Orders of the Day — Customs (Import Deposits) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th November 1969.

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Photo of Mr David Crouch Mr David Crouch , Canterbury 12:00 am, 17th November 1969

I am interested to hear what the hon. Gentleman says about this country having more than 500,000 unemployed. I am sure that the men and women concerned will not be impressed by this explanation of why it is so difficult to find them employment. The fact is that the unemployment figure is more than twice what it used to be.

The Government have succeeded in making some reductions. They have succeeded in reducing the value of the £ by 3s. 9d. in the last five years. Those are the major things that are getting us out of balance. Those are the dangerous factors facing us. Those are the matters to which we should devote our attention on another occasion in the very near future. Those are the serious matters which we must face when we are considering our economic problems.

We must take such steps as are necessary to get into balance and to help the Chancellor and the country to ensure that the light at the end of the tunnel burns a little brighter. Let the Government therefore take the real steps which would take the whole country with them. Let them reduce unofficial strikes. Such a measure would be a more positive step towards helping the country than the little Bill that we are considering tonight. Let the Government take steps to reduce the wastage of manpower. Let them take steps to increase efficiency in management and in the unions. Those are the matters to which the House should be addressing itself. Let the Government take steps to improve the efficiency of the management of the nationalised industries. If such steps were taken, there would be a restoration of confidence in the country and in the Government.

We are messing about with a little Measure which Government spokesmen said a year ago they could not see how effective it would be. Tonight we have heard nothing in defence of the Bill, except that it is an interesting piece of administrative mechanism which they do not want to drop. I suggest that this Measure is an interference with the free flow of our trade, and that it in no way helps to balance our economy and maintain a surplus on our balance of payments.

I have tried to suggest that there are real problems to which the Government should address themselves. The Government should address themselves to the real problem of reforming industrial relations. The Bill does not deal with a real problem, and I shall therefore not vote for this Measure tonight.