Adjournment (Easter)

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th April 1968.

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Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Glasgow Cathcart 12:00 am, 8th April 1968

I listened to the hon. Gentleman with great interest, and I remind him of the remark attributed to the Prime Minister, that a week is a long time in politics, as we all know. Although the Recess is just seven Parliamentary days, seven days matter a great deal under the present Government because on the average day of Labour Government we have had £1½ million of extra taxation, 50 extra civil servants have been employed, and 800 people have left the country to look for an opportunity overseas which they cannot have in this country. Although I respect the hon. Gentleman's opinions, I think that in view of those figures of £1½ million extra taxation, 800 emigrants from these shores and 50 additional civil servants then an extra day or one less day on the Recess matters a great deal.

I can well appreciate the feelings of the new Leader of the House, for whom we all have great admiration, because he hears conflicting arguments. One of which we are all well aware is that it might be a good thing to have a slightly longer Recess to enable the new Minister of Transport to look closely at the dreadful Transport Bill. I have had the pleasure of sitting on the Committee considering that Bill. It is absolutely shocking that we have been prevented from discussing important and significant Clauses, which could have a major effect on the people of this country, because of the imposition of the guillotine. We have tried to make very great progress, and have done our best to get through the arguments as quickly as possible, but despite that we have not had time.

There has been a dramatic change. We have had the appointment of the new Minister of Transport, and we have had the Joint Parliamentary Secretary promoted to another post. In these circumstances, it will be absolutely intolerable if we do not give the new Minister time to think about the problem, time to look at this dreadful Bill, with 169 Clauses and over 260 pages. It is absolutely intolerable to expect him to take over and know exactly what is going on. The new Minister has had experience of this. He was responsible for piloting through the nationalisation of iron and steel. I was a member of the Committee that considered the Iron and Steel Act, and I told him then that it was a mistake to nationalise iron and steel. I said that it would cause a great deal of harm to the country. I think that he would now admit that I was right, because a highly profitable industry had been brought into a serious state in the interim. We must give the Minister time to think about the implications of the Transport Bill, particularly as it affects Scotland. I and other Scottish Members will be absolutely furious if we do not have time to discuss those matters adequately.

That is one argument for extending the Recess. There are many arguments for shortening it, one of the most important of which is to enable Scottish Members to have an opportunity of a proper one day's debate on the dramatic rise in violent crime in Scotland. We had a short discussion on the subject at three o'clock in the morning some time ago. I know that the new Leader of the House takes a very real interest in these matters.

Crimes of violence have doubled in 10 years in Scotland, and the murder rite has doubled in six years. There is the outstanding question of a request from the magistrates and the police in Glasgow for additional powers of search. The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland is sincerely and carefully looking at the problem, which involves many difficulties, but I am sure that he would agree that it is a matter of urgency. In these circumstances, we want a full-scale debate on the Floor of the House to give Scottish hon. Members an opportunity to look at the problem in all its aspects. This difficult problem must be carefully examined and debated urgently. We are asking for a return on 22nd April so that we can hold such a debate. This is not just the Conservative Party's point of view. The important series of articles in the Scottish Daily Express in the last week have shown that this is a matter of universal concern.

The third reason for shortening the Recess concerns our financial affairs. It is difficult to understand from Ministers whether the country is in a serious economic plight or not. However, we are told that, even after six Budgets in three and a half years, the country is still in a serious position. We should have more time for the Government to explain their policies. I was surprised to read in HANSARD the reply to a Question from my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall), who asked if we are going into the money-lending business. It was revealed that the Government were to lend the U.A.R. money to enable it to pay off a loan from the I.M.F.

It is staggering that this country, which has recently borrowed so much money from the I.M.F., should lend some of it to the Egyptians to enable them to pay back money to the I.M.F., particularly when we bear in mind that our financial troubles partly stem from the activities of Nasser over the Suez Canal. The Government are giving him money to keep the Suez Canal closed.

No doubt President Kaunda of Zambia is looking for more help from the Government. Last year, we agreed to give Zambia £13·85 million for approved projects. Unfortunately we had no opportunity to debate this then because of a Recess. I hope that we shall have an opportunity this time. On 26th March, in HANSARD it was shown that not all the money had been spent because not all the approved projects have materialised. However, the Government are still to give the whole sum to Zambia, so £5 million not required is to be given to Zambia just the same.

Is this the action of a Government facing an economic crisis? I remind the House that President Kaunda is enabling facilities to be provided for armed terrorist attacks on Rhodesia. Is it also the action of a Government facing economic crisis to give a loan to President Nasser, who has closed the Suez Canal to us? The actions of the Government do not make it clear whether or not we are facing an economic crisis. It is high time they told us.

We must also have an extra day to discuss the prices and incomes legislation. Whether such legislation is right or wrong, we should be told what is to happen when the compulsory powers are removed. The moment they are removed—and we know this from three temporary doses already—there will be a flood of wage claims which will knock the economy scatty. I do not want to face the prospect of this happening without having one extra day in which to discuss this vital matter. It is important that the Government should tell us what their policy is to be after the compulsory powers disappear.

We need a Recess so that Members of the Government and of the House can have a reasonable rest but we need an extra day of Parliamentary time to enable the Government to tell us how they are to run the affairs of the country once these compulsory powers are removed. A day is an important matter. A day under Socialism means 50 extra civil servants, £1·5 million of extra taxation and 800 people emigrating from our shores. When we face these stark facts, it is all the more important to have adequate Parliamentary discussion and I am hopeful and confident that the right hon. Gentleman will accede to this reasonable request.