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I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery), who, par excellence, has shown that he is not only a free enterpriser but a businessman who understands the implications of the Bill. Many of his Amendments, taken together, form a coherent whole of what he rightly thinks needs to be done to help the business and industry community if the Bill is not to be a disaster.
In a television programme when the latest crisis occurred, Mr. Hyman of Viyella, who is not looked upon as one of the most backward members of the industrial community, said that it is completely impossible for industrialists in this country to plan an efficient system of production, because every time they work out their programme for an efficient system they wake up the next morning to find that the Government have introduced a Measure that destroys the whole of their plan.
The Amendment tries to remove that disturbance in industrialists' plans, which they have made months ahead, before the Bill was introduced. If it is accepted, a good deal of that planning will continue in a normal, fruitful way. People will be able to honour their commitments and carry on increasing their efficiency. But, if it is not accepted, a great number of probably some of the most efficient industrialists in the country, who have entered into commitments for machinery and so on from abroad, will have the whole of their plans and forecasts of profitability and production thrown into the melting pot because of the Government's arbitrary action in doing things without any consultation and without considering its effect on the business community.
My hon. Friend would probably lose some of his antagonism to the Government's action, and would perhaps not press the Amendment so far, if the Government had been much more forthcoming about the negotiability of the 50 per cent. deposit. Industrialists who have entered into commitments and arranged the whole of their finances for a long period, and now find that under the Bill everything is thrown into the discard, would probably be able to get out of a good deal of that difficulty if, possibly at a slight discount, they could get rid of their liability for the 50 per cent. deposit. The Government have been very lukewarm about accepting any idea of negotiability. Do not they realise that unless the Amendment is accepted they are throwing an enormous spanner not into the works of inefficient industrialists or inefficient companies but into some of the most efficient industries in the country, which, because they are efficient, have worked out their affairs on a financial knife edge.
A totally different situation is created by the Government's arbitrary decision. As Mr. Hyman said, it is impossible to expect British industry to improve its productivity, efficiency or export performance unless it can feel that it can plan for a long period ahead knowing that the Government will not spoil all its planning.
It is rather frightening that the party opposite, which is supposed to be the party of planning, acts like a bull in a china shop in most of our affairs. That is what they are doing here.
My hon. Friend has tried in a very small way to remove some of the worst anomalies that the Bill will create. I hope that the Minister will say, perhaps not that he will accept the Amendment, but that between now and Report he will produce something that will have the same effect. If the Government do not do so they will create more disturbance than they have any idea of at present in the fabric of our industrial life.