committed. But I must say that on no occasion at election meetings did I fail to get a question on the prices and incomes policy. Many of these questions dealt precisely with future consequences.
Constituents who were active trade unionists asked me, "If we approve this policy and return you to Parliament, will it be limited to what is being said in the party's manifesto?" It will be noted that there was not a whisper in the manifesto about taking statutory power to enforce a wage freeze. I accept the constitutional doctrine that a Government cannot put all sorts of policies for all sorts of unforeseen circumstances into an election manifesto, but in this case we are not dealing with a detailed departure but with a fundamental principle. If, at the selection conference at which I was first selected for Parliament as a Labour candidate—four Parliaments ago—I had said that I should be in favour of a statutory wage freeze, I should never have been selected. This is one of the fundamental principles that our movement has believed in. What we are dealing with here is a departure from 60 years of our history in industrial relations.
If it is that kind of departure then it is quite wrong that any Minister should argue that, because the Chairman of a Standing Committee has ruled that the Amendments are included in the Long Title, that is a valid reason for denying the House of Commons a Second Reading debate. This matter cannot be decided by reference to Standing Orders and Long Titles.
To accept such a principle would be dangerous because the Government, with the advice of constitutional lawyers, could always invent such a long and infinite title to a Bill that everything could be included. The House of Commons has never accepted that kind of procedure and we should not accept it now. The argument that the Government have to meet in connection with these decisions is, "Is it right? Is it in the spirit of our political system and in the spirit in which people outside understand Parliamentary democracy?"
It is wrong that such a fundamental departure from our law of industrial relations—creating new offences for things which trade unionists have always re- garded as ordinary industrial activities—should be rushed through the House of Commons in this way. It is on this ground that I cannot support the Government. I still hope that they will change their mind, but if they do not I must call upon those of my hon. Friends who support my point of view on this issue to stay out of the Lobby tonight.
I support the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) in his view. I find myself in almost complete agreement with some aspects of his speech, although no doubt for different reasons. I was pleased to hear him say that this is a matter of constitutional importance. As such, it should not be decided, as he said, on Standing Orders or on the long titles of Bills, as was suggested by the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Blackburn), whose speech was in marked contrast with those of the hon. Member for Penistone and the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot).
The essential liberty of the country is safeguarded largely by constitutional convention and by the stand that back benchers make in this House. The matter we are debating is of great constitutional importance. The Prime Minister is reputed to have said when he went to the United States—no doubt with the intention of impressing the Americans—that this country was introducing and had introduced measures unprecedented in time of peace or war in a democracy.
One then asks where we find these unprecedented measures. One finds them in the Amendments in Part IV of this Bill. Did the House of Commons discuss them? When did the Second Reading take place? The answer is that such a debate never has taken place. There has never been the opportunity to discuss the vital matters of principle with which these measures are concerned.
The Amendments proposed as Part IV of the Bill are vastly more important than the Bill itself. They introduce an entirely new matter of principle which was not even considered on Second Reading. They make a farce of the Second Reading. That was concerned with a totally different Bill. Everyone should agree that, if these measures are as important as the Prime Minister has judged them to be, it was surely not right that they should first be considered by a Committee of 25 Members on which my party is not represented at all.
The Leader of the Opposition today made the most effective speech I have heard him make as Leader of the Opposition. He had many matters to be effective about. He had all the necessary ammunition provided by the Prime Minister himself both as Prime Minister and in Opposition. But the right hon. Gentleman said that the Liberal Party voted against the Bill being considered on the Floor of the House. He should take a little more care of facts. If he refers to HANSARD he will find that his statement is untrue and I ask him to withdraw it.
The whole point of a Second Reading debate in the House is that matters of principle should be adequately considered and no such opportunity has been given on this Bill as amended, although the principles are of crucial importance to the country. The Government are introducing measures through Part IV which many hon. Members on both sides find utterly reprehensible. It is not unprecedented for Bills which have been committed to a Standing Committee to be recalled to the Floor of the House. We did this with the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965. There are other examples to be found further back in Erskine May. This course should be followed with this Bill.
There is something radically wrong with the procedures of the House of Commons when the Chairman of a Standing Committee can rule as the Chairman of Standing Committee B did last night. Presumably the new Clauses proposed by the Government were drafted by Parliamentary draftsmen after the Ministers responsible told them what was wanted. Presumably, they were then considered by the Law Officers or at least the Law Officers may have been consulted. Presumably, thereafter they were submitted to the Clerk of the House for his opinion.
At that stage, no one on the Opposition Benches and no back bencher on the Government side of the House had even had time to consider them. I do not know whether the Chairman of the Committee himself then took advice on the matter before the Committee sat, but the Parliamentary Secretary seems to be nodding his head in assent. So these matters were considered by authority without any back bencher on either side of the House having had an opportunity to consider them. Our procedure in this respect seems to need to be cleared up a good deal. We ought not to be faced with these faites accomplis.
I want now to turn to matters mentioned by the First Secretary this afternoon. Let me first echo the sentiment expressed by hon. Members opposite and say across the Floor of the House that it was a very good speech. I disagreed with a good deal of it, but it was a good fighting justification of the right hon. Gentleman's attitude. I thought that his speech the other evening was disastrous, and it always gives the House pleasure to hear a good Parliamentarian retrieve his character as a Parliamentary speaker.
What the right hon. Gentleman did not do was to give any kind of justification for refusing to allow the House to debate the principles of the Bill. Most of his speech was spent trying to justify those principles. I understood his main argument to be that the situation had become so serious, that urgent, unprecedented measures were now needed. He virtually said that while under a voluntary system decent responsible chaps would try to co-operate, the fellows who were not prepared to cooperate would get away with murder and had to be prevented from doing so. I understood that to be the psychological reason for the introduction of the measures in Part IV and why they are so urgent.
But why should not the Amendment have been introduced in the form of a new Bill, as the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale suggested? There is no reason why a fresh Bill should not have been introduced, when the matter could have been properly debated on Second Reading. That would have been the right way to do it. The Liberal Party is completely opposed to the principles upon which the White Paper and the consequent Amendments are based. We feel that in resorting to these highly illiberal principles, the Government are acknowledging the bankruptcy of their prices policy.
Of course I accept, and anyone who knows him would accept, that if it is correct that the First Secretary is becoming an economic dictator, then he is a reluctant economic dictator. I accept that he genuinely intends these powers to be of a strictly temporary nature. But will they be? His feet, in the words of the Prime Minister, are on the slippery slope. We are not concerned with his motives, but with the effect of his legislation. One can have the best possible motives for introducing legislation and taking certain powers, but the person with those motives may not be the person in charge when the powers are later exercised. Who knows what changes there will be in the country's conditions, or whether the economic situation will get worse? There might even be another Government in power. Once these powers have been taken—even though as drafted the Amendments automatically come to an end twelve months after the first effective date—once one is embarked on this course, it will be very difficult to change to another direction.
This could be one of the most important debates in the House since the end of the war. It is a matter of great concern to hon. Members opposite, as it is to hon. Members on this side of the House. I can understand that hon. Members with deeply-held Socialist principles, which I do not have, are as concerned about this matter as I am, who believe in a far more liberal economy.
Paragraph 2 of the White Paper says that the country needs a breathing space of twelve months in which productivity can catch up with the excessive increases in incomes which have been taking place. Yet not in the White Paper, nor in the Bill, nor in any of the Amendments to it is there any sign of a policy designed to increase productivity. What makes the Government think that productivity will catch up with incomes, even though those incomes are frozen during the next twelve months? Will not the effect of the freeze rather be to stultify productivity?
What will the Government's attitude be if, at the end of twelve months, or at the end of six months, it is found that productivity has not increased and that the disparity between productivity and the rise in incomes, even though they have been frozen, is exactly the same? What measures do the Government then propose to take? What will happen to the poor employer who has managed to survive because of a low wage structure in his particular industry—and who has only been enabled to survive because of the lack of competition to make him brighten up his ideas? Very often what many of these employers need is more competition for the labour they employ at higher rates of wages. But what will happen as a result of the freeze? Such an employer will be able to remain in business. The low wages which he pays will be frozen. There will be no need for him to improve his methods or change his ideas, for his employees will be unlikely to leave him in the course of the next six or twelve months, or even longer, because they will prefer the certainty of a job at their low wages to the possibility of unemployment if they leave and go in search of a job at higher wages. I do not think that the Government have sufficiently thought out the consequences of their policy, particularly if, as I expect, it is likely to fail.
Where do they go from there? Once embarked on this kind of exercise and having taken powers of compulsion and freezing of the wages structure in this way, if it fails they will then seem to take even more severe measures next time. There is no turning back. That is why this debate is of such crucial importance.
In the new situation introduced by these Amendments and the White Paper, what is the relevance of the Selective Employment Tax? The direct result of this tax is to increase many prices, so that the Government themselves are responsible for increases. Their right hand is unaware of what their left hand is doing. They will be creating pressure by putting up the cost of living, which will inevitably lead to further demands for wage increases. What would have helped in the Budget and what would help even now would be a tough and well-based payroll tax instead of this stupid Selective Employment Tax.
Even if one accepts the aims of the principles of the Bill as it is to be amended, how competent are the measures taken to achieve the desired end? I have no reticence about saying, because I have heard it discussed in many circles, how easy it will be to get round many of the Bill's provisions by such upgrading. There will be loaders first-class, second-class and third-class. There will be constant changes in status so that employers can get round the Bill and cooperate with their workers in doing so.
There is a case which highlights the difficulties of the Government which is quoted in today's Daily Mail. It says:
Britain's 40,000 bakers, the first workers to challenge the incomes policy with a series of strikes, have had their pay and productivity deal frozen.
They were given a 14 per cent. increase after months of negotiation—bringing their basic pay up to £14 1s. 9d. for a 40-hour week—in return for manpower flexibility, a new shift system, less overtime and other concessions.
They were agreeing to the conditions necessary for greater productivity.
The contract was agreed on July 7, but it was not formally signed until July 22—two days after the Government's official freeze date.
The men who bake the bread have lost their rise, but the men who deliver it, the roundsmen, got a 12s.-a-week increase, with the Prices and Incomes Board's approval, before the clamp-down.
It was entirely a matter of luck on which side of the line they happened to land.
Was the crisis so unexpected, were so few preparations taken that the Government were caught completely off guard by this? Is there not, even now, a great confusion in the mind of the Government between two entirely different crises? There is the balance of payments crisis, on the one hand, and the prices policy crisis, on the other. The two things are not the same and it is a great mistake to treat them as though they were.
To deal with the provisions for a standstill on incomes, how is one going to discriminate between increases in pay genuinely resulting from promotion to work at a higher level and the regrading of posts in order to enable highly competent employers to pay their employees more? As I see these Amendments, it will be impossible for the Government to do this. This policy will be riddled with anomalies. Some employers will co-operate with their workmen in order to achieve higher wages by skilful avoidance measures, and so on, and others will not.
This will lead to the most incredible feelings of unrest. The Government have put the trade union leaders in an impossible position. Responsible trade union leaders are trying to co-operate with the Government and maintain a wages policy and yet other people on the shop floor, giving an alternative form of leadership, are saying that the rank and file in the unions can disregard their leaders. What are trade union leaders going to think, and how much more impossible is their position going to become? How do the Government, in their White Paper, justify the distinction between allowing increases of pay due to regular increments of specified amounts within a predetermined range or scale and an increase in pay for a group of employees as a whole? In some occupations increases come naturally as a result of prearrangement while in others they are the result of collective bargaining. How can the Government justify allowing one and not another?
This Bill is the most direct encouragement, certainly in modern legislative history, of breach of contract that any Government have ever introduced. How can the Government hold their head high again when they are trying, through this policy, to justify the grossest of interferences with contracts freely negotiated and agreed? Sanctity of contract was and is a very important conception, and I should have thought, nowhere more so than in industrial bargaining. When the Prime Minister was in opposition he became the great authority for this when he attacked the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) for his introduction of a wages freeze. Now the chickens have really come home to roost. Where is this process to end? If the Government's stated aims are not achieved—and I do not believe that they will be—what will happen then? The Government have succeeded in making the prices and incomes policy merely a matter of keeping wages and salaries down by a system alternately of fiddling and then of bullying.
The incomes policy would begin to make some sense if the Government were also to declare that wages and salaries in this or that form of industry are too low for justice or efficiency to be achieved. Some backward employers have not been squeezed hard enough by the pressure for higher earnings. What incentive is there for employers to provide the right conditions and increase productivity under this Bill? It is the Government's responsibility as well as that of employers, to provide conditions in which good earnings are possible, and if there is one tremendous gap in the policy of this Government it is the total absence of a positive labour market policy.
There are two reasons why the present freeze would prevent any improvement in productivity. The threat of unemployment has always been a factor making workpeople feel insecure. It has always prevented the total co-operation of trade unions in suggested beneficial industrial changes. It has created an irrational objection and resistance to change. Now this Labour Government are directly trying to encourage some degree of unemployment. What psychological effect do they think that this is going to have? The second reason is that once one has a freeze of productivity agreements, when agreements in train are not implemented, when there is an indiscriminate freeze, again the psychological effect is tremendous. The men will lose confidence.
It is wholly wrong for a Bill—because this is what these Amendments amount to—such as Part IV to be introduced into this House by means of Amendments in a Committee of 25 Members. Today we have been able, because of this Motion, to discuss some of the matters which could have been discussed on Second Reading, but this is by no means a Second Reading debate. There are many alternatives which many hon. Members would like to put forward. It is not right to say that the Conservative and Liberal Oppositions and Labour back benchers have no alternatives to put forward.
There are many of us who would have liked to have considered the great expenditure on defence, particularly as the balance of payments issue and what we spend east of Suez have become so intermixed with this prices policy issue. All of these matters have reference to this question. We should like to know why the Prime Minister thought that it was important at this time to introduce this freeze when a few days ago he was so very optimistic. What has occurred to make the Government ready to resort to these shabby methods of trying to get their way?
These methods would not have been tolerated by a Labour Opposition. I can imagine what the shouts would have been if this Part IV had been introduced by a Tory Government. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. I am glad to be associated with back-bench Members of both sides of the House who have protested in the name of the House of Commons that this procedure should have been resorted to. We shall certainly vote in favour of this Motion this evening.
The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) said early in his speech that very serious constitutional issues were involved. I agree with him, and it is precisely because of this that I object most strongly to this Motion. Running through the speeches of Oppotion Members have been two quite separate questions. One has been, "Should we or should we not have a Second Reading on Part IV of the Prices and Incomes Bill?", and the other question has been whether Part IV of the Prices and Incomes Bill should be taken in its Committee stage on the Floor of the House. It is only the second of these two questions which is on the Order Paper and on which we are to vote.
We are asked this evening to vote upon the Motion that the Standing Committee should be discharged of its functions and that the Bill should be taken by a Committee of the whole House. As someone who believes very strongly in the need for greater Parliamentary control over the Executive, for greater opportunities for backbenchers to discuss wide-ranging issues of policy, I think that this is a very retrograde Motion. The logic of the Motion, and it ran throughout what the Leader of the Opposition said, is that controversial, complex details of legislation, if they are important, ought to be debated by a Committee of the whole House. If this were to happen, it is absolutely incontrovertible that we would tie ourselves up increasingly in the kind of dreary time-consuming and archaic procedures which we have on the Finance Bill and we should have less time to debate really important issues concerning national and international affairs.
I have been a Member for only three months and I speak with a certain diffidence on this subject. While I have been a Member I have spent a lot of time—sometimes in the Chamber, more often, I confess, out of it—listening to and waiting for debates on the Committee stage of the Finance Bill to be completed. I should have liked desperately to debate such issues as the United Nations, relations between Eastern and Western Europe, and all kinds of foreign affairs. We have hardly discussed industrial relations as a separate topic. If we accept the proposition that important and controversial details must be considered by a Committee of the whole House, we inhibit ourselves even more—and heaven knows we are inhibited enough already from discussing the wide-ranging issues which I thought that Parliamentary reformers really wanted to discuss.
Many of us on this side of the Committee go a long way with the tenor of my hon. Friend's argument. He says that we should debate the important issues on the Floor of the House. Would he say what is more important than this Bill? There has not been a Bill like this in 20 years. It affects every man, woman and child in the country. Surely, therefore, we should have the opportunity to debate it fully on the Floor of the House. This is what we are asking for. I am sure that that is what this Chamber is for.
With respect, I do not agree with my hon. Friend. In order to obtain greater control over the Executive and to strengthen the power of back benchers in getting their claws on the details of legislation—and it is the details which matter, not the vague general principles—I should like to see a strengthening of the Committee system, with much more powerful specialist legislative committees dealing, as a matter of general procedure, with similar Bills and experts on a given subject dealing with all Bills on that subject referred to their committee. This is the path which we should be following if we want to strengthen the power of back bench Members to control the Government. I want to control them as much as any hon. Member.
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend and wish to strengthen his argument. Does he realise that the statement of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) was misconceived? My hon. Friend's argument is correct, because the House of Commons could do anything. The Motion need not propose that the Bill should be committed to the whole House. It could propose that there should be another Second Reading. There could be half a dozen Second Readings. The House of Commons can do anything, and procedurally it could consider such a Motion.
I do not think that I should go into that matter, not out of discourtesy, but because procedural arguments terrify me. I do not understand the procedure of the House of Commons. When I hear procedural arguments I am seized by a mixture of sheer terror and complete incomprehension. Therefore, I will not pursue that point.
No; I have given way a lot. I will give way in a minute.
The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery was right in saying that there is an important constitutional issue at stake. The issue is this: how are we to reconcile the institutions of Parliamentary government with the increasing power and ever-extending rôle which the State must necessarily have in the sort of economic system towards which we are moving? We have to think about that very hard. The only way to do it is by changing, modernising and adapting our procedures to the requirements of a different age from the age in which they were devised. My objection to the Motion is that it does not do this. instead, it uses old procedures and archaic formulæ of exactly the kind from which we should be getting away.
Since the hon. Gentleman attacks the Opposition for the form of the Motion, may I assure him that it is not possible for us to debate on Second Reading a Bill which has already been debated on Second Reading, and to which Clauses are to be added. This matter was carefully considered. Whatever the hon. Gentleman may say, it is not possible to have two Second Reading debates on the same Bill.
I have given my reasons why I intend to vote against the Motion from the procedural point of view. What the right hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington (Sir J. Hobson) says is further proof of the fact that we need to modernise our procedures. If we are so snarled up in procedural red tape that the Opposition cannot table the Motion which they want to table, so much the worse for procedural red tape.
I should like to deal briefly with some of the points made about the Clauses which it is hoped to add to the Bill. I gather than it is out of order for me to speak about the merits. Therefore, I shall simply try to deal with one or two of the arguments which have been put forward.
Hon. Members have been speaking as though my right hon. Friend the First Secretary proposes to take permanent powers. He proposes only a six months' standstill and a further six months of limited freeze. This is a general point, but it should be borne in mind.
My hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) gave the reasons which, in his opinion, led the Government to bring forward a statutory freeze. As I understood it, he argued that, on the face of it, the Government had done this as a result of American pressure. If we want an effective voluntary standstill, it seems absolutely clear to me that we must have legislative backing behind it. I entirely accept the argument of my right hon. Friend the First Secretary.
The difficulty about an incomes policy is this. I believe that most people would like to co-operate. Most people realise the urgency of our economic situation. Most people know perfectly well that we cannot pay ourselves in money incomes more than we produce without landing ourselves in disaster. But there is human nature, and nobody wants to be "played for a sucker", to use an American expression. People would like an effective freeze, but nobody wants it if he thinks that it will not apply to other people. Therefore it seems to me that if we do want to have a freeze we must have statutory backing behind it so that we do not have an unco-operative minority, thus to break down the whole freeze. This seems to me to be an entirely valid argument.
Does my hon. Friend not agree that under the present proposals legislatively it is simply a threat to dividend distribution and profit making, but legislatively this is very much tied up and that this is the essential difference?
I am not quite sure that I follow that interjection. If I follow it aright, I am afraid I just disagree with the point behind my hon. Friend's interjection. If we impose an effective price freeze we deal with profits in that way. We have only to look at what has happened to profits during the period of the voluntary policy to see that, because the policy has been more effective up to now with prices than it has with wages, and, as a result, profits have fallen very dramatically. We have only to read the financial Press to see the sorts of opinions which are put forward, and which reflect those of hon. Members opposite, and whose criticism is that the policy, as it is working at the moment, is too damaging to profits and breaks the mainspring of the capitalist economy. I would direct my hon. Friend's attention to these facts and ask him to look at the figures and I would think he would not come away with any other possible view.
To deal, finally, with one other point, which was made by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery, who talked about productivity. Exactly the same arguments apply to productivity and productivity agreements as those which I have tried to put forward as my reason for being in favour of legislative backing for the freeze. It may well be true that if we give a group of workers increases as a result of their having increased productivity this would be economically beneficial in one sense, but what would the effect be on every other group of workers in the community? We sometimes tend to forget that it is not open to everyone to increase his productivity easily or quickly. Some people can. In industries where there is a high capital content and a low labour content it is possible to do this. If we allow productivity agreements during the period of the freeze we break the freeze, because everybody else says, "If those chaps can get it, as a result of the pure accident of their being in an industry in which productivity can easily be increased, why should I not get it?" In this way we destroy the essential element of fairness, which must be there if the policy is to work at all.
I was interested by what the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Marquand) said, and I shall come back to him in a minute if I may. I thought the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) had an important point today when he hinted at the fact that Parliament is losing its power. I must say that, in going round the country, I have felt that this is happening. People are saying so at the present time. Therefore, I was amazed that the right hon. Gentleman the First Secretary should have used the phrase "the rights of Parliament", because Parliament is in disrepute at the present time, and surely this high handed action of the Government in forcing the Bill through the very small Committee upstairs will bring Parliament into further disrepute. I have seen some people driving cars with stickers on the back saying, "Guy Fawkes, come back. All is forgiven." Does the First Secretary subscribe to that slogan? Will he be Guy Fawkes who will blow Parliament up another time? In any event I feel that the failures of the Government in managing our affairs have contributed to the disrepute of Parliament.
It is perfectly obvious that Part IV of the Bill ought to be discussed on the Floor of the House. I am not a member of the Standing Committee; I am one of 600 hon. Members who are not on the Standing Committee; and a Measure so important, in a situation so dangerous to this country, should be given a Second Reading debate and the whole spectrum of opinion in the House of Commons should be seen. The Leader of the Opposition said today that there are many different cross currents within the party on this issue. I happen to be one of the cross currents. I believe that the Prime Minister's statement on 20th July had plenty of sense in it. Of course it should have been made three months earlier. If it had been made on 20th April this situation would never have arisen.
No, three months. But he did not, but if he had made it on 20th April then of course there would not have been any need for Part IV. The Government having got into a jam, having acted too late, I am bound to say that there is a lot of sense in having a freeze. It will be a gesture to the world. One of the strongest reasons for our present situation is the loss of confidence by the world in our currency, and the fixed idea people overseas have that we cannot control our own inflation. One of the most disconcerting things to foreigners is the rise in incomes bearing no relation to productivity.
I asked the First Secretary on 28th July by how much productivity of the nation—not just industry, but for the nation as a whole—had gone up in the last weeks of 1965 as compared with 1964, and the answer was 1¼ per cent. The productivity for the nation as a whole has gone up by only 1¼ per cent. So in 1965 instead of having a rise of incomes of 9 per cent. we should have had in truth wages, salaries and prices remaining static. Only in that way could we have prevented the inflation and, I believe, held the confidence of the world. The deflationary attitudes and actions which the Government have taken may be too late, and it may be we shall have another crisis in the autumn. Indeed, the Prime Minister—we have to admit he is right—said that we must really plan the economy on a stable basis, with 2 per cent. of unemployment, 1 per cent. of whom are unemployable and the other 1 per cent. will be on interchange from one sort of industry to another.
But while all that is working out, it seems to me, any Government have to show the world that they mean business, and of course we are burying our heads in the sand if we believe we can get wages and salaries and prices freeze on a voluntary basis. The First Secretary has been touring round the country in the last 20 months trying to get a voluntary basis, but with no real success at all, certainly with no success to impress our foreign creditors.
I have listened to the debate today and I know what my hon. Friends say about Part IV that it is a hamhanded Socialist Measure full of anomalies and difficulties and will not make for efficiency, and that in the end it will fail. I realise all that, but it seems to me that if the Government who want this as a temporary expedient to gain time to take other measures for the benefit of the country, then I would be inclined to say. let us in Parliament, as a council of State, get together, look at this, and see whether we should oppose the Bill as hard as we have. That is why I say I am one of the cross currents in my own party, some of which take a different view.
There are things to be done, and know the Prime Minister realises it—to improve productivity, to look again at restrictive practices, and the reform of industrial relations. Therefore, I believe that the inconvenience and unpopularity of the Bill would have been worth while if as a Council of State we got together and dealt with the problem. Those are the reasons why I should have liked to have had the Bill on the Floor of the House, and to have heard the Government's answer to these questions. There are many other issues, such as whether we can afford to continue to let sterling carry such a large share of world trade as a reserve currency, and whether we ought not to try and get our neighbours in Europe to produce a reserve currency which would take some of the strain off sterling. It is ridiculous that we should continue to get into trouble because sterling is a reserve currency. If it were not, it would not affect the City to a great extent, because all its insurance and exports could be done——
I realised that I was going a little wide of the mark, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was led away by my enthusiasm.
Those are the sorts of issues which I should have liked to hear debated on Second Reading. It is ridiculous for this Bill to be buried upstairs in a small Committee. The issues are too big. We should be allowed to have a say in them, and that is why I shall vote for the Motion that the Bill be recommitted to a Committee of the whole House.
May I first place on record my personal objection that an important debate on a matter of procedure should have been interrupted at six o'clock by a piece of medieval pageantry. I objected on the last occasion that it happened and, to be consistent, I must do it again. The whole House would regret the temporary absence of Mr. Speaker on any occasion, but I intend to ask my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to see whether some form of procedure could not be introduced in order that the Royal Assent to Bills should not necessarily result in the suspension of the sitting of the House.
May I declare my personal interest in today's debate, as a member of Standing Committee B which is charged with the duty of considering the Bill? I am not the only member of that Committee who has been listening to the debate, of course. The right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) is present now, and at various times my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) and the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir T. Brinton) have been here.
It would be nice to believe that the House is so concerned about the burdens which have been placed on that Committee that they wish to safeguard our health and wellbeing. However, I think that that is pressing it a little hard. It would be nice to think that Mr. Speaker could give his attention to some of the inconvenience which we have experienced that need not necessarily have arisen. I think that he will take the point.
The main reason which has been put forward in support of the Motion is that hon. Members should be able to express their personal points of view on legislation at some stage or other in the proceedings of Parliament. There has been a growing claim by hon. Members of the Opposition over the past months that the custom and practice of the House is that not only should we have the chance of taking part in a debate but that we should have the right to speak. That came out forcibly in the debate on the Motion of censure against the Chairman of Ways and Means some little time ago. It was mentioned that the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Maurice Macmillan) sat for seven hours and did not get a chance to speak. Again, when the guillotine Motion came up, it was said that everyone should have the right to speak. However, I think that that is going too far. We should have the chance to speak but not the automatic right to speak, and there is a difference. It has been claimed that justice has not been done. I would suggest to the House that we do not ask for justice, but we do claim our rights, because once one moves away from justice one gets nearer to charity, and no one in the House is asking for charity.
The rights of hon. Members of the House of Commons on matters of procedure are laid down in the Standing Orders. If hon. Members object, the way to get over the problem is by changing the Standing Orders. I, for one, would be in favour of changing parts of them.
The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) claimed that the Government are asking for things without changing the Standing Orders. In support of the Government, I would emphasise that they have done nothing in this matter which is not permitted by the Standing Orders of the House. Whilst the Standing Orders protect the rights of minorities and of the Opposition, presumably they are also there to protect the rights of the Government in order that they can get their legislation through the House.
A second issue which has been put forward by the supporters of the Motion is that this vital matter of prices and incomes and the wage freeze is being considered by a small Committee hidden away upstairs. The hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) talked about it being buried. There are several ghosts walking through here, as a result of our labours upstairs, including the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen), who is a substantial ghost.
On that Committee, there are 25 Members, which is the usual number for a Standing Committee. There are ten Conservative Members, and it is not my fault if there is no Liberal Member, no independent Labour Member from Northern Ireland and no Plaid Cwmru Member. The way to get over that is for them to get bigger representations in the House.
Of the 15 Labour Members, two are known opponents of the Bill. There is no secret about it, because they have expressed their opposition to it both in the Chamber and outside wherever they could put their point of view. The Government decide who shall be on the Committee, and the Government, with a paper majority of 97 in the House, have a majority of one in the Standing Committee considering this vital matter.
It is very fair; some of us think that they have been too fair. Certainly they have taken quite a risk.
When I asked that my name should go forward for inclusion as a member of that Committee, I entered into no commitments that I would support the Bill in every way. No one came to me and said, "We will put you on the Committee if you guarantee to sit quietly day after day and vote in the way that we want." There was no commitment at all. It may be that I find myself a member of it because I belong neither to the "keep right" nor the "keep left". It could be said that I belong, rather, to the "keep quiet", though, as you will know from the number of times that I try to catch your eye and fail, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that is not altogether my fault.
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves that point, may I say that it is the monumental silence of the hon. Gentleman in the Committee, reflecting no articulate opinion, which distresses us so much, particularly when we hear that he volunteered. If he volunteered to go on the Committee in order to give testimony by his silence, that is an extraordinary Parliamentary situation.
This has happened before. I was referred to this morning by the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. David Mitchell), who gave me prior notice that he was going to do so. He was reading my election address, and he described me as an extinct volcano. The hon. Gentleman did his best to make sure that we would join in the Committee debates and share the duties carried out by other hon. Members, but if they want to sit up and chat all night, let them do so. We have our ways of expressing our opinions. The hon. Member for Oswestry is well-known as a clever Member of this House. He knows the rules of the game in Committee as well as we do, and his temptations are to be pushed on one side.
The Government have taken an enormous risk. They have a majority of 97 in the House but a majority of only one in the Committee. The Opposition say that they have introduced this Motion because nobody knows what is happening in this tiny Committee upstairs. I just do not understand this, because we have had a constant procession of people in and out of the Committee room, so much so that I felt like one of the inhabitants of the Zoo. We found that people were leaving the Chamber to come upstairs to see what was going on. At times the room was so crowded that others could not get in. There have also, of course, been Press reports, though these have not always been accurate. We were once told about the "Cousins alliance with Tory M.P.s", but that did not last long. It was soon shot down in flames.
At 3 o'clock this morning there was a dispute about how many mattresses were available. There is no reason why anyone in this House should not know what is going on in that Committee. I appreciate that many who do not agree with my viewpoint spent part of the night listening to what was going on, and to accommodate the increased numbers of those who want to hear the proceedings we are moving to a larger Committee room tomorrow. The Opposition have played a full partin our discussions. There has been no filibustering. They have put forward powerful arguments, which have received proper consideration by my right hon. and hon. Friends, and they have been answered.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton is capable of putting his point of view before any audience. He has done so to his satisfaction, and he has received some support. It is a matter for regret that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) had to go to another part of the world on Parliamentary duties and was not able to support my right hon. Friend. But this was a matter of choice. My hon. Friend had Parliamentary duties in two places and he could not be in both places at the same time. No one has prevented my right hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton from putting his point of view, and what he has said reflects views put forward on the Floor of the House.
Perhaps I might now state my attitude to productivity, prices and incomes. I do not need to prove my loyalty to my constituents or to my trade union. Some of my constituents are as opposed to this Measure as is anyone in the House. My trade union, the National Union of Mine-workers, by a majority—and it does not concern me whether it is a large majority or a small one—has been opposed to the prices and incomes policy since it was adumbrated about three or four weeks ago, and it will be even more opposed to this Measure, but I am here not as the delegate either of my constituents of West Derby or of my union. They are entitled to my industry, but they are entitled also to my judgment.
As they say in Lancashire, "You never get owt for nowt". The price that we have to pay for some of the things that we want is in the Bill as it was before the House and as it is upstairs. Some of us are prepared to pay that price, while others are not. I respect the judgment of those who are not, and all that I ask them to do is to respect my judgment in being prepared to pay it.
I am sure that the House is grateful to the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) for giving us the benefit of his experience in the Standing Committee, which we should not have heard about had this debate not taken place.
Perhaps I might return to what I am sure the hon. Member will agree is the real point of the debate, namely, that the Prices and Incomes Bill is one of the most important political and economic issues that this House has had to consider since the war, and that it should, therefore, be discussed fully on the Floor of the House.
It has been said that the Motion is not correct in that it does not suggest that there should be a Second Reading of the new Clauses. One cannot have two Second Readings of the same Bill. I think that we have now got that point clear. There was some misunderstanding about that, but what is clear is that the principle—and the Floor of the House is the place for discussing principles, and not details—is one of great national importance.
I have been interested in Parliamentary reform for many years. I have always advocated that certain Bills ought to be taken upstairs, and that we should considerably extend our Committee system. However, there must be some exceptions to that rule if we are to carry out those reforms. We have in the past few weeks seen considerable inroads in the rights of private Members, in the guillotining of the Selective Employment Payments Bill and now over the Prices and Incomes Bill. These are cases where the principle should be discussed on the Floor of the House. They are of such national importance that they must be exceptions to any reforms which we may make for the future.
I am in favour of extending the Committee system for all non-contentious Bills and, indeed, for all Bills which are not of very great national importance. The Prime Minister has described this situation as "unprecedented". He said that such measures have not been taken even in war time. I think that that is untrue, but they have certainly not been taken in peace time. They are unprecedented and that, in itself, surely justifies my right hon. Friend's case.
This is one of the greatest problems which the House of Commons has had to consider for a long time. I was glad to hear the speeches opposite, especially that of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), treating this as a House of Commons matter. Defences of the Government's position, saying that it was satisfactory to deal with the Bill in Standing Committee, are preposterous, having regard to the nature of the problem. The powers which are being given to the First Secretary—he did not seem to understand the point of the Motion—are arbitrary powers of a very serious kind——
The powers which it is proposed to give to the First Secretary—if the hon. Member prefers that expression—are very serious and arbitrary peacetime powers. This House has seldom had to deal with anything like them. It is, surely, only reasonable that it should have the right to discuss them.
It is perhaps appropriate that, this week, in the Library, the exhibits include the Declaration of Rights and the Bill of Rights, which was a protest against the oppressive Government of 1688. The First Secretary and those hon. Members who support the Government's position for not allowing the matter full discussion on the Floor of the House should read the Declaration of Rights, because this House has in the past had to stand out against Governments which have sought to curtail its powers of scrutiny and criticism, just as hon. Gentlemen opposite have been trying to do.
I hope that hon. Members are aware of the great inroads made by the Executive in the past few years. Those of us who have been here for some years have noticed very great changes. This applies to Governments of both political parties. The customary rights of debate have been curtailed in a way which is likely to be a serious precedent. Hon. Members now on the Government side may find that these precedents are very uncomfortable when they are back on this side of the House. They should not support these precedents, which are being set by their own Government, without very serious thought.
The Times, in a scalding article on Monday entitled "Recipe for Bad Law", drew attention to what the Government
are doing and pointed out that these statutory powers to freeze wages and prices went far beyond the original Second Reading debate on the Bill, and deprived the House of a Second Reading debate. It said:
It is the duty of Parliament to protect the rights of people against arbitrary powers and arbitrary government.
Therefore, those who have said that this is a constitutional question are not exaggerating. Hon. Members on both sides have made this clear, and the debate is all the more important on that account.
This is emergency legislation introduced by a frightened Government and affecting the whole economy. The Government are no longer free agents in handling the economy. They are tied foot and hand by their creditors and that is why they have been forced into taking compulsory powers in regard to the economy which they perhaps would not otherwise have taken. However, they have no alternative and this is all the more reason why we should debate the Bill on the Floor of the House and not limit discussion to a Standing Committee.
These pressures on the Government come from people who would not impose these measures on their own nations if they could avoid doing so. Certainly the United States would not wish to take these steps, any more than European countries. I very much fear that, as a result of taking these powers, and the possible results which may flow from them, in the next few months we may be bidding goodbye for some time to economic freedom.
If these powers are applied in the way they could be, incentive to competition and enterprise will be frozen. Also frozen will be all the efforts of industry in struggling against a mass of red tape in trying to justify any action it wishes to take on prices and wages. This 12-months' hiatus in industry will be extremely serious in the long term.
At the end of this 12-months' period what will happen? I suggest that there will be a pent up release of wage demands which may create far worse inflation than we have had. The repercussions may particularly affect the nation's technology. It is clear that these steps will have a big effect on what is called the brain drain. Agreements which at present exist between the Government and their technologists will be postponed for the next 12 months. At present the Civil Service cannot fill the greater proportion of vacancies in Government technological establishments.
As the House knows, there are many scientists and technologists in my constituency. This is a serious matter for them. Many people are receiving an expensive education through the taxpayer for the purpose of working in scientific and technological spheres. These people will not wish to stay in this country if measures of this sort continue and it seems clear that many of them will go to the United States and other countries which are prepared to pay, and pay well, for their services. Considerable dangers will follow for the future of our economy.
The Government are taking steps today which are unprecedented, as the Prime Minister has admitted. One particularly important point made today is that the new Clauses added to the Bill create new offences. For the House of Commons to say that it is going to deprive itself, as a result of the Division tonight, of its right to discuss those new offences is extraordinary, and hon. Members will be sorry as a result. Hon. Gentlemen opposite who support the Government in the vote tonight should remember that, having set these precedents, it will be difficult to get away from them in future.
We are, therefore, discussing a strictly House of Commons matter. Hon. Members on both sides, who cherish the rights of the House should, as I have suggested, go to the Library and study the Declaration of Rights—and, very appropriately, that document is on exhibition in the Library this week.
—of technologists and scientists as a result of the policies of the Government. There are many reasons why these people are leaving Britain, but I do not believe that those reasons are related to the arguments being adduced by the Opposition today. Indeed, the Government's policies are designed to cure some of the existing problems that have driven some of our scientists to leave for other countries.
Unfortunately, some of those hon. Members opposite who have aroused the greatest passion in me for the last seven hours have disappeared, and that has, to some extent, deflated my desire to take up some of their arguments. At the same time, it is essential to examine some of the recent arguments presented in this debate, and particularly those advanced by the spokesman for the Liberal Party. In passing, I would say that the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke), who has just disappeared, made some very attractive overtures for a coalition, but no matter what shades of opinion may be held on this side I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's idea of a coalition is even a starter in the present situation.
The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) made some very interesting points and posed some interesting questions. After referring to the Ruling given by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever), Chairman of the Standing Committee, that the new Clauses were in order, he spoke of the whole subject of seeking advice. One of the curious things about this place is that advice is very difficult to get. I want to be careful how I speak, because I do not want to accuse anyone of not doing the sort of thing they said they would do.
My point is that when the Government set about framing these new Clauses they sought the best advice available as to whether the Clauses were in order. The advice available in this place on procedure, and so on, was that the Government were correct in going ahead, including the new Clauses, and discussing them in Committee. The Chairman of the Standing Committee then has to decide whether this procedure is in order, but in that process he has to go to the same people who have already advised the Government—because, in the main, they are the experts on procedural matters, and the like. Of necessity, the Chairman of the Standing Committee is bound to get answers consistent with those given to the Government. We therefore have the curious quirk that the Government seek advice, and are then followed by the Chairman of the Standing Committee who receives from the same people the same advice, and therefore comes to somewhat similar conclusions.
The hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of the position in which many of us on this side find ourselves. I do not criticise the Government for introducing the Clauses or even for changing their ideas about the Bill. In fact, I welcome that action. I see it as a sign of strength. We who very often are critics of the Government try to persuade them to alter their ideas about the kind of legislation they want to initiate, and as it is an indication of the degree of flexibility that we advocate, I do not criticise the Government for wanting to alter their legislation. But I must speak against the Motion, because I do not believe that we should be dealing with the Bill on the Floor of the House at this stage. I have never advocated taking up the time of the House on this kind of legislation at this stage, whether it be the Finance Bill or any other legislation.
That is not part of my argument and that is why I cannot support the Motion, but I am also a severe critic of the way in which the Government have attempted to achieve their objectives in this situation. Having looked at the matter very seriously, I came to the conclusion that Part IV comprises new issues and not only changes the character of the Bill but its very basis. Therefore, the Government should be considering introducing an entirely new Bill concurrently with the legislation being discussed upstairs.
My criticism of the Government is that they are now introducing an entirely new set of factors which should be formulated in terms of a new Bill and not added in this way upstairs as an additional part of the legislation. The only conclusion I can come to is that I must join my hon. Friends who will abstain from recording a vote this evening. That is what I propose to do and, like other colleagues, I ask as many of my hon. Friends as possible to consider this approach and to do likewise as the only logical expression of criticism in this situation.
The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery made another interesting point about the situation relative to the suggestions made recently by the Prime Minister about all-party specialist committees. This is very much related to the position in which we are placed. We would not be in so much trouble if we had an all-party specialist committee dealing with economic affairs, because we should be able to probe the origin of the advice given to the Government which has necessitated introducing this kind of legislation. There is a great danger in this. If we were able to probe origins of that sort we could find the difficulty between the D.E.A. and the Treasury at the moment. We should also understand the issues and discussions in the Cabinet. Precisely because of situations of this kind we shall never get all-party specialist committees.
While we can concede the point in terms of economic policies, it would be dangerous if this caught on with the defence chiefs or the Foreign Office. So these suggestions are non-starters. They would change completely the relationship between back benchers, Parliament and Government and give us access to Cabinet decisions and—more important—access to the origin of the advice fed into the Cabinet.
The Leader of the Opposition spoke about the Government having to satisfy the Opposition in terms of confidence as to the measures they were now introducing. He has missed the point entirely because the opposition to Government policy is no longer on the other side of the House. Opposition to this Government is now no longer there but is the London bankers and those in Zurich, Frankfurt, Basle and other centres of banking in Europe. Far from accepting the suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition that it is the job of the Government to satisfy hon. Members opposite, I say that it is nothing of the kind.
It is now generally accepted that we are attempting to satisfy the opposition in those other places. This is supported by the behaviour of the Press and the radio because, when the announcements were made by the Prime Minister——
I agree, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If I get too much into the habit of following the Leader of the Opposition I shall often be out of order. That is precisely what I was doing but I shall tread no further that way. Because of the limitation and restriction of the House on back benchers which gives the maximum time to Front Benchers and Privy Councillors, I have only about five minutes in which to conclude my remarks.
Important issues have been raised in the debate. It has been suggested that hon. Members on this side who do not accept wage restraint or legislation against wage increases are advocating a return to the jungle, with a free-for-all for everyone. This is not so. Those of us who are opposed to wages legislation make a constructive contribution to the argument which is now taking place.
The new Part IV is a contradiction in itself. The Government propose to take extraordinary measures to deal with both prices and wages. This is a contradictory situation. We have always argued that there is no longer any relationship between the problems of the post-war years and those of the pre-war years. Before 1939 we suffered from over-production and an entirely different set of circumstances existed. Since the war, the problem has been underproduction. In this situation, the suggested measures are no longer tenable. They are blunt instruments, not related to present-day requirements. They may be related to the requirements of the days when there was over-production and, therefore, the problem of accumulation and slump conditions. We cannot now have a policy of restraint, of freezing, of complete control of both prices and wages. This is a contradiction if it is desired to bring about greater productivity.
We are advocates of a strict licensing system—price control, perhaps beyond the suggestions contained in the new Clauses. If we could establish a price licensing system or price control, a climate would be created in which our other objectives could be achieved. Thus, when worker and management wished to negotiate a settlement, they would have to negotiate it against the background of price control. The employer would have to concede any wage advance at the expense of dividends. He would have to concede a settlement which would help to secure the redistribution of wealth which is part of our objective.
The employer, in making a concession to the worker in this way, would have to look to the amount he was ploughing back into his industry in terms of modernisation, new techniques, and so on. He would have to do that so as to make the plant capable of securing the necessary productivity to cover the settlement.
The worker, recognising the economic situation, would no doubt have to concede a great deal. He might have to make concessions at the expense of restrictive practices. He might have to make an agreement on the basis of joint productivity. Putting the pattern together in this way, we say that the use of a flexible, sensitive method of price control, having free wage bargaining at the same time, is the positive way to help us out of this situation, bringing together these opposing forces by using modern sensitive techniques as part of our effort to solve the problem.
Far from being advocates of going back to the jungle and to a free-for-all, we are providing some economic answers to the present situation. In the brevity with which I have had to cover my points I may have created some wrong impressions in some people's minds, but I have tried to suggest, in our rejection of the Government's policy of introducing price and wage controls side by side, that they are creating an economic contradiction.
Those of us who have said that we believe in free wage bargaining and strict price control at the same time are arguing logically and constructively. I have already explained why I cannot accept the Opposition's Motion. Nor can I accept the Government's attempt to force these new measures through a Committee. The measures constitute the basis of an entirely new Bill, and for those reasons I shall abstain from voting.
I wish, first, to apologise to a number of hon. Members whose speeches I have not heard during the debate. My only excuse is that owing to duty on Standing Committee B I did not have time to prepare my thoughts on what I would say now until late this afternoon, but I have received a report of what each hon. Member has said and I hope to refer to the themes of their speeches during my remarks.
I also want to put on record that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition wishes to withdraw the allegation he made during his opening speech that the right hon. and hon. Members on the Liberal Bench voted against taking the Bill on the Floor of the House. My right hon. Friend wishes to say that he had misread the record of the Division, and he freely acknowledges that the right hon. and hon. Liberal Members voted, as did my right hon. and hon. Friends, to take the Bill on the Floor of the House.
My right hon. Friend opened the debate in a formidable manner. He spelt out quietly and incontrovertibly the strongest case to show why the Government were wrong in denying the House an opportunity to discuss the principles of Part IV in full session. The right hon. Gentleman the First Secretary seemed altogether to miss the point of the debate. He stuck like a leech to his prepared script. He made a number of comments on alleged proposals or suggestions by my right hon. Friend which my right hon. Friend had never made, and in every way he totally failed to reply either to my right hon. Friend or to the gravamen of the debate.
The decision whether or not Part IV falls within the scope of the Bill fell to be decided by the Chairman of Standing Committee B. He made his decision, and that decision was accepted without reservation by all the Members of the Committee. That decision was made. It is past. That matter is settled for the Committee. It is quite another question, and it happens to be the one we are debating today, whether or not the principles enshrined in Part IV of the Bill should have been debated at some stage on the Floor of the House. That is the issue of this debate, and it is the issue to which the First Secretary of State did not address a single coherent argument. I hope that the Leader of the House will fill the gap left by his right hon. Friend and tell us for what possible justifiable reason the Government decided to deny the House that debate.
Almost every argument produced by the First Secretary of State reinforced, if it needed reinforcement, my right hon. Friend's case. He spoke of new offences. He said that there were no new penalties. He seemed to regard that as the important matter. He did not seem to take into account that Part IV contains a whole range of new offences. Every time he emphasised his point, he added force to my right hon. Friend's contention that here is a major new Measure which is going forward without any debate on the Floor of the House.
There are differences of opinion between those of us who are so far at one about how best the Government could have handled Part IV or how best the Opposition could have phrased their Motion today. But in one form or another, had the Government wished, they could have arranged for the substance of Part IV to be debated in principle on the Floor of the House. I need not weary the House with the various technical ways in which it could have been done. I think that there is no difference between us that, in one way or another, it could have been done. We on this side accept the consequence that, in almost every one of the ways which the Government could have chosen, one of the implications would have been that the House would be kept sitting one or two days longer. Faced with legislation of this importance, what are one or two days in the life of hon. Members if they are doing their duty to their constituents and to the country? So let us hear no argument from the Leader of the House about the holidays of hon. Members.
I shall set out some themes which, had the Government given the House its proper rights, hon. Members on both sides would probably have wanted to raise. Inevitably, I shall make some comments on the state of the economy, but I repeat at the outset what my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) said only a few days ago, that, basically, the underlying strength of the British economy is immense and that the degree to which we are in trouble at the moment is marginal. That needs to be said so that I shall not, I hope, be accused of crying "Stinking fish" about the country's strength.
I maintain that, first and foremost, if the Government had given the House its rights, hon. Members on both sides would have wished to discuss how, once again, we have got ourselves into this familiar critical situation. We are sure that the crisis is more deep and much more avoidable by early Government action than any which the country has faced for decades. But, wishing as I do to make this speech in as House of Commons a manner as I can, I say at once that it would be quite wrong to pretend that the task facing any Government in this country is an easy one.
Had we had a debate on the Floor of the House about the principles of the new Part of the Bill, it might have been said that all Governments since the war have in their efforts to benefit the citizens of this country tried to do—I hope that the First Secretary of State will listen. I am trying to say something which will meet general agreement. It might be said that all Governments since the war, in their efforts to serve the people of this country, have tried to do too much too fast and as a result have achieved less than they would if they had hastened more slowly.
All I am seeking to say is that there are lessons to be learned and that we on this side of the House have learned lessons. It is our contention that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have not learned lessons. Here for the first time in the history of the country—I shall refer to the Prime Minister, but I would just say that he has had the courtesy to send me a note explaining that because of a prior engagement he cannot be here at this stage—we have an economist Prime Minister. Yet we have had in the last twenty months a series of more serious economic misjudgments than the country has ever had to endure before.
I will not weary the House with a dreary catalogue of the instalments of economic medicine that the Government have doled out bit by bit to the country. There are 24 instalments on the record of economic restrictions, with borrowings from abroad and extra taxation. Every time the Government have said, "This time we have got it right. This time the medicine will work." Yet every time, within a few weeks or months, they are back with another dose of medicine. Now we face a critical emergency tied hand and foot by our debts, as my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave) said.
The Prime Minister speaks with public relations optimism, of 2 per cent. unemployment. We think that the measures that the Government have taken may lead to depression even more severe than that. The Government have had to jettison their programme, their policies, their philosophy and their panaceas in one savage return of the birds to roost. Now the country has to endure a squeeze more savage than in any time that can be remembered, with all the consequences for the population that must follow.
On every side there are casualties. We should have liked, if the Government had given us opportunity for debate, to discuss the death of the National Plan, not in any sense of rejoicing. We on this side had doubts, and some of my right hon. and hon. Friends had more than doubts. But we have learned. Yet the First Secretary goes straight off, in his pursuit of the fantasy of a National Plan, from the death of one to create another. He does not seem to have learned at all.
If we had had a chance to debate the principles of the Bill, we should have wanted to discuss my right hon. Friend's contention that the principal casualty of the Government's measures and of Part IV of the new Bill will be, on top of wages, on top of prices and on top of investment, the progress of our economy. We should have wanted to discuss that because we believe that Part IV will damage the supply and demand mechanism, the sensitive reaction to changes in demands of a high standard people, far more than can be justified by the benefits that will be gained.
We would have wished, had we had such a debate, to maintain that the Government, who started off with such good will at home and abroad, have squandered the confidence of the people, have lost the confidence of other countries, and have still kept the arrogant vanity with which they came to office. Pride comes before a fall, but the country has to suffer.
Some of us would have wanted, had we had such a debate, to point out that, though the Prices and Incomes Bill and Part IV of that Bill may have been recommended by many of our creditors, those creditor countries do not take the same medicine for themselves. Some of us would have wanted to point out that if the Government wished to achieve more confidence abroad they would have done far better to throw overboard their steel legislation rather than try to impose Part IV of the Prices and Incomes Bill. Some of us on all sides of the House would have wanted to point out the consequences of the slide from voluntary to compulsory systems of regulation that the Government have embarked upon.
But it would not only have been the general background to the present crisis that we would have wished to discuss. We would have wished to ask whether the state of the economy is such as to justify the panic measures, the siege economy, that the Government are foisting upon us. If things are so bad that a siege economy is justified, who have brought it about but right hon. Members opposite and are they, in the light of that, the people to be entrusted with the powers to be given by Part IV?
In a state of panic the Government are seeking to impose one strategy with which many right hon. and hon. Members on both sides disagree and we would have wished to discuss the alternative strategies available. Many of us would have wished to comment on the savage and severe deflation which has come on top of taxation and deflation already carried out by the Government and which would of themselves have been more than enough to put our economy to rights, although with far more damage to people and investment, than would have been called for had the Government acted far more promptly.
Some hon. Members, like my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers), who made an excellent speech, would have wished to maintain that the measures the Government have decided to take will be futile and even dangerous in the present situation. Some would have wished to say that the attack on earnings is wrong and that the Government should really be attacking unit costs and striking at restrictive practices, whether or not with the connivance of management, while others would have wished to ask the Government what progress was being made by the Royal Commission on Trade Unions and whether even yet the T.U.C. evidence has been submitted to it.
The House enjoyed the speech by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), which was a notable parliamentary performance. With elegance and eloquence, trenchantly and cogently he tore the Government's behaviour to shreds. His remedy for the present troubles of the nation is not ours but has he no right to express his view in a Second Reading debate on the principles of Part IV?
Had we had this opportunity we would have wished to examine some of the muddles and contradictions and confusions inherent in Government policy and in Part IV. We would have wished to follow the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson), who also made an excellent speech, in his analysis of how rapidly the Government have changed the essentials of their policy. We would have wished to examine how, on the one hand, the Government could introduce demand deflators like the Selective Employment Tax and the regulator, which to be effective must lead to an increase in prices, and then, on the other hand, bring forward Part IV of the Prices and Incomes Bill seeking to sit on prices.
We would have wished to examine the consequences of Part IV of the Bill and to consider what will happen to pay in the new deflation. We would have wished to ask whether anyone will want or be able to increase pay—except in the case of skilled men, of course, who will still be at a premium. We would have asked whether dividends will, indeed, tend to rise and need any control at all. The likelihood is in the opposite direction.
The House would also have wished to consider the sad fate in the new ice age of productivity agreements. There is good news occasionally and one must welcome the move by the boilermakers and the employers to limit demarcation disputes. What opportunity will there be in the months to come for such productivity bargains to be made?
We would wish to ask what the position of the trade union leaders is to be, left isloated, though acquiescent, and what power the Government have given to the militants on the shop floors by their clumsy policy. We would wish, though it is a sad subject, to examine the results of the Government's clutch of Measures—[Interruption.] I ask for the First Secretary to keep quiet, or to rise to intervene; he is continually muttering. Had we had the opportunity for a proper debate, we would have wished to consider the sad implications of the Government's policies for housing. We would wish to ask whether the Government are to stop mortgage rates from rising, even though the results will be a famine of investment money with which people might buy houses of their own. We would wish to ask the Government whether it makes sense to hold down rents while rates rise. We would wish to ask the Government whether they are happy with the situation in which they are to attempt to hold down everything except rates and taxes.
We would wish to press the Government to give us evidence why, when the First Secretary cannot tell us of any failure of the voluntary system of notification, he finds it necessary to introduce a system of compulsory notification of price and wage increases. We would wish to ask the Government to weigh in the scales the fairness which they think they will achieve from this standstill with the bitterness to which the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) referred, the bitterness of the railwaymen, the bitterness of the doctors, the bitterness of civil servants and local government officials whose pay and consequently whose pensions are to be damaged, and 100 other groups of whom hon. Members are aware. We would wish to ask the First Secretary why, if it is so urgent that these powers be obtained, he says so constantly that he does not intend to use them. Those are some of the questions which we would wish to ask.
Then we would want to follow the question of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury and ask what is to happen after this notorious 12 months' period. Many hon. Members feel that there will be a flood of claims and a torrent of grievances waiting to be satisfied. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) asked forcefully what use these arbitrary powers will be put to when the next crisis under this Government descends upon the country.
We would wish to press the Government to tell us how deeply they think investment will dip. Investment is caught in a quadruple vice—the diminution of investment grants, the credit squeeze, the Selective Employment Tax squeeze and now there is to be a prices squeeze. When one examines the indifferent casualness with which the Government have imposed the forced loan under the Selective Employment Tax and have not begun to examine its implications for the liquidity of business and the country's investment potential, one is forced to ask them how they can possibly continue to preach efficiency to the country and practice so little of it themselves.
We believe that for a few weeks or a few months the Government may get some degree of partial standstill. We believe, as my hon. Friend the Member for Tavistock (Mr. Michael Heseltine) said, that the cost of this will be desperate in the middle and long term, that they will discredit the whole system of law, that they will discredit the whole confidence of the country. For the right hon. Gentleman to speak of using the next 12 months constructively is getting far further than hope can justify.
We believe that there is even a danger that these powers will not lapse after 12 months, that they will be taken again. The sad fact is that right hon. Gentlemen opposite have lost all credibility when they tell us that the powers will end in 12 months. We no longer believe that.
Hon Members on all sides of the House are disturbed and apprehensive, and are deprived of the chance to debate the great issues raised by Part IV of the Bill. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has said, this debate represents a great divide. On the other hand the Government with their reluctant supporters, and I believe that they are reluctant, are fast moving towards a controlled, siege economy. This is a direction in which we on this side of the House cannot agree to follow. We do not think that the First Secretary wants to be a dictator, but he has taken dictatorial powers, and once a Government start on that slippery slope we want to know where they will get to if their present policy fails.
We see the right hon. Gentleman as a meddler and a muddler. Part II and Part IV of the Prices and Incomes Bill increase his powers to meddle and muddle. The heart of the debate is that the House should have the chance, in one form or another, to discuss all of the great issues raised by this legislation. By common agreement between the Prime Minister, the First Secretary and hon. Members on all sides, this is an almost uniquely important Bill, in its new form, with Part IV added.
I have referred to a number of issues which hon. Members might have wished, with different approaches and different solutions, to have raised—how we reached the crisis, what should be done, the questions, the confusions, and the contradictions that we find in Government proposals and the consequences of Government policy.
I must now turn to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House. It is to him that we look to give us, for the first time, a coherent and clear answer as to why the Government have denied the House the opportunity to discuss the principles of the Prices and Incomes Bill, as amended by Part IV. We shall be desperately disappointed in the right hon. Gentleman if we are given an evasive answer. We want a straight answer from him. If the right hon. Gentleman has to admit that perhaps he and his colleagues made a misjudgment, made a mistake, we think enough of him to expect him to confess this, and not to shirk the issue.
Hon. Members on all sides are genuinely disturbed that they have been deprived of the right to canvass these great themes, and the House would find it more acceptable to hear such a confession from the right hon. Gentleman than to be given a completely evasive answer. The right hon. Gentleman has great responsibilities. We shall listen to him with intense House of Commons and national concern.
The Motion in front of us tonight is a narrow one, but like everyone else I am delighted that debate has gone rather wider, because it has enabled us to adduce arguments for and against the decision taken by the Government in introducing these new Clauses during the Committee stage of the Bill upstairs. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Sir J. Hobson), in an intervention during a speech of one of my hon. Friends, pointed out that it would not have been in order to table a Motion suggesting that this Prices and Incomes Bill should go back to the Floor for a Second Reading. That is the reason for the arguments tonight on both sides of the House.
The Motion seeks to bring the Bill to the Floor of the House for a completely new Committee stage, not simply for consideration of Part IV. A decision was taken in the House on 14th July, in a Division with a majority of 91 against, that this Bill should, as is the case with most Bills, be taken in Committee upstairs. The Opposition's main argument is that the inclusion of the new Clauses, leaving aside entirely for the moment the question of their importance, materially alters the Bill and that the Clauses should not have been tabled in Committee without a Second Reading discussion.
In addition, the point has been made on several occasions today and in exchanges earlier in the House that the new Clauses should not be included because they are not in order within the scope of the Bill. The Leader of the Opposition made this point absolutely clear when he said that this was a matter entirely for the Chairman of the Committee, as indeed it is. As has been said, the Chairman of the Committee acts with his advisers, and he has ruled that the new Part of the Bill is within the scope of the Bill.
Therefore, what is suggested? Is it suggested that by introducing Amendments in Committee, albeit major Amendments, the Government are doing something out of order, something contrary to what has been done before? If so, that is not the case. As every hon. Member who has been here long enough will appreciate and understand at once, there are precedents for major Amendments to Bills being introduced during the Committee stage.
Some of my hon. Friends and the Opposition have repeatedly made the point that these new Clauses should have been brought to the Floor of the House for a Second Reading type of debate. But, as I have said, the inclusion of the new Clauses is in order. There is no break with precedent in adding them to the Bill in this way. The reason for doing it, therefore, is that it is the normal practice to introduce major Amendments of this kind—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—and that there is nothing improper in it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] It has been suggested that it is completely without precedent. If hon. Members wish, I can read out a number of precedents concerning extremely important Bills, in particular one in 1958 when Part II of a Bill was rewritten completely, altering terms of compensation. It had never been discussed before on the Floor of the House and was considered, as will happen with this Bill, only on Report and Third Reading.
Whether they are of a unique character or not—I have already said that they are of an important character—they are in order and there is nothing wrong with the procedure.
One argument which we have heard today is that, because the Amendments to the Bill were introduced in Committee, many Members will be excluded from debating their provisions. Every hon. Member knows that if they had been before the House on Second Reading the majority of Members would have been excluded from debating them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why have a Second Reading?"] I do not know whether the House is suggesting that on every Second Reading, of any Bill, whichever Government are in power, everyone who wishes to speak should be allowed to do so.
It has been suggested that the action we have taken is undemocratic. That word has been used this afternoon—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—that it is undemocratic to make any sizeable Amendments in Committee. Well, where are we getting to if we begin arguments in this direction? The fact that a certain number of Members are excluded, either on the Floor of the House or in Committee upstairs, is general and usual.
If we were to accept some of the arguments we have heard this afternoon, that would imply that no Bill should go upstairs but that every Bill should be taken on the Floor of the House.—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—I have been here the whole day—many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have not—and I have heard the debate. The argument is completely invalid. It is quite a commonplace of debate these days, and one hears the argument, one heard it again and again today, that there should be taken upstairs certain Bills which occupy a great deal of time on the Floor of the House.
I am thinking particularly of the Finance Bill. This argument occurs regularly, whichever Government are in power. Is anyone in the House arguing that the Finance Bill is not important? [HON. MEMBERS: "We are not discussing the Finance Bill."] Exactly. This is the whole point. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who use this argument wish to use it for one particular Bill which they do not particularly like.
What the Government have done is to use the Standing Orders and procedures of this House correctly and accurately. They have not been engaged, as has been suggested this afternoon, in any form of sharp practice whatsoever. For those who have listened to the debate this afternoon—and at times the House was pretty thin—it is obvious that in fact all the new Clauses have now been debated in principle—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."]—I listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, I listened to the speech of my right hon. Friend the First Secretary, and almost every speech since then, and almost every one of the Clauses has been mentioned now in the debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), and the point was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph), said that in fact the provisions of those Amendments have not been discussed on Second Reading, but in fact the same speeches have been made this afternoon on this Motion which would have been made——
Every Member of the House knows perfectly well that on completion of the Committee stage of the Bill the Bill will come back here for Report and Third Reading, and here again only those people who catch Mr. Speaker's eye will be called in the debate and will debate the provisions of those new Clauses.
This Motion today and all the procedural devices of this kind are quite a normal tactic of any Opposition. On this occasion, I think that the position is rather different. The Opposition should weigh up and measure carefully whether it is responsible of them to adopt this device in the light of the country's economic difficulties. The House and the public at large will judge whether, in these circumstances, the methods which the Opposition have tried to adopt are justifiable in the context of the economic situation. If the conclusion is that they are not justifiable, the Opposition have much to answer for.
May I repeat what I said just now? No action which the Government have taken on these new Amendments to the Prices and Incomes Bill is in any way an infringement of the rules and Standing Orders of the House.
One wonders if the motive underlying the Motion which we are now debating was to enable the Opposition to have a further economic debate. In my opening words, I said that I was glad that it had been a wide debate. If that was their motive, it is only fair to remember that we have recently had an economic debate over a period of two whole days, when the proposal for a wages standstill was debated at length. It is noticeable that the Opposition had very little constructive to say during that debate about methods of handling the economic situation.
My hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) suggested in the course of his speech that it had been implied that there was some pressure from the United States Government on Her Majesty's Government to take immediate statutory action to enforce the prices and incomes policy, and he asked me to comment on that. My comment is that the implication is quite untrue. Our sole reason for urging on the Bill and our desire to obtain the Royal Assent before the Summer Recess is in the interests of the country's economy.
The right hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Cousins), in his letter of resignation to the Prime Minister, said that this pressure was being exercised by an outside Government. In reply to that letter, the Prime Minister never denied that charge. Can we be told whether the right hon. Member for Nuneaton was speaking the truth?
I am sure that the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) does not expect me to be responsible for statements made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Cousins) or by any other hon. Member.
Much has been said on procedural matters, and comments have been made about party strengths. Very little has been said about the economic context within which the Government have brought forward the Prices and Incomes Bill and these major Amendments which are the main cause of our discussion and which are now being moved in Committee upstairs.
It has been the basic objective of the Government's policy since we took office to reduce the pressure of demand in order to free resources for export production, to damp down imports and, by providing an increased margin of spare capacity, to moderate the rise in costs and prices to the advantage of our competitive position. That has been our objective, but, as the House knows, the major economic difficulties of the past few weeks have supervened and the Government have decided to take a number of drastic steps. [Laughter.] I do not think that the people outside this House will regard this as funny when they appreciate what hon. Gentlemen are laughing at. The drastic steps which we have had to take were announced by my right hon. Friend on 20th July, and the new provisions in the Prices and Incomes Bill represent only one of the steps which we are taking to right the economy of the country.
Many hon. Members have implied, and some have explicitly stated, that the Government are forcing the amended Bill through either for some party advantage—Heaven knows what it can be, but this has been suggested—or merely to ensure that the House can rise at the end of next week. I think that every responsible hon. Member must realise that the urgency arises not from any of those causes but purely because of the economic situation.
Members who may attempt, by any means, to delay the passage of the Bill—and I mean delay it rather than adequately discuss it—should recognise that they are not winning a party political point but are trying to annul a provision to which the Government attach the greatest importance in their fight against our economic problems. It is economic necessity which has caused the Government to take this action, and to take it before the Summer Recess.
We recognise, and I think that the House recognises, the fears of some people about this standstill. This is a serious situation. There are the fears of the lower paid workers that their standards will not improve. There are the fears of the small business man and shopkeeper who feel that their profit margins are too low. These are real fears, but the proposed standstill simply holds their position for a while. It does not worsen it. It is not a 10 per cent. cut such as we have previously experienced in this country.
Without the standstill, and without the deflationary measures which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has taken, the fears of all the people could very well be realised. The national exercise is in defence of sterling so that the countries of the world will realise that our currency is strong. This, and this alone, can give these people who have genuine fears the security that they need, and which they deserve.
As my right hon. Friend the First Secretary said, it is the Government's hope and desire that it will not be necessary to introduce the statutory provisions of the Bill, and that voluntary action will suffice. That is our hope, but, should it not prove to be so, the necessary Orders in Council provided for under the Bill will have to be laid, and I remind the House again that these Orders require the approval of both Houses of Parliament within 28 days. I think that we should regard the statutory provisions in the Bill as a back-stop in case the voluntary system fails to work.
If the right hon. Gentleman will refer to the Bill, he will see that it clearly says 28 days. My reading of the position is that if the Order were made, say, on 5th September, the House would have to approve it within 28 days from then, whether the House was in recess or not—calendar days. That is the position——
That is right. We should have to come back.
On one or two occasions in the debate, my right hon. Friend the First Secretary has been referred to as "an economic dictator". How anyone could refer to a man as benign as my right hon. Friend as an economic dictator I do not know. For a dictator, he is an unusual type of dictator, who within a period—[Interruption.]—let me complete my sentence—who, within a period of six months, partly destroys himself and within another—[Interruption.] Perhaps, for the benefit of the majority of the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite who have not read the Bill, I would say that the position is that the statutory provisions fall at the end of 12 months.
Although the Motion is a procedural one and these things are important, they are not generally understood outside Parliament—[An HON. MEMBER: "Yes, they are."] They are not. Let us be reasonable and fair about this. If the average man and woman in the street were asked what the Motion means, they would be unable to say. However, despite the lack of detailed knowledge outside of the procedure of the House, I believe that there is a great awareness in the country of our economic difficulties and the action which the Government are taking to deal with them and that the atmosphere is completely different from what it was in 1961–62. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]
The man in the street wants his wage packet to mean something. He is not concerned with the number of Treasury notes in his pocket, but he is concerned with what they will buy. He knows that if a £1 increase in wages is matched almost at once by a £1 increase in the prices of the goods he wants to buy, he is no better off. This is what the man in the street understands, not the details of our procedures.
That is why he realises that, if the Government's action to stabilise our economy in defence of sterling makes it possible for the money in his wallet to retain its spending power, the job is worth while. Responsible bodies like the Confederation of British Industry and the T.U.C. and responsible people will accept this temporary standstill if it is seen to be fair. The T.U.C. decided yesterday, despite some reservations, to support the policy, and, since my right hon. Friend the First Secretary addressed the House, the Confederation of British Industry, with one reservation, has also said that it would do its best to make the policy work.
It is recognised generally that we cannot possibly continue for long to increase wages, salaries and prices and at the same time fail proportionately to increase production. A great deal is said about increasing production. We must instil—and this is a job for us all—into the minds of everyone who is capable of doing a job that increased production, and only increased production can get us over this hurdle.
The Bill is indeed tough. There is no doubt about that. Some anomalies will arise, and there is no doubt about that, too. But a standstill, either voluntary or resulting from statutory action, if we have to take it, will give this country time to reflect and rearm—[HON. MEMBERS: "Rearm?".] I forgot for a moment that "rearm" is a word which, perhaps, I should not use—to regear ourselves to tackle the vital problems affecting our balance of payments. Given the support of the country we should, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said more than once, be in balance in 1967 and get the economy on an even keel. [HON. MEMBERS: "1966".] No, 1967. [Laughter.] I do not find this a matter for humour. Nor does the nation.
We will regard this standstill not as a clamping down but as a launching pad— [Interruption.]—from which to tackle our economic problems. If we do this we can get Britain out of the red and, despite the laughs, jokes and jeers of hon. Gentlemen opposite, I know that the majority of them feel that we should make every possible effort to obtain just that. Only by getting Britain into balance will the wage packet of the man-in-the-street have any real meaning.
Last Saturday there was a great deal of interest in the country in a sporting event, and we have a lesson to learn from it.
I was not going to mention the World Cup—[Interruption.]— but perhaps I should, simply by reminding hon. Gentlemen opposite that they are behaving rather like the Argentinians did. This standstill is temporary and, given the will and support of the people, even of hon. Gentlemen opposite, it can succeed in attaining complete economic stability.
|Division No. 156.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Fortescue, Tim||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Foster, Sir John||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Astor, John||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n M'd'n)||Gibson-Watt, David||Longden, Gilbert|
|Awdry, Daniel||Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan||Loveys, W. H.|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Lubbock, Eric|
|Balniel, Lord||Glover, Sir Douglas||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Batsford, Brian||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||MacArthur, Ian|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Goodhart, Philip||Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Goodhew, Victor||McMaster, Stanley|
|Bessell, Peter||Cower, Raymond||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)|
|Biffen, John||Grant, Anthony||Maddan, Martin|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Gresham Cooke, R.||Maginnis, John E.|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Marten, Neil|
|Blaker, Peter||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Mathew, Robert|
|Body, Richard||Gurden, Harold||Maude, Angus|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Mawby, Ray|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Braine, Bernard||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Brewis, John||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Monro, Hector|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Hastings, Stephen||More, Jasper|
|Bryan, Paul||Hawkins, Paul||Morgan, W. G. (Denbigh)|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M)||Hay, John||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Campbell, Gordon||Heseltine, Michael||Murton, Oscar|
|Carlisle, Mark||Higgins, Terence L.||Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Hiley, Joseph||Neave, Airey|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hill, J. E. B.||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Clark, Henry||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Nott, John|
|Clegg, Walter||Holland, Philip||Onslow, Cranley|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Hooson, Emlyn||Orr, Capt. L. P. s.|
|Cordle, John||Hordern, Peter||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hornby, Richard||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Costain, A. P.||Howell, David (Guildford)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hunt, John||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Crouch, David||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pardoe, John|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Peel, John|
|Dance, James||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Percival, Ian|
|Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||Jopling, Michael||Pounder, Rafton|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Doughty, Charles||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Kershaw, Anthony||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kimball, Marcus||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Eden, Sir John||Kirk, Peter||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Eyre, Reginald||Lambton, Viscount||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Farr, John||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Fisher, Nigel||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Royle, Anthony||Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)||Webster, David|
|Russell, Sir Ronald||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|St. John-stevas, Norman||Teeling, Sir William||Whitelaw, William|
|Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||Temple, John M.||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Scott, Nicholas||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Sharpies, Richard||Thorpe, Jeremy||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Tilney, John||Wolrige-Cordon, Patrick|
|Sinclair, Sir George||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|stainton, Keith||van Straubenzee, W. R.||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Steel, David (Roxburgh)||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Worsley, Marcus|
|Stodart, Anthony||Vickers, Dame Joan||Wylie, N. R.|
|Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)||Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Summers, Sir Spencer||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Talbot, John E.||Wait, Patrick||TELLERS FOR THE AYES::|
|Tapsell, Peter||Ward, Dame Irene||Mr. Francis Pym and|
|Mr. R. W. Elliott|
|Abse, Leo||Dell, Edmund||Hunter, Adam|
|Albu, Austen||Dewar, Donald||Hynd, John|
|Alldritt, Walter||Diamond, Rt. Hon. John||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Allen, Scholefield||Dobson, Ray||Janner, Sir Barnett|
|Anderson, Donald||Doig, Peter||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Archer, Peter||Donnelly, Desmond||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Dunn, James A.||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Ashley, Jack||Dunnett, Jack||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Eadie, Alex||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)|
|Barnes, Michael||Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Barnett, Joel||Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)|
|Baxter, William||English, Michael||Jones, J. Idwat (Wrexham)|
|Beaney, Alan||Ennals, David||Judd, Frank|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Ensor, David||Kelley, Richard|
|Bence, Cyril||Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Bennett, James (G'gow & Bridgeton)||Faulds, Andrew||Ledger, Ron|
|Binns, John||Fernyhough, E.||Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Finch, Harold||Lestor, Miss Joan|
|Blackburn, F.||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Boardman, H.||Floud, Bernard||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Boston, Terence||Foley, Maurice||Loughlin, Charles|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Luard, Evan|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. Herbert||Ford, Ben||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)|
|Boyden, James||Forrester, John||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Fowler, Garry||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Bradley, Tom||Fraser, John (Norwood)||McBride, Neil|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)||McCann, John|
|Brooks, Edwin||Freeson, Reginald||MacColl, James|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Gardner, A. J.||MacDermot, Niall|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Garrett, W. E.||McGuire, Michael|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Cat-row, Alex||McKay, Mrs. Margaret|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Ginsburg, David||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Cordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||Mackie, John|
|Buchan, Norman||Gourlay, Harry||Mackintosh, John P.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Maclennan, Robert|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Gregory, Aronld||McNamara, J. Kevin|
|Cant, R. B.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||MacPherson, Malcolm|
|Carmichael, Neil||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Mallalieu, J. P. W.(Huddersfield, E.)|
|Coe, Denis||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Manuel, Archie|
|Coleman, Donald||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Mapp, Charles|
|Concannon, J. D.||Hamling, William||Marquand, David|
|Conlan, Bernard||Hannan, William||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Harper, Joseph||Mason, Roy|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mellish, Robert|
|Cronin, John||Haseldine, Norman||Millan, Bruce|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Hattersley, Roy||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Hazell, Bert||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Molloy, William|
|Dalyell, Tam||Henig, Stanley||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Hilton, W. S.||Morris, John (Aberavon)|
|Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Hooley, Frank||Moyle, Roland|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Murray, Albert|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Neal, Harold|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Howie, W.||Norwood, Christopher|
|de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey||Hoy, James||Oakes, Gordon|
|Delargy, Hugh||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Ogden, Eric|
|O'Malley, Brian||Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Varley, Eric G.|
|Oram, Albert E.||Rowland, Christopher (Meriden)||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Orbach, Maurice||Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Oswald, Thomas||Ryan, John||Wallace, George|
|Owen, Will (Morpeth)||Sheldon, Robert||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.||Weitzman, David|
|Palmer, Arthur||Shore, Peter (Stepney)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)||Whitaker, Ben|
|Parker, John (Dagenham)||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)||Whitlock, William|
|Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Silkin, S. C. (Dulwich)||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Pentland, Norman||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)||Skeffington, Arthur||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.||Slater, Joseph||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)||Small, William||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)||Snow, Julian||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Price, William (Rugby)||Spriggs, Leslie||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Probert, Arthur||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Rankin, John||Storehouse, John||Winnick, David|
|Redhead, Edward||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Rees, Merlyn||Swingler, Stephen||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Rhodes, Geoffrey||Symonds, J. B.||Woof, Robert|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Taverne, Dick||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Yates, Victor|
|Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)||Thornton, Ernest|
|Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P'c'as)||Tinn, James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Tomney, Frank||Mr. Charles Grey and|
|Roebuck, Roy||Tuck, Raphael||Mr. George Lawson.|
|Rose, Paul||Urwin, T. W.|