Orders of the Day — Clause 1. — (Control of Liquid Fuel.)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th July 1967.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich 12:00 am, 12th July 1967

I am obviously expressing myself badly this morning. I am trying to explain the precise opposite. We are not suggesting, nor are we asking for, any restrictions at the moment. All we are talking about is a Bill which we may never need—and I hope we will not—but which we could conceivably need at some period of weeks or months in the future. We do not face any great balance of payments crisis nor any great oil supply crisis, but we do face a very real transport problem. The point is that all these things are sheer hypotheses. We are asking for an enabling Bill because of what could conceivably be the position at some stage in the future. I would not want any panics to start on anything, because this is not called for in the Bill.

The hon. Member for Honiton raised the question whether we might want to recall Parliament for more than one Order. I am faced with the position that it is a matter of judgment. I do not know what the position will be in August, September, October or early November, although I could make a number of reasonable assumptions. Things could change very rapidly in this area of the world, and if they changed rapidly the Government would have to move rapidly and there would be no point in the House complaining about being called back twice.

The hon. Member asked me to spell out how the operation would take place and to give a list of powers in the Bill which I should want and a list of powers which I should not want to use. I hope not to use any of them. Which powers were used would depend on the position that existed when a crisis emerged. We might well with luck get through with nothing at all, and then the whole of the exercise will have been, in one way, a waste of time. We might, on the other hand, want some powers later just to deal with certain areas of the problem. Conceivably something catastrophic could happen. The hon. Member can go on working out the possibilities. I cannot tell him which scheme will be introduced to meet them because I do not know what they are.

I am saying on behalf of the Government that I want the powers in the Bill which will enable me to meet any situation which arises. I realise that this is asking for a lot and that it is right that this sort of power should be challenged when the Minister asks for it, and that he should be expected to justify his request.