Orders of the Day — Commission for Industry and Manpower Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th April 1970.

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Photo of Mr Will Howie Mr Will Howie , Luton 12:00 am, 8th April 1970

It is not a distortion of what the Leader of the Opposition said on Saturday. It was a reference to what he said on Monday. I leave it there. There would have been no justice in being sacked with impunity. That is one example arising from the complexity of the wage structure in the industry which a body of this kind would be well equipped to examine.

I believe that the Government should take the nationalised industries completely out of the Bill. Now and again the Government listen to criticism of their attitude from their own supporters and sometimes yield to their entreaties. About a year ago, when electricity prices were to be put up, there was a clamour that they should be referred to the National Board for Prices and Incomes, and Government yielded. I believe that they were mistaken. They now have a chance to remedy that situation, and they should take it.

The point about nationalisation was so that the Government should have control over nationalised industries. This is especially important, because the pricing policies of these industries often reflect back on the taxation system. It is important that a decision relating so closely to the taxation system, as do the pricing policies of nationalised industries, should be taken by Government, not by an outside board, however eminent and how-ever appointed. I hope that the Government will remove all reference to nationalised industries.

Despite the enthusiasm of the Opposition, competition is not the natural way in industry. It is the very reverse. It is an error which we should try to avoid to reverse the natural condition of things.