I beg to move,
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to restrict the sale of fireworks to those in possession of a licence.
It is important that the House should understand the magnitude of the firework injury problem. During each of the years for which I have figures, from 1962 to 1968—[Interruption.]
During each of the years for which I have figures, from 1962 to 1968, 2,200 accident cases were treated in hospital resulting from fireworks, and in 1968 there were 2,537. If we assume that something less than a quarter of the total ever reach hospital, we must accept that about 10,000 people are injured each year by fireworks—and about 70 per cent. of these casualties are children. It is estimated that about 400 of these accidents are serious, and this usually means an injury resulting in the loss of the sight of one or both of a person's eyes.
Not only is it a question of injury; there is also the question of damage. Every year, at firework time, fire brigades are called out about 1,000 times to deal with firework accidents. It is suggested that, associated with this so-called festival, is a general increase in hooliganism affecting the sick and the old and that domestic animals are frightened. So this is a very serious problem.
My Bill would limit the sale of fireworks to those in possession of a licence, the idea being that we would confine the firework sale or demonstration to official or semi-official displays. It is only in exceptional cases that fireworks would then be in the hands of a private individual, and then only of someone who could guarantee to provide the necessary safety and fire precautions. This is not a killjoy Bill. What it aims to do away with is the back garden fireworks which are so dangerous and replace them with more organised and far more enjoyable official displays.
This attitude to the forbidding of the use of fireworks to the general public is not only mine. It is that of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and of many medical men, particularly those who have had to deal with firework accidents. I have received many hundreds of letters supporting the Bill, many from medical people and organisations of this type.
What are the arguments against the Bill? The first which is often quoted is that it represents interference with personal liberty. If one followed this argument to its logical conclusion, one might as well let people set off explosions in their back gardens. The other arguments are those raised by the Home Office about administration, but if the Home Office can suggest some other mechanism to limit the sale of fireworks I should be only too happy to accept it.
The other argument is that people would provide themselves with home-made fireworks. But the experience in Eire and in the 30 American States where fireworks have been banned is that there is no incidence of firework accidents of that type.
So we are left with the old, simple argument of money. Who stands to lose under a Bill like this? The ordinary retailer does not stand to lose, his representatives say, because for him fireworks are a once-a-year sale which can be largely replaced by books or toys, but the manufacturers estimate that they will lose about £5 million a year, or 25 per cent. of their total sales. This is really the only argument against the Bill. It is the old argument of people versus profits: it is as simple as that. I am very pleased that an hon. Member opposite has chosen to oppose the Motion, because that will give the House the chance to show that it puts people before profits.
It is in this spirit and the hope that, even if the Bill does not make any progress, the Government will, between now and next 5th November, decide to take some drastic action in this respect to prevent another 2,000 accidents on that date—[Interruption.]
I agree with the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Gwilym Roberts) on one of his points, namely, that it is necessary to consider the individual. He should consider the harmless enjoyment of large numbers of families who hold well-conducted firework displays without giving any trouble to anybody. Fireworks give a great deal of pleasure provided that there is proper control. Fireworks should be safe when they are properly handled, but if they are used recklessly or maliciously they can be offensive and most unpleasant. Equally, it is unwise to allow small children to handle fireworks without supervision.
This is not a reason for preventing family firework parties. The House must be impressed by the serious casualties which take place every year at the time of the November firework displays. We have compassion for every single injury, but surely we must keep matters in perspective.
For every million fireworks set off there are approximately three serious casualties. One would wish that that number did not occur at all, but strenuous efforts are made to try to reduce the amount of firework casualties. The British Firework Manufacturers' Safety Association was set up in 1962 and it has steadily attempted to reduce firework casualties. It is developing safer forms of fireworks. It goes in for a great deal of safety publicity during November. This year it intends to have advertisements with no reference to the firms entirely dealing with safety precautions, to appear in local papers on 5th November. Leaflets are contained in all boxes of fireworks to ensure that people understand how to let them off safely.
As a result, there has been a downward trend in the casualties since 1962, when the Association came into existence. Serious casualties are down by no fewer than 60 per cent. Regrettably, there was an upturn in 1968 in the less serious casualties, but the general trend is downward.
We can take for purposes of comparison home accidents which are something that the House should consider. In 1967, the last year for which I have figures, the number of deaths from poisoning was 1,307, from falls, 3,890; burns and scalds, 688; suffocation and choking, 583; and other causes of home accidents resulting in death, 641. But as for fireworks, no deaths at all. There must be an enormous number of casualties, serious and otherwise, which do not result in deaths from these causes. We do not hear very much about that aspect.
The hon. Member suggests that there should be licensing, which would imply that only public displays can take place. This means that there must be large-scale displays of set pieces. It is difficult 'to estimate how many would be required on 5th November. Each hon. Member would have to make his own calculation for his own constituency. In my own constituency between 20 and 30 experts would be required to let off the fireworks.
These experts simply do not exist. There are a small number of trained men who are capable of going all over the world and setting off the most wonderful firework displays, but to think that one can multiply that number by hundreds or thousands in order to achieve a similar capability is ludicrous. Remember that all the training that would be necessary is for one night of the year.
The consequence would be that inexpert people would let off displays of quite sophisticated fireworks. Figures have been quoted about public and semi-public displays. The number of casualties in that respect amounts to 15 per cent. of all casualties. However, the sales of fireworks which are used in the displays represent only 2 per cent. of the total. This appears to indicate that these types of firework are far more dangerous and that there might be a danger of greater injury rather than less in the case of organised displays. Two hundred and fifty years ago last night there was a gigantic firework display to celebrate the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle which, unfortunately, resulted in the wooden stands being set on fire and burning down, and the panic must have been considerable.
The hon. Member mentioned the encouragement of home-made fireworks which would result from this ban on home fireworks. He is a little optimistic if he thinks that that would not take place. Unfortunately, there are already a number of attempts to make home-made fireworks. From the very nature of the material commonly used in making a home-made firework, a dangerous article is produced and it often results in serious casualties.
The hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds) asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, on 12th December, 1968, whether he would
review the existing legislation governing the sale of fireworks in the light of his Department's study of firework casualties.
The Under-Secretary of State, now on the Front Bench, replied:
During the period 1962 to 1967, the number of accidents has fallen by some 29 per cent. and the number of serious injuries by some two-thirds. The Home Office will keep safety precausions under continuous examination in consultation with the trade; safety
|Division No. 172.]||AYES||[3.39 p.m.|
|Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw)||Huckfield, Leslie||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Oakes, Gordon|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Ogden, Eric|
|Barnes, Michael||Hynd, John||Orbach, Maurice|
|Barnett, Joel||Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)||Orme, Stanley|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Janner, Sir Barnett||Oswald, Thomas|
|Bessell, Peter||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Owen, Will (Morpeth)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Johnson, carol (Lewisham, S.)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Judd, Frank||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Carmichael, Neil||Kelley, Richard||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Coleman, Donald||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Dalyell, Tam||Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Leadbitter, Ted||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)|
|Delargy, Hugh||Lestor, Miss Joan||Probert, Arthur|
|Dickens, James||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Rankin, John|
|Dobson, Ray||Lipton, Marcus||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy|
|Doig, Peter||Lomas, Kenneth||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)|
|Driberg, Tom||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||McBride, Neil||Rose, Paul|
|Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)||McCann, John||Rowlands, E.|
|Ellis, John||McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Mackie, John||Sheldon, Robert|
|Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||Maclennan, Robert||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Thornton, Ernest|
|Foster, Sir John||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Freeson, Reginald||Manuel, Archie||Urwin, T. W.|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mapp, Charles||Wallace, George|
|Garrett, W. E.||Marks, Kenneth||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Ginsburg, David||Mayhew, Christopher||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Mendelson, John||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Mikardo, Ian||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Molloy, William|
|Hannan, William||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Mr. Albert Booth and|
|Hobden, Dennis||Newens, Stan||Mr. Edwin Brooks.|
|Astor, John||Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Balniel, Lord||Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Bell, Ronald||Biggs-Davison, John|
|Black, Sir Cyrll||Hastings, Stephen||Nott, John|
|Blaker, Peter||Hiley, Joseph||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Hirst, Geoffrey||Osborne, Sir Cyrll (Louth)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Peel, John|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Holland, Philip||Peyton, John|
|Bryan, Paul||Hordern, Peter||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Buchanan, Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Howell, David (Guildford)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Burden, F. A.||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Pym, Francis|
|Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.)||Hunter, Adam||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Rees, Merlyn|
|Carlisle, Mark||Iremonger, T. L.||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Cordle, John||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Roebuck, Roy|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Currie, G. B. H.||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Dance, James||Kitson, Timothy||Sharples, Richard|
|Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Lambton, Viscount||Sinclair, Sir George|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Lancaster, col. C. G.||Smith, John (London & W'minster)|
|Dempsey, James||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Speed, Keith|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Stoddart-Scott, col. Sir M.|
|Doughty, Charles||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'n C'd field)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langetone)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Eden, Sir John||Longden, Gilbert||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Lubbock, Eric||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||MacArthur, Ian||Tinn, James|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Emery, Peter||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|English, Michael||McNair-Wilson, M. (Walthamstow, E.)||Wainwright, Richard (Coine Valley)|
|Eyre, Reginald||Maginnis, John E.||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Fisher, Nigel||Marten, Neil||Walters, Dennis|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Maude, Angus||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Glyn, Sir Richard||Mawby, Ray||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Goodhew, Victor||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Wiggin, A. W.|
|Gower, Raymond||Millan, Bruce||Williams, Donald (Dudley)|
|Grant, Anthony||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||Monro, Hector||Worsley, Marcus|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Wylie, N. R.|
|Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Murray, Albert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Mr. James Allason and|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Neave, Airey||Mr. Oscar Murton.|
|Haseldine, Norman||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
With the new Clause, I suggest that we take sub-Amendments (a) in line 1, leave out from '(1)' to 'before' and insert:
'The Post Office shall require the Minister's approval
(b) In line 1, leave out 'a subsidiary of its' and insert 'any of its subsidiaries'.
(c) In line 6, leave out 'it shall similarly be requisite' and insert:
'the Minister's approval shall also be required'.
(d) In line 15, leave out 'subsection' and insert 'section'.
(e) In line 22, leave out 'in such manner as he thinks fit'.
(f) In line 25, leave out 'subsection (1)' and insert 'subsections (1) and (2)'.
(g) To leave out lines 37 to 39.
Amendment No. 23, in page 6, line 38, leave out 'construct, manufacture, produce,'.
Amendment No. 25, in page 7, line 9, at end add:
(6) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section the postal and telecommunications services operated by the Post Office shall remain in what is commonly called public ownership.
and Amendment No. 60, in page 13, line 29, leave out Clause 13.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You have not selected my sub-Amendment (h), to leave out lines 1 to 36 and insert:
'The Post Office and any of its subsidiaries shall, after consultation with the Minister, have power to construct, manufacture, or produce, for and relevant purpose, things of any kind to an extent which may be necessary in the public interest at any time, and to engage in any activities related thereto; and shall further have power to construct, manufacture, produce, or purchase for supply to outside persons things for use by such persons otherwise than in connection with services provided by the Post Office or a subsidiary of its;'.
However, since it stands on the Notice Paper and may be read by hon. Members, perhaps I might be allowed to point out two misprints.
The first of them makes nonsense of one line of the sub-Amendment. In the third line, the first word "and" should be "any". The second misprint relates to—new Clause 6—(Questions to the Minister)—which is shown on the Notice Paper to be supported by a number of my hon. Friends. The same names should appear before my sub-Amendment (h), but were omitted owing to a misunderstanding.
The hon. Gentleman has raised what is almost an academic point. He wants the wording of an Amendment which is not selected to be corrected. HANSARD will note that, and I imagine that it will emerge from the debate on new Clause 6, since some of the hon. Members whose names were omitted from his sub-Amendment will want to speak in it. However, it will not affect sub-Amendment (h), because that has not been selected.
I think that it will be useful to the House if I paint in the background and the context in which the new Clause is being considered.
The Post Office is engaged in a tremendous and dynamic expansion programme. About eight or nine years ago the investment programme was under £100 million a year. Last year, the investment programme reached £333 million. Next year, this will rise to £360 million. This tremendous programme has largely been successful because of the excellent co-operation that has been established between the Post Office and its main suppliers.
The expansion has, however, meant that in certain areas there has been a shortage of supplies and delay in supplying equipment, which has been somewhat embarrassing to us. The Post Office accepts partial responsibility for this, because the enormous expansion in the programme has meant that suppliers have had to gear themselves to it in a very short time indeed.
The expansion programme for the current five years is even more dramatic in its impact. During these five years we are spending £2,000 million on development of the old, and, indeed, a new, communications system in Britain. This is double what was spent during the previous five years which, in turn, was double what was spent during the five years before that. So the House will appreciate that the expansion programme is dynamic, that it is greater than any other Administration have engaged upon, and that it will provide a tremendously successful communications system in Britain.
Of the £2,000 million about £660 million—about a third of the total—will be spent on exchange equipment and about £340 million will be spent on trunk and junction circuits. It is obvious that if the Post Office is to successfully implement this immense development programme it must have a smooth flow of equipment from the suppliers. As I have said, we have a very friendly and co-operative arrangement with our main suppliers, so we hope to achieve that.
The Clause will give the new Post Office Corporation reserve powers in case it becomes clear, in course of time, that the major and minor suppliers of equipment that the Post Office requires, are unable to supply the quality of equipment at the price that the Post Office is willing and feels able to pay. The suppliers of the Post Office, through a series of amalgamations, could establish a virtual monopoly position. In that event, the Post Office would be faced with the stark choice of having to buy at an excessive price from a monopoly supplier, or buying its essential supplies from abroad. In these circumstances, the Post Office would consider establishing manufacturing facilities for its own supplies.
This is a reserve power. It is not the intention of the Post Office at this point of time or, indeed, during the next year or so, to enter into any such manufacturing investment, because it is satisfied with the relationship that has been established with its main suppliers. But it is essential for the Post Office Corporation, in its new commercial rôle, to have the power to establish manufacturing facilities to meet its own requirements. The Clause is designed to give the Post Office that power.
Under subsection (1) the Post Office would have to consult with the Minister before any development of its facilities was embarked upon. This is a very important safeguard, because it will enable the Minister to consult the other Departments concerned, particularly the Ministry of Technology, which is the sponsoring Ministry for the supplying firms. It ensures that the supplying firms are not faced with a fait accompli decision on the part of the Post Office, but will have time to adjust themselves to any change in plans by the G.P.O. The consultation will also enable the sponsoring Minister, if he so wishes, to join in the discussions between the Post Office and its main supplying firms to iron out any problems of principle that may exist between them.
Last week, I met a deputation from the C.B.I. to discuss this very question. I undertook to the C.B.I. that before the Post Office Corporation is set up—we hope on 1st October next—the Postmaster-General will meet it and the new board of the Corporation to discuss the kind of problems that could arise in the interpretation of the new Clause if the House sees fit to pass it.
Moving on to subsection (2), the House will notice a distinction between the treatment of supplies for internal requirements and supplies for persons outside the Post Office. In this case we believe that not only should the Minister be consulted, but that the Minister's approval must be provided before the Post Office enters into the construction, manufacture, production or purchase for supply to persons outside. This is important to control the activities of the Post Office in diversification for supply outside its normal range of activities.
Under subsection (3) we undertake to allow the Minister to publish, in such manner as he thinks fit, particulars of any approval given under subsection (2) and to send these details to the C.B.I. and to the T.U.C.
Subsection (4) provides that any activities in which the Post Office engages under subsection (2) shall be carried out
as if it were a company engaged in a commercial enterprise, and it shall so exercise its control over a subsidiary of its that carries on any such activities as to ensure that the subsidiary so acts.
This is to ensure that there is no possible doubt that the Post Office Corporation is not engaging in cross subsidisation of activities in supplying persons outside the G.P.O.
The House will realise that, as the Post Office is being given sharp financial objectives, it would be unwilling to enter into manufacturing activities unless it was sorely pressed to do so. It would naturally prefer to obtain its major supplies from well-established outside suppliers, because it is reasonable to expect that they would be obtained at the cheapest price in those circumstances. If the Post Office were to engage in a large-scale investment programme to meet its own requirements, it would no doubt have to incur a greater expense in production than by buying from outside. I emphasise that this is essentially a reserve power. There is no intention at this time of the Post Office establishing any large-scale production facilities.
There are other subsidiary points I should like to draw out here, not only in relation to the major supplies to which the Clause is applied, but which can also apply to relatively minor pieces of equipment required by the Post Office and which are absolutely essential to the fulfilment of its responsibilities. If the Post Office is not able to get its supplies from existing suppliers on the time scale required, it will be able quickly, and with the minimum amount of bureaucratic delay, to set up the facilities required. As the Post Office has these broad financial objectives which it must meet, it is un- likely that it would want to carry on such activities unless it was essential for it to do so.
The House may be concerned about the extent of Ministerial control over these activities. I am sure that hon. Members are aware of the dangers, which were discussed in Committee, of cross-subsidisation between the various activities within the Corporation. The Government are anxious to ensure that the Post Office does not engage in cross-subsidisation, and that is why, in the last White Paper "Post Office Prospects 1969–70", the uneconomic services of the Post Office were fully identified. It was done so that it would be easy for the public, and for the Post Office itself, to note the activities which involved a loss, and to which special attention must be paid. It obviously would be unwise for manufacturing activities in the Post Office to be carried on at an uneconomic rate which would inevitably be a burden on the consumers of the main services of the Post Office who would have to pay more for those services to subsidise manufacturing activities which could be carried on outside.
It is not the intention of the Clause to encourage that sort of activity. The intention is to enable the Post Office to set up its own manufacturing facilities to obtain supplies if, in the circumstances which I have been describing, it requires either major supplies or minor equipment which it cannot obtain from outside at a fair price, and within the time-scale that they are required.
How does the right hon. Gentleman envisage preventing cross-subsidisation within the manufacturing concern if part of the market is repair and maintenance, for which there is a guaranteed market, and part is new work in which it is in direct competition? How can the right hon. Gentleman prevent overheads being heaped on to repair and maintenance?
The Minister will be able to call for information about those activities. As the Post Office will have sharp financial objectives placed upon it, it will naturally be most unwilling to have uneconomic activities carried on either in the factories or in the procurement of the supplies which I have been describing.
I think that the Post Office will be given a dynamic and commercially objective board. There will be no anxiety for the Post Office to engage in activities which are a drain on its resources. I appreciate that in some parts of the supplying industry there may be some concern about this Clause, but I am satisfied that in all the circumstances the Clause provides the best way of meeting the requirements of the Post Office Corporation, which we expect to be fully commercial in the way it does its job. It must be able to obtain the supplies that it requires, particularly the essential equipment that it needs to meet its obligations. It must also be able to get these supplies at a fair price. It must be given the powers embodied in the Clause if it is to fulfil all the obligations put upon it.
The Postmaster-General started by saying that he intended to explain the background to the Clause. For the first five minutes of his speech he proceeded to throw a shower of irrelevant sand in our eyes in the form of investment statistics over the next few years. I should like to explain what I consider to be the background to the Clause, and I believe that it will be a background more easily recognisable by those who sat in the Committee upstairs.
I think that my explanation might possibly provide the reason why the Postmaster-General delivered his speech without his usual elan; why he adopted a rather embarrassed, shamefaced sheepish attitude. The right hon. Gentleman is short of friends. The last time he made a major speech from that Box he did so without one hon. Member on the benches behind him. In Committee his troops constantly deserted him, and time and again we had to keep a quorum.
It was when we came to Clause 13 in Committee that the right hon. Gentleman's supporters voted against him, and we saved the situation. The right hon. Gentleman could not face that situation on the Floor of the House. We have not heard a word about Clause 13, and yet this Clause is supposed to take its place. I am sure that nobody on either side will deny that. Tucked away on page 3870 of the Notice Paper we find an Amendment to leave out Clause 13.
The right hon. Gentleman has run away from the position. He has not retired in the face of a devastating argument in debate. In fact, in Committee there was only one speech of any length, let alone of any merit, on this subject, and yet the right hon. Gentleman ran for cover at about the same speed, and against about the same scale of danger, as another Minister scurried away from the Anguillans.
Clause 7 is vitally linked with this Clause, because it is this Clause which puts the restrictions on Clause 7. One has only to look at Clause 7 to see why these restrictions are necessary. That Clause gives the most enormous powers to the Postmaster-General. It gives him the normal powers for postal services, communication services, the giro, and so on, but it also gives him power to run computers. It gives him powers about which many people do not know. It gives him the power to construct, manufacture, produce, purchase, take on hire or hire purchase, install, maintain and repair anything that is required for the purpose of the Corporation's business. It also gives power to construct and manufacture for others, to provide consultancy services, to acquire land—
The Clause gives the Minister power to acquire securities. It sets out the scale on which the Corporation can invest in other things. The Corporation can become almost an I.R.C. in its own right. The Clause talks about all sorts of other strange happenings, such as carrying for hire or reward passengers in vehicles, providing hostels and houses, and making loans.
It would be fairly frightening to give those powers to any Corporation, but when they are being given to a Socialist Minister the whole situation becomes even more terrifying. Under the Bill we are losing a tremendous amount of parliamentary accountability. As the last Postmaster-General but one said, the Corporation will be "freed of the apron strings of Parliament". In other words there will be no Questions, and so on, and if this Corporation is to be presided over by a Socialist Minister we need an even closer examination of these powers than would otherwise be the case.
I think that it was the hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown) who was instrumental in changing Clause 1 for the old Clause 13. The hon. Gentleman quoted from "Labour and the Scientific Revolution", which said:
.. these new organisations must be ready to go beyond the research and development stage … They must be free to engage in production in their own establishments … The State, local authorities and nationalised industries must also be prepared to create undertakings in which new products and modern management techniques can be pioneered. These publicly owned or jointly owned enterprises will be particularly appropriate in those sections of British Industry where the public sector is the dominant purchaser.
Then quoting, as a number of hon. Members opposite have quoted, the last Postmaster-General but two, he said:
Unless you give the Post Office, with its vast resources and enormous rate of growth the kind of freedom and the right to enterprise now enjoyed by other nationalised industries, it is simply not going to be possible to develop its resources to the full.
From what I have read today it is absolutely obvious that some kind of safeguard against these powers was certainly required. That safeguard was provided in the Bill as it stands now by Clause 13. The great factor of that Clause is in its very first sentence:
except under an authorisation in that behalf granted by the Minister the Post Office shall not
I would ask my hon. Friend whether that letter is generally available. As far as I am aware from reading the OFFICIAL REPORT it was not quoted, at any rate in full. Could my hon. Friend say whether the Minister has ever offered to make it available? It is very difficult for hon. Members on this side of the House who did not have the privilege of being on the Standing Committee to participate in the discussion when we have not the essential material in front of us.
I do this advisedly and after careful thought because I believe that this is a very important factor in our debate.
In his letter which was, in fact, a description of the manufacturing processes of the Post Office, the Postmaster-General said to my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury:
In the first place, the Post Office Factories Division, although it is primarily a research organisation, has for many years done small
scale manufacturing work in its eight factories. The total number of staff … employed on manufacturing work at the moment is about 400. The total expenditure in these factories on manufacturing, including overheads, in the last full financial year was £1½ million. There may possibly be a small expansion of this work between now and the Vesting Day of the new Corporation but in terms of value it would be unlikely to take the total above about £2 million per annum. The manufacturing work which these factories do is of a kind closely allied to their primary experience in the repair field. They make spare parts for obsolete equipment.… They do occasionally tender in competition with, and on the same basis as, outside industry for small orders for things which outside industry makes.
The right hon. Gentleman goes on in the next paragraph to speak about research at Dollis Hill and the manufacture of electronic repeaters; and he ends by saying:
We buy and supply hearing aids on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Security (of the order of £½ million worth per annum. … We also sell souvenirs at the shop in the Post Office Tower.
The whole atmosphere of the letter is shown by the way the Postmaster-General ends:
If there is any more we can do to help please do not hesitate to let me know.
But he was also hoping that this information would quieten the hon. Gentleman.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) received a similar letter on the 29th January, similarly playing down the whole manufacturing operation of the Post Office. If this was meant to pull the wool over our eyes it certainly succeeded in doing so. When it came to the debate my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South, who had received these letters, said:
I had expected that I should have to say a great deal on this Clause. … But the Postmaster-General very promptly produced what I requested. The information is contained in a letter which he sent me. All members of the Committee have copies. I should like the Assistant Postmaster-General to tell his right hon. Friend how much I appreciate that. It has been exceedingly useful and it will save a great deal in debating time on the Clause.
That is precisely what it is. These two letters completely cut down the debate for these very good reasons. My hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) made remarks in exactly the
same tone, but did not develop his speech further. What happened—this is why this letter is so relevant—is that the whole of the debate upstairs was cut short by what has turned out to be a subterfuge. Following that, we got the Assistant Postmaster-General—because for obviously good reasons the Postmaster-General was not present that day.
Let me quote what the Assistant Postmaster-General said, for it is very important:
The hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) who opened the debate, asked for an undertaking on the Government's intention about manufacturing by the Post Office. I cannot do better than remind him of what my right hon. Friend said in the debate on Clause 7.
He quoted that at length, but on this very point the Assistant Postmaster-General said:
This is why we are taking the detailed powers in Clause 13.
Before we agree to a substantial extension, the Government would give the most careful thought to all the factors involved. It is these repercussions of industry which made it impossible for the Government at this juncture to accept the New Clause 1.
What happened to those consultations?
The Government's function could be reduced by that new Clause to consultation, whereas we believe that in this case the decision must remain with the Government."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 30th January, 1969; c. 528, 553–4.]
What has happened to those considerations, which seemed so powerful to the Assistant Postmaster-General on that day?
We come to the new Clause which, although one would not be aware of it from the Postmaster-General's speech, is the replacement of, the surrender, to the whole of Clause 13. The new Clause is half the length of the old and has less than half of its reassurance. The key difference between the two is that whereas we talked of authorisation in Clause 13, this time the Clause starts with the words:
Consultation with the Minister by the Post Office shall be requisite before it or a subsidiary …
In fact, there is always to be consultation. What kind of safeguard can that possibly be in comparison with the Clause 13 which we passed upstairs? It really means that the Post Office can do exactly what it likes. What is the Postmaster-General going to do if, after consultation, the Post Office says, "We do not mind.
We shall make something if we want to do so"? If I am wrong in assuming this, I would like to know from the Postmaster-General what is the reason for this change.
In his assurances to us the Postmaster-General said at one stage:
It certainly is not the intention that the Post Office should be engaging, in its own right and separate from the main activities of the Post Office, in a whole range of activities which take it well out of the spheres which we discussed under Clause 7(1)."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 12th December, 1968; c. 297.]
How can the right hon. Gentleman give that assurance any more, because the Post Office will make what it wants, no matter what assurances the right hon. Gentleman gives to us. So the new Clause is in every way unsatisfactory to us.
Subsection (a) says:
the approval of the Minister may be given for the purposes of this subsection subject to such conditions (if any) as he may deem fit.
Will the Minister give us an idea of under what conditions he thinks he may deem things fit? Subsection (3) says:
The Minister shall publish, in such manner as he thinks fit, particulars of any approval given under the last foregoing subsection by him, and shall send them to the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress.
Why is this information not to be sent to both Houses of Parliament?
As you said, Mr. Speaker, many hon. Members will want to speak on the Clause. The Postmaster-General is no doubt pleased with the reaction that will come from the Government benches to his surrender. The P.O.E.U. pamphlet says:
The Union had gained its point by the P.M.G.'s concession re Clause 13 of the Bill; it must now campaign strongly to persuade the P.O. to make maximum use of their new manufacturing powers … The Union urges the P.O.:
The Union suggests that the P.O. should concentrate on the manufacture of electronic equipment.The Postmaster-General has at last got some friends, but he has certainly chosen a not very gallant way to buy them.
On a point of order. I seek your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on a point which I had intended to raise on the Amendments to Clause 7. However, as Clause 7 and new Clause 1 are so closely linked, it is perhaps right that I should raise it now and that you should direct me on whether this is the appropriate time.
The point which I wish to raise is how these new powers—they are new powers, because the Postmaster-General made it clear that the new Clause, coupled with Clause 13, would give him new powers to enter into new business—can be reconciled with the Long Title of the Bill. The Long Title refers to the abolition of
the office of master of the Post Office".
There is nothing there to do with manufacturing.
Then the Long Title speaks of distributing
the business conducted by the holder thereof amongst authorities constituted for the purpose and
the making of
provision consequential on the abolition of that office".
There is nothing there to do with the new business of manufacturing.
Then the Long Title says:
and the distribution of the business so conducted; to amend, replace or repeal certain provisions of the enactments relating to posts, telegraphs and savings banks".
Again, there is nothing there to do with the new business of manufacturing; nor does the Amendment of the law relating to stamp duty or the disposal of interest in the shares of Cable and Wireless Limited have anything to do with the new business of manufacturing.
If I rightly understood the Postmaster-General to say that he required these new powers to carry on the new business and additional business of manufacturing facilities, how can this be reconciled with the Long Title? Perhaps you will give me your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on whether this is the right time to raise this point and, if it is, allow me to develop my argument.
I agree with two things, at any rate, that have so far been said from the other side. I agree strongly with the point which was made about accountability. Although I think that any prolonged discussion of accountability would not be in order on this new Clause, I hope that on new Clause 6 right hon. and hon. Members opposite who are interested in accountability will vote for that new Clause, to which some of my hon. Friends and myself have put our names.
Secondly, I agree very much also with the—I suppose—semantic point made on a point of order earlier by the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton), who queried this peculiarily uncouth and ugly locution, "its". I am slightly ashamed to say that I included the locution in my own sub-Amendment to the new Clause—which has not been selected—because, in my innocence, I thought that it must be some obligatory law of Parliamentary draftsmanship nowadays. I am very glad if it is not, because I agree entirely with the hon. Member who thought it appalling.
Apart from that, I do not agree with anything which has been said by hon. Members so far. I am not at all as happy about my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General as hon. Members opposite seem to think that we on this side should be. Of course, the new Clause is a considerable improvement on Clause 13, which will vanish in due course; but to my mind it does not go nearly far enough. It is still hedged about with apologetic qualifications. I thought that my right hon. Friend was also a bit too apologetic in his speech. He should not be frightened of the stage army opposite. It is not his business to reassure them or to defer to the evil outside interests of these great monopoly or quasi-monopolistic corporations of which he is, unfortunately, the best contomer.
It is not the function of the party to which my right hon. Friend and I belong, and it ought not to be the function of any Socialist Government with guts, if I may quote a phrase used eloquently last week from these benches by a newcomer, to reassure these massive industrial giants which have been exploiting the people for so long. It is our function either to take them over into common ownership, or, if necessary, gradually to squeeze them out of existence. The more that the Post Office can do in that way, by manufacturing its own goods and the goods that it can supply to other people, in accordance with the half-hearted, hedged-about proposals in the new Clause, the better. None of us on these benches loves G.E.C. and Co. as hon. Members opposite naturally do: that is their métier. It is not ours. I beg the Postmaster-General to be a little more defiant of the interests represented opposite and less apologetic.
In any case, even pragmatically these giant industries which he appears to be so anxious to appease are not doing their job effectively. Much of the chaos which we all know exists in the telephone service, for instance, may be attributable to the very inadequate and unsatisfactory record of delivery dates by these supposedly efficient giants of private industry.
That is all I want to say. I wanted to make only a short speech, in accordance with Mr. Speaker's request; and I hope that all other hon. Members who speak will make short speeches. Inadequate as it is, we support the new Clause as a slight gesture in the right direction.
My joy at hearing the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) supporting me in one Amendment which I shall come to in a moment was somewhat diluted by the further content of his speech.
We are in some difficulty. My hon. Friend the Member for Howden (Mr. Bryan) referred very properly to two letters which were sent to members of the Standing Committee and which, we are told by my hon. Friend, considerably and substantially influenced the course of discussion in Committee.
I have always objected to communications by Ministers to individual Members without their being widely circulated. I accept that the Minister did his best for the Standing Committee. But what about the House? A number of us did not have the privilege of serving on the Standing Committee and our enjoyment of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Howden was tempered by our not having an essential document before us. Ministers should be careful when circulating documents to committees to ensure that those documents find a place on the record so that others who subsequently take part in a discussion on the same point may be fully versed in what has gone before.
My hon. Friend the Member for Howden used some fairly strong words. He said that this manoeuvre had pulled the wool over the eyes of members of the Standing Committee. He went on to denounce it as a subterfuge. That brought not the slightest reaction, physical or mental, from the Postmaster-General, or the Assistant Postmaster-General, which was very odd. Even the Government react slightly when faced with subterfuges of this kind, and I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman was so heavily weighed down by his conscience that, clearly, he was confessing that an answer was not available.
I pass to a remark which the Postmaster-General made. He prophesied that the Post Office would provide a tremendously successful communications system. My experience on the telephone this morning in trying to make one or two local calls leaves me with a feeling that the right hon. Gentleman was talking of the future. I only hope that his prophecy will be fulfilled.
For the hon. Gentleman's benefit, may I point out that I am not supporting anybody. I am dealing with the Clause. If he wants to engage in an argument, I suppose that I should go outside and try to inform myself of the situation from the manufacturers who are so criticised by the hon. Gentleman. I have a feeling that they may have some reply to make on their own behalf. For instance, they might allege that ordering had not be carried out efficiently and that the forward planning was not adequate. I did not propose to go into that point. The Postmaster-General clearly said that there was fault on both sides. That seems to take the rug from under the feet of the hon. Gentleman.
The Postmaster-General said that the powers in the new Clause were simply reserve powers. I endorse what my hon. Friend the Member for Howden said: we should be very careful before giving such powers to Socialist Ministers. When they say, "We shall not use them", our natural reaction should not be sleepily to lean back and say, "Have them on the basis that you will not use them". If they do not wish to use them, they should not have them.
I understand that. One of the Minister's famous sentences is that the Corporation will be freed from the apron strings of Parliament. How much more careful and jealous should we be of conferring such reserve powers on a Corporation over which, admittedly, Parliament will have abdicated a great deal of control?
I very much regret that the Postmaster-General has not seen fit to put in the Bill the limitations on these reserve powers which one might expect. One of my Amendments proposes that the approval of the Minister shall be obtained before
the Post Office … constructs, manufactures or produces … things of any kind to an extent substantially greater than that to which the Postmaster-General constructed, manufactured or produced, for the corresponding purpose …
The necessity to obtain the Minister's approval would provide some safeguard before the Post Office exercised the powers given in subsection (1) of the new Clause.
The Postmaster-General said that the Post Office would be unwilling to undertake manufacture unless it was sorely pressed to do so. One of the main anxieties of many of my hon. Friends is that the pressures on nationalised industries are not as sore or as heavy as those on private industry. It is easy for a statutory corporation of this kind, with the encouragement of a complacent Minister, to increase its activities to an unhealthy and dangerous extent.
The Postmaster-General referred to the sharp financial objectives put before the Post Office. It is constantly said by Government Departments that the financial objectives put before nationalised industries are sharp and very burdensome. I do not believe, and I have never believed—this is one reason why I oppose the system of nationalisation—that it is possible to find a form of discipline to take the place of the pressure of shareholders. The Government may say that it is inadequate, but it is a form of healthy pressure on privately-owned companies which is totally lacking in nationalised industries. The sharp financial objectives about which the right hon. Gentleman spoke will not cut very deep.
I will not weary the House by dealing at length—[Interruption.] I am not sure whether the hon. Member for Stockport, South (Mr. Orbach) wishes to intervene. I congratulate him on the splendid way in which he chooses to advance the passage of the Bill. However, it is not normally considered to be a successful way of intervening.
I am obliged.
It does not seem to have dawned on the hon. Gentleman or the Government that it is they who have to make the case. So far, they have totally failed to make the case for this objectionable Bill. Although I welcome the hon. Gentleman's intervention, and realise that he always does his best, it is kind to say that he has not made a very notable contribution to the expedition—
So do I. I was commenting only on the hon. Gentleman's intervention in my speech, which I recognise was as civil as he could make it.
Subsection (1) requires only consultation, which can mean anything or nothing. All that the Post Office is obliged to do is seek the Minister's views, which it may then totally disregard. Consultation provisions of this kind should not be written into Statutes when they are so meaningless. The Minister's approval is the minimum which should reasonably be required before such an extension of the Post Office's powers.
A matter which brings me into a short period of cordiality with the hon. Member for Barking is the phrase in line 2, "a subsidiary of its". The House should sometimes pause to contemplate the revolting things which it passes into legislation. This is one of the nastiest and most offensive phrases. I asked Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, whether he would permit a Division on this point. I cannot remember his exact adjective, but he said that he could not, unless something very dramatic occurred, on a drafting Amendment. I regret that, because if the Minister cannot give way on a point like this, that is an obstinate defence of the totally intolerable.
This phrase recurs a number of times in the Bill and I hope that the Minister will show some regard for the English language and a desire to avoid this filthy cacophony of language, that he will accept the Amendment and assure us that he will substitute something less offensive wherever else the phrase occurs. I see no reason why the English language should be constantly dirtied by this kind of treatment by Ministers.
Most of the other Amendments hang on the first. As to the phrase in line 22, referring to the Minister publishing "in such manner as he thinks fit", why should he not just "publish"? Those words, if they mean anything, are an excuse for him to do anything, with no one else being the judge of the adequacy of the publication. I see considerable objection to Ministers being made the judges of their own actions. A simply duty to publish would be sufficient and I hope that the Minister will agree, on reflection, that those words could be left out.
I repeat the main objection, which will be echoed by others of my hon. Friends—this is a marked extension of Post Office powers over those given in the original Bill. Without going into the question of whether, at this late stage, the extension accords with the Long Title, I do not feel that the Minister has done anything to justify it. I hope that the House will throw out the new Clause.
It is known to my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench that members of our party
vary a great deal in their zeal to carry out Clause Four of our Constitution:
To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry … upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange …
In consequence of this continuous progressive discussion in our movement, and nowhere else, we have evolved ideas as to the way in which we should proceed to carry out this historic mission. Part of that is that we would not expect overnight takeovers of giant capitalist monopolistic enterprises, but we would expect, in enactments of the Government, developments along that road.
This is why members of the Post Office unions were a little dismayed when the Clause connected with this matter was somewhat watered down. They have written to hon. Members, on this side at least, expressing that dismay. I have received letters from constituents who are members of the Post Office Engineering Union, concerned about their future and the possibilities of a Tory Postmaster-General running down some of the workshops in which they are employed. They will be pleased, even if the new Clause is not quite so dynamic as was hoped, that it is coming into being.
This is a classic political discussion. Atlhough it has, so far, been conducted in barbed language, it is a Socialist versus anti-Socialist discussion. The House and the public should be reminded that the hon. Member for Howden (Mr. Bryan) would qualify to let it be known that he has substantial interests in private enterprise. Since our backgrounds are considerably different, as well as our political education, which stems from many of these considerations—both philosophical and material—it is not surprising that we take a different view. Some of his considerable interests in private enterprise were outlined by my right hon. Friend in Standing Committee on 28th November, 1968, so I will not refer to them in detail; they are there if anyone cares to look them up.
The same hon. Gentleman, thinking, I suppose, that he was making a substantial criticism of the Minister, gave us a quotation—I do not know whether it was from a union journal—which said that the P.O.E.U. was thinking in terms of the extension of publicly-owned enterprises within the service of the Post Office in what the union calls development areas.
I have previously raised with the Prime Minister the possibility of establishing public enterprises in areas where private enterprise is shy to go. That would enable us to utilise workers who are becoming redundant as coal and other industries are run down in consequence of the advance of technology. Many of these workers find it difficult, if not impossible, to transfer their homes to the South. In any event, we do not want the whole population to move to the South of England. We want to see the redeployment of industry, and I support measures to that end.
I am not opposed to assisting private enterprise to establish itself in certain parts of the country which need industry. For example, Northern Ireland would be an ideal place for the establishment of private industries, particularly since I believe that the difficulties there are economic rather than religious. Why not establish one or more Post Office factories in Northern Ireland if private enterprise will not go there? Certainly, private enterprise is failing the nation because it is not delivering the goods which, for example, the Post Office services require.
I am delighted to know that. Many more such factories should be established there. But if private enterprise is not sufficiently enterprising to do that, public enterprise should be encouraged to play a larger part of the establishment of new factories.
The Minister need not be shy about the new Clause, for I assure him that he will get major support for it from my hon. Friends and me. One thing that unites this side of the House is its opposition to Tory humbug, and for that reason we welcome the Clause.
I will not detain the House for long, although I am glad of this opportunity to speak following the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell). What is the object of the Bill—and one can take any Clause one likes?
The hon. Gentleman is no doubt raising quite a good point. If he will do me the justice of listening to my speech I am sure that the facts will gradually dawn upon him like a timid flower being kissed by the sun. I assure him that the benefit of lending me his ear will emerge. I will continue slowly, easily and gently on all six cylinders to the end of my speech, I hope without interruption.
The Bill will give the Post Office immense power to carry out almost any business it likes. The hon. Member for Southall said that it was another step towards the aim of Clause Four of the Labour Party's constitution, which is designed to nationalise all means of production, distribution and exchange.
Be it teeny weeny or itsy bitsy, what will be the result? The small businessman and, in some instances, the larger businessman in private enterprise will gradually be killed off, which is the object of the exercise. I recall that when my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said in the Budget debate of 1968 that that Budget would kill the small businessman, there was a chorus of applause from hon. Gentlemen opposite and the remark, "A good thing, too", from the Government Front Bench did not go unnoticed.
When addressing a meeting in his constituency of Stockport, South—perhaps it was another constituency where it does not matter so much—the hon. Gentleman who represents those unfortunate people there (Mr. Orbach) told small businessmen—if I am wrong I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will correct me; I have his words in black and white printed in an itsy bitsy book—
The small shopkeeper is wasteful and you must go. I am very sorry for you, but you must go.
Did the hon. Gentleman say that?
The hon. Gentleman should be ashamed of himself.
We see why hon. Gentlemen opposite want to extend the powers of the Post Office. There is another reason; they want to decrease the gigantic losses of the Post Office. Is it right that a tremendous monopoly of this type should have such gigantic losses, particularly when one bears in mind the way in which the prices of its services have been increased?
I need not burden the House with examples. Some years ago one could post a letter in my constituency using a 1d. stamp and it would arrive in London from Knutsford that night. Now, using a 4d. stamp, one is lucky to have one's letter delivered by the end of the week. Using a 5d. stamp, it may be delivered the next day, although a great many letters never arrive at all.
Why cannot the Post Office stand on its own feet? One of my hon. Friends gave the example of the American telephone and telegraph services, which are the finest in the world. If hon. Members go outside the Chamber and pick up a telephone in the Lobby they will see how long it takes to contact the switchboard. They will also note how many wrong numbers they get, so wasting their time in having to contact the operator. We have a disgraceful service in this country. I have had the advantage of speaking with many Americans on this subject. They constantly tell me that one of the worst things that strikes them about this country is our disgraceful telephone service.
What will be the result of turning the Post Office into a corporation, containing a number of morons who have never run a business in their lives? These people will not be able to be booted off the board by shareholders who have money in the company. They will have the Patronage Secretary and the power of the Government behind them to keep their office seats warm while they are drawing gigantic salaries.
The object of the Bill is to move towards nationalising all means of production, distribution and exchange. The next move of hon. Gentlemen opposite will be to kill the small and larger businessman, and so destroy private enterprise. I bring my brief, conciliatory remarks to an end by pointing out that the Post Office will become, if this is possible, even worse than British Railways, with their dangerous and dirty trains.
The House will forgive me if I do not follow either the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Sir W. Bromley-Davenport) or the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton). Both made a contribution to hilarity, but very little to our consideration of new Clause 1.
I wish to take to task the hon. Member for Howden (Mr. Bryan), who was a little ungracious in attacking hon. Members on this side of the House who had to depart from the Committee to attend to their correspondence. The hon. Member is able to get other people to do that for him, but my hon. Friends on occasion had to be out of the Committee Room. They were, however, present whenever it was necessary for them to be present. The hon. Member was a frequent non-attender of Committee sittings.
There was no need for that. Hon. Members opposite could have walked out if they had wanted to do so. Obviously, they wanted the Bill to proceed as rapidly as possible, and for that all hon. Members should be grateful.
The hon. Member for Howden, after paying tribute to himself and his hon. Friend, started attacking our side. He said that he would deal with the background to the Clause, but, of course, he did not touch on the background. I propose to do so, as I did in Committee. The hon. Member also read a letter and suggested that it dealt with reserve powers that the Postmaster-General wanted for the future, but it did not. It dealt with the existing manufacturing position.
It does so to a very slight extent. If the hon. and gallant Member looks at Clause 13 and this Clause, he will see that there is a slight change in emphasis. I considered that Clause 13 ought to have gone further. This Clause goes a little further, but not quite so far as I would have liked. I am prepared to accept it, but I do not think it is the ideal solution to deal with the situation.
The hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) spoke about something of which he could not be aware. We were not speaking about manufacturing powers which might be available to the Corporation if this Bill became an Act. My right hon. Friend was replying to questions raised in Committee and said that this was the present position in regard to manufacturing within the Post Office at present. On that score, there was some attempt to mislead the Committee; hon. Members in the Committee were, in fact, mislead. The hon. Member said there were other reasons why manufacturers did not have manufacturing capacity and why they could not produce the telephone equipment required by the Post Office, but he was not aware of the reasons.
New Clause 1 is refreshing. The first Postmaster-General after Labour came to power gave orders that telephone equipment was to be supplied by manufacturers. My right hon. Friend is now giving consideration to the whole question of manufacturing should it be necessary in future. I will give the House some historical information. I speak as one who has been engaged in this industry and associated with it from a manufacturer's point of view as long perhaps as any hon. Member. I am not a director of any particular firm, but I made clear in Committee that I was an export consultant to Plesseys following my engagement for many years as export consultant to Automatic Telephones and Installations, which was taken over by Plesseys.
I received no advice from them, from a manufacturer, or manufacturers' association, or the trade unions about what I should say on this Bill. I think that it was well known by those who have had any connection with the industry that for over 10 years no new orders were placed for major telephone equipment by the Postmaster-General of the day. Sole responsibility for that lies on the Tory Party because hon. Members opposite believed in the status quo.
They wanted things to stay as they were and were afraid of being disturbed. This was at a time when engineers in the industry believed that it was possible within five or 10 years to have the electronic exchange system operating. In the meantime, there had been invented and there was being marketed abroad an intermediary system between the Strowger system, used over much of the country, and the cross-bar system and halfway to the electronic system. The Post Office was urged time and again to purchase cross-bar equipment, not only because it was needed for internal communications and our own equipment was 30, 40 or 50 years old and was going to seed, but because to get export orders we had to have a home base.
The Post Office, to the discredit of the Tory Party, refused to give any orders for cross-bar equipment. Not until my right hon. Friend's predecessor became Postmaster-General were orders placed for cross-bar and electronic exchange equipment in this country. No one on the Tory side who thinks that he believes in enterprise should forget that. This new Clause gives reserve powers to my right hon. Friend. He does not say, "I will wipe G.E.C., English Electric, Standard Telephones and Plesseys off the map" He says that if for any particular part of the equipment required for the Post Office existing manufacturers are not able to assist we shall have the power, subject to the Minister having consultation with the Corporation, to manufacture such equipment as we need so as to phase the end equipment within the manufacturing circuit.
My right hon. Friend is perfectly right to ask for those reserve powers, not because manufacturers will let him down. I do not agree with any hon. Friends who think that manufacturers in this country are anything but enterprising and desirous of getting orders. Naturally, they need to satisfy their shareholders, of whom I say unashamedly I am one, but they want to remain as manufacturers in their big industries as long as they can. Apart from the possibility, which the Postmaster-General outlined, of mergers having to take place and the Post Office Corporation being faced with a private enterprise monopoly, which I do not envisage in the near future, there are other dangers. Some hon. Members opposite will be prepared to admit that.
One of them said with great glee that Standard Telephones had opened a factory in Ulster. Why did not a British manufacturer open a factory there? Standard Telephones, which is an American company, has factories everywhere under the name of I.T.T. [Interruption.] What British manufacturer has opened a factory in Ulster?
We have factories all over the place, but I know of none in Ulster. I think that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is wrong. I have visited the factory outside Dublin, at Swords, but I have not visited any Plessey factory in Ulster. Perhaps I shall be fired tomorrow because I have made a misstatement here that does not help the organisation.
Let me make quite clear what I want. I want to stop what the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford referred to—
The hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford compared the telephone service neglected by his party for over 10 years with that in the United States, which is run by Bell Telephone or its subsidiaries. I spend a great deal of my vacations in the United States, because most of my family are there. In the United States I did what I do here. I called the telephone service and asked to be rung at 6 o'clock the following morning because I had to be at John Kennedy Airport by 8 a.m. and wanted a shave and breakfast first. I was rung at 6 o'clock the next morning, but my hosts had to pay 1½ dollars for that call. [An HON. MEMBER: "The hon. Gentleman did not pay 5s.?"] It is not 5s. The hon. Gentleman has no understanding of the charges made in the United States for the telephone service there, and of the fact that run side-by-side with it, it has the worst postal service probably in the world.
The hon. Gentleman has given great credit to the American telephone system, which is privately-owned, and now condemns the American postal service, which is Government-owned. Does not he think that there is a relationship between the fact that the American telephone system is privately-owned and the postal service is Government-owned?
I shall give way to the hon. and gallant Gentleman eventually But I am making a brief statement.
The hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Kenneth Baker) said that I should compare two industries, one privately-owned and a monopoly, and one owned by the State. If he knew anything at all about the United States, he would know that all the jobs in the Post Office are within the command of the Postmaster-General, who was the chief heeler of any political party at any time. With four years' experience in the United States, where I have participated in the elections, I can tell the hon. Gentleman that although political appointments to judgeships and other local offices used to be the rule, the only patronage powers apart from those of the President are those of the Postmaster-General, who appoints all the Post Office staff throughout the land.
Even a sub-postmaster must be a good member of the Democratic Party or Republican Party, depending on which is in power. At one time this was also true of teachers, and my wife had to join the Democratic Party to obtain a teaching job in New York.
I think that what I have said is sufficient to impress upon the House when there is a dialogue between the two sides as to private enterprise and public enterprise, that private enterprise as exemplified by the Tory Party does not exist, and never existed. For hon. Members opposite, private enterprise is maintaining what they have, doing as little with it as they can, establishing that something is traditionally done in a certain way, and saying that therefore it is best, whereas in this case we have a little of the dynamism of which we spoke in 1964 spreading in another sphere.
I believe it to be absolutely essential that the Post Office Corporation shall have the power to manufacture relays, transistors and any components it may require to see that there is no stoppage in the final product required by the consumer, the exchange equipment or telephone instruments about which my hon. Friend is so concerned.
In one respect at least I can agree with the hon. Member for Stockport, South (Mr. Orbach). I am certain that no one—not his trade union, his employers, nor any branch of the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers' Association—put him up to make his speech. I do not know whether they put him up to make a different speech, but in any case it is clear that it would be a dangerous thing to issue the hon. Gentleman with riding orders.
I want to draw the attention of the House to what I consider to be a very grave defect. My hon. Friend the Member for Howden (Mr. Bryan) described it as a subterfuge, but I think that it is a good deal worse. When Clause 13 was discussed in the Committee it was not given the treatment that it would have had if it had appeared as it is now as the new Clause. I do not think that it is any coincidence that in moving the Clause the Postmaster-General did not at the same time draw attention to Amendment No. 60, which my hon. Friend found lurking at page 3870 of the Notice Paper, and which says simply, "leave out Clause 13".
It should have been made very clear that the omission of Clause 13 was the price exacted from the right hon. Gentleman by his friends. On the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", five members of the right hon. Gentleman's party voted in the "No" lobby in Committee on 30th January. He himself was not present. The Assistant Postmaster-General, the Minister's Parliamentary Private Secretary and the Whip voted in favour of the Clause standing part, and we took that as meaning that the Government had decided to abide by the Clause they had put down. I should like to quote what my hon. Friend the Member for Howden said in summing up for the Opposition. He said:
To us, the letter dated 29th January from the Postmaster-General is of the greatest possible importance. It gives us assurances, spelt out in the plainest possible terms, which we would have sought in this debate. Frankly, our Amendments might have been phrased in a slightly different way had we had this letter before us when we were drafting them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 30th January, 1969; c. 559.]
The net result was that this very important Clause was got rid of in two hours in Committee when, if it had been phrased as new Clause 1 is now phrased, it would have taken a great deal longer in discussion and we should have wanted to tie the right hon. Gentleman to the terms of the letter.
This, to me, is an abuse of the processes of the House. The Minister should not take back in this way a Clause which he has put down and for which he had official support of his party, through his Whip, his Parliamentary Private Secretary and the Assistant Postmaster-General. The right hon. Gentleman has taken the Clause back in private. He has treated the House with contempt. Despite what my hon. Friend has said, I hope that we shall vote against new Clause 1 in order to show our total disapproval of the way in which it has been introduced.
The contributions of the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'AvigdorGoldsmid) are usually well worth listening to because of his wide experience both as a politician and in matters connected with the subject of the Bill. But I part company with him on the unjustified and almost abusive attack he made on my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General towards the end of his speech. If, in moments of partisan feeling, we hurl such epithets about, then, in practice, we are saying that decisions can only be made by Members of this House without listening to anyone outside.
I am not suggesting that any pressures have been put on my right hon. Friend but, in a democracy, it is right and proper for people to put pressure on Ministers, Members of Parliament, councillors and anyone else they have elected to carry out their will. Indeed, even if they have not subscribed to the election of certain Ministers, Members of Parliament or councillors, that does not mean to say that they have no right to exert such pressure. On that aspect of political philosophy I part company with the hon. Gentleman.
No less than three hon. Members on this side said in their speeches in Committee that they would cut down the length of the debate following the assurance they had received. Not all of the three are fools, although I am one of them. Undoubtedly we were deceived. There is not the slightest doubt of it. There was no move by the Postmaster-General or by the Assistant Postmaster-General to put us right in this respect.
Hon. Members opposite want it both ways. Towards the end of his speech, the hon. Member for Walsall. South pointed out what had happened in the Division. He said that this had given him a certain message. It appears that he has more prescience and understanding than the hon. Member for Howden (Mr. Bryan).
Whilst, to a certain extent, I compliment my right hon. Friend, I am sorry that the drafting of new Clause 1 is not of such a nature as to fill the benches opposite with hon. Members seething with frustrated anger because he proposes a full-blooded Socialist measure. I say that after acknowledging that we are talking about a serious issue—the telecommunications of the future.
It would have been much better if my right hon. Friend had drafted new Clause 1 in a way which would have been so repugnant to hon. Members opposite that it would have filled their benches and led the Opposition Front Bench to draft an Amendment which would equally have filled these benches. If the Opposition Front Bench are paying heed to the fifth-rate vaudeville performance of the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Sir W. Bromley-Davenport) and the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton), they should be bitterly opposing new Clause 1. The whole concept of this Bill held by the two hon. Members is that none of it should take place.
If the Conservative Party had cared to carry out what it declares to be its philosophy, then, during its 13 years of office, it could have denationalised the Post Office, not to mention the coal mines, the railways and other publicly-owned industries. But in fact the Conservatives are as half-hearted in their philosophy as, I regret to say, my right hon. Friend is in his. It would be better for this House and for politics in general if we made it clear to people at large that there is and should be a massive difference between the philosophies of the two sides of the House.
In this so-called "mixed" approach, it is the Conservative Party that comes off best because, even when it is in power, when something goes wrong with a publicly-owned industry it has not got the guts to denationalise it but it can still criticise it. As has been said, its philosophy has been one of slow strangulation. The neglect which the Post Office suffered under the Conservative Government was enormous.
I am happy and proud to be associated with the members of the Post Office En- gineering Union, who are so proud of their craft and their industry and of what they are trying to do for the country. They are not seeking shares in the new set-up. They are not seeking some method of getting a large private nest-egg in it. They want to see it an efficient and worth-while organisation which will make its contribution to uplifting the standard of life for everyone in the country. Here again, there is a fundamental difference between the philosophy of hon. Members opposite and ours It is worth reiterating that it would be much better to make it clear where both sides stand in our legislation on these issues.
I have grave apprehensions that much of what has happened up to now with the Post Office might be repeated in the new organisation. One of the difficult features of the public ownership of the Post Office has been that it has had to do many things which are not directly remunerative. It has provided the basic essentials and then has allowed private enterprise to nip in and cream off the profits. We say that is wrong. We do not have to convince hon. Members opposite because they do not believe it anyway. But it is a tragedy that we have to make the case to my right hon. Friend that the things which we said in Opposition are still true now that we are in Government and that we should carry out these things in a much more forceful and Socialist manner, for we have a mandate to do so.
I should prefer to have the support of the Post Office engineers and other Post Office workers than the support of any shareholders in any form of private enterprise, because the fundamental difference between them is that, as trade unionists, the former are concerned about their industry and its contribution to our nation and to the millions of others not directly affected.
For too long in public ownership we have made a grave error. Private enterprise has left organisations almost moribund, for example the mines and the railways. Now we are doing it again. We have seen the ignorance displayed by hon. Gentlemen opposite about the modernisation of the Post Office—if it was not ignorance, if it was done deliberately, then it was worse. We have to come along and pick it up. Time and again we have made the mistake of not doing the job thoroughly in a Socialist manner. Instead we have left some elements free, as if we have a responsibility to private enterprise to provide some sustenance for it by sucking at the teats of the State to survive. This is wrong. Hon. Members opposite should realise that if they take the reins of office again there will be no Post Office, no Postmaster-General, the whole lot will be given to private enterprise.
My hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, South (Mr. Orbach) has spoken about the Post Office services in New York State being absolutely appalling, while the telephone service is first-class. The telephones are run by private industry, the Post Office by the State, and we all know the feeling of United States administrators towards any form of State ownership. They have committed the same crime over there, their postal service is something that they dare not allow private enterprise to take over. Yet the cost of the ordinary telephone subscription is rising and is enormous. A great deal of money has been ploughed back. In the State of New York alone those who now control the telephone system have ploughed more back in one year for research than the Tories did in the last 10 years when they held office and were operating a national Post Office.
We are talking about a new era in mankind, and there is a direct relationship between new Clause 1 and this new era. The choice is simply whether there shall be large monopolies of immense power within the private sector running these concerns, or whether they should be run by the people for the people, by Parliament. This is a great issue and in such an area as telephone communications it would be a grave disaster if the bankers and private entrepreneurs of the future could completely control the industry. The extension of public ownership is right for me because I am a Socialist, but in the interests of mankind there ought to be an international organisation for controlling such an industry.
While I am not 100 per cent. happy with new Clause 1, I am thankful for small mercies and glad that my right hon. Friend has sought to delete the old Clause 13 and to substitute this new one. I hope that before long that we can do something better to move towards this opportunity of genuine and real public ownership which has proved itself to be of supreme benefit to the people.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite have taken the opportunity to philosophise about this new Clause, and there is nothing to complain about on that, because it points to one of the basic differences between the two sides. I do not complain that the Postmaster-General has decided that he will give the Bill more teeth, but I do complain about the way in which it has been done. Far from the Postmaster-General being guilty of subterfuge, I think he has simply been got at. We have only to look at the record to see the proof of this. If we take the discussions on Clause 13 in Standing Committee it will be apparent that there was only one Amendment.
We made it clear that not only were we satisfied with the letter that the right hon. Gentleman was good enough to send to my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), but we were happy with what the Assistant Postmaster-General had said. It is important to see what happened after that Amendment had been discussed and the Question was put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." Only the payroll vote on the Government side voted for Clause 13. All the other Government supporters voted against the Clause being in the Bill. It was only because hon. Members on this side supported the right hon. Gentleman that the Clause was carried. Obviously there must have been a very good reason for my hon. Friends to support the right hon. Gentleman.
That reason was that we thought he had been very conciliatory, that he had accepted the position of the Post Office with respect to manufacture, that the Post Office would still be prepared to go into manufacture if it felt that someone was capable of twisting its arm. We would expect a large organisation to be like this. Now, on Report we find this new Clause.
I have a number of questions. The Postmaster-General said that these were only reserve powers. Unfortunately where manufacture for its own purposes is concerned, the new Corporation will be required only to "consult" the new Minister for Post and Telecommunications. Yet where it has to manufacture to supply someone else it has to get "approval". Why should the Corporation be given virtually carte blanche to enter into manufacture of any kind? What does "consultation" with the Minister really mean? In some cases it has been ruled that if a letter is written and enough time is allowed for a reply this constitutes consultation, and this could be the attitude of the new Corporation. At present we are able to ask the Postmaster-General questions in the House, but this will not be so when there is a Corporation, which will be as difficult to get at as British Rail.
We shall come to Clause 6 later. The new Clause has a laudable objective and, if sufficient thought were given to it, it may be that it would take away the worries of hon. Members about not being able to get at the Minister to ask questions which they consider should be raised on the Floor of the House. I hope that the debate on new Clause 6 will be interesting and that the hon. Gentleman will be successful.
I cannot understand why, if approval is necessary for the manufacture of supplies for someone else, manufacturers will be able to manufacture for their own purposes merely after consultation. If the new Clause remains as it is, even the new Minister of Post and Telecommunications may have his arm twisted. The Post Office Corporation could decide to lay down expensive equipment to produce products for its own use. On working out the economics it may be found that to get repayment on the capital employed it is necessary to produce the product in much greater numbers, which could be disposed of only by selling them to someone else. If the Minister refused approval for the manufacture for sale to someone else the operation would then become uneconomic. This would not be anything new for a nationalised industry, but the Minister would have to take this matter fully into account, and he would no longer be master of the situation.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite are continually arguing about Clause 4 and whether or not it should be fully implemented. That is their business, and it is for them to continue that discussion, but until now the House has believed that undertakings given and accepted in Committee would be honoured, and that the House would not expect on Report to find an entirely different situation. If only for this reason, I hope that my hon. Friends will oppose the new Clause.
The right hon. Gentleman might be able to retrieve his fortunes by accepting sub-Amendment (a), which would ensure that the Minister's approval would have to be obtained for manufacture for any purpose. This would soften the blow. I hope that, if the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to take back new Clause 1, he will at least accept sub-Amendment (a).
Although I have listened carefully to hon. Gentlemen opposite, they have lamentably failed to persuade me that I should not support the new Clause. Two substantial charges have been made, which I should like to answer.
The first charge is that my right hon. Friend has misled the Committee, that he has been under pressure from groups of hidden persuaders and that he has used subterfuge in putting down the new Clause. These accusations should be answered. The hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Kenneth Baker) was experienced enough to know what he was being asked to agree to in Committee although, with one exception, he was the hon. Member with the least experience in the House. The hon. Member for Howden (Mr. Bryan), who leads on Post Office matters for the Opposition, did not appreciate what we were talking about upstairs. The experience of the hon. Member for Acton is much to be admired. He said:
The hon. Members for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown), Stockport, South (Mr. Orbach) and Westhoughton (Mr. J. T. Price) all said that this is an ideological point, as if it were an academic discussion between one set of academic economists and another set. I do not agree. We are discussing the 'guts' of politics, because politics, in my view, is about ideologies, policies and principles. This is yet another occasion on which there is a clear and definite distinction between the two sides of the Committee and the two parties in the House of Commons."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 30th January, 1969; c. 548.]
The hon. Member is absolutely right, and he must have known, as the hon. Member for Howden must have known,
that my right hon. Friend would not receive support on the Question, That the Clause stand part of the Bill, from the Labour Members sitting behind him. This was made clear to my right hon. Friend in later discussions and by other means. There was nothing hidden in this persuasion; it was in the open. The discussion was clearly understood and recognised by the hon. Member for Acton for what it was, an ideological discussion on which the two sides would separate. I understand my right hon. Friend's dilemma; he was obviously under some form of stricture, and I am pleased that he has been able to get away from it and to introduce the much more manageable new Clause 1.
The second charge which was levelled in Committee, partly by the hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby), was that the Post Office has been given unlimited powers to manufacture. This is the gravamen of the Opposition's case. They are worried that the Post Office can operate as a commercial enterprise, without having to get agreement, but merely by consulting the Postmaster-General. They are afraid that it will steal the legitimate markets of private manufacturers and therefore make them commercially less secure. I do not think that I am over-stating the case. This has been precisely the point throughout. I see the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) nodding agreement—he appreciates this point.
The famous letter of 29th January, which has been quoted so many times, contained the following:
As a Minister of the Crown, I have inherent power to do anything which the subject can do unless there is any legislation to stop me. I can manufacture anything I like.
That was written against the background that the Postmaster-General's power under the Post Office Act, not under the Bill, is that he can now manufacture anything he likes, subject only to restriction of legislation. This was well known to the Committee upstairs.
It does not depart very much from his powers. The Postmaster-General has no restriction upon him, except in relation to his financial powers, which are laid down. There is no inherent restriction upon his powers. The hon. and gallant Member for Down, South nods. The restriction is wholly in relation to his ability to obtain finance to manufacture. The powers do not need to be specifically laid down, and this was clearly understood in the Committee. The hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Hay) was not a member of that Committee and I did not wish to mislead him in my quotation. In the present situation the only restriction is a financial limitation if my right hon. Friend wishes to manufacture. If he has the money, he can go ahead and manufacture.
The hon. Gentleman posed the hypothetical point as to what would happen under the new Clause if the Post Office Corporation has the power to manufacture. The answer is precisely the same. It can go ahead and manufacture. In other words, exactly the same situation obtains with the Corporation as operates at present. The only change in regard to both the Postmaster-General and the Corporation is that they have to have the money to enable them to manufacture. This is the sole limitation which is placed upon them.
These alleged substantial changes—I do not believe that they are substantial—were dealt with in the Committee upstairs. I am pleased that my right hon. Friend has seen fit to withdraw Clause 13 and substitute new Clause 1. It goes a great deal of the way, if not all the way, to meet all the points which have been put to him.
I wish to comment on one or two matters. I should like to deal with some of the comments about telephone delays. There are four basic reasons, or a combination of any one of them, or several of them, which cause telephone delays, and the hon. Gentleman must know this. The first is that the equipment supplied, whether it be telephone exchange equipment, the lines, or the headphone sets in people's houses, is not adequate. The second is the way in which the telephone operator deals with the calls on the exchange—whether or not he or she picks up the call quickly enough or connects it to the wrong number. The third is the lack of capital equipment used to attain service for its customers. It is the Government's responsibility to supply money for the capital equipment and to think ahead. The fourth reason which might cause delay in telephone calls is customers misdialling, as frequently happens. Any one of these reasons, or any combination of them, can cause delays. It is as simple as that.
I should like to take up the charge which was made by the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Sir W. Bromley-Davenport) against my right hon. Friend, a charge which cannot be correct. We have seen during the period of office of my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General, a tremendous increase in the amount of capital which he has been prepared to authorise for the use of telephone exchanges. A cut-back in the capital was a feature of the period of office of the previous Administration. Their whole aim in telephone policy was to stop development. There was continual criticism of the Post Office by the public at large as well as by Questions in the House, and the chickens have come home to roost some five years afterwards.
My right hon. Friend is to be congratulated. He knows that there is a need for a continual flow of capital equipment into the Post Office on the telephone side. This afternoon he gave the House some idea of the amount of capital equipment which he has put into the telephone service and outlined his projections a few years ahead. Hon. Members opposite should recognise this fact.
I should like to come to a few brief, gentle criticisms of my right hon. Friend, whose speech I thought a little apologetic. He said that he had reserve powers, and then went on to say that it was not intended that the Post Office would enter into manufacturing in the next year or so. That is an unfortunate statement. I can understand that my right hon. Friend is under pressure from the Telephone Engineering Manufacturing Association so that manufacturers may have an idea some time ahead as to how they should gear up their factories to increase output. If my right hon. Friend was basing his statement on the purely short-term to help them so that they will not have to face redundancy in staff, I accept it. But if he meant to give a categorical assurance that in no circumstances would the Post Office enter into manufacturing before the next year or so, I hope that he will think again about the matter and give us some words of encouragement when he winds up on the new Clause. It is most important. It would be quite wrong to give the Telephone Engineering Manufacturing Association the word today that in some cases it can fail to meet contract dates or the obligations of the Post Office in the knowledge that for several years at least, if my right hon. Friend's words are taken literally, the Post Office will not enter into manufacturing.
The new Clause refers to consultations with the Minister, and I would ask my right hon. Friend to say a further word about this matter. He said that the purpose was to safeguard the Minister and to have consultations with other Ministers. I hope he will agree that he cannot use it as a device for delaying commercial decisions by the new Post Office Corporation. It would be most unfortunate if either party when in power were to use this particular Clause to delay decisions against the commercial advice of the new Corporation.
Secondly, my right hon. Friend said that he wanted to join in the discussions and to have meetings with the C.B.I., the new Minister and the Post Office Board. But he did not mention—and he ought to have mentioned—that he will include in that meeting representatives of the T.U.C. If he is going to give guarantees about jobs and security of tenure in the manufacturing industries, it is as much the right of the trade union representatives to know what their future might be.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) says, it is more their right. It is an equal right that people on both sides of the table should know precisely what they are talking about and what their future is in their jobs.
I support the new Clause, as in Committee upstairs I opposed the old one, for one substantial reason which hon. Members opposite have not yet brought out. It is that if we try to change the future outlook of the Post Office to that of a more commercial organisation which is dynamic, forward-looking and able to compete, the Corporation should have full powers to develop in the way that it wishes. The new Clause gives it the opportunity, if it wishes to do so for commercial or other reasons, to enter into manufacture even on a small scale. I believe that that is right, and that is why I support the new Clause.
I want first to draw the attention of the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Dobson) to the difference between the financial sanction which applies today and that which is to apply under the new Clause. The hon. Gentleman referred lightly to the fact that the only control on manufacture at the moment was the little side issue of financial sanction. However, in Committee the hon. Gentleman referred to his understanding that, even if Clause 13 were not in the Bill, the Minister would still be concerned because of the power in the 1961 Act, and the Assistant Postmaster-General replied:
No. I said that this had been overtaken by the other Act. He must get financial sanction through Parliament if he wants money to carry on this form of operation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 30th January, 1969; c. 555.]
That makes the very important distinction between the powers which now exist and those which are to be granted by the new Clause. At the moment, it is necessary for the Minister to get the sanction of Parliament to carry on these operations.
I turn now to the speech of the Postmaster-General, one section of which caused me particular concern. He said that the Clause is put down in case suppliers are unable to supply at the right price or the Post Office is unable or unwilling to buy at such a price. The gist of what he said was that the Post Office reserves the power in case it does not like the supplier's price or does not wish to go to a certain supplier.
I am sure that we all welcome competition. However, this is not competition. One cannot have a monopoly buyer who is also a potential supplier. I believe that the monopoly buyer is a menace to our economy. He is at least as dangerous an animal as the monopoly supplier. He encourages an attitude of complacency, and that attitude permeates down through the system.
Worst of all, the supplying firms are put in an extremely vulnerable position. No manufacturer in his right mind, if there is an alternative, will put all his production into supplying one buyer. He will not invest in research and development and new plant when, at the drop of a hat or a change of the Postmaster-General's mind, any firm which has invested substantial sums in plant, research and the like can be cut off from its only customer; and we have seen how, since 30th January, the Postmaster-General's mind has changed under pressures which have been brought to bear upon him by hon. Members behind him.
The monopoly buyer does more harm to our telephone system and to our advance in research and development than any other facet. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite are fond of talking about monopolies. I would ask them to look at the other side of the picture and consider the position created by the monopoly buyer.
Hon. Members on both sides of the House have referred to the competitiveness of the American system, and various views about it have been expressed. I heard today about the chairman of a leading firm who went to the States and wanted to see one of his representatives who had arrived there two days earlier and taken up residence in some fairly remote place. He contacted the local telephone exchange and asked if a person who had been there only two days was likely to be on the telephone. He was told that his house will be fully equipped. When he called to see the man, he said how delighted he was to find that he had been connected within two days of arriving. The man told him that not only was he connected in two days but that he had been recommended to have a telephone in his bathroom, another in the bedroom and others in different rooms—
The trouble with the monopoly buyer who retains the power to manufacture is that there can be no true comparison between relative costs. The Postmaster-General said that he wants this power in case a supplier is not prepared to sell at a price at which he is willing to buy. The Post Office may have served up costings and supplied details of what it considers would be the production costs of a given project. However, they can never be compared fairly with the manufacturing costs of an independent supplier. It is easy to reduce the costs of any unit, given a guaranteed outlet which will take 100 per cent. of one's production. Any manufacturing firm which could guarantee to dispose of all its production could bring down its costs substantially. At the moment, supplying firms face a position where, with one buyer, they cannot be sure that their whole production will be taken. In this way, any comparison of costs between a Post Office manufacturing unit and that of a private enterprise firm could be distorted severely and would provide a poor guide to the Post Office when it was exercising its discretion as to where it should buy. The creation of competition by manufacturing which is capitalised by public money is a dangerous and wrong practice.
As other hon. Members have pointed out, the debate in Committee was abridged, and hon. Members were unable to develop their arguments as fully as they wished because of the letter to which reference has been made. When the Postmaster-General introduced the new Clause today, I was surprised and disappointed that he made no reference to Clause 13. That was a remarkable omission, and I imagine that those hon. Members who were not members of the Committee must have thought that the new Clause made some special concessions, not recognising the great change that has been made. It is extremely regrettable. The change of emphasis in the new Clause and the pressures that have been applied to bring it about indicate the dangers with which we are faced. I shall join my hon. Friends in voting against the new Clause.
I will be brief. I am heartened by the fact that this is a healthy situation for the Government to be in with unanimous support from this side of the House and total opposition from hon. Gentlemen opposite. I should not like to claim all the credit for having engineered this situation, although the hon. Member for Howden (Mr. Bryan) tried to put the blame on me. It is most unfortunate that the hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) should use such language as "Somebody has been got at". It is not a simple matter—there is more to it than that—but I am reasonably satisfied that the Government have made the right decision and that the wording of the Clause is satisfactory.
I was surprised by some of the points raised by hon. Members who were on the Committee and who are here this afternoon. They should recognise that the argument put in Committee was not necessarily an ideological one. It was that, under the Bill as anticipated, the Post Office Corporation would have certain powers. We were arguing that somewhere along the line discussions and negotiations had taken place that had changed what most of us assumed would be the position in the powers of the new Corporation. I regard what the Government are doing as going back to the original intention. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] All right. When I say "the original intention", I am not arguing about consultation and approval; I am merely arguing the broad case that the Corporation, if it wishes, should be able to indulge in the manufacture of equipment without too many strings attached, such as having to go to the Minister and being tied by what was manufactured in the period from 1961 when lion. Members opposite made sure that it did not have any great opportunity to manufacture anything of substance. Therefore, this is not just an ideological argument.
I remind hon. Members opposite that the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General contained in the Post Office Report for 1967–68 is not a biased document. Dealing with this great efficient industry of private enterprise, the Report states that of 41 major orders due for completion in March, 1968, none was completed in time. So where is the ideological argument?
Will the hon. Gentleman continue reading from the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General? While he rightly attacks and criticises the firms for not delivering on time, he also attacks the management in the Post Office for not being on the ball and chasing up these deliveries much earlier. This is a two-pronged affair. It is not private industry which is always to blame; it is often the Post Office.
I know the bias that the hon. Gentleman has in defence of private enterprise. I will not follow him in that direction. I am not arguing that everybody in Post Office management is efficient and top class. I am merely trying to get hon. Members opposite to recognise that neither is everybody in private enterprise. It is no use blaming the clerk of works because he does not chase up the contractor when the contractor has failed to deliver the goods. Hon. Members opposite are doing a disservice to the Post Office if they do not recognise this.
In the limited efforts that the Post Office has made to try to get a certain percentage of its requirements from outside the ring—and the Comptroller and Auditor General refers to this—some of the manufacturers would not tender because they wanted it done within the sheltered system that had been operating under the bulk agreements. Therefore, if I am to take the credit for it, I am delighted, although I think that a lot of the credit goes to my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General and to the Assistant Postmaster-General, who was on a rather sticky wicket in Committee when we were arguing this point because of the absence of my right hon. Friend. I think that this is a healthy thing. I am not arguing on ideological grounds.
Some of my hon. Friends may not agree with me, but those who know anything about the manufacture of telephone and exchange equipment cannot imagine that overnight, through some wild revolutionary Socialist Postmaster-General—I do not see one in office at the moment—there will be a mushrooming of Post Office factories with workers' control involved in them. To imagine that this will happen overnight is a fantasy of imagination. I should like to think that it is possible, but, recognising the practical difficulties, it will be a long time—and in this context the time scale of my right hon. Friend makes sense—before we see that happy position. However, if the unions involved and the public will give us the backing, we now seem to be making it possible to have that opportunity if we think it is desirable. Having removed the restriction that many of us thought was unreasonable, my right hon. Friend certainly deserves the full support of all hon. Members on this side.
I think that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown) is unique among those who have addressed the House today in thinking that there is little difference between the new Clause and Clause 13, which a later Amendment seeks to remove from the Bill.
Not having been on the Standing Committee, I have found considerable difficulty in trying to understand the differences between the two Clauses with which we are concerned. In any event—and I am prepared to be guided on this matter, at any rate by my hon. and right hon. Friends who have followed the progress of the Bill through all its stages so far with the greatest care—it seems to me that the Postmaster- General is faced, as has so often happened in the past with Ministers concerned with nationalisation Measures, with the problem of defining how far it is right and proper for an industry in public ownership to carry on activities which may compete with private enterprise.
It is evident that many hon. Members opposite are hot and strong in favour of the widest possible extension of manufacturing and similar powers being conferred upon the new Post Office Corporation. It is equally apparent that most of us on this side of the House resist this extension.
I should like to make one point, which has not fully been made, why we on this side do not favour the wide extension that hon. Gentlemen opposite seek. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South-West (Mr. Tom Boardman) touched on this in his speech. When a Government Department like the Post Office or a nationalised industry undertakes manufacture and sale, it does so on uniquely favourable financial terms. Private enterprise is not only obliged to compete one firm with another, but it must raise its money from the market. Therefore, its prices must reflect the cost of money as well as the cost of raw materials, labour and everything else. Government Departments and nationalised industries are in a privileged position, because they can often obtain their money at less than the market rate. They have their obligations underwritten by the Treasury, and in some cases, as has frequently happened in the past, if accumulated debt arises it can be, and is, written off.
None of those things happens in the case of private enterprise, and this is why we are strongly sensitive about any attempt to expand the area of activity of a nationalised industry, particularly in the context of an operation like this, where a Government Department is being divided and its commercial operating side is being set up as a new industry. That is the main observation that I should like to make relating to the debate between the two sides of the House on the ambit of the Clause.
When I turn from the merits and look at the text of the Clause, I am horrified. In Amendment (b), which has not been selected for Division but which it is in order to discuss, my hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) has drawn attention to some unpleasant words which appear throughout the Bill in a number of places, and which are repeated in two or three places in the Clause. I am referring to the expression, "a subsidiary of its". I hope very much that the Postmaster-General felt equally revolted by that expression. If he did, I cannot understand how these words got through the various Cabinet Committees and to this stage of the Bill without having been spotted.
I am not quite clear what the draftsman is trying to do, whether he thinks it clever to use a double genitive, or whether "its" will be taken in this context as an abbreviation for "itself". All I know is that this is an unpleasant animal, and I hope, Mr. Speaker, that you will reconsider your opinion—I was not present when you gave it—that we should not have a Division on this Amendment.
It may be that the Postmaster-General will concede that something needs to be done about this wording at a later stage. If he is thinking about that, I urge him not to be blinded by science by the draftsman, who may argue that these words are necessary in this form because they have some special legal implication. I urge the Postmaster-General not to believe that. The words proposed by my hon. Friend, or any other form of words which gets rid of this absurd double genitive, will be equally effective from a legal point of view.
I come, now, to the Clause as a whole. This is one of those jungle Clauses. The great advantage that I saw in Clause 13 was that it was much simpler to follow. I defy almost anybody to make any sense out of this Clause, unless he spends many minutes struggling through the undergrowth of language to distinguish what it is the Corporation will be empowered to do after consultation with the Minister, and what it will be able to do only with the Minister's approval and consent.
One thing that is clear, however, is that under the Clause as drafted the Corporation will have powers to go far beyond manufacturing. We have been talking this afternoon about powers of manufacture. If one looks at the Clause in detail, one sees that it goes beyond manufacture. It goes to supply as well, and it is this aspect of the ability of the Corporation to supply, even perhaps by retail, which we on this side of the House at any rate should look at with the greatest care.
I have tried to understand what exactly the Postmaster-General was doing in the celebrated letter of 29th January. If one reads the letter, at first blush one gets the impression that all he was doing was giving a bit of information about the extent to which the manufacturing and similar powers are carried on by his Department at the moment. It may be that the right hon. Gentleman will reply on that argument when he answers the debate. He may say that all he was trying to do was to be helpful and tell hon. Gentlemen what his Department did. He may say that this is a housemaid's baby, only a little one, and that there is nothing very much to worry about.
If that is what the right hon. Gentleman intends to say, he is hoping that the House is much more disingenous than it is, because if one reads the Standing Committee proceedings, and if one listens to the speeches of my hon. Friends who attended those debates and were concerned with the negotiations and discussions that went on, one realises that that letter was written to make it apparent that the Government's intention with regard to the Corporation was not to go outside the ambit of what was laid down there. If that was the right hon. Gentleman's intention, the letter is perfectly clear. If, on the other hand, as some of my hon. Friends have suspected, the intention was to come pretty close to misleading by implying that there was no intention of going beyond that, but in fact, all the time, because of pressure from the benches behind him, and from outside for all we know, the intention was to produce a much tougher, much wider, and much more powerful Clause—I sincerely hope that the right hon. Gentleman will confirm that that was not his intention—
At the time of the debate I made it clear that it was not the intention to go beyond what my hon. Friend said in Committee. It is since then that we have given further consideration to this question, and it is in the light of that further consideration, and in the light of what was said in Committee, that the Government have decided that we must bring this Clause forward in place of Clause 13. There is no question of my hon. Friend misleading the Committee during the discussion on Clause 13, because at that time it was our intention to stick to that Clause. It is since then that we have reconsidered the question.
I am sure that the House is grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that clarification. I am sure we all accept that the right hon. Gentleman had no intention deliberately of misleading the Committee, but something—
In that event we had better wait until the right hon. Gentleman replies to the debate. What the right hon. Gentleman has said has made the matter more significant, and I think we are en- titled to know what representations have been made—other than those made during the debate in Committee—which have led to this sudden change of heart and to the extension of the proposals which have been incorporated in the Clause.
Which hon. Members and which organisations have required the Government to change their mind? The speeches from the Government side in Committee were not all that violent in their tone, or so threatening, that any Minister with an ounce of courage would not have stood up against them. Something must have been going on between the Committee stage and this stage of the Bill, and we await with the greatest interest—
That is a new doctrine. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that those who were not on the Standing Committee are not entitled on Report to put forward arguments and ask questions about what the Minister has done, to ask about something which looks a bit shady, then the hon. Gentleman, who has been in this House for many years, indeed for longer than I have, needs to think again about the functions of this House on Report.
I do not propose to take much longer, because I have made my main point. Having been interrupted by the right hon. Gentleman who made a statement of some importance in this connection I feel that it is perfectly legitimate and right to have asked him further questions about this and I hope he will come completely clean with the House when he comes to reply to this important debate.
As the recipient of the celebrated letter, perhaps I might say a word or two about this. Perhaps to begin with I might say to hon. Members opposite that I make no complaint whatever of them for the success with which they have done their log-rolling. It has obviously been a highly successful piece of work. I congratulate them on having captured their Minister. They believe in a certain political philosophy which is different from mine and they have had a success. I make no complaint about them at all but I do complain about the Postmaster-General. The history of this matter is simply that it was apparent, in the way the Bill was originally drafted, that Clause 13 strictly limited the powers of manufacture of the Post Office to those things which it was already manufacturing during the relevant period. Those are the words that matter.
In order to cut down debate and to ascertain exactly what the Post Office did manufacture during the relevant period, I invited the Postmaster-General, in Committee, before we reached Clause 13 and so as to speed up our deliberations on that Clause, if he would let me have a list of the things which the Post Office then manufactured during the relevant period. He was kind enough to do so. His letter was extremely useful. He set out the extent of his powers and it is true, as one hon. Member opposite has said, that he had the power of any subject to manufacture anything, subject to legislation, but it is also true, as my hon. Friend qualified it, that his powers are strictly limited by the financial control of this House. What we were dealing with here were not Ministerial powers but the powers of a new public Corporation without Ministerial control. The Ministerial control was there in the Bill over the extension of manufacture. We took that for granted.
When the discussions on Clause 13 took place in Committee we took it for granted that the Government meant what they said in their Bill; and they themselves at that stage, defied their back benchers and stuck to their opinion. We, therefore, did not debate the matter at the length we might have and the Minister got his Clause. Since then the Minister has changed his mind. But in my view, what has happened has amounted to a deception. I acquit him of deliberately deceiving the House, but what has happened has amounted to a deception, because during the course of that debate I asked several questions and one in particular. I asked about the question of relays. Winding up the debate, the Assistant Postmaster-General said:
The hon. and gallant Member for Down, South asked whether the Minister could control any large-scale expansion of the Post Office manufacture of relays.
The Assistant Postmaster-General went on to say:
Of course he could. That is what Clause 13 provides. The Minister is the judge of what is 'substantial', as Clause 14(5) makes quite clear."—[OFFICIAL RFPORT, Standing Committee D, 30th January, 1969; c. 556.]
The whole attitude of that Ministerial reply was that the Government were going to stick to Clause 13 and that all our fears were unjustified. That was the answer, but something has happened in the meantime. The Government have changed their mind. They have done away with Clause 13. No longer does the new Corporation have to come to the Minister for approval before an extension of its manufacture. No longer is the Assistant Postmaster-General's undertaking to me valid. In other words, the Assistant Postmaster-General has gone back on what he said. He may have had to do so under pressure, but that is what has happened.
I suggest to the House that it is a breach of faith with those of us who took part in the debate in Committee on the understanding that the Government meant what they said. The Government have now gone back on their word. I am not going over the whole political, philosophical argument. It is perfectly plain that there is a difference of opinion between us about whether or not the new Corporation should be permitted an extension of its manufacture. I do not at all object to the extent to what the Post Office at present manufactures. I would not object if the Post Office under its present form, with Parliamentary control, were to seek to extend certain parts of its manufacture. Indeed, it might well be in the public interest that it should do so.
What we are dealing with now, however, is not the Post Office but a new public Corporation without Ministerial control. All that is in this new Clause is the obligation to consult the Minister, that is all.
I agree that we have a basic difference of opinion. I believe that subsection (1) should require approval, and I hope that perhaps even now, at this late stage, or perhaps in another place, we might get a provision that Ministerial approval is still required. I still want the decision as to whether the new Corporation shall go into—to use the Postmaster-General's own phrase—"a substantial increase in its manufacturing powers" to be a decision reserved to this House of Commons, and not to this Corporation we are setting up.
Yes, I sympathise with that, but at present we are looking at the Bill without the new Clause 6, without any guarantee that that Clause is to be in the Bill. We have to accept the position as it is. If the Postmaster-General were to give us an undertaking now that he is going to accept his hon. Friend's [Interruption.]
I appreciate that, Mr. Speaker, and I am glad that you have called attention to it; but it is very sad that we cannot do so because it might alter our attitude to this Clause. But I quite understand. It is exceedingly unfortunate. I am greatly disappointed in the Postmaster-General. I did not think he would allow himself to go back on undertakings in the way he has done in this case. He has gone back on undertakings which he gave to the Committee. He has been guilty of a breach of faith with those of us on this side who served on the Committee, and supported him against his own supporters: and he has done it without explanation and without telling us what is behind it or to exactly what pressures he has been subjected. I hope we will resist this new Clause and that when it comes to the House a later Amendment to delete Clause 13 will be resisted too, so that we show a consistency which the Postmaster-General himself has failed to show.
Although many Clauses and Amendments have been selected for debate over the next two days, there are probably two or three basic important issues which divide the Labour Party and the Conservative Party and which are fundamental to why we are in politics. On this new Clause we are discussing the extension that many hon. Members opposite would like to see in the manufacturing powers of the Post Office. Hon. Members opposite are in politics and supporters of their party to promote those interests. We are in politics to oppose the promotion of those interests. That is why this is an important and fundamental debate.
There has been a substantial change from the original control which was to be imposed by the Postmaster-General. Clause 13 is to be deleted, rather surreptitiously. It is a similar exercise to that which occurred when the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in introducing the Budget, told us what the pension increases were to be without telling us what the cost would be in the autumn. Clause 13, which is to be deleted, said that the Post Office Corporation was not to be allowed to extend its manufacturing powers except under authorisation granted by the Minister—that is, the Minister had the say-so. Under new Clause 1 the Minister does not have the say-so, because it will be consultation between the Minister and the Post Office. "Consultation" is a wide phrase. It can mean a nod and a wink. If a really Socialist Postmaster-General were to be appointed—
As the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) says, it is unthinkable. We certainly have not got one at the moment. If one were to be appointed, he would be able to nudge the Post Office Board into substantially extending the manufacturing powers of the Post Office. This is what worries us. This is a major change from the original Bill.
The only limitation in the new Clause is that in subsection (4), which relates specifically to the trading activities of the Post Office—that is, when it manufactures things that it does not want for itself and sells them generally. The limitation is that when the Post Office does that sort of thing it must act as if it were engaged in a commercial enterprise. That, again, is a very loose phrase. It means just what one wants it to mean. We on this side submit that a commercial enterprise must make profits. If it does not, it should go bankrupt. That clearly could not happen to the manufacturing section of the Post Office. Hon. Members opposite would not want that to happen. We would expect a commercial enterprise to pay dividends, but the manufacturing side of the Post Office is unlikely to do that.
It is impossible to discover how it is acting, whether it is acting commercially or not, because no separate accounts exist for the manufacturing operations of the Post Office. We managed to wring out only one major concession in Committee—that was to have separate accounts for the National Data Processing Service, because we wanted to know how it is operating. We have not managed to wring out the other concession of having separate accounts for manufacturing activities. It is therefore impossible to know whether they are operating commercially.
We contend that the Post Office is mainly concerned with doing two things—running an efficient postal service and running an efficient telephone service. It should stick to doing those two things and should not extend its activities into manufacturing. There are good reasons why it should not do so.
The Postmaster-General says that these powers are reserve powers and that he does not want to use them. What are they in reserve for? Does he have in mind anything in particular which he thinks the Post Office should be manufacturing? Should it be manufacturing telephone apparatus, or exchange equipment, or the new Post Office vans that are to be battery-powered? Should it go further and start manufacturing postmen's equipment and uniforms?
Let us go a little further for the hon. Gentleman. If we are short of telegraph poles, should it buy up a few acres of forest in Scotland? There is no end to what the Post Office could do under the new Clause. We want to know what specific activities the Postmaster-General has in mind.
Hon. Members opposite contend that if the Post Office had manufacturing facilities it would be able to test the costings of its suppliers; it could go to a little factory of its own and say, "Is this a fair cost from Plessey" or "from Standard Telephones"? This is absurd. Marks & Spencer does not have to own clothing factories and textile mills to know that its suppliers are competitive; nor does any good service industry.
Another argument put forward for extending the manufacturing powers of the Post Office was that it would be a good thing for the Post Office to get into a profitable industry. I certainly agree with that, but I think that the Post Office, which cannot even run the telegram service without losing 5s. for every telegram sent, is very unlikely to be able profitably to run a factory making telephone apparatus.
I think that the hon. Gentleman is being grossly unfair to the Post Office in his criticism of the telegraph service. With his financial background he knows that the Post Office cannot make a profit on that service unless the price of telegrams is swingeingly increased. The more the Post Office increases the cost the fewer telegrams are sent and the more the service goes into the red.
I think that it can be done, but I will not develop the point at this time.
A third argument advanced by hon. Members opposite for extending manufacturing activities is that it would bring employment to, or protect employment in, areas like Ulster. Hon. Members need only compare the activities of other nationalised industries to realise how fallacious that argument is. I would not have said that the National Coal Board was protecting employment. The Steel Corporation is in the process of laying off 50,000 workers.
The last and most important argument advanced by hon. Members opposite is that an extension of these activities would protect the Post Office's own supply line: if it had factories manufacturing telephone apparatus and exchange equipment, it would be able to protect its own supply line and would also be able to buy in the most competitive markets. This is a false argument. If the Post Office wants to protect its own supply line and buy in the most competitive market, it should allow more deals like G.L.C. buying the Ericsson exchange. That is the way to get the prices of the domestic telephone equipment manufacturers down—by opening up the whole purchasing of the Post Office to greater competition.
This afternoon the right hon. Gentleman said that these are reserve powers and that he does not want to use them. Hon. Members below the Gangway are breathing heavily down his neck because they want these powers to be used. The Post Office Engineering Union has produced a pamphlet. I have not seen a copy, but I saw the review of it in The Times. The union has urged the Post Office to do three things when new Clause 1 has been approved by the House—first, to extend its repair facilities. I would not disagree with that. The union has urged the Post Office, secondly, to build new factories in development areas. It would be absolutely disastrous if the Post Office were to embark upon that course. The union has urged the Post Office, thirdly, to purchase a controlling interest in existing firms—straightforward nationalisation. These are the sort of powers that the Post Office will have when the Clause is passed.
My objections to the Clause are, first, that it will increase the monopoly powers of the Post Office, and the Post Office is insulated from market forces and does not have to respond to competitive pressures. Secondly, the Clause is a blank cheque to the Post Office to buy almost any company in the country without recourse to the House. Thirdly and lastly, I believe that the Post Office should stick to what it is doing.
I return to the basic difference between the two sides of the House. Hon. Members opposite are basically in politics to extend the rôle of the State and State corporations like the Post Office. We in the Conservative Party are in politics to run down the rôle of the State and to limit its expansion. That is the issue in the new Clause, which I hope will be defeated.
I was surprised that the Minister should castigate my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Hoy) for intervening in the debate, particularly because my hon. Friend managed to extract from the Postmaster-General a most important statement, namely, that he had changed his mind since Clause 13 was dealt with in Committee in such a way that it was necessary to introduce this obnoxious new Clause.
It is most important that the Postmaster-General or the Assistant Postmaster-General should give us the reasons and evidence for this change of mind. I do not wish to refer to what happened about Clause 13, but it is essential that the Government should divulge the evidence which came into their possession which caused them to introduce the new Clause and the substantial extra powers which it gives. As is clear from the new Clause, the responsibilities of the Postmaster-General will be very heavy because the new Corporation will have to consult him about permission to manufacture for outside bodies.
The Minister must have known during the debate on Clause 13 what the scale of expenditure by the Post Office in capital investment would be. We have been told today that it is to be about £2,000 million over the next five years. This knowledge has not suddenly become available since 29th January. What evidence is there that the supply and contracting companies have suddenly become incapable of supplying this material? That is one construction of the reasons which brought about the Minister's change of mind. Is it conceivable, with a capital expenditure programme over five years, that the Minister suddenly discovered that he had no faith in the suppliers to produce the essential equipment? If that is so, let us have the evidence for it.
If the reason for the Government's change of mind is that they feel it necessary to safeguard their interests by having manufacturing capacity, what manufacturing capacity will be introduced? It is inconceivable that the Government should have introduced the new Clause with powers to manufacture on the basis that the existing suppliers could not meet their commitment unless they had firm ideas about the equipment which is to be manufactured. I hope that we shall have precise answers on these points.
It is extraordinary that on an investment programme lasting over five years it should be suggested that we cannot count on companies like Plessey, Standard Telephones and G.E.C. to provide this equipment. I cannot believe that that is what the Government suggest. This ignores completely supplies from suppliers abroad. Companies in the Free Trade Area like Ericsson will perfectly legitimately be quoting for the supply of equipment to the Post Office. An incursion by the Post Office into manufacturing equipment will be extraordinary in the circumstances of the total supply available.
What are the manufacturing criteria for the new Corporation? What possible financial criteria can it put forward? The Postmaster-General said that there would be a sharp financial objective. I do not know what the financial objective of the Post Office is. I think that it is to earn a return of about 10 per cent. on its assets, but I should like to be advised on that point. Whatever the level, it cannot be comparable with the discipline which supplying companies must face when supplying equipment to the Post Office.
The purpose of subsection (4) of the new Clause is that the Corporation shall act as if it were a company engaged in a commercial enterprise. It is impossible for it to engage as a commercial enterprise. Are we to believe that the Corporation, when it is in existence, will have precisely the same and no better access to banking facilities than its competitors in private industry? Are we to believe that bank managers will say, "We are sorry, but we cannot allow you overdraft facilities because of the credit squeeze"? Are we to believe that it will get no better interest rates than those offered to private companies? Will it have to pay, as first-class companies do, over 10 per cent. to borrow money in the market? What criteria will it have to establish compared with private companies in industry?
It is impossible to believe that a corporation, functioning for a monopoly buyer, will not be supported by the State far more than any private supplier. This is the most objectionable feature of the Corporation manufacturing its own equipment. The uncertainty which must have been introduced among suppliers and in industry must be intense. The Postmaster-General, by his intervention, brief though it was, must have caused serious disturbance in the industry, and I hope that when he winds up the debate he will do his best to put it right.
With permission, I should like to speak again. This has been a useful and long debate and I am grateful to hon. Members who have contributed to it.
The hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Kenneth Baker) drew attention to the gulf between the two sides of the House. He is absolutely right. There is a difference in the philosophical approach to this matter of the two sides of the House. We on this side believe that a public enterprise like the Post Office should have broadly the same opportunity as private enterprise to develop its manufacturing facilities to meet its requirements. This is important because circumstances in the market may change tremendously in the next ten or 20 years. By the Bill, we are setting out the position not just for next year or the year after but for ten years' time when the circumstances of the manufacturing and supplying industry will be vastly different from what they are now. It is important that the House should consider possible eventualities.
I do not propose, and the Post Office Corporation when it is set up will not propose, immediately to embark on a whole range of manufacturing activities. Our relations with the suppliers are very helpful and co-operative and it is not our wish to upset them. I have paid tribute to the way in which they have responded to the increased demands made upon them.
The Opposition are objecting because the new Clause is new. If a new proposal is right, it should be applauded. I am extremely surprised that, of all people, hon. Members opposite, who in Committee made dozens of suggestions to me for improving the Bill, should complain that I have changed my mind. There was no point in their putting forward the points which we debated in Committee unless they thought that there was a possibility that, on reconsideration, I would change my mind. It makes nonsense of our Standing Committee proceedings and the purpose of the House of Commons if Ministers are not prepared to reconsider matters in the light of debates in Committee.
After the debate in Standing Committee, I carefully considered what had been said. I was unable to attend that debate, but I read the OFFICIAL REPORT with great care and I thought that many of the observations of hon. Members on my side, particularly those of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown) were extremely valuable.
I took the Report of the Standing Committee to the Post Office Board, of which I am Chairman, and debated the subject with it. It reconsidered its position about the powers which it thought that the Post Office Corporation would require and advised me that it would be appropriate if it had powers to increase its manufacturing capacity to meet its own requirements, after consultation with the Minister, rather than having to have the Minister's approval in each case.
It was for these reasons that I brought forward the new Clause, and it was obvious that this would lead to the deletion of the original Clause 13, which I am persuaded now is not the best way to deal with the question—
We must appreciate that the existing Post Office Board and the future Corporation must have a responsible attitude to their responsibilities. These bodies are, after all, being given monopoly powers and responsibilities to the business community and the country and it is very important in the building up of this highly technological and advanced communications system that the Post Office should be able to have access to all the advanced equipment that it requires and that it should be able to guarantee the smooth supply of that essential equipment. It is in the light of those responsibilities that the Post Office asked the Minister concerned for the new Clause.
It was the Government's decision that the new Clause would be appropriate in all the circumstances. I appreciate that I have not been able to go as far as my hon. Friends would have liked. They would have preferred no restriction at all on the Corporation's activities and that it should be able to engage in wide-scale manufacturing activities, even in supply outside. I have been unable to go that far, but it is important that the Post Office should be able to manufacture for its own requirements.
We still cannot find out from the right hon. Gentleman why it was only when my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Hay) spoke, three-quarters of the way through the debate, that he told us what had happened. We were bound to think it was subterfuge when he presented the new Clause without the slightest mention of Clause 13, which is the whole subject of this discussion.
The allegation of deception, although made in a kindly way by the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr), is something which I tried to refute because it was unworthy. The idea of deception is that at the time of the Committee proceedings my hon. Friend knew what we were intending to do on Report. This suggestion is absolutely wrong. Neither my hon. Friend nor I at that time had any knowledge that the new Clause would be brought forward. The assurances given in Committee, I agree, related to the then Clause 13, but they were made in a fully honourable spirit and there is no question of any deception applying to those proceedings.
I did not make that charge. What I said was that what had happened in the long run amounted to a breach of faith, because, for whatever motives, the various undertakings were given by the Assistant Postmaster-General—I fully accept his good faith and I have not suggested otherwise—but for whatever reasons—
Indeed, Mr. Speaker, but the right hon. Gentleman has made a serious charge, that I have charged him and his hon. Friend with something dishonourable. I did not do so. What I said was that the effect of putting down the new Clause without proper preparation amounts to a breach of faith and of the undertakings given in Committee.
All I can say is that if Ministers are not going to be influenced after consideration of proceedings in Standing Committee, then those proceedings need not take place. My hon. Friends made some valuable contributions to that debate. It would be ridiculous if I did not consider what they said and make revised proposals. Hon. Members opposite also made helpful speeches which my hon. Friend and I have studied carefully. If we changed our minds in the light of their points, would they then accuse us of bad faith because we had adopted their points of view? Ministers must be prepared to be flexible, and I have admitted today that the stand of my hon. Friend and myself on the original Clause 13 in Committee was incorrect. We have done our best to change it through the new Clause.
My hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) gave some tepid support to the new Clause. I am grateful to him and to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) for their observations about Amendment (b). I have been thinking about this during the afternoon and I agree that their form of words seems strictly more attractive, but I am advised that the form in the new Clause is more appropriate, and applies in the case of one subsidiary, whereas their words assume that the Corporation will have plural subsidiaries. My advice from the draftsmen is that it would be more appropriate to stick to the present wording. I regret that this is my advice, because I agree that, at this stage of our proceedings, it would be very attractive to give way to the felicitous arguments of the hon. Member for Yeovil.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not persist in accept- ing that deplorable advice. Of course we will not be dogmatic. If he would only say that he would find a more attractive form of words than this appalling ugliness I should be glad to accept that.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the advice that he has been given is nonsense because the plural always includes the singular? As he will be under heavy pressure in another place to alter the wording of the Clause, will he give an assurance that the necessary alteration will be made in another place and that he will consider the matter between now and that stage?
I am always prepared to give further consideration to matters at any stage. I must, however, advise the House of the position as we see it, and that is the position to which I stick. Some of the legal drafting may seem clumsy, but I am advised that this is the right way to proceed.
I must also advise the House to reject the other Amendments to which I referred because they would be tantamount to going back to the original Clause 13, which insisted on Ministerial approval for the extension of manufacturing activities. That, for the reasons I have explained, would be unwise.
Amendment (e) urges us to delete the words
… in such manner as he thinks fit".
The hon. Member for Yeovil wondered what this provision meant. The answer is that it must be open to the Minister to decide how this information is conveyed. There may be a large number of quite minor examples about which it would be inappropriate for the Minister to issue a White Paper. A major change might represent an issue on which it would be appropriate for such a document to be published, but there might be many minor changes about which it would be more appropriate for the Minister to answer a Question in the House or to find another way of informing Parliament.
The fact that the House of Commons and the House of Lords are not referred to in the new Clause is no disrespect to Parliament. It is merely a convenience because there may be minor items which the Post Office intends to manufacture—for example, transistor valves which it requires for certain circuits—which would not concern the House of Commons because it would not be a question of principle, although it might be an important matter on which advice should be given to the C.B.I. directly so that it could advise the constituent firm most closely concerned. As I say, on major questions the Minister would find some way to advise Parliament.
Yes. I think that it would be the intention of the Minister to take a close interest in the extension of the activities of the Post Office in this respect and to ensure that the interested companies, particularly competive firms, were advised of what was going on. This is the purpose of the consultation called for in the new Clause. The Minister would obviously want to act on the information made available to him.
Amendment No. 55 provides for the Minister to call for information in relation to
'… the construction, manufacture of production of articles in …
the particular financial year. This provision is being included to ensure that the public at large will be aware of the activities of the Post Office so that the cross-subsidisation danger to which I referred can be avoided.
This has been a useful discussion which has clarified the intention behind the new Clause. I have done my best to answer the questions that have been asked. The new Clause is valuable for the Corporation, and I therefore commend it to the House.
I appreciate your remark, Mr. Speaker, and I promise to be brief.
The right hon. Gentleman's reply has been most unsatisfactory. I am particularly unhappy about his refusal to talk more enthusiastically about Amendment (a) to the new Clause. The right hon. Gentleman says that it is the intention of his Department and the Government to give public corporations the same facilities as exist in the private sector. The new Clause does nothing of the sort, for it goes far beyond anything that would be expected of a private company.
This provision would give complete freedom to the Corporation to engage in a whole range of costly manufacturing and other businesses. We are told that consultation will take place, but nobody has defined "consultation" in this context and certainly I do not know what it means. I cannot understand why the right hon. Gentleman runs away from the word "approval". If we could see in the Clause at least a figure beyond which nothing should be spent without approval we should be happier.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite may dislike this line of thought, but do they realise that the new Clause will allow the Corporation to go into a whole sphere of activity even unthought of by the Post Office now? I cannot understand why it is not possible to put real target figures in the Clause and why the provision should be left in a completely open-ended way which will enable the Post Office to look attractively at any industry.
We have been here before. We have had this type of blanket provision before. We recall recent transport legislation. This is an attempt to introduce legislation as a form of creeping nationalisation, and when the Postmaster-General talks encouragingly about the effect on supplies we know perfectly well that as the level of Government intervention in industry increases, so the risk to the supplier increases because nobody can compete with the man who has his hand in the taxpayer's pocket.
|Division No. 173.]||AYES||[7.28 p.m.|
|Albu, Austen||Grey, Charles (Durham)||MacPherson, Malcolm|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Alldritt, Walter||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Anderson, Donald||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Manuel, Archie|
|Ashley, Jack||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Mapp, Charles|
|Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw)||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Marks, Kenneth|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Hamling, William||Marquand, David|
|Barnett, Joel||Hannan, William||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Bence, Cyril||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mason, Rt. Hn, Roy|
|Bessell, Peter||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Haseldine, Norman||Mendelson, John|
|Bishop, E. S.||Hattersley, Roy||Mikardo, Ian|
|Blackburn, F.||Hazell, Bert||Millan, Bruce|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Henig, Stanley||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Booth, Albert||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)|
|Boston, Terence||Hobden, Dennis||Molloy, William|
|Bottomley, Rt, Hn. Arthur||Hooley, Frank||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Boyden, James||Horner, John||Morris, Alfred (Wythensnawe)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Brooks, Edwin||Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Moyle, Roland|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Murray, Albert|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Huckfield, Leslie||Neal, Harold|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Newens, Stan|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)|
|Buchan, Norman||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Ogden, Eric|
|Cant, R. B.||Hunter, Adam||O'Malley, Brian|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hynd, John||Orbach, Maurice|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Orme, Stanley|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Janner, Sir Barnett||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)|
|Chapman, Donald||Jay, Rt, Hn. Douglas||Owen, Will (Morpeth)|
|Coe, Denis||Jeger, George (Goole)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Coleman, Donald||Jager, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.)||Paget, R. T.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Pardoe, John|
|Crostand, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Davies, G. E'fed (Rhondda, E.)||Judd, Frank||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Daves, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Kelley, Richard||Pentland, Norman|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek)||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Delargy, Hugh||Lawson, George||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E|
|Dempsey, James||Leadbitter, Ted||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Dewar, Donald||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Probert, Arthur|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)||Rankin, John|
|Dobson, Ray||Bees, Merlyn|
|Doig, Peter||Lee, John (Reading)||Richard, Ivor|
|Driberg, Tom||Lestor, Miss Joan||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy|
|Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)|
|Eadie, Alex||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Ellis, John||Lomas, Kenneth||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|English, Michael||Luard, Evan||Rose, Paul|
|Ensor, David||Lubbock, Eric||Rowlands, E.|
|Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Ryan, John|
|Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||McBride, Neil||Sheldon, Robert|
|Finch, Harold||MacColl, James||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||MacDermot, Niall||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Macdonald, A. H.||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||McGuire, Michael||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Silverman, Julius|
|Forrester, John||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)||Slater, Joseph|
|Fowler, Gerry||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Small, William|
|Freeson, Reginald||Mackie, John||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mackintosh, John P.||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Ginsburg, David||Maclennan, Robert||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Gregory, Arnold||McNamara, J. Kevin||Taverne, Dick|
|Thomas, Rt. Hn. George||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)||Willis, Rt. Hn. George|
|Thomson, Rt. Hn. George||Weitzman, David||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.|
|Thornton, Ernest||Wellbeloved, James||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Tinn, James||White, Mrs. Eirene||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Tomney, Frank||Wilkins, W. A.||Woof, Robert|
|Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Walden, Brian (All Saints)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Walker, Harold (Doncaster)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)||Mr. Joseph Harper and|
|Wallace, George||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)||Mr. John McCann.|
|Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Goodhart, Philip||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Awdry, Daniel||Gower, Raymond||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Baker, Kenneth (Acton)||Grant, Anthony||Peel, John|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Percival, Ian|
|Balniel, Lord||Gurden, Harold||Peyton, John|
|Batsford, Brian||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Bed, Ronald||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Pym, Francis|
|Biffen, John||Hay, John||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Higgins, Terence L.||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hiley, Joseph||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Blaker, Peter||Hornby, Richard||Royle, Anthony|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Body, Richard||Iremonger, T. L.||Scott, Nicholas|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Sharples, Richard|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Silvester, Frederick|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Bryan, Paul||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Smith, John (London & W'minster)|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M;||Kershaw, Anthony||Speed, Keith|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Lambton, Viscount||Stainton, Keith|
|Burden, F. A.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Stodart, Anthony|
|Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.)||Lane, David||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Clark, Henry||MacArthur, Ian||Tilney, John|
|Clegg, Walter||McMaster, Stanley||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Costain, A. P.||McNair-Wilson, M. (Walthamstow, E.)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Crouch, David||Maddan, Martin||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Crowder, F. P.||Maude, Angus||Wall, Patrick|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Mawby, Ray||Walters, Dennis|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Dean, Paul||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Monro, Hector||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||More, Jasper||Wiggin, A. W.|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Williams, Donald (Dudley)|
|Doughty, Charles||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Elliott, R. W. (N 'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Murton, Oscar||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Farr, John||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Wright, Esmond|
|Fortescue, Tim||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Wylie, N. R.|
|Foster, Sir John||Nott, John||Younger, Hn. George|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Onslow, Cranley||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Mr. Reginald Eyre and|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Mr. Timothy Kitson.|
|Division No. 174.]||AYES||[7.38 p.m.|
|Albu, Austen||Bishop, E. S.||Brown, Bob (N'c'tte-upon-Tyne, W.)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Blackburn, F.||Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)|
|Alldritt, Walter||Blenkinsop, Arthur||Buchan, Norman|
|Anderson, Donald||Booth, Albert||Cant, R. B.|
|Ashley, Jack||Boston, Terence||Carmichael, Neil|
|Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw)||Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Boyden, James||Chapman, Donald|
|Barnett, Joel||Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Coe, Denis|
|Bence, Cyril||Brooks, Edwin||Coleman, Donald|
|Bessell, Peter||Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Corbet, Mrs. Freda|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Crawshaw, Richard|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Jeger, George (Goole)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P' cras, S.)||Paget, R. T.|
|Dalyell, Tam||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Pardoe, John|
|Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)|
|Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek)||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Judd, Frank||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Delargy, Hugh||Keller, Richard||Pentland, Norman|
|Dempsey, James||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)|
|Dewar, Donald||Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Lawson, George||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.|
|Dobson, Ray||Leadbitter, Ted||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Doig, Peter||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Probert, Arthur|
|Driberg, Tom||Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)||Rankin, John|
|Dun woody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)||Lee, John (Reading)||Bees, Merlyn|
|Eadie, Alex||Lestor, Miss Joan||Richard, Ivor|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Ellis, John||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy|
|English, Michael||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)|
|Ensor, David||Lomas, Kenneth||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Luard, Evan||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)||Lubbock, Eric||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Rose, Paul|
|Ewing, Mrs. Winifred||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Rowlands, E.|
|Finch, Harold||McBride, Neil||Ryan, John|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||McCann, John||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||MacColl, James||Sheldon, Robert|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||MacDermot, Niall||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Forrester, John||Macdonald, A. H.||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Fowler, Gerry||McGuire, Michael||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)|
|Freeson, Reginald||McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Calpern, Sir Myer||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)||Silverman, Julius|
|Girnsburg, David||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Slater, Joseph|
|Greenwood. Rt. Hn. Anthony||Mackie, John||Small, William|
|Gregory, Arnold||Mackintosh, John P.||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Grey, Charles (Durham)||Maclennan, Robert||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||MacPherson, Malcolm||Taverne, Dick|
|Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Matron, Simon (Bootle)||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E)||Thornton, Ernest|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Manuel, Archie||Tinn, James|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Mapp, Charles||Tomney, Frank|
|Hamling, William||Marks, Kenneth||Wainwrjght, Richard (Colne Valley)|
|Hannan, William||Marquand, David||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Wallace, George|
|Haseldine, Norman||Mayhew, Christopher||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Hattersley, Roy||Mendelson, John||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Hazell, Bert||Mikardo, Ian||Weitzman, David|
|Henig, Stanley||Millan, Bruce||Wellbeloved, James|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Miller, Dr. M. S.||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Hobden, Dennis||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hooley, Frank||Molloy, William||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Homer, John||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Moyle, Roland||Willts, Rt. Hn. George|
|Huckfield, Leslie||Murray, Albert||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Newens, Stan||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Ogden, Eric||Woof, Robert|
|Hunter, Adam||O'Malley, Brian|
|Hynd, John||Orbach, Maurice||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Orme, Stanley||Mr. Joseph Harper and|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Mr. Alan Fitch.|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Owen, Will (Morpeth)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Biffen, John||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Biggs-Davison, John||Bruce-Gardyne, J.|
|Awdry, Daniel||Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Bryan, Paul|
|Baker, Kenneth (Acton)||Black, Sir Cyril||Buchanan-Smith, AIick (Angus, N & M)|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Blaker, Peter||Bullus, Sir Eric|
|Balniel, Lord||Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)||Burden, F. A.|
|Batsford, Brian||Body, Richard||Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.)|
|Bell, Ronald||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Carlisle, Mark|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Chichester-Clark, R.|
|Clark, Henry||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Clegg, Walter||Kershaw, Anthony||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Costain, A. P.||Lambton, Viscount||Royle, Anthony|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Crowder, F. P.||Lane, David||Scott, Nicholas|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Sharples, Richard|
|Dean, Paul||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Silvester, Frederick|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||MacArthur, Ian||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||McMaster, Stanley||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Donnelly, Desmond||McNair-Wilson, M. (Walthamstow, E.)||Smith, John (London & W'minster)|
|Doughty, Charles||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)||Speed, Keith|
|Drayson, G. B.||Maddan, Martin||Stainton, Keith|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Marten, Neil||Stodart, Anthony|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Maude, Angus||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Farr, John||Mawby, Ray||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Fortescue, Tim||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Foster, Sir John||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Monro, Hector||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||More, Jasper||Tilney, John|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Goodhart, Philip||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Gower, Raymond||Murton, Oscar||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Grant, Anthony||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Wall, Patrick|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Walters, Dennis|
|Gurden, Harold||Nott, John||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Onslow, Cranley||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Wiggin, A. W.|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Williams, Donald (Dudley)|
|Hay, John||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||Wolrige-Gurdon, Patrick|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Peel, John||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Hiley, Joseph||Percival, Ian||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Hornby, Richard||Peyton, John||Worsley, Marcus|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pink, R. Bonner||Wright, Esmond|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Wylie, N. R.|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Pym, Francis|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Quennell, Miss J. M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Mr. Reginald Eyre and|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Mr. Timothy Kitson.|
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker. You were good enough earlier on to deliver a provisional ruling on sub-Amendment (b), which represents an attempt, no matter how forlorn, on both sides of the House to remedy a piece of really abominable and offensive drafting—the insertion of the words
Post Office … or a subsidiary of its".
Everyone who has commented on the wording has thought it to be abominable. If the Minister persists in his unsatisfactory attitude over this it would be very acceptable to those of us who dislike this wording to vote against it. I hope that you will be good enough to reconsider—
|Division No. 175.]||AYES||[7.50 p.m.|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempsted)||Gower, Raymond||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Awdry, Daniel||Grant, Anthony||Peel, John|
|Baker, Kenneth (Acton)||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Percival, Ian|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Gurden, Harold||Peyton, John|
|Balniel, Lord||Hall, John Wycombe)||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Batsford, Brian||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Bell, Ronald||Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Pym, Francis|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Hay, John||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Biffen, John||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Higgins, Terence L.||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Hiley, Joseph||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hornby, Richard||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Blaker, Peter||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Royle, Anthony|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)||Iremonger, T. L.||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Body, Richard||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Scott, Nicholas|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Sharples, Richard|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Silvester, Frederick|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Bryan, Paul||Kershaw, Anthony||Speed, Keith|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Kitson, Timothy||Stainton, Keith|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Lambton, Viscount||Stodart, Anthony|
|Burden, F. A.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.)||Lane, David||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Tapsell, Peter|
|Carlisle, Mark||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Clark, Henry||MacArthur, Ian||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Clegg, Walter||McMaster, Stanley||Tilney, John|
|McNair-Wilson, M. (Walthamstow, E.)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Crowder, F. P.||Maddan, Martin||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Marten, Neil||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Maude, Angus||Wall, Patrick|
|Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||Mawby, Ray||Walters, Dennis|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Mills, Stratum (Belfast, N.)||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Miscampbell, Norman||Wiggin, A. W.|
|Doughty, Charles||Monro, Hector||Williams, Donald (Dudley)|
|Drayson, G. B.||More, Jasper||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Eyre, Reginald||Murton, Oscar||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Farr, John||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Worsley, Marcus|
|Fortescue, Tim||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Wright, Esmond|
|Foster, Sir John||Nott, John||Wylie, N. R.|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Onslow, Cranley||Younger, Hn. George|
|Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Mr. Bernard Weatherill and|
|Goodhart, Philip||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Mr. Humphrey Atkins.|
|Albu, Austen||Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Delargy, Hugh|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Dempsey, James|
|Alldritt, Walter||Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Dewar, Donald|
|Anderson, Donald||Buchan, Norman||Diamond, Rt. Hn. John|
|Ashley, Jack||Cant, R. B.||Dobson, Ray|
|Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw)||Carmichael, Neil||Doig, Peter|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Driberg, Tom|
|Barnett, Joel||Chapman, Donald||Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)|
|Bence, Cyril||Coe, Denis||Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)|
|Bessell, Peter||Coleman, Donald||Eadie, Alex|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Edwards, William (Merioneth)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Crawshaw, Richard||Ellis, John|
|Blackburn, F.||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||English, Michael|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Ensor, David|
|Booth, Albert||Dalyell, Tam||Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)|
|Boston, Terence||Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Evans, Cwynfor (C'marthen)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)|
|Boyden, James||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Finch, Harold|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)|
|Brooks, Edwin||Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek)||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)|
|Forrester, John||Lomas, Kenneth||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)|
|Fowler, Gerry||Luard, Evan||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Freeson, Reginald||Lubbock, Eric||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Ginsburg, David||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Probert, Arthur|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||McBride, Neil||Rankin, John|
|Gregory, Arnold||McCann, John||Rees, Merlyn|
|Grey, Charles (Durham)||MacColl, James||Richard, Ivor|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||MacDermot, Niall||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Macdonald, A. H.||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||McGuire, Michael||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Mackie, John||Rose, Paul|
|Hamling, William||Mackintosh, John P.||Rowlands, E.|
|Hannan, William||Maclennan, Robert||Ryan, John|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||McNamara, J. Kevin||Sheldon, Robert|
|Haseldine, Norman||MacPherson, Malcolm||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Hattersley, Roy||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Hazell, Bert||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton. N. E.)|
|Henig, Stanley||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Manuel, Archie||Silverman, Julius|
|Hobden, Dennis||Mapp, Charles||Slater, Joseph|
|Hooley, Frank||Marks, Kenneth||Small, William|
|Horner, John||Marquand, David||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Mayhew, Christopher||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Huckfield, Leslie||Mendelson, John||Taverne, Dick|
|Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Mikardo, Ian||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Millan, Bruce||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Thornton, Ernest|
|Hunter, Adam||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'p ton, Test)||Tinn, James|
|Hynd, John||Molloy, William||Tomney, Frank|
|Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Moyle, Roland||Wallace, George|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.)||Murray, Albert||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Newens, Stan||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Weitzman, David|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Ogden, Eric||Wellbeloved, James|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||O'Malley, Brian||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Orbach, Maurice||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Orme, Stanley||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Judd, Frank||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Kelley, Richard||Owen, Will (Morpeth)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Paget, R. T.||Willis, Rt. Hn. George|
|Lawson, George||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Pardoe, John||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)||Woof, Robert|
|Lee, John (Reading)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Lestor, Miss Joan||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Mr. Joseph Harper and|
|Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Pentland, Norman||Mr. Alan Fitch.|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Division No. 176.]||AYES||[8.0 p.m.|
|Albu, Austen||Boyden, James||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Bradley, Tom||Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Alldritt, Walter||Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Dalyell, Tam|
|Anderson, Donald||Brooks, Edwin||Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)|
|Ashley, Jack||Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw)||Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)|
|Barnett, Joel||Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek)|
|Bence, Cyril||Buchan, Norman||Davies, Ifor (Gower)|
|Bessell, Peter||Cant, R. B.||Delargy, Hugh|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Carmichael, Neil||Dempsey, James|
|Bishop, E. S.||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Dewar, Donald|
|Blackburn, F.||Chapman, Donald||Diamond, Rt. Hn. John|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Coe, Denis||Dobson, Ray|
|Booth, Albert||Coleman, Donald||Doig, Peter|
|Boston, Terence||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Driberg, Tom|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Crawshaw, Richard||Dunn, James A.|
|Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)||Lawson, George||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)|
|Eadie, Alex||Leadbitter, Ted||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Ellis, John||Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)||Pontland, Norman|
|English, Michael||Lee, John (Reading)||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)|
|Ensor, David||Lestor, Miss Joan||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.|
|Evans, Gwynfor (C'marlhen)||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Probert, Arthur|
|Finch, Harold||Lomas, Kenneth||Rankin, John|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Luard, Evan||Rees, Merlyn|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Lubbock, Eric||Richard, Ivor|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy|
|Ford, Ben||McCann, John||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)|
|Forrester, John||MacColl, James||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Fowler, Gerry||MacDermot, Niall||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Freeson, Reginald||Macdonald, A. H.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||McGuire, Michael||Rose, Paul|
|Ginsburg, David||McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Rowlands, E.|
|Cray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)||Ryan, John|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Gregory, Arnold||Mackie, John||Sheldon, Robert|
|Grey, Charles (Durham)||Mackintosh, John P.||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Maclennan, Robert||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||MacPherson, Malcolm||Silverman, Julius|
|Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Slater, Joseph|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Small, William|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Hamling, William||Mallalieu. J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Hannan, William||Manuel, Archie||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Harper, Joseph||Mapp, Charles||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||Marks, Kenneth|
|Haseldine, Norman||Marquand, David||Taverne, Dick|
|Hazell, Bert||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George|
|Herrig, Stanley||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Mayhew, Christopher||Thornton, Ernest|
|Hobden, Dennis||Mendelson, John||Tinn, James|
|Hooley, Frank||Mikardo, Ian||Tomney, Frank|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Millan, Bruce||Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)|
|Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Huckfield, Leslie||Molloy, William||Wallace, George|
|Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Morris, Charles R. (Openhaw)||Weitzman, David|
|Hunter, Adam||Moyle, Roland||Wellbeloved, James|
|Hynd, John||Murray, Albert||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Neal, Harold||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Newens, Stan||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Oakes, Gordon||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.)||Ogden, Eric||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||O'Malley, Brian||Willis, Rt. Hn. George|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Oram, Albert E.||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Orbach, Maurice||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Orme, Stanley||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Woof, Robert|
|Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Owen, Will (Morpeth)|
|Judd, Frank||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Kelley, Richard||Paget, R. T.||Mr. Walter Harrison and|
|Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Pardoe, John||Mr. Neil McBride.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Blaker, Peter||Clark, Henry|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Boardman, Tom (Laicester, S. W.)||Clegg, Walter|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Body, Richard||Costain, A. P.|
|Awdry, Daniel||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)|
|Baker, Kenneth (Acton)||Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Crowder, F. P.|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Currie, G. B. H.|
|Balniel, Lord||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Dance, James|
|Batsford, Brian||Bruce-Gadyne, J.||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Bryan, Paul||Dean, Paul|
|Bell, Ronald||Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Bullus, Sir Eric||Digby, Simon Wingfield|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Burden, F. A.||Doughty, Charles|
|Biffen, John||Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.)||Drayson, G. B.|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Carlisle, Mark||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Black, Sir Cyrll||Chichester-Clark, R.||Farr, John|
|Fortescue, Tim||McMaster, Stanley||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Foster, Sir John||McNair-Wilson, M. (Walthamstow, F.)||Scott, Nicholas|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Maddan, Martin||Sharples, Richard|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Marten, Neil||Silvester, Frederick|
|Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Maude, Angus||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Goodhart, Philip||Mawby, Ray||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Goodhew, Victor||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Speed, Keith|
|Gower, Raymond||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Stainton, Keith|
|Grant, Anthony||Miscampbell, Norman||Stodart, Anthony|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury, St. Edmunds)||Monro, Hector||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Gurden, Harold||More, Jasper||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Murton, Oscar||Temple, John M.|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Tilney, John|
|Hay, John||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Nott, John|
|Hiley, Joseph||Onslow, Cranley||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Hornby, Richard||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Wall, Patrick|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Walters, Dennis|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Peel, John||Wiggin, A. W.|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Percival, Ian||Williams, Donald (Dudley)|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Peyton, John||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Pink, R. Bonner||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Kitson, Timothy||Pym, Francis||Worsley, Marcus|
|Lambton, Viscount||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Wright, Esmond|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Wylie, N. R.|
|Lane, David||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Younger, Hn. George|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Mr. Reginald Eyre and|
|Longden, Gilbert||Royle, Anthony||Mr. Bernard Weatherill.|