We shall be debating today the Amendment in the names of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and his right hon. Friends. I say at the outset that I am sorry that again I must disappoint many of the 16 hon. Members who wish to make maiden speeches today. The House appreciates their keenness and their wish to speak as soon as possible, but it will take some time before every one of them can be fitted into debates. Older hon. Members know how frustrating it is for them, but we must make balanced debates as we go on.
I beg to move, at the end of the Question, to add:
but humbly regret the omission from the Gracious Speech of any proposals to maintain the previous Government's policies to strengthen the development and intermediate areas, to maintain and reinforce regional economic planning and to strengthen and modernise the basic industries on which employment in those areas depends.
I start by congratulating the right hon. and learned Gentleman on becoming Minister of Technology. He has something of a reputation for Right-wing bellicosity, and his appointment came as something of a surprise. But it is none the less the worse for that, and I hope that the fact that his constituency is near some of the biggest problem areas of
the Northern Region will cause his bellicosity to give way to the compassion about which we hear so much more now from the party opposite. I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will have successful and fruitful tenure of office.
Regional policy, which we debate today, has this in common with education, which we debated yesterday; it was one of the success stories of the Labour Government, but it is one of the successes most at risk under a Tory Government. I want today to probe the new Government's intentions for the regions in the hope that they are innocent but in the fear that they may not be.
We have two problems in the regions. The first is the one that always, and rightly, causes the most immediate and acute anxieties—the problem of unemployment; the problem of how we ensure that those who live in the North, Scotland, Wales, the South-West and the intermediate areas, shall have the same chance of a secure and well-paid job and the same social and economic opportunities as those who live in the more prosperous areas. Fundamentally this is a problem of equality between the regions.
But we have a second problem, which is more long-term but not less important, namely, how regional planning can contribute to what will increasingly become our overriding problem between now and the end of the century—how we cope, between now and then, with 12 million additional people, double or more the number of cars, an insatiable demand for more space, leisure and recreation, and more and more pollution from more and more factories, and still preserve in this small island a decent environment to live in. It is a problem, in other words, of physical planning, land use or environmental planning—call it what you will.
There is one comment that I must make. It has been said about the recent General Election that there was too little discussion of the basic issues and that the public could not see much difference between the two parties. Whether they could or could not during the General Election, they will certainly see it in the months ahead, for one thing that these regional problems have in common is that they raise profound issues of principle and ideology, in attitudes to public expenditure, to control over industry and generally to planning. These are problems that cannot and will not be solved by a Government committed to the ideology of laissez-faire, non-intervention and market forces—an ideology that runs through the Queen's Speech.
Before I turn to the question of differences in policy, I want to say a word about machinery of government. The House spends too little time discussing this. I have become convinced, in six years of office, that the subject is crucial, and that unless we get the machinery right we shall not get the policy right. The Prime Minister says that he wants time to think about machinery. That is reasonable. Nobody could object to it. He is against instant Government, except in housing and education, where the two Ministers concerned have instantly brought out the two most fatuous reactionary and ill-thought-out circulars that it has ever been my misfortune to see. The Minister of Housing, in particular, has clearly attempted to be instant in everything, except in attending the House to answer Questions.
But however worthy the Prime Minister's caution, the indications that have appeared so far give little confidence in what will ultimately emerge. This applies to every level of government—local, regional and national. At local level we are to have a postponement of local government reorganisation; indeed, there is complete uncertainty what, if anything, will happen then.
I have personal sympathy with the Minister of Housing in this matter. I found, when I presented my White Paper to the House in February—although the discovery hardly came as a surprise—that local government reform is not the quickest way to the top of the popularity poll, although, if it is any comfort to the Minister, the recent election suggested that there are few votes to be lost by it. But, popular or not, it has to be done, and done as a matter of emergency. At the moment not one local authority in England covers an area that should be planned as a whole. Regional planning must be hampered unless we can get local authorities of the right size and strength. I urge the Government not to delay too long on this vital reform.
At regional level we have an apparent downgrading—almost a snubbing—of the regional economic planning councils. These councils may not be perfect—and no doubt we shall reconsider their rôle when Crowther reports—but they represent the first attempt in this country to create machinery for regional planning, and they have made the Government and the public much more responsive to regional problems and aspirations. In my view they are one of the major achievements of the Labour Government, and I pay tribute to their creator, George Brown—that remarkable man whose loss to this House deeply saddens me and many other hon. Members for many other reasons.
The planning councils were not mentioned in the Queen's Speech or in the Prime Minister's speech last week, although he had a passage on regional planning. It was only through a Question put down by my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) on Tuesday that we elicited any reference to them. Then we discovered that they were to be responsible, not as previously to a senior co-ordinating Minister, but only to one Departmental Minister. I shudder to think what the morale of the councils must be at this moment.
But this is not the only sign that regional policy is being demoted under this Government. Another is the failure to appoint a Minister with special responsibility for the North. The Northern Region has a particularly difficult unemployment problem, due to the exceptional rate of pit closures. Scotland and Wales also have difficult problems, but they have articulate Secretaries of State to stand up for them—or at least they were articulate under the Labour Government, with the Welsh Secretary—wonderful to relate—actually sitting for a Welsh constituency. We therefore found it helpful to have a Minister who would speak specially for the North—a task admirably fulfilled by my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Urwin). I greatly regret that this arrangement, which was much appreciated in the North, has now been terminated in this cavalier fashion.
In passing, I urge the Prime Minister not also to terminate or demote the Central Pollution Unit, which I set up under the leadership of Dr. Martin Holdgate. It accomplished a lot during its comparatively short life, culminating in an admirable White Paper which the New Scientist described as "a unique and historic document". I thought—though prejudiced—that that was a good description. The hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Chataway) used to take a mild interest in this question when in opposition, but he has now been translated to a higher sphere, where he will horribly pollute the environment by allowing commercial radio which nobody wants except those who expect to make a profit from it.
I hope that one of the Ministers on the Front Bench will remind the Prime Minister that he once wrote an article in the Spectator on pollution and the environment. It was not a very inspiring article; indeed, the editor of the Spectator was sacked shortly afterwards. Nevertheless, I hope that the Prime Minister and the Government will not allow the impetus that we created to be lost or weakened.
My last point on the machinery of government—and I urge this most strongly on the Government—is not to go back to the old system under which regional planning was divorced from local authority planning. One of the great improvements that came out of the changes last October was the amalgamation of the D.E.A. regional divisions and the planning divisions of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government into a single planning group of divisions responsible directly to me. We do not know officially what the Prime Minister intends on this. We shall apparently have to wait until the autumn. There is a remarkable thing about this Government. Although we do not have instant decisions from them we have instant leaks. Indeed, this strong, silent Government, so deliberate in their decision-making, give promise of being the leakiest Government in modern history. So we read in The Times business section of 3rd July:
Mr. Heath is understood to have taken a firm decision on making the Board of Trade into a ministry for the regions.
Responsibility for … the regional economic planning councils will be transferred to the Board of Trade this autumn.
The move is considered to be an easy and logical first step in planning the new
functions of the department, splitting off these two responsibilities from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government.
This may be an easy first step, but it is not a logical one. I yield to no one in my devotion to the Board of Trade, being—like all really distinguished politicians—an ex-President of it. Nor am I concerned to argue now the merits of the solution which we would have adopted—a complete amalgamation of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, Transport and the Ministry of Public Building and Works—though I see great merit in it. I am concerned only to avoid a divorce between regional planning and the planning functions of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. It is a recipe for disorder and confusion.
If this went through we would have the Board of Trade responsible for the regional plans coming from the planning councils and communicating to the regional economic planning councils the Government's views on regional policy. Yet another Department, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, would be responsible for policies inseparable from regional planning, for the structure plans of local authorities under the 1968 Act, for overspill decisions, decisions on new towns and expanded towns, and a host of major planning decision which are relevant to regional planning. It would be worse than that, because in some regions joint conferences of local authorities are now themselves engaged in regional or sub-regional planning alongside the regional economic planning councils. The Minister has just received the report of the South-East Joint Planning Team, a team drawn jointly from Government, the Regional Employment Planning Council, and the local authorities. Under the proposed new set-up this report would have to go to two separate Ministers, to the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Housing. That cannot be a sensible organisation of government.
Take the situation in another region, the West Midlands. Many hon. Members will know the difficulties there due to the fact that two separate bodies, the regional economic planning council and the standing joint council of local authorities, were each drawing up separate regional plans in isolation from each other. Since last October it has been much easier to get co-operation between them because one Minister was responsible for both the regional economic planning councils and local authorities. The proposed change would plunge us back again into the old confusions.
I am sure that our object must be to draw regional planning and local authority planning closer together. This we did last October by the changes made then, but the Prime Minister's proposal, if confirmed, would put the clock back very seriously. All that I can gather about machinery of government changes fills me with foreboding on behalf of the regions, but that is nothing to the foreboding I feel when we turn to the likely policies for the regions. Both the Prime Minister last week and Treasury Ministers on Tuesday refused to go into any detail about these policies, on investment grants, R.E.P. and the rest.
Now we accept the Prime Minister's feeling against instant government, but this excuse is going to wear very threadbare very soon. Tory Ministers, when in opposition, consistently attacked our regional policies, so presumably they have alternative ones of their own. They had plenty of time in opposition to work them out. We used to hear of all the study groups which were furiously at work. Strong hints came out from Selsdon Park and the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) made specific proposals in a debate as long ago as last January.
So there is no excuse for leaving the development areas and industrial areas in a state of total uncertainty until the autumn. Industrialists are taking investment decisions every day of the week. They certainly will not decide to go to a development area if they have no idea what the financial arrangements are to be, whether they will get investment grants or allowances, whether R.E.P. is to be terminated, and so on. I warn the Government that a delay of several months in announcing their policies could have the most serious effect on the prospects of the regions, and indeed, on investment generally. We must know where we stand—quickly, preferably this afternoon.
The right hon. Gentleman said that industrialists would be deterred from going to development areas while there is uncertainty about investment incentives. Is he aware that last week we had the largest single proposal, involving a substantial number of jobs for men, that we have had on Tayside for more than six years and, despite all these uncertainties, the announcement was made within a week of the Government being formed? Does not that suggest that the right hon. Gentleman is making a feeble point?
I should like to know the details of that decision, but it is obvious, from what the hon. Member has said, that this must have been planned and effectively signed a very long time ago.
What we can gather, although only from limited information, about likely Tory policies is enough to make us extremely uneasy. First, the I.D.C. control is to be kept, but it is to be operated more flexibly. That can mean only one thing—more I.D.C.s in the South-East and the Midlands and fewer firms steered into the development areas. In other words, a gradual erosion of the control at the behest of the C.B.I. and other private enterprise bodies.
Secondly, investment grants are to be replaced by investment allowances with a differential in favour of the development areas, but with no hint as to the rate of allowance or the size of the differential. There is no mention of the advantages of investment grant quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Mr. D. Reed) and which apply particularly in the development areas—that they help new enterprises which have not yet begun to earn profits and that the money comes in more quickly as new firms have incurred their expenditure. Many hon. Members from development areas can testify to the strength of the investment grant incentive, not only in bringing new firms into those areas but—equally important—in encouraging existing firms to expand.
Certainly no Minister who tours the development areas and sees the new factories and factory extensions can doubt their effectiveness. It would be a tragedy if they were done away with.
Thirdly, investment grants need obviously to be balanced by R.E.P. I think it is generally agreed that when we had only a capital inducement there was a danger of attracting only capital-intensive projects in areas where the central problem was a surplus of labour. It was the whole point of R.E.P. to redress the balance and give a direct subsidy to labour costs and the employment of labour. It is interesting to note that last year about the same amount was paid out in investment grant differential and R.E.P.—about £100 million in each case. That, I should have thought, is a good balance.
But the Government are pledged to phase out R.E.P. Do they really mean this—first to weaken the capital incentive and then to eliminate the employment subsidy? Is nothing to be put in its place? What will happen to shipbuilding, to heavy engineering, to other industries on which the development areas depend and which have benefited so dramatically from R.E.P.? The outlook for these areas begins to look very ominous.
We are to have a more flexible system of grants under the Local Employment Acts. That is what the Tory manifesto states. I cannot think what "more flexible" means unless it means less generous. There is the doubt over the future of the intermediate areas. The Tory manifesto says:
powers under the Local Employment Acts—
will also be used where appropriate in the intermediate areas.
But what does "where appropriate" mean? Does it mean a change of policy compared with the one we were pursuing? There is considerable anxiety in these areas, and the matter needs to be cleared up very soon—indeed, in the speech we are to listen to next.
There is the anxiety over the future of the Coal Industry Bill, one of the most humane Measures introduced by the Labour Government. It helped the coal industry and, above all, cushioned the very harsh effect of pit closures on the redundant older mineworkers. There was some discussion during business question time on this matter, and there is a Motion on the Order Paper signed by many of my hon. Friends—in fact, by all my hon. Friends who represent mining constituencies. They have deep feelings and long memories on this topic. I cannot see why the Government should delay before letting the House know their intentions on the Bill.
There is the uncertainty over the future of the steel industry, an industry crucial to the prosperity of many parts of the development areas. Under nationalisation, despite occasional frictions, the British Steel Corporation paid close attention to regional considerations when making its investment decisions. But we are now told in the Tory manifesto that:
An increasing use of private capital will help to … get better investment decisions…
Better for whom?—better for the private shareholder, or for the development areas?
I cannot believe that the Tories are really so bemused by their faith in market forces and Adam Smith's "invisible hand" that they think that the two are identical. The Stock Exchange has not become quite so indifferent to profit and quite so ardent for regional policy. I warn the House that if private capital comes to influence the decisions of the steel industry the outlook for regional policy is very black indeed.
Coal, steel—there are also other industries and firms whose future is at stake: U.C.S., Cammell Laird, Palmers Hebburn. All were referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) on Tuesday night, and I shall not repeat what he said.
When we raise these doubts and anxieties we are met by the answer, "Well, it will all be all right, because we shall improve the infrastructure and the environment in the less prosperous areas, and this will attract new industry." I wish I believed that.
As to the infrastructure—the houses, roads, schools, hospitals, new and expanded towns, urban redevelopment and the rest—I gave figures in our debate on 6th May to show that under a Labour Government spending on infrastructure in the development areas had increased not only absolutely but also relative to the rest of the country. Are the Government really going to do better than this on the infrastructure? Are we to have still higher programmes for all those spending Departments, for transport, education, housing and health? Of course not, because the Chancellor will not allow it. It would be totally inconsistent with all that he said on Tuesday about the future of public expenditure.
As for their promises on the environment, what the Queen's Speech called improving the amenities of these areas, I find these particularly incredible in the light of the record. Take derelict land, the biggest blot on the landscape in many of these areas. In 1945 the post-war Labour Government initiated the system of grants to local authorities for clearing derelict land. In 1951, when the Tories returned, one of their first actions was to suspend all grants, and they remained suspended until 1959. They were resumed in 1960, but only for the narrowly-drawn development districts. Today, by contrast, we have 85 per cent. grants for the development areas, 75 per cent. in the intermediate areas, and 50 per cent. in the whole of the rest of the country.
In the last year of Conservative rule the amount actually spent on clearing derelict land was negligible. Last year it was £2 million, this year it will be about £3 million, and I had established the programme for raising it to £6 million in 1973–74, a programme which I hope, without too much optimism, will escape the Chancellor's axe. In the light of this record, we should be grateful not to have any more talk about over-riding Tory concern for the environment.
The regional problem is deep-seated and intractable. It has been with us since the end of the First World War. It is fundamentally a legacy of laissez-faire capitalism, which, because it rejected planning, had not the means, even if it had the will, to offset the decline of the older industries in the North, Scotland and Wales.
The problem has, if anything, grown more intractable in recent years. If we take seven of our older industries on which the development areas are heavily dependent—coal, railways, agriculture, textiles, steel, shipbuilding and the ports—the total drop in employment in them from mid-1964 to mid-1969 was 678,000.
In the previous five-year period it was 466,000, one-third less. So we faced a structural change, almost a convulsion, of quite unusual magnitude. Without the vigorous measures which we introduced we should have had unemployment of disastrous proportions.
As it was, we spent large sums of money on preferential assistance to those less prosperous regions—over £310 million in 1969–70, far more than was spent in the last year of Conservative rule, whatever allowance is made for the grants and allowances, and we established a battery of controls and incentives, on which the comments of the O.E.C.D. are of some interest. In a very recent report, "Manpower Policy—the United Kingdom", discussing development area policy, it said:
There has been a remarkable display of ingenuity in the approach to regional economic development in Britain Many of the measures…recommended themselves to the close attention of other industrialised nations with serious regional development problems…a great variety of individual development instruments is available…Taken together, they form an impressive tool-kot for fostering industrial growth in the DAs.
That is quite a tribute from an international organisation that has not been reluctant to criticise British government policy. I hope that Minister's concerned with these matters will read the report in detail.
As a result of the spending and of that battery of measures, although we certainly did not solve the problem, we made positive and substantial progress. Unemployment in the development areas remains higher than the national average, but since 1964 there has been a marked improvement in their position relative to the national average. In 1964, 48 per cent. of the total unemployed were in the development areas. By this spring the figure had fallen to 36 per cent., and their industrial base is infinitely stronger, more varied and more secure than it was in 1964.
The question is whether the new Government can possibly maintain this progress. Here our doubts and anxieties relate not only to the individual policies which I have mentioned and to Tory pronouncements on them, but even more to the basic philosophy which underlies the Queen's Speech and which, as the Minister of State, Treasury, made so abundantly clear when winding-up on Tuesday, differs fundamentally from ours.
I sum up my fears in this way. First, I do not believe that the problem of the less prosperous areas can ever be solved by a Government so totally committed to cuts in public expenditure, including regional expenditure. Whether the cuts fall on investment incentives, on R.E.P. or L.E.A. assistance, they must cause serious damage in the regions.
Second, I do not believe that a party so committed to laissez-faire, to non-intervention, to a belief in market forces, can have an effective regional policy. It was, after all, market forces which created the regional problem, and if we revert to market forces now industry will once again pour into the South-East and Midlands at the expense of the development and intermediate areas. It is only deliberate planning and intervention that can create a proper balance and equality between the regions.
Third, I do not believe that a party so close to private industry, so wedded to profit maximisation, so partial to unbridled free enterprise, can adequately protect or create a decent environment for British citizens to live in. The threats to our environment, the threats of urban sprawl, the motor car, industrial dereliction, pollution of the air and of inland waters and the sea can be averted only by strict planning and subjecting industry to communal control.
The Prime Minister said in a speech last weekend that he had a vision about the British people, what some people, he said, called an impossible dream. I am glad that he did. All politicians should have their visions and occasionally we should all lift our eyes to the rather longer-term future. But a vision is useful only if it embraces the means of achieving it, and the vision which I have and I am sure the Prime Minister has is a vision of shared prosperity in all the regions, a vision of a total environment fit for the British people to live in. This vision is not consistent with Tory policies as now displayed. For the sake of the country, I hope that these policies will change. If they do not, the country will pay a heavy price for the choice it made on 18th June.
I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) for the generous way in which he referred to me and to my new appointment. I am grateful to him also, as I am sure the House will be, for the valuable contribution which he has made to the discussion on changes in the machinery of Government which, after six years in office, the previous Administration were considering making. What he has to say about that showed how necessary it is for all of us to deliberate about these matters in a calm and sensible way and not attempt to reach instant conclusions.
Early in the debate on the Address, the Leader of the Opposition promised the House that he and his colleagues would not
be tempted to censure and negative opposition for opposition's sake. We shall wait for each new development of policy, wait watchfully and keenly, but we shall not rush into condemnation for the sake of it"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd July, 1970; Vol. 803, c. 57.]
In the light of that perfectly reasonable assurance, it is a little disappointing that the Opposition have so hastily proposed this Amendment, which represents an early reversal of Opposition policy, accustomed as we became in the last Parliament to these rapid turnabouts.
I welcomed the right hon. Gentleman's contribution on the subject of the machinery of Government, but I was disappointed in what he has to say on the whole subject of regional development, because he showed no disposition to consider that some of the measures which the previous Administration followed might be amended with advantage and might be considered with an open mind. [Interruption.] Hon. Members intervene to say that we do not know what they are, but in that case why did they put down a Motion of censure on the subject?
The truth is, and every hon. Member recognises this, that these are important issues affecting the lives and welfare of the people, and we must debate alternative policies on their merits and with proper regard to the facts. Labour Members must start by accepting that by the will of the people there has been a change of Government, and that means that there will be new and different policies. But the policies will be laid before Parliament and brought forward in a considered way, bearing in mind that it frequently takes more than two weeks to fulfil a five-year Parliamentary programme.
However, although this is a censure debate, we need not differ about the objectives. After all, it was the present Prime Minister who, as Secretary of State for Regional Development and President of the Board of Trade in 1963, gave great impetus to regional development and regional policies, and it was the present Lord Chancellor who gave his name to the Hailsham Plan for the North-East and pioneered the Government's determination, expressed in the Gracious Speech, to
stimulate lone-term growth in the less prosperous areas by increasing their economic attractions and improving their amenities".
The House and the country may be assured that the Government regard an effective regional development policy as a vital element in their economic and social strategy; in their economic strategy because everyone, in prosperous and less prosperous areas alike, suffers from the present regional imbalance and the waste of resources it involves; in their social strategy because we are not prepared to tolerate the human waste of unemployment, dereliction and decline.
We propose, therefore, and we have made this quite clear, to retain the present development and intermediate area boundaries unless and until the problems of any particular area are on the way to solution. But the important thing is that the policy should be effective. Effectiveness is determined not, as the Opposition always suggest, just by the amount of public money spent, but by the value obtained for it. By that test, the Labour Government demonstrated for six years how not to run a regional policy.
The one inescapable fact, to which, of course, the right hon. Gentleman made no reference, in the last six years was that whereas in June, 1964, there were in Great Britain just over 300,000 unemployed, a figure which had been about the average for the previous 13 years, there were well over 500,000 people unemployed in June, 1970, of whom almost 200,000 were in development areas. That hardly constitutes an argument for leaving the last Administration's policies absolutely unaltered as though they represented the only word on regional policy.
Those policies have shown that subsidies cannot bring prosperity to the regions if the national economy is stagnant. This is the situation we face today and with which we have been faced for the past few years. We have also seen that indiscriminate assistance like the regional employment premium not only wastes resources, but actually aggravates the problem of neighbouring areas without solving those of development areas. We also feel that it is wrong and wasteful to pay out automatic subsidies for projects regardless of how many jobs they provide and whether the firms concerned would have gone there anyway.
In considering the level and form of direct assistance to industry in the development and intermediate areas, the Government will be bringing forward new proposals in due course. As we are not satisfied that all the incentives at present provided give good value for money, we shall closely examine the various financial inducements to industry currently available in the assisted areas.
But it should be understood—and this is the answer to those who, like the right hon. Gentleman, feel that this necessary review of policy must not take place because it will create uncertainty—that the Government will honour existing commitments, commitments entered into, on the basis of which firms and individuals have made their plans. For example, we do not consider that the regional employment premium has lived up to the claims made for it when it was introduced.
This gentle bonus, falling like gentle rain from the heavens above on all industrialists in development areas was, so we were told, calculated to narrow the unemployment gap within three to five years. We have said consistently that it was wasteful and would not work, and there is no evidence that it has worked, certainly no evidence in the unemployment figures, and we shall phase it out. But we shall phase it out taking account of existing obligations and commitments.
In this case, as with all other forms of assistance, we all recognise that transitional ararngements have to be made. There is no need, therefore, for any firm or industry to feel the degree of uncertainty which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned. If there are such industries or firms, I have no doubt that they will make their direct representations to the Government.
Meanwhile, industry knows that we intend to retain the differential investment incentives for development areas and shipbuilding but by way of tax reductions or allowances in preference to grants. It is also known that indiscriminate assistance will no longer be given automatically to capital-intensive projects which provide few jobs and would be likely to go to the area in any case. We also intend to give fairer treatment to service industries and commerce which also plays a big part in the development areas.
Industry knows this and generally recognises that the Government approach is just, responsible and sensible. In linking assistance to industry more closely with the provision of new jobs we intend to make fuller use of the powers available under the Local Employment Acts which stem from the Measure introduced by the Conservative Government in 1960 and which, all parties accept, has proved an efficient and flexible instrument of regional development policy.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has said that the new plans will come out in due course. Could he be a little more precise about what that means? When does he hazard that these new plans will be forthcoming?
In parallel with all of this we will use some of the savings achieved from changes in investment incentives to accelerate improvements in the attractions and amenities of the less prosperous areas. Experience has shown, and this is true of my own area in the North-East, that one of the best ways of attracting new industry is by the provision, for example of airports and better road communications. The House and the country should bear in mind that much of the work for which the Labour Government claimed credit, such as the provision of Woolsington Airport or the provision of new roads was set in hand by the previous Conservative Administration. In the last few years much of the impetus has been lost. I freely admit that it is not because of a lack of good intentions on the part of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite but because of the general economic stagnation created by their policies.
For regional policy to be successful industrialists must want to invest in development areas. Many of the development areas, again like my own, have great natural attraction and many of the towns and cities lie close to scenery of outstanding beauty. It seems to us that the basic aim of regional policy must be to concentrate resources not on indiscriminate assistance but on providing the services and creating the conditions needed for new industrial growth, and that rural as well as urban.
Would my right hon. and learned Friend say a word or two more about this? I think he recognises now that those who are almost the worst off in the country are certain of the coastal seaside resorts where unemployment is very much higher than in the development areas, and where there is considerably less prosperity. Will he bear in mind the use that can be made of the Local Employment Acts, a far more flexible instrument than any ever used by the party opposite, to see that we conquer this problem which can be found in practically every one of our major coastal resorts?
We must not ignore any area in which there are particular difficulties. One of the reasons why we believe in the operation of the Employment Acts is that they are flexible.
The right hon. Member for Grimsby quite rightly devoted a great part of his speech to the importance of the environment. That is something which is important everywhere not just in development areas. It is of special importance in those areas where the quality of housing is poor, where the amenities are lacking and job opportunities are few.
We are determined, as the Prime Minister told the House last Thursday, that there shall be effective land-use planning and co-ordination of the activities of government across the board. There will always be a need for co-operation with and advice from local authorities and other bodies as well as with industry. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government is as concerned about this as I am and the Government are determined to promote and work out an appropriate strategic approach to meet the needs of all areas.
It is not enough that industrialists should want to go to development areas; they must also be able to find there the labour they require. The mere fact that there is unemployment in an area is not a decisive factor in a firm's decision to move and to expand. For instance although unemployment in the Northern Region, I am sad to say, is nearly double what it was in 1964, there is a shortage of skilled labour there as elsewhere. As the North East Development Council Annual Report for 1969–70 commented:
The shortage is great because the skills available do not match the skills wanted.
That is why we have emphasised our determination to improve and extend the facilities for retraining. [Interruption.] This is absolutely essential if we are to correct the situation in which even in areas of considerable unemployment—[Interruption.]—there are large numbers of unfilled vacancies.
I must confess that I have to laugh. The right hon. and learned Gentleman's belongs to a party that actually closed down the training centres. The great job of the Labour Government was to redress that position and training in the northern area now is far higher than ever it was, with a target production of new trainees of over 3,000 per annum. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is talking nonsense.
I do not think that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will quarrel now about our determination to move in this matter—[An HON. MEMBER: "We have waited so long."] We have waited at least six years and we will try to put this right. Of course hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have done a great deal. I said that we need not disagree about the objectives. All I am saying is that we attach great importance to this. We have not only to improve but to adapt skills in response to the specific requirements of industry. In all this, as I am sure hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will agree, the trade unions have a great part to play, in persuading men and women to accept training in new skills so that they can adapt to changing techniques and prepare for the needs of incoming industry. It is no good providing training facilities if forces are at work which prevent full use being made of them.
We will take whatever action is appropriate in whatever area is appropriate. I am not so sure, and hon. Members will appreciate that I have only been looking at this for a short time, but as far as the Northern area is concerned I am not so sure that it is necessarily expansion of facilities which is needed. It is not just expenditure of public money and the provision of buildings as hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to think; it is how the system is used and what goes on within it and the sort of support we can get from management and trade unions in facing up to the problems with which industry has to deal.
We cannot ask industry to go into development areas, whatever incentives we provide unless we take some collective steps to ensure that the labour force is there.
In view of the emphasis that the right hon. and learned Gentleman places on the provision of training and the supply of adequate labour, can he explain why in 1963–64 there were 200 Government training centre places in the whole of Wales, yet by the beginning of next year there will be 2,000?
That is some improvement in six years.
I have been speaking only of the incentive side of our regional development policy. I should like to say something about industrial development certificate control.
To deal with the problem of training and what results from it, will it be possible, not today, but perhaps—[Interruption.] Perhaps hon. Members will allow me to put a point to the Minister. May we have an analysis of the people who have been trained in the training centres, what they were trained for, and what happened to them after training, so that we may know the value of the training schemes which were introduced?
I will look into that interesting suggestion and see whether the information is available or, if not, whether it can be obtained.
I have been speaking only of the incentive side of our regional development policies. I now wish to say a few words about industrial development certificate control which, as the right hon. Member for Grimsby pointed out, has proved to be an important element in regional policy and which the Labour Administration inherited, as they inherited so much which was good, from their predecessors. It may well be more important in some cases than grants as a means of encouraging firms to go to the development areas.
On the other hand, we must ensure that the control operates sensibly and flexibly and not as a deterrent to investment by firms which need to expand on existing sites or nearby and which would not move elsewhere in any event. I am, therefore, considering the recommendations of the Hunt Committee, which the previous Administration set up, for raising the exemption limits either generally or in particular areas. It is important that industry should be given clear guidance on the criteria to be applied in dealing with applications for industrial development certificates.
Apart from the need to attract new industries to the development and intermediate areas, the right hon. Member for Grimsby—and the Amendment raises this issue—spoke of the need to strengthen and modernise the basic industries on which a great deal of employment in these areas depends. Persistently, hon. Members opposite base their speeches on the assumption that the Government are opposed to any assistance in industry which might be construed as intervention. The right hon. Member for Grimsby kept on referring to laissez-faire capitalism. Throughout the nineteenth century, the party which I support opposed Liberal laissez-faire capitalism—each man for himself
And bid the devil take the hindmost.
To refresh the right hon. Gentleman's memory, may I point out that a very large number of members of the party I represent also opposed laissez-faire capitalism throughout the nineteenth century?
The party within a party which the hon. Gentleman represents might be more sympathetic to my point of view than some of the other parties in the Liberal Party.
We are concerned to end unnecessary intervention, and our philosophy can be summed up in the assertion that for us the State is the last and not the first port of call. It is in the traditional industries in the assisted areas that the difference beween the policies and approach of the Government and those of the Opposition is most evident. We all want to see a strong coal industry, a strong shipbuilding industry, a strong heavy engineering industry and a strong steel industry. But, unlike the last Government, we do not believe that any unit in these or other major development area industries should be propped up regardless of its long-term efficiency and prospects.
We intend to continue to give special assistance for particular industries like shipbuilding. Assistance to this industry has been given under the Shipbuilding Industry Act and the review to which the last Government committed themselves in April on the future position and prospects of the industry is now underway. The Opposition clearly accepted that the position had to be reviewed, and we are reviewing it. Meanwhile, I appreciate that the taking of orders by British yards from British shipowners is dependent on the credit scheme, and we are considering the position in the light of it.
But, looking to the long-term policy, the concern of everybody must be to ensure that British shipbuilding is a viable competitive industry and is not dependent on periodic rescue by public funds. Whatever happens, the Government will bear in mind the transitional problems of reorganisation. But we beleive that the contribution which the industry should be making to the national economy and employment in development areas must be based not on continuing financial assistance to meet losses but on its own efforts and performance.
The situation of the coal industry has been drastically affected by the swing from surplus production to a tight supply position—another of the so-called benefits of Socialist administration. Now, and for some time to come, only pits which are exhausted or seriously uneconomic will be closed. But looking further ahead, we all know that the reduction of uneconomic capacity will have to be resumed. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State, when replying to Questions on Monday, referred to the urgent consideration which we are giving to the question whether, and if so in what form, we shall introduce a Coal Industry Bill on the lines of the Measure which was lost last Session.
There are many interlocked issues which are currently affecting the performance of the coal industry and we must consider them before making a definite statement. However, I want to make sure that the scheme for social payment to redundant miners will achieve what is wanted by everybody, namely, that men affected by changes in the coal industry are given imaginative and effective help to obtain and adjust to new forms of employment.
The only other basic industry to which I want to refer is steel. The steel industry is traditionally of great importance to the development areas, with two-fifths of its work force and over half its crude steel output concentrated in Scotland, Wales and the North-East of England. Many changes are taking place, with the most modern plant displacing old and inefficient capacity. The accent on all this development is to enable the industry to become more competitive with overseas industry. Obviously that must be a first priority if the industry is to make its full contribution to our economic progress.
May we take it that a statement will be made by the right hon. Gentleman's Department before the House rises on 24th July about when and in what form the Coal Industry Bill will be presented to the House?
The hon. Gentleman must take the statement in the form in which I gave it. We appreciate the problem and we are looking at the position as a matter of high priority.
We can be grateful that the British Steel Corporation is taking steps to minimise the impact of rationalisation and redundancies, in consultation with Government and regional bodies and the trade unions. That process will continue. I hope that the Opposition, and the House as a whole, will feel that the Amendment is totally unnecessary and can be withdrawn. We all agree about the objectives. The Labour Administration's policy was not so successful that we are not right to try to do something much more effective about unemployment.
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way. I am sure that the House will be grateful for the number of times that he has given way. What do the Government intend to do about the gas industry? The gas industry has been waiting for a Bill on reorganisation for about three years. Part of its reorganisation has taken place in the expectation that a Bill would be put on the Statute Book. Has my right hon. Friend anything to tell the House about this matter?
We have inherited a good many problems from the last Administration but not always too many solutions. We inherited a great deal of potential legislation and we are looking at this, including the Measures to which my hon. Friend referred, to see how many of them are justified either at all or in the form in which they have been presented. I have no doubt, however, of the importance of the matter which my hon. Friend raised.
I should like, in conclusion, to come back to the terms of the Amendment and the speech of the right hon. Member for Grimsby. The trouble with right hon. and hon. Members opposite is that they consistently fail, as they failed when they were in office, to recognise the close connection between the health of the regions and the health of the economy as a whole. That failure has led them into the error, to which I referred, of assuming that regional problems can be solved simply by increasing public expenditure, whereas nothing could be further from the truth. If the economy is not expanding as it should, the number of projects available for location in the development and intermediate areas is automatically restricted.
In those circumstances—and the present unemployment figures show this—even massive increases in inducements and subsidies create only a marginal increase in industrial mobility. For those of us who live in development areas, any increase, even marginal, is to be welcomed, but it cannot in the long run be sustained in an economic climate of stagnation with large wage increases unrelated to productivity and wild-cat strikes producing not only higher prices but lower profitability and lower investment in industry. If we cannot make industry profitable, if we cannot create a situation in which industry can afford to invest, none of these inducements will in itself be sufficient.
We intend, as we have said, to strengthen the development and the intermediate areas. We will try to do so—indeed, I am sure we shall succeed—on the basis of sound management of the national economy and not by such a doctrinaire adherence to the measures which the last Government introduced and which have not proved, as they, like us, should be willing to accept, as successful as we would wish. We want to restore a sense of responsibility to expenditure on regional development, to be sure that we get good value for the money we spend and to create conditions in which we can ensure that the country as a whole shares in greater prosperity.
I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for giving me an opportunity of making my maiden speech so early in this Parliament. I represent North Kensington, a constituency which was for 25 years represented by my friend Mr. George Rogers. It is clear from what has been said to me by a great many hon. Members that he is remembered with great respect and affection here, as he is by a great many of his constituents.
North Kensington is probably rather better known to the majority of the public as Notting Hill. It is recalled unfortunately, for the disastrous race riots which took place there in 1958. I am happy to be able to tell the House that race relations in Notting Hill have enormously improved during the last 12 years.
I have lived in my constituency for a long time. I was fortunate in that I represented part of the constituency on the Kensington and Chelsea Council. I know the constituency and its problems very well. The chief of those problems is housing.
North Kensington is an area with a proportion of council and housing trust property and some fine Georgian terraces and squares. Unfortunately, however, we also have a very large area of decaying Victorian terraced houses. They were built for the middle class but shortly after they were built, because of the railway development, they were occupied by working-class families living in densely multi-occupied conditions and have had few repairs or improvements since. They now contain some of the worst housing that one could find in London. We have a great many of the conditions which the Minister of Housing and Local Government found in Lambeth the week before last. With respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I consider that the solution to the problems which he found in Lambeth, as to the problem which exists in my constituency, lies not so much with the Community Relations Commission as with local authorities throughout the country, his own Ministry and this House.
Nobody in this House is likely to dispute that the only ultimate solution to the appalling housing conditions which still remain in many parts of the country is the provision of a greater amount of housing. Our differences arise as to the best means of providing it. It is, no doubt, true that we have reached a stage at which there is no longer an absolute shortage of houses throughout the country as a whole. A surplus of houses in the North, however, is of very little assistance in relieving the housing stress in London or the Midlands. On the contrary, the fact that there is a surplus of housing in the North is indicative of the fact that we are likely to have a situation in London which will get progressively worse, because as more and more people move from the areas where there is insufficient employment, and squeeze into the already over-crowded Midlands and South-East, the conditions of housing stress in these densely populated urban areas will get progressively worse.
The first main point which I want to make to the House is that regional development policy is not only of concern to the areas which directly benefit from it. It is of the greatest importance to everyone who is concerned either with housing problems in the highly populated areas, or with the preservation or improvement of the environment in which all of us live and the quality of living for everybody, both of which will be immensely damaged unless we can counteract the economic forces which tend to press people to move out of the development areas and into the Midlands and the South-East.
I believe that we are approaching the stage—in some respects we have already reached it—at which the ability to buy more consumer goods is of much less importance than the quality of the environment in which we live. By "environment" in this context I start with the size of one's living accommodation, the play space available to one's children, the quality of schools which one's children attend, the ability to get to and from work in a reasonable time and under tolerable conditions, and access to a countryside which has not been completely built over.
I hope that in making decisions about their regional policies, the Government will not allow their desire to avoid what the Minister of Technology described as "unnecessary interference" with business decisions to create a society in which we have material wealth but not the environment in which to enjoy it.
The Queen's Speech promised
a vigorous housing policy with the principal aim of improving the position of the homeless and the badly housed.
The Report of the Cullingworth Committee on council housing has illustrated a large number of ways in which existing housing policies can be improved to ensure that the greatest needs are more quickly and efficiently met. I am sure that the Government will pay great attention to the views of that Committee. There is, however, one aspect of housing policy which is not referred to in the Cullingworth Report—that is, the need to preserve existing communities wherever possible and to ensure that where new estates and new towns are built, a real effort is made to provide the essential ingredients of a new community and not simply to create a collection of houses.
In my constituency I have watched, and am still watching, the destruction of houses in which, despite appalling housing conditions, a sense of community has grown up. What is even more important, a sense of multi-racial community has grown up. We have streets in which families have lived for two or three generations. During the last five or 10 years immigrants have been moving into those streets, and during the last few years we have seen a new sense of community developing. We find in the slum areas of North Kensington that there is far less racial antagonism than there is in the more segregated areas where fewer black faces are to be seen.
I have seen many of these streets which, inevitably and quite rightly, are going to be pulled down. It would be a great pity if, in pulling down those streets, we were to break up that sense of community which has been developed. I hope that the housing policies which we shall be seeing from the present Government and other Governments in future will take great account of the overwhelming importance of ensuring that these communities are preserved. We have at present families in North Kensington being moved to the outer suburbs, and when new flats are built we have other families coming in from other and different areas and attempting to put down their rather uneasy roots in North Kensington. Thus two communities are broken, and it takes a long time for those communities to be replaced. I am sure that the Minister of Housing and Local Government will take careful note of two studies of Oldham, "Living in a Slum" and "Moving out of a Slum" recently published in his Ministry's Design Bulletin.
I hope that the Minister of Housing and Local Government will also consider very carefully the plight of families living in furnished accommodation. Of the households in Kensington and Chelsea 35 per cent. occupy so-called furnished accommodation. Not, for the most part, because they want other people's furniture in their homes; not because they are single or transient; but because it is so easy for the landlords to opt out of the Rent Act by installing £50 worth of furniture and charging £150 a year more rent. Thousands of families with children are compelled to live in furnished accommodation, paying excessive rents, which they dare not refer to the Rent Tribunal for fear of eviction.
I do not expect the Minister to anticipate the Report of the Francis Committee on the Rent Acts, but I was delighted to read in the Sunday Times the week before last that the Conservative Party's "Daily Notes" dated 12th June contained the passage:
Conservatives believe that the fair rents system should be gradually extended to all privately rented homes.
I believe, and many with much greater knowledge of the subject than I have agree with me, that extending the Rent Acts to protect furnished tenants will eliminate the greatest single source of housing stress. Instead of the present quite unworkable distinction—for even experienced lawyers find it impossible to predict which way the court will determine it—between furnished and unfurnished, we should substitute a distinction between tenancies where the landlord is the owner-occupier and those where he is not. It should be made easier for an
owner-occupier to get rid of a bad tenant, whether furnished or unfurnished, but all good tenants, whether of furnished or of unfurnished accommodation, should have the right to a fair rent, security in their homes, and the right to rehousing in the event of redevelopment. I believe this step would both increase the amount of accommodation offered to rent, and eliminate an enormous amount of the misery and exploitation which exists at the present time.
I am told that a speech need not be interminable to be immortal. I am happy to assure hon. Members that this maidenly performance has no ambition to be either. I shall take only as much of the House's time as will suffice to relate the Gracious Speech to my constituency of Conway, described by my predecessor, who ably represented the constituency from 1966, as one of the finest in the Kingdom. Indeed, for mountains of matchless calm, wooded vales fresh as the day they were created, and restful shores which have restored countless work-weary visitors from Lancashire and beyond, my constituency has no equal, as more than one hon. Member has assured me in the short time I have enjoyed the privileges of this House.
Like most of North Wales, my constituency is full of poetry, and occasionally the poetry is peppered with politics, as when Shelley, on leaving London for North Wales, feared that his soul might soon forget
the woe its fellows share".
My concern on the reverse journey from Wales to Westminster was much the same and I might well have pleaded with the poet
Let me for ever be what I have been,
But not for ever at my needy door
Let misery linger speechless, pale and lean.
Some of my constituents have been looking distinctly pale and lean in recent years. I refer particularly to the small business men and hoteliers in that part of my constituency, notably Llandudno, which is on the wrong side of the development area blanket and, therefore, not exonerated from S.E.T. I welcome the reference in the Gracious Speech to the reform and reduction of taxation and trust that some relief from this sative
tax will not be long in coming. Although we have a wealth of sunshine I fear that we belong to the category described in the Gracious Speech as
the less prosperous areas".
Traditionally, I am bound to be non-controversial on this occasion, and I trust that hon. Members will not think that I press my advantage too far when I point out that part of my constituency is not only outside the Welsh development area but sandwiched between that area and the Merseyside development area. This places us at a unique disadvantage in attracting new industry.
Pleasant as our sunshine is, and even the "unfettered wind" which Shelley relished, at least in his anticipation of his holiday, we cannot live on these blessings alone, as our unemployment figures indicate. We need light industry to support our tourist trade, and I am fully in accord with the Government's policy of stimulating growth in the less prosperous areas by increasing their economic attractions. The natural attractions of the North Wales coast would be greatly enhanced by a first-class road from Merseyside to Bangor, and I sincerely hope that I shall not, at the end of this Parliament, look back in Bangor at lack of progress in this vital connection. I hope, too, that our rail connection with my native island of Anglesey will be fully restored as soon as possible.
The Gracious Speech makes reference to plans at a later stage for giving the Scottish people a greater say in their own affairs. The party of Government stated some time ago that Wales also has a proud and distinctive tradition and that the views of the Welsh people must also be represented strongly and democratically. The plans for Scotland will, of course, be closely, but, I hope, not jealously, studied in Wales, for any effort in self-government is bound to be fraught with difficulty, and I hope that, when those plans are revealed, our people in Wales will wait and see before jumping to the conclusion that what is good enough for Scotland is good enough for our
old and haughty nation, proud in arms
as Milton described us.
Like the majority of people in the Principality I would wish any step taken in the direction of self-government for Wales to be a right and timely development of the devolutionary measures which have been taken during the last two decades. I would also wish any such step to be motivated entirely by a desire for our better government. There is no doubt in my mind that in Wales priority must be given to measures of reform in local government, and as such reforms will, we are promised, be associated with a general devolution of power from central Government, we may hope that the people of the Principality will shortly feel that they, too, have a greater voice in the conduct of their affairs. For this is the nub of the matter: government now touches the people closely, perhaps too closely for comfort, and there is a general desire that those responsible for government should be near to the people they govern.
There is one other matter in the Gracious Speech to which I crave the indulgence of hon. Members to refer, rather belatedly. That is the fresh emphasis given to Britain's international interests, the maintenance of peace and the promotion of prosperity. These interests are traditionally very close to the hearts of our Welsh nation. The younger generation particularly regards the world rather than Britain as its oyster, and in its own way this generation is more imperially minded in the best sense than those which preceded it. Its genuine concern for other peoples and its belief that Britain should do right by those peoples augur well for Britain's future in the world.
I have never believed that Britain has yet to find a rôle in world affairs. There is always a rôle for a country that dedicates itself to the maintenance of peace and the promotion of world prosperity. If we pursue these objectives honestly and realistically, as I am sure the Government will, leaving to others the perfidious rôle, we shall achieve the "unity within" spoken of by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and attain the greater respect we all wish for Britain in the world at large.
As one who has for a relatively short period been a Member of this House, I little thought that I should have the great pleasure of following two maiden speakers. I have a certain fellow feeling for them, as this is my first contribution from the Opposition benches, and I congratulate them with great enthusiasm. My hon. Friend the Member for Kensington, North (Mr. Douglas-Mann) made a speech that was rich in substance, delivered with firmness and with clear articulation. I am also glad of the opportunity to welcome my fellow countryman, the hon. Member for Conway (Mr. Wyn Roberts) whose speech was full of charm and delivered with all the rhetorical fervour which one expects from a Welshman with his antecedents. The House will look forward to further contributions from these hon. Members.
One of the significant policies developed by the previous Government was their obvious dedication to the principle of regional development. This encompassed not only the problem of creating the dynamic of economic growth but it also entailed a devolution of decision-making power to the areas concerned. No one would accuse the Government of being over-candid in the revelation of their regional policies. It is not so much their vagueness in the Queen's Speech as their vagueness viewed against the background of cynicism which they have shown towards regionalism over the years when they were in Opposition which causes us so much doubt.
The Conservative Party voted against the Development of Industry Act which set up the development areas in 1966, and Conservative spokesmen have never wearied of reminding us that they regarded these policies in the main as being unspeakable prodigality. The fundamental question which must therefore be asked of the Conservative Party is whether they really believe in regionalism and, if so, what priority are they willing to give it.
The difference between the two parties in this matter is not just a question of the expenditure by the Tory Party in Government up to 1964 of less than £20 million per annum and by the subsequent Labour Government of about £300 million per annum, it is not just a difference of degree, but a fundamental difference in philosophy. Central to the Tory creed is the belief that the law of nature should at all times be allowed to prevail. If it be that economic changes might condemn a community to stagnancy and extinction whilst at the same time allowing other areas to wallow in wealth and prosperity, so be it. The canons of Conservatism demanded that there should be no interference with such a system.
The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), who as we all know is the custodian of some of the darkest prejudices of Conservatism, first articulated his views on this matter in a speech which he made on 2nd April, 1964 in Wolverhampton, when he said:
For the sake of what then do we feel constrained to count economic loss and fly in the face of our own beliefs? Is it on account of some theory that industry and employment ought to be more evenly distributed over the country as a whole?
Substantially how, if at all, does Government thinking at present differ from such a philosophy? The Government pay lip-service to regional development in the Queen's Speech, but it is right to look not only to such anodyne presentations but to specific proposals made by the Conservative Party when in opposition. We were constantly reminded by the present Prime Minister and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services that there was every likelihood that if the Conservative Party was returned to Government it would abolish investment grants. The President of the Board of Trade in a speech on 16th May 1966, on the Second Reading of the industrial Development Act made it bluntly clear that he would favour such a development.
I represent a community which has only about 8 per cent. manufacturing industry, and the common experience of such localities is that they are able to attract only small firms which are reliant in their early months and years upon the assistance given by development grants. Investment allowances to a large extent would not be relevant to such enterprises, as they turn upon profits and in those uncertain first months and years there is often no question of profit. If investment grant were to be removed the incentive which is the direct allurement to these firms to look to areas such as my constituency would be withdrawn.
It is perfectly possible under the Local Employment Act 1960 to give grants, but the criterion set out in that legislation is that there should be a high level of unemployment. The grant is paid only whilst such a high level of unemployment prevails, and in practice that level is about 4 per cent. That does not cure the slow cancer of depopulation which is the main problem suffered by areas such as mine.
The Queen's Speech contains the ominous phrase:
… saving and liberating industry from unnecessary intervention by Government.
Regional growth can be stimulated only by the provision of positive incentives, operating in turn in conjunction with negative restrictions which have the effect of creaming off resources which would otherwise flow to areas of superfluous affluence. If the emancipation of industry from such necessary restrictions means the abandonment of an effective industrial development certificate policy, then, whatever grandiose generalities are indulged in in the Queen's Speech, the Tory policy of regional growth can never be anything more than a sham and hypocrisy.
Reference has been made in the debate to infrastructure, but no promises as to increased expenditure on infrastructure can be a proper substitute for the comprehensive planning of a region. The promises of the Conservative Party are bound to lose a little of their credibility when one compares the amount invested by them in their years in office between 1960 and 1963 with the annual amounts expended for the same purpose by a Labour Government. It is true that in 1963 there was some element of deathbed repentance. As Dr. Johnson said, the knowledge that a person is to be hanged enables him to concentrate his mind wonderfully. That is exactly what the Conservative Government of those years managed to do over capital expenditure.
I understand that the road schemes in the preparation pool at present for Wales represent an increase of 400 to 500 per cent. over the total value of the schemes which lay in that pool when the Conservative Government left office in October, 1964.
The Government's alibi for not publishing their proposals is that they abjure every temptation to indulge in instant government and, at the same time, say they must have more time to study in detail all the consequences of these policies. Whatever we may say about instant government, the Conservative Party were quite adept at instant opposition over the last five-and-a-half years. It also begs the question whether over the years they have been making any attempt at all to sketch out an alternative policy. We have been told that over the years cost-benefit studies have been made. The Financial Times in January, 1969, described a number of current studies made by the Conservative Party.
Did they or did they not in those years have a creative alternative policy or was it the case that when they were disdainfully condemning Labour development policies they were doing so only in the spirit of malevolent negativism? There can be no doubt that it will be very much in the interest of all who are concerned with the development of the regions that the period of gestation for the Conservative Party should be short. Delay in spelling out these policies inevitably creates an atmosphere of uncertainty which is utterly destructive of the initiative and confidence which we so assiduously sought to create.
Therefore, I invite the Government to reply specifically to three questions at the earliest opportunity. First, do the Government pledge themselves to spend on regional policies, including special expenditure on infrastructure, as high a percentage of gross national product as was expended, by the Labour Government? Secondly, will the present development areas be preserved rather than to have scattered pinpoints of growth which enjoy only short and intermittent bursts of aid? Thirdly, will regional employment premium be continued at least up to the end of 1974 so as not to breach the undertaking solemnly given to industrialists by the previous Government which was the determining factor in alluring so many firms to development areas? These questions go to the heart of the concept of regional growth. The replies to them will be the acid test of the Government's sincerity about regional development.
There is a great deal I should like to say about Wales and development policies but I do not propose to do so at this stage. I merely point out that I doubt whether any other country in the United Kingdom or any other region has benefitted so much from growth policies as has Wales. Professor Brindley Thomas, the Chairman of the Welsh Council, in an article to the Liverpool Daily Post on 27th January this year, said:
Whatever our professional purveyors of gloom"—
and we have them in Wales—
may say, the economic prospects for Wales in the 1970s are distinctly favourable. The signs are that we are about to enter a period of rapid economic growth.
Later in the same article Professor Thomas says:
The Government development area policy has been of immense value in enabling Wales to weather this structural crisis. It is vital that this policy should be maintained in full strength for several years yet.
No one can make an assessment of the success of development policies in Wales without taking into account the establishment of the Welsh Office itself and the great efforts of the three persons under Labour who gave leadership to that office, namely, my right hon. Friend James Griffiths, the Member for Llanelly for 35 years, my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes). Wales is greatly in their debt. It is not just a question of regional policies for Wales. Wales is very much more than a region; it is a country and the homeland of a nation.
It is against the background of this factor that we can best understand the shock and outrage many people felt in Wales three weeks ago when the Prime Minister appointed as Ministers to the Welsh Office two gentlemen who had not behind them the vote of a single Welsh elector. I do not say this with any disrespect whatever to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Wales or to his hon. Friend the Minister of State. On the contrary, I have a great deal of personal respect for both of them. But it is the essence of democratic process that the exercise of power should depend on the mandate of the governed. No such mandate has been given in this respect.
Would my hon. Friend also remind the House that not only are they not representative of Welsh constituencies, but that they were rejected by the Welsh people the last time they stood at the polls?
As soon as the Secretary of State comes down to Wales I am sure that he will see it is apparent from the Island of Anglesey to the southern corner of Monmouth. It is not just a case of the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend not having a mandate—it is a case of the Conservative Party not having a mandate in Wales. That party, since 1872, that fateful year when the Ballot Act came into force, has been rejected by the Welsh people.
Despite the pro-consular attitude of the Prime Minister towards Wales in the two appointments I have mentioned, I felt that there was a chance for him to have redeemed himself in part when it came to the appointment of an Under-Secretary of State. Here was an opportunity for him to show some modest measure of confidence in his colleagues from Wales. It could be some minor reward for past services or some cautious investment in future performance. But we were not kept waiting long. The situation was solved by abolishing the office. As Sir Walter Raleigh is supposed to have said when he contemplated the axe which was very soon to terminate his life,
It is a sharp but a certain remedy.
I revel in the fact that primary and secondary education have been transferred to the Welsh Office. If the Labour Party had remained in office, I am certain that these are two further transfers of power to the Welsh Office which would have occurred; but I am utterly baffled to understand how it is that the Welsh Office, which was running at full stretch with three Ministers and which was given jurisdiction over health and allied services in April of last year, can now carry on efficiently in such a truncated fashion. The Scottish Office has five
Ministers. Bearing in mind the different conditions and jurisdictions in Scotland, I would have thought that three Ministers for the Welsh Office would not have been a prodigality.
The Gracious Speech contains this reference:
… plans will be laid before you for giving the Scottish people a greater say in their own affairs.
This has been alluded to already by the hon. Member for Conway. We on this side of the House have little interest in the turbulent post-Hamilton panics which might have been responsible for such a decision on the part of the Conservative Party. However, the nationhood of Wales is as irrefutable a fact of society and history as the nationhood of Scotland, and there is no justification for depriving Wales of any constitutional advance and development that is envisaged for Scotland.
As regards Wales, the Tory Party has started its term in this Parliament badly. It has shown monumental insensitivity to the feelings of the people of Wales. We are a generous and benign people, but we are quickly incensed by insult or injustice and when we bare our teeth to bite, we do not let go until the bone cracks.
On that note, I scarcely dare utter a word. However, if I may, I will congratulate the hon. Member for Kensington, North (Mr. Douglas-Mann) on a most amiable and well-informed speech. He pointed out a theme which I would like to develop, namely, that a regional policy is not just for the benefit of the regions and for the benefit of those who receive the subsidies and grants. A regional policy is equally for the benefit of the congested areas which do not receive. The hon. Gentleman instanced in this connection the housing problems of North Kensington and said that it was not much consolation to those who live in crowded conditions in North Kensington to know that there are empty houses in the North of England.
I represent a town in the North of England which has empty houses. It is a town from which labour is drifting. It is exactly the sort of town that the hon. Gentleman had in mind. I ask him and others to reflect whether the regional policies which have been pursued in the last five-and-a-half years have succeeded in doing the job which is so necessary for his constituency and for mine.
Ten days ago, I was asked by the mayor and the town clerk to call on them because they were so agitated by the number of mills which are soon to close. Three mills of good standing are due to close in the borough of Darwen in the next few weeks. When I was told this, I thought, "This is the same old story. It is the import of Asian cloth. The order books are again low. We are back where we started." But that is not the reason. The reason came to me as a surprise. The mills are closing because of the shortage of labour. Order books are full, but there is no labour. There is no labour because of the development area policy of the last Government. Development areas having come to within 20 or 30 miles on two of the four sides of my constituency, and all the new development having gone to those development areas, the potential labour force in North-East Lancashire has dwindled to nothing.
Perhaps the most crucial decision was that of Courtaulds in deciding to put its new weaving sheds in the development areas and not in the traditional weaving belt of Lancashire because it got such large grants and subsidies for doing so. The result was that the people of the traditional weaving area came to the conclusion that there was no future for them in the cotton trade. There has been very little recruitment of apprentices in that area since these very large inducements were given to industry to move out and not to develop in the traditional textile industry area.
To my mind, this is a classic case of the dangers of using what the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) described, I thought with a good deal of self-satisfaction, as a policy with a remarkable degree of ingenuity and an impressive toolkit. The truth is that it is far too blunt. The previous Administration knew not what they did, and the Hunt Report told them that what they were doing was wrong. The Hunt Report said that there should be a uniform system of grants and inducements over a wide area of the whole of the North-West and that, unless that were done, the magnetic quality of the development areas surrounding other excluded northern areas would produce in those excluded areas the lack of development of which I have been speaking. The report warned that it would drain away labour, and that has happened.
The Courtaulds decision was a watershed. After it, people in the traditional weaving area felt that there was no future in the cotton trade. The result has been that three mills are to close just when the trade is picking up because there has been a very insensitive and blunt attack upon the normal course of economic life.
The matter does not stop there. Another development area in the shape of a large new town is to be placed within eight miles of the constituency which I represent. I refer to the Chorley-Preston new town. I look round me with some trepidation because, among our excellent new recruits to this side of the House are two formidable ladies, the hon. Member for Chorley (Mrs. Monks) and the hon. Member for Preston, North (Miss Holt). I am glad to see that they are not in the Chamber at the moment, otherwise they would be springing to the defence of this vast new proposal. Such is their duty, of course. However, I implore the Government, in their study of the system of large grants for development areas, to reconsider the proposal to put down in the middle of Lancashire, a county which is not deficient in large towns already, yet another large town at a vast and artificial expense. If it is possible to stop the proposal or at least to re-examine it, I shall be very grateful.
Already we have two new towns sandwiched in among the old towns in the neighbourhood. There is Skelmersdale, which has not been a very happy experiment, and Winsford and Runcorn. If there is to be another vast new development in which it is hoped to house a million inhabitants eventually, from where are they all to come? The county is losing population. As I tried to demonstrate, in my constituency, not eight miles away from this new horror that is proposed, there is already no sufficient labour force. How is it proposed, as it were, to man up this new vast town and at whose expense? It is planning gone mad.
It was a plan that was put down on a totally false basis of future population prospects for Lancashire. Those have already been exploded. Yet such is the mechanism of planning and of government, as recently administered, that apparently it is impossible to put this decision into reverse. If it goes on, instead of creating a growth point or giving hope for Lancashire, it will bring fear and doom to all the old towns. It will ruin some of the best agricultural land in the county and the cost to the Exchequer is simply vast. Why put down yet another town when there are quite enough very good towns in Lancashire? This is regional policy gone mad.
I have always felt that it is wrong to give large inducements that pervert the natural course of development of industry. This has happened in the North-West. My constituency has been denuded of the development that it might otherwise expect. Half of it is now an intermediate area. But that is no good to it, because grants are available in an intermediate area, though not in a development area, only if the applicants can prove that it is creating so many new jobs. There is no possibility of doing that in my constituency, because there are not the men there to man the jobs so created.
For these and many other reasons, I implore the Government, if it is possible and there is still time, to stop the vast public expense upon this new town. I have no doubt that my hon. Friends, the Members for Chorley and Preston, North will say that it would be a tremendous blow to them and to the hopes that they have built upon this. But I do not think that they will find it very agreeable, or as agreeable as they think, to have placed upon the proud old municipalities of Chorley, and particularly Preston, a non-elected development corporation which will have power to overrule the desires of the local authorities over and over again. I think that it is wrong both financially and socially, and I hope that it can still be stopped. If it is continued it will be yet another example of a perversion of natural growth which, to the old towns of Lancashire, suffering as they have, will come as the last blow.
We are delighted that my hon. Friends the Members for Chorley and Preston, North and Preston, South (Mr. Alan Green) won their seats by such large majorities. Nevertheless, the swing to the Conservative Party was far greater outside the area of the new town than inside it. There is no doubt that in Rossendale, Bolton, East and Bolton, West, Bury, and in all that area of North-East Lancashire, the swing to the Conservative Party was very large, mainly as a result of the treatment they have had by the magnetic qualities not only of the development areas, but of this threatened new town. For that reason, I beg my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench to look at this matter again.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, many hon. Members making maiden speeches are able to start by wishing their retired Members pleasant and long retirements. Sadly, that pleasure is denied me, because my election as the Member of Parliament for Aberdeen, North was marred, in terms of celebration, by the death of Hector Hughes swimming in the sea off Brighton. Hector Hughes was not a native of the city of Aberdeen, although he represented Aberdeen, North for 25 years. It is, in a sense, axiomatic that an incomer to a community can love it with even greater fervour than a native resident. Hector Hughes loved Aberdeen, and, indeed, was loved by Aberdeen. I am sure that his loss is mourned by both sides of the House as greatly as in the city itself. By a curious quirk of fate, the name of Hughes as the Member for Aberdeen, North continues. I doubt whether I can bring to this Chamber as much charm and humour as did my predecessor. However, I hope that in my varied interests I can bring to this House the sense of involvement that he always displayed in his business in Parliament.
My constituency cannot be isolated geographically, in the sense that it is half of one of Scotland's major cities, but I am sure that I speak for the whole city and for the region concerning regional development policy. For many years the city has suffered lack of job opportunity and there has been a great migration of
young skilled citizens. If we examine "The Scottish Economy"—Cmnd. 2864—in paragraph 201 on page 51 it reports:
Much the heaviest net migration from the North-East comes from the Aberdeen area. It comprises some of the best labour in Scotland and most of it 'overflies' the central belt, going direct to England and overseas.
On page 119 the report lists the kind of places to which our skilled labour has been going: Corby, Rugby, Scunthorpe and Luton, which are all engineering towns. This means that the industry, with which I am very much involved, is being denuded of the kind of skilled labour that we can ill-afford to lose. The greater this loss of population the more difficult it is to attract new industry to the area.
We want to attract industry which brings not only jobs, but also high earning potential. We have recently had success in being able to attract to the area a computer manufacturing company. This we welcome. It is also suggested—we believe this to be true now—that we may be getting a factory which will manufacture tyres. These are growth industries. They are industries with considerable financial backing. This is the kind of industry that we want.
I am grateful to the Minister of Technology for his Answer yesterday to my Question, that the existing development areas in Scotland are not to be altered at present. Certainly I welcome this for Aberdeen, although the City of Edinburgh and Leith will regard their expectations as having been dashed to the ground.
Looking at the Gaskin Report on the development potential of the north-east of Scotland, we are concerned that many of our manufacturing industries are small. Many of the new industries coming to our area are also small and do not have great financial backing. Therefore, we express the greatest concern about the possibility of the change from investment grants to profit incentives. Our industries, which we hope will have growth, do not have the resources available to give them the spurt forward which they need. We are desperately disturbed that, on a number of different occasions on a number of specific queries, the Government have denied us the opportunity of knowing whether they will spend at least the same amount in Scotland as their predecessors in Government. This is important to our region and to our people. I hope that at some time today we will get an answer from the Government about their precise policy and how much money will be spent.
A sphere where perhaps money can be made available and be given value, if the Government would tackle it in a sensible fashion, is in the financing of house building. The passage in the Gracious Speech about the fashioning of housing subsidies is fatuously irrelevant to the needs of local authorities. I come from a local authority which has a fine housing record, and I hope that I shall not be accused of immodesty, as I am still a member of that local authority, if I say that we have built 18,000 houses since 1945—a significant contribution—but now, like every other local authority in Scotland, we are facing a crisis of how we finance that.
Last year, simply to service the interest alone, we had to raise £2,354,705. The House may wonder where the money has gone. That was purely to service the house building. The actual capital repayment was only £492,000. If one considers a 15-year period and examines what has been happening to our housing accounts, one finds that in servicing interest the City of Aberdeen has spent more than £17 million, whilst being able to repay a capital sum of only £4½ million. If one looks at the effect that this has on houses being built, one finds that, for every house built, at current interest rates we add £330 per annum to the servicing of interest, or £6 per week per house. How, in those circumstances, one can have any sensible policy of house building I cannot imagine.
If the Government wish to see value for money, I hope they will agree—though I do not suppose they will—that where money has been wholly repaid, interest on it should cease. Where money has been not been wholly repaid, an allowance should be made for reasonable profit, and thereafter interest should cease. The future prospects of providing money for local authorities should be on a direct cash basis of grant, and thereafter any money raised at local authority level could be used to help the environment of housing needs. If that were done, we would be saved from the tremendous economic slavery under which we are working now.
It has been said in the Lobbies and corridors of the House—it is a massive rumour—when the House rises on 24th July it will not return until 18th November.
I wish I knew the correct date, because it has been interpreted as meaning that the long recess will be a period of non-government. But I have another fear. It is that what we are to get is government by stealth; that during the long recess many decisions will be taken which will adversely affect the lives of our people and we shall have no opportunity to comment on those decisions. In home affairs this might be consolable by saying that it will be only a temporary setback, but what I am concerned about is that if a decision is taken to sell arms to South Africa, or to conclude a peace treaty, if one can call it that, with the Smith régime in Rhodesia, that will be intolerable and will cause irreparable damage to the whole future of mankind.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I conclude by thanking you for your courtesy in calling me to take part in the debate. I hope I shall have a chance to address the House again in the future, and perhaps with the same tolerance that has been shown me this afternoon.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity to make my maiden speech. My predecessor here was Sydney Irving, who represented Dartford for 15 years. He was highly regarded by all sections of the community in Dartford as an assiduous and dedicated constituency Member, and during the five years that I nursed that seat as prospective candidate, although we were political opponents, has was always unfailingly friendly and courteous, and I am grateful to him for that. Since I came to the House it has been obvious to me, from the remarks made by hon. Members on both sides of the House, and by members of the staff, that he was held in the highest esteem at Westminster, both as Deputy Speaker and as a Member, and so it is no empty convention by which I pay a tribute to Sydney Irving. I do it with great pleasure.
It is now my honour and privilege to represent Dartford in this House. Dartford is an ancient town in the ancient Kingdom of Kent. It was the home of Wat Tyler, that implacable opponent of the selective employment tax of 1381. It is the birthplace of British paper making, and it is still today an important centre of paper making, as well as engineering, pharmaceuticals and cement manufacture. It has a large rural area in which horticulture and agriculture are important activities and in which, despite its closeness to London, there is still some fine unspoiled country.
Most people think of Dartford in connection with the tunnel that bears its name, and I shall be pressing for an early start to the second Dartford Tunnel. Like all constituencies, Dartford has its problems and perhaps, inevitably, with an area that is both industrial and rural, and a dormiory area, there is a conflict betwen the needs of the community and the preservation of the environment. The constituency is crossed by three trunk roads with an unenviable accident record. One length of road is known as the "bloody mile", and another as "death hill".
There are in the rural areas about 600 acres of gravel pits and other mineral workings; all necessary to provide resources for the community, but posing problems in the preservation of landscape. The cement works provide vital raw materials for the building industry, but they also present the problem of cement dust fall out, despite strenuous efforts in the past to cope with it.
But perhaps the most worrying problem for the Dartford constituency in the future is the rundown of heavy industry on Thamesside. I welcome the opportunity to take part in this debate on regional employment policy, and I note with approval the reference in the Gracious Speech to the need for effective regional development policies because I fully support all measures which bring jobs to the less favoured areas of Britain. I welcome the assurance by my right hon. Friend that the development areas and the intermediate areas will be preserved, because I should not like to see any downgrading of priority for areas in need of help, but I am a little hesitant about the wisdom of too rigid and too doctrinaire a definition of those areas. I say that because where there is an area there is a boundary, and where there is a boundary there are anomalies. I hope that our development policy will be applied flexibly, particularly at the boundaries where these anomalies occur.
Perhaps the chief victim of too doctrinaire a definition of areas is, paradoxically enough, the prosperous part of Britain, the South-East, because there are in the South-East pockets which have special local problems. My hon. Friends the Members for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) and Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) have referred to the high rate of unemployment in parts of North-East Kent, particularly the seaside resorts, and as a Kent Member I support their pleas for special help for those areas.
In that part of the South-East which I represent, in North-West Kent, there are, in purely statistical terms, no serious unemployment problems. Our unemployment is somewhat above the level for London and the South-East, but marginally below the national average. However, this conceals what is really happening in that part of the world, because during the last few years there has been a series of factory closures and a scaling down of operation by some large industrial undertakings, many of which are household names—A.E.I. at Woolwich; British Oil and Cake Mills; C. A. Parsons; London Paper Mills; B.I.C.C.; and Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers. Many of my constituents work in these undertakings and have been affected by the fairly large-scale redundancies. It is a strange paradox that, despite these redundancies, the unemployment figures in that part of North-West Kent are not abnormally high, but the reason is very simple. Many of these people continue to live in the area, but they are travelling increasingly far each day to find work at the same remuneration as they enjoyed before.
Two consequences flow from this. First, an already congested transport system—perhaps the most congested in the world—is being subjected to still further overload. Second, if the process is not checked, an area which has hitherto been a thriving industrial area in its own right will increasingly become a dormitory area for other parts of the South-East. This is not right.
We on this side place great stress on the need to build up the infrastructure in the areas in which we want to stimulate development, but, in the South-East, we have the infrastructure and in North-West Kent we have it, although there is always room for improvement—but we have the houses, the roads, the schools and the hospitals.
Although the object of any regional development policy must be the better use of human resources, it must also concern itself with the better use of other amenities. Therefore, what I am asking is not that the Government should siphon off from the less favoured areas help towards the particular part of the South-East of which I am speaking; what I am asking is that they take note of the fact that something is happening on Thamesside that could be serious. I ask that, in formulating their policy for the grant of industrial development certificates, they have very careful regard to the need to maintain the level of industrial activity in that part of the world.
I said that the employment figures were misleading. Very often, the instincts of ordinary men and women are a much more acurate guide. For this reason, about six months ago, I organised a survey in those parts of Dartford housing predominantly people who work locally, as opposed to commuters, to find out what they thought about this problem. Nearly half the 100 families we interviewed were pessimistic about the future employment prospects on Thamesside. Only one in eight declared himself fully confident. I have great faith in the instincts of ordinary men and women, and when nearly half the people in a particular situation are apprehensive, that is prima facie evidence, I believe, that a problem exists or is likely to. I ask the Government to consider this very carefully.
There is one other economic activity in my constituency to which I should like to refer—not in the context of regional development but in relation to our application to join the Common Market. Horticulture is an important activity in the Dartford constituency, and it is probably more vulnerable than any other activity in the country to European competition. Horticulturists throughout the country are apprehensive about the sort of transitional arrangements which will emerge from the current negotiations. I know that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has this problem very much in mind, but I shall be taking a close interest in these terms as they emerge, as I am sure will every hon. Member with horticultural interests in his constituency.
I have referred to what I believe to be the most important two problems facing my constituency—the run-down of heavy industry on Thamesside and the problems for horticulture if we join the Common Market. There are other problems, but I hope that none will suffer from lack of attention on my part. I thank the House for its forbearance.
It falls to me to congratulate the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Trew) and my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Robert Hughes) on their maiden speeches. They rightly paid tribute to their predecessors—Hector Hughes and Sydney Irving—both of whom were respected by all hon. Members, and deeply missed by all hon. Members, on whichever side they sit.
Maiden speeches are, by their nature, an ordeal. So are others. It does not get any better the longer one is here. Both hon. Members acquitted themeselves very well, speaking with considerable eloquence, knowledge and, above all, sincerity. One can speak an awful lot of nonsense in this place, but so long as one is sincere one can get away with it. I think I speak for the whole House when I say that we hope to hear both hon. Gentlemen many times in future, so long as they do not interfere with my right to get up and speak!
The way in which the televising of the proceedings of the opening of Parliament is done is an example of riding roughshod over the rest of us. This is thrust upon us as though we were little schoolchildren. I am very much in favour of televising the proceedings of this House, but I object very much to televising the feudal nonsense and anachronisms which we televised a week ago, when all the people who claimed to be somebody and are nobody are put on the screen—and without our consent or knowledge. It is done through the usual channels. The next time it is done I shall be sorely tempted to cut the cables. Let them be warned that we will not stand for it. Having got that off my chest, I feel a little better.
We in Scotland are gravely apprehensive following the election of the new Government. That apprehension will be in no way allayed by the speech which we heard from the Minister of Technology today. Indeed, it will be increased. One of the reasons why our Amendment was tabled is that we did not get across to the people of Britain the enormous success of the regional policies of our Government since 1964—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for South Angus (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne) bellyaches about that. He is rather boring on the subject, and he is speaking from outside the Chamber anyway. If he wants to speak, let him come into the Chamber. I have dealt with him before, and I will deal with him again.
The election results in Scotland reflected the measure of the satisfaction of the people of Scotland with those policies. Let the Conservative Party never forget that they have no mandate whatever—they will get tired of repeating this, but they will hear it every day of the week—to interfere with those policies in Scotland. They are very much in a minority. Their own young people said to them many months ago that they do not speak the language of Scottish people: they do not understand the problems of Scotland.
I think Lord Polwarth does. When he was opening the exhibition "Opportunity Scotland", just before the election, he said that the Scottish economy today is stronger than at any time this century and that Scotland is better able to withstand the inevitable changes in the international trading climate and is better placed to seize upon the multiplying opportunities. He referred to the dramatic drop in the emigration figures, which is one of the tests. It was one of the tests hon. Gentlemen opposite sought to apply to the success of the previous Government He also referred
to opportunities for the young, and went on:
We need qualified young people in many occupations and professions to turn Scotland into a swingling humming place, a country where opportunity abounds, and where it is possible to climb rapidly to the top of the ladder as a young man.
He went on to speak about the enormously increased opportunities for the young in Scotland today. When the former Leader of the Opposition went to Scotland during the election campaign, immediately following the then Prime Minister, the only contribution that he could make was that Edinburgh was outside the development area of Scotland. I wonder whether he and the Government will put Edinburgh into the development area and make the whole of Scotland a development area.
The right hon. Gentleman also referred to a point made by the hon. Member for South Angus—the hon. Member who is sitting asleep in the corner. He has said, time and time again, that we had been creating jobs at a cost of £72,000 or £74,000. If he had bothered to look at the report produced in the early 1960s—I believe—by the Estimates Committee, he would have seen that that point was met. I was on the sub-committee that went into the question of what were then the development districts. We asked the Board of Trade to give us a figure of the cost per new job created, and the Board of Trade went out of its way to demonstrate that it could not be done, because it was not possible to say whether a new job arose directly or indirectly from a specific pouring of public money into a public or private undertaking. All kinds of jobs could be created indirectly, in terms of the opening of new shops, new housing schemes, building jobs, and the rest. At any one time the number of new jobs being created might be increasing, and any figure produced at any one time would be relatively meaningless. There is not much point in making that kind of criticism.
I am the last to suggest that the present regional policies are the last word; a good deal of refinement and flexibility can be introduced. I see no reason why we should pay training grants of £10 per week per man or £7 per week per woman to I.C.I. and all the other big firms, whether or not they are needed. That is a nonsense. There is no doubt that these policies can be sharpened up, refined and made more flexible, thereby saving money.
I shall deal with all those points, but if the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends keep interrupting I shall take a lot longer than I intended to do. I agree that the question of training grants needs to be looked into in order to see whether we can produce the same result for less money. On that principle I go along to some degree with hon. Members on the Government benches. Hon. Members opposite have said specifically in their election manifesto and in their speeches in the debate on the Address that the way to solve these problems is to allow the free play of market forces. That has been said very forcibly in speeches in the country and in the House by the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen). He is one of the villains of the piece in this matter, together with the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell)—if he does not mind being linked with that fellow—and the present Secretary of State for Social Services. All those hon. Members and right hon. Members are on record as saying, "Leave it alone and everything will be all right. Do not allow the Government to interfere."
The argument between the two sides of the House is to how much the Government shall interfere. This afternoon the Minister of Technology said something about unnecessary Government intervention. I forget his exact phrase; it was meaningless. That begs the whole question of what is and what is not necessary. This must be a political judgment of the Government in power. If hon. and right hon. Members opposite say, "We believe in Government intervention but we believe in it less than the Socialists," that is fair, but for some hon. Members opposite to pretend that no Government intervention will solve these problems is a nonsense, and they know it is.
Even the Minister of Technology—the hatchet man, or Jack-the-Ripper on the Front Bench—who is one of the most sinister appointments, because he believes in a minimum of State intervention, said this afternoon, speaking in broad generalities, "We will help the coal industry, Upper Clyde Shipbuilders"—[Interruption.] Yes. That surprises the Leader of the House. He is looking very worried. He does not know. He did not bother to stay to listen to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I do not blame him; it is an acquired taste to listen to the Minister of Technology. But I assure him that I am not misrepresenting his right hon. and learned Friend. He said that help to U.C.S. would be continued, although the Secretary of State for Social Services said in the House not many weeks ago that not an extra penny would be given to the U.C.S. Who is right? I am not asking the Leader of the House, because he does not know. He requires notice.
I can help the hon. Gentleman. I was dealing with this matter from the Opposition benches. It was the then Minister of Technology and later the Paymaster-General who said that although the last Government were proposing a £7 million loan to U.C.S. that was the last money from the Government. But that is still to be legislated for, and therefore it is still for the House to decide.
The right hon. Gentleman cannot get away with that. My right hon. Friend the then Minister of Technology said words to that effect, but he was not as forthright and definite as the present Secretary of State for Social Service, who said that not a single extra penny would be given to U.C.S. My right hon. Friend never committed himself to that kind of finality.
We shall look at the records. To suggest that Scotland's problems can be solved other than by interfering with the market forces or inducing private enterprise to go into the difficult peripheral areas that they would not otherwise go to is an absurd proposition, which I am sure not even the Tory Party believes. The problems of the development areas would be insoluble without Government interference and investment of one kind and another.
Although in the last few years massive financial inducements have been given to Scotland, the North-East and elsewhere. we have not produced complete solutions to the problem. The point made by the hon. Member for South Angus about losing jobs is a fair one, to the extent that the old industries have been declining at a faster rate than we have introduced new industries. The problem does not end there. Not only is that the case; the new industries themselves—owing to the new industrial revolution that we must all face and for which no party has a solution—employ a larger proportion of women than the older declining industries.
The older declining industries, such as coal, heavy engineering, agriculture and railways, employed 90 per cent., 95 per cent., or 100 per cent. men, but the new electronic industries in Fife and other parts of the country employ 70 per cent. or 80 per cent. women. This has important economic and social implications. In my constituency there are men in their homes washing dishes while women go out to work in the factories. This is a serious problem. I do not think any party can be dogmatic and say that it has the answer to that problem.
I agree entirely with what the hon. Member said about the decline of jobs in traditional industries, but one of the biggest declines in any industry in the last five years has been in the service trades, while in every other industrial country in Europe those trades have been growing very fast.
I do not know that that is true. I would not accept any facts or figures from the hon. Member because he has been proved so wrong so many times.
We know that investment grants are to go, for the Government have said that they are to disappear. I believe they came very near to spelling that out in their manifesto and to saying that they are to be replaced by tax allowances or tax reductions. That was very effectively dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardigan (Mr. Elystan Morgan). We know that S.E.T. is to be abolished, but we do not know what is to be put in its place. Presumably another tax would be put in its place, or the Government would reduce public expenditure by a comparable amount.
It may be unfair to expect a decision to be announced in the first fortnight, but we do know that there is to be a reduction in housing subsidies. Presumably that would include Scottish housing subsidies, and that must mean increased rents. There is to be a reduction in farming subsidies, which would mean increases in food prices. That is bound to give some extra twist to the inflationary spiral about which hon. Member opposite complain so much. If that happens, the development areas will be harder hit than other areas.
These proposals are no solution to the kind of problem we are discussing. I do not believe that any party in this House has a solution to the problems of the development areas, but when we look at Scotland and consider the infrastructure on which hon. Members opposite have laid such emphasis, we must see that to spend more on housing, schools, hospitals and the rest is far more useful than to give investment grants, training grants, and so on. The record of the previous Government from that aspect was far better than that of the Government of hon. Members opposite. The record of the last Government on roads, housing, hospital and school building, in the last six years was infinitely superior to that of hon. Members opposite in the previous six years. For them to infer in the manifesto and the debate that we have been neglecting these things is an absurdity and an inaccuracy.
In my constituency and in many others where there has been coal mining we have had dereliction arising from coal mining. If hon. Members opposite cannot answer the question of what they would put in place of S.E.T., they should be able to answer the question of what they will do about the great scourge of industrial areas, dereliction. In Scotland, and particularly in Fife, we have a record on that which is second to none in the world. Fife County Council co-operated with the Labour Government and had an 85 per cent. grant from the Government. Unless the present Government can give a specific undertaking that that 85 per cent. grant will continue, I am afraid that clearance of industrial dereliction from pit bings and old linoleum factories in Kirkcaldy will come to a standstill.
I hope that those on both Front Benches will be rather more modest in their claims about what they have done or are going to do in solving the problems of the development areas. I do not think any country in the world has a solution to the imbalance between the peripheral areas and the central areas such as London and the South-East.
The hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) spoke about an acquired taste in listening to my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Technology. I think there is an acquired taste in listening to the hon. Member, but I compliment him on livening up any debate. I agree with the hon. Member on two points, first, about training grants and, secondly, about televising this House. I do not suggest that I would help him to cut the cables, but when the time comes I hope that he will come into the Lobby with me to vote against televising the House, should we have that opportunity.
Opening the debate, the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) mentioned an important factor, the Central Pollution Unit. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will look into the many organisations which are dealing with pollution and see if he can co-ordinate their activities. I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) has the responsibility of looking after this problem and I hope that he will be able to help in securing co-ordination.
Perhaps I can help the hon. Member for Fife, West with reference to men having to do the washing up and women going out to work by saying that of course, as another reason for equal pay, it should be a big help because men will not mind taking on those jobs when they are paid the right rate for the job. I support what my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) said about training. Far too many are trained and then have no job to go to. I reported to a previous Minister that a considerable number of people in my constituency had been in this position; so a survey of the problem would be very advantageous.
West Country M.P.s are not a rebel group, but I think we are the only group which issued our own election manifesto with the approval of the present Prime Minister, and in it we indicated the needs for the West Country. We also quoted from the manifesto as a whole:
We regard an effective regional development policy as a vital element in our economic and social strategy; economically, because both prosperous and less properous areas are affected by the present regional imbalance and waste of resources it involves.
I want to speak particularly about the waste of resources. The South-West covers a large area. We have development and intermediate or grey areas which cover Cornwall, Barnstaple and other parts of Devon. We not only need factories but the means of travelling to them, the provision of roads and other services. Then we could get orderly development and economic growth in Cornwall and North Devon and look on Exeter in the far West as a major centre. Our group is studying the development area policy recommended by the Hunt Committee. The phasing out of the regional employment premium, while taking into account existing obligations, will remove a heavy discrimination against the service and tourist industries.
We want to concentrate on improving roads and other basic services in our region. Such a policy would be much more effective in bringing new industry to the West Country and providing more employment. It would also diminish the differences between development and grey areas.
We have been talking a great deal about industry, but other types of employment are very important. We must think of leisure. I hope that in the future we shall consider the South-West as a conference and tourist centre. This is equally good as an industry. Our tourist industry is a very big dollar-earner, and it can benefit both the people in the region and the country as a whole. New hotels create new jobs.
I have been very disturbed about the whole situation. Until 1964 we came under the Local Employment Act of 1960. We were taken out of that, and then Plymouth and district sought development area status. There were a number of deputations, including members of the city council, but it was not until late last year that we became of intermediate status.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has talked about our being one nation. I entirely agree, but we shall never have one nation while there is such a disparity between the regions. So we must put this right if we are to have our hopes fulfilled.
Like other areas, the South-West has a planning council. The South West Regional Economic Planning Council wrote in 1967 about "A Region with a Future." But there have been no real results of its expensively-produced document and all the consultations that were held. I am very glad that so many Conservative Members have been returned for the South-West because we can press the Government to see that we do not have a region with a dim future.
We suffer from high unemployment and low wages. There is little encouragement for young people who want to make any progress to stay in the region. Unemployment in the South-West is almost twice as high as it was at the time of the last General Election, and unemployment rates there are higher than they are in other development areas during the winter months. This is a particular difficulty in Cornwall, which has a great deal of seasonal employment, and some of the agricultural areas, also have very high unemployment, and to correct this we want better policies than we have had.
It is regrettable that during the past few years there have been successive cuts in the road programme. Delays in improving our roads have caused tremendous frustration. Now there is the question of closing down the freightline service at the end of this month. I understand that redundancy notices have already gone out, and I have taken the matter up with the Minister concerned. The service runs from Parr and Plymouth and goes to London and the Midlands. I
have a letter here from a business man who says:
I find this very disconcerting as my business associate and I were hoping to use this service."—
he was writing from Derbyshire—
After inquiring into why this was, I found that it was not the volume of freight going down to the South-West but the amount returning to the north. As the South-West is designated a development area I can only see this as a retrograde step in encouraging industrial development.
It is indeed a retrograde step, and I hope that even at this late hour action may be taken to stop it. The service has been running for only 15 months and has not had time to prove itself. Our roads are very congested, and to force larger lorries on to the road will make the situation even worse.
I am glad that something is to be done about selective employment tax, because it has proved more damaging to the South-West than to any other region. This is because we are so dependent on tourism and service industries, which are very heavily taxed. We do not gain very much from the premiums paid to manufacturers, because there are so few industries. We were much better off under the old Local Employment Act of 1960, which produced 15 new factories for us.
Still we seem to be neglected in other ways. We have been told for some time that we are to have a new hospital, but it does not seem to materialise. We have no encouragement for reopening the tin mines, which will be very beneficial to Cornwall.
In Plymouth alone we are 400 telephones short. It is aggravating to business men when they cannot get a call to London. There is no decision yet about an airport.
We also have the question of low wages. The Government have just produced a report, Cmnd. 4351, "Pay and Conditions of Industrial Civil Service", which shows that these civil servants have to work for 43·9 hours for £13 16s. 3d. It is said that they can get overtime of £2 2s. 9d., an incentive of 1s. 7d. for productivity and other pay—I do not know exactly what that means—of 12s. 3d. Even this combined does not bring them up to the national average, and it is very unfortunate when a person has to rely on overtime to get an adequate wage.
I was going to mention that. A number of firms come to the South-West and pay less than they do elsewhere. For example, one firm pays it men in Hertfordshire at least £2 a week more than it does in a similar factory in our area. This is wrong.
It does not pay to work in the South-West in many instances. The building trade is an example. I know someone with five small boys whose take-home pay is about £12 a week and there is very little overtime in the building trade in the South-West. He recently hurt his back, and the family was then much better off, because a family with five children on supplementary benefit gets £19 15s. In many cases it is not worth a chap's even trying to take a job, because he is no better off. That makes it very difficult for some firms who can offer only small amounts of money.
I am also interested in the children of such families, because they have a very tough time, as they cannot have the usual amenities of other children. I know one infants' school where some children will not take off their clothes for P.T. if they can help it because they are so ashamed of their underclothes. I know that in London things are probably better, because the schools have a care committee to deal with such problems. Then the last Government was boasting about the great increase in the number of children having free school meals, but that is not a very good criterion because the reason is that they are too poor to pay for them.
Like many other hon. Members. I have surgeries, but an election campaign opens our eyes tremendously. When we are canvassing, people who are too proud to come and see us meet us in the streets and often tell us their problems. Some families told me "If only we could have a pot of paint, which we cannot afford, we would be pleased to do up our house." That proves the low standard of wages in our area.
Certain countries, such as Canada, France, the Netherlands and the United States, have a national minimum wage system. This has been examined by the United Nations, and the Department of Employment and Productivity has made a survey which I have read. Canada has said that the system is to ensure as a matter of right the highest standards for employees within the Federal jurisdiction that are economically feasible. I should have thought it might not be impossible to do in this country.
If we are to get one nation, if we are to end the imbalance among the regions, this is one of the points which the Government will have to study. I am very glad to see my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House on the Front Bench, because I know that he is sympathetic about this type of problem.
It is a pleasure to begin my maiden speech following the excellent and charming speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers). I hope in time to match her constructiveness and concern, but I shall not aspire to match her charm.
My constituency in central Scotland cradled the first industrial revolution. It is a constituency which produces many commodities for domestic and international consumption, not the least important being our store of whisky and our brewing potential. Should you wish to relieve yourself of the burdens of the metropolitan pleasures of London, Mr. Speaker, you will be welcomed in the spiritual sense both psychologically and physiologically. We also produce refractory bricks and we have the largest refractory brickworks in Europe and it makes a valuable contribution to the nation's exports.
The people in the area cradled the first industrial revolution, as I have said, and, thanks to the excellent policies pursued during the past six years of Labour Government, policies epitomised by the presence in the Chamber of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), they are now forging ahead to take their place in the new technological revolution.
The constituency was represented for 31 years by the right hon. Arthur Woodburn. Arthur Woodburn is a big man, both in the physical sense and in the mental sense. I can hope to aspire to his potential only in the mental sense; physiologically I do not match him. I trust that the House will do me the courtesy of measuring a man, as we do in Scotland, from the neck up.
Mr. Woodburn did something which I have inadvertently achieved—he intervened in a debate before having made his maiden speech. The hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) chided me about this. Mr. Woodburn intervened in the course of questions to the Prime Minister of the day about the Barlow Report, the Report of a Royal Commission on the Distribution of Population, which has been the foundation of regional policy from that day to this. There have been many variations, but the foundation of the original policy goes back to the Report of a Royal Commission published in 1940. I am following Mr. Woodburn's footsteps in many ways by intervening in this debate today.
Hon. Members have argued that there is a gulf between the parties about what is meant by the words "unnecessary intervention" on the part of the Government. Many of us have posed the question, "Who knows best, the Government or industry?". In reality it is a false question, because sometimes industry knows best and sometimes the Government. There are flaws flowing from trying to follow too doctinaire an approach.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) said that there had been leaks about Government policy. If there are leaks South of the Border there is an absolute deluge North of the Border—and I am not referring to the deluge at the Royal and Ancient Burgh of St. Andrew's; I will not lay the blame for that on the Leader of the House, whom we wish well when he wears his other hat at the weekend. If he takes the Prime Minister to St. Andrew's, by road, rail, or on foot, we hope he will show him the excellent achievements of the Labour Government in Fife, Central Scotland and throughout Scotland as a whole.
Too doctrinaire an approach has evil consequences. I welcome the presence on the Treasury Bench of the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger), who has been responsible in today's Glasgow Herald—and I do not often agree with that noble organ of public rectitude and erudition—for certain leaks of Government policy in relation to Scotland. He said:
While the Prime Minister has rightly said that he does not favour 'instant government', it is to be hoped for the sake of existing and potential Scottish companies that decisions are not delayed too long. The present uncertainty gives little confidence to invest.
The hon. Member is clearly beginning his apprenticeship in the Scottish Office. He inadvertently dropped one or two hints in that interview. He clearly indicated that while Scotland might have been a depressed or distressed area in the past, it no longer was. He said:
This may have been true in the past, but it"—
is rapidly becoming an area which has a great attractiveness to offer.
A revelation indeed! Speaking for the Government, presumably, he went on to say that
they were convinced there was a need for changes in the development incentive system because it had not been producing good results".
There is a contradiction in that. If Scotland is now becoming very attractive to new industrialists, will not the Government indicate their better policies or allow the existing policies to continue? This is where there is the division between the parties. This is a doctrinaire approach and it is no better illustrated than by the policy towards industrial development certificates.
I welcome the Prime Minister's statement that his policy is for a full Parliament, which presumably means between four and five years. I have always agreed with the right hon. Gentleman who asked why we should look at the crystal ball when we can read the book. Let us look at what the Conservative Party in Government did between 1951 and 1964 about industrial development certificates. Both sides accept that the Government do not have the right to tell industry where it should go, but they should have the right to insist—and this is particularly true of Scottish Cabinet Ministers—on telling industry where it should not go. This is the device of the stick, a very important device.
What happened to this device in the mid-1950s? I quote an important commentator who, referring to i.d.c.s, said:
The threat of compulsion gave way to an almost exclusive reliance on persuasion until by mid-1956 the application for an Industrial Development Certificate had become, in almost all cases, a mere formality".
In Scotland we cannot afford that in the mid-1970s. That would be disastrous for the Scottish economy.
I turn to the second test for industrial development and structure. There is a mistaken view that the private entrepreneur always knows best. On occasions, the private investor will be most able to appraise an investment situation. I served an apprenticeship in the ship-wards when the industry was exclusively controlled by private entrepreneurs. I read with diligence and interest the Geddes Report. It was an unbiassed statement of policy and investigation of the industry. Paragraph 276, referring to the investment policy carried on by private entrepreneurs in that industry before any Government interference, necessary or unnecessary, says:
During the past ten years industry has spent over £60 million on land, buildings and new plant and machinery.
That is very interesting on the investment record, but it goes on
It appears to us, however, that little if any attempt has been made before investing new capital to estimate the return in terms of increased profit or reduced cost which could be expected therefrom.
So much for the point of view often put by the Conservative Party that public expenditure is wasteful and inflationary whereas private sector expenditure is not.
When this view is examined against the stringent scrutiny which has been enforced by both parties against public expenditure, the case that is often put up for this view falls to the ground. I do not accept that public expenditure is wasteful or necessarily inflationary, but I am willing to discuss openly the methods of raising finance for public expenditure and whether it exerts inflationary pressures. There is a subtle difference to be made is neglected by hon. Members opposite.
I turn to another area of doctrinaire approach. I have been disturbed by the answers recently given in the House by the Minister of Technology. He is undermining the confidence of private industry to go to a Government-sponsored body, the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation. I have made a good deal of investigation into this matter and I have concluded that there has been no pressure by Government to force enterprises to go to I.R.C. But the Minister in answer to a question the other day clearly indicated that he would veto, tacitly or otherwise, companies which sought mergers necessary for the restructuring of British industry. I accept that the merchant banks have a rôle to play and that there are mergers necessary in industry that can be brought about by means independent of Government. If we are to get the industrial structure we need, particularly if we enter the Common Market, some direct Government intervention is necessary. If for doctrinaire reasons the Conservative Party are to bow to the interests of some sections of their supporters in financial terms, this might be disastrous for the British economy.
I will turn to my final point which concerns regional employment premium. On this matter we see possible signs of a doctrinaire approach. No Government has the full solution to the problem of regional development, but the idea of a regional employment premium is to balance the attractiveness of the investment grant system so as to bring in capital-intensive industry with a labour-intensive base. I warn the Secretary of State for Scotland and his Ministers that the Scottish economy is delicately balanced. We have, rightly or wrongly, brought in a good many capital-intensive projects. They need an ever-widening market; they need concerns and enterprises of a labour-intensive nature attached to them. If regional employment premium is to be phased out some other labour-intensive device should be substituted. We need new industries in Scotland to take up some of the surplus manpower.
I thank the House for its indulgence. I hope to intervene in the future debates, if I catch Mr. Speaker's eye. I promise then to be more coherent and cogent in my remarks.
I rise with great humility to make my maiden speech as Member for Hastings. At the same time I wish to offer my congratulations to the hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Douglas) on the fluency and ease with which he made his maiden speech. I hope that we shall hear him on many future occasions in this House. He spoke with knowledge of industry since he was an engineering apprentice, as I once was. It was a pleasure to hear him.
First I wish to pay a tribute to my predecessor Sir Neil Cooper-Key, a man of great character and ability who served in this House for 25 years. I know that his friends on both sides of the House will join me in wishing that he will still be able to give his services in some other form to our nation.
The County Borough of Hastings, which I have the privilege to represent, is a town whose traditional trade over the last century has been that of tourism. As our postal franking clerks say, we have been "Popular with visitors since 1066". But over the last 20 years as people have gone abroad for their holidays the pattern of tourism has changed. At the same time more and more people have retired to our community into the sunshine. In fact, half the electorate is over 65. I am happy to say that the centenarians are commonplace in our town. These changes in themselves have brought problems and I should like to deal with them in my remarks this evening.
Normally the whole of the South-East is regarded as a wealthy area. Unfortunately this is not true of Hastings or other South-East towns around it. In terms of selective employment tax we had all the redeployment that was hoped for from the service industries, but it went into unemployment. There were no other jobs to which people could go. In our town over the last few years 1,000 people have been out of work. The average wage is only £15 per week. This is nothing like enough to face up to the problems of inflation that have beset us all.
When we tried to get help from the last Government we were met with the sort of reply we had from the former Secretary of State for Education and Science when we sought to get permission to rebuild one primary school, Hollister Junior School, which is 100 years old. The only reply we had was, "We do not know when it can ever be rebuilt." We have a manual telephone exchange in Hastings which will not be replaced until 1973. This is hardly the type of treatment for the South-East in the latter part of the twentieth century. We have been deluged with social studies and economic advice. Over the last five or six years we have had everything short of actual help.
My main suggestion is to hope that my right hon. Friend will examine the traditional definition of regional development areas to accommodate the development needs of coastal towns like Hastings. They need aid as problem points within the rich South-East area, not on a permanent basis but on a transitory basis over, say, three or five years. They need sufficient economic resources injected into the economy to enable them to become self-sustaining and to give them growth potential.
This type of aid could be of two forms. First, local assistance tailored to the particular problems of a selected town. Secondly, area assistance tailored to the general problems of the total area's development progress. These two types of aid should be simultaneous and part of a strategic programme, partnering Government and industry. I welcome the proposals to bring business men and industrialists into Government Departments.
This is an excellent way to develop the particular type of partnership envisaged in the Gracious Speech and it would help development areas of all kinds. From my 20 years' experience in technology, I know, as a technologist whose white heat was rather dampened by the Labour Party when in power, that these proposals have been welcomed by industry and business as indicative of a Government who at last know how to get on with the real problems of developing industry in the difficult regions. I welcome this, because at last we can bring together the spirit, the enterprise and the local knowledge which businessmen and industrialists can give.
I should like to analyse a little further the two types of aid which I envisage could help the South-East coastal towns. First is the local aid, the transitory aid over three to five years. It could be in the form of that now given to a development area—the economic incentives and the assistance that central Government resources can bring to the planning and promotion of economic growth, in other words, bringing to a community far more assistance and help than it could ever conjure up from its own local resources.
I hope that we shall be thinking not only of new factories but of new schools and housing. At area level—here I am less optimistic about the South-East than was my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Trew)—we need a dramatic improvement in the infrastructure of communications. The South-East may be rich compared with the northern areas, but it is moving towards stagnation. In the next 10 years we like the rest of the country, will have 50 per cent. more vehicles on the roads, and our roads are archaic. They do not lead anywhere nationally and they follow no normal pattern of development which one would expect to see coming from either an area or a central Government.
We have dribbles of motorways. Some motorways start and end at the most unexpected places. One has only to look at the M2 and the M20 as examples. What we need in the South-East, as part of the development assistance which would enhance those coastal towns and all the other small pockets which have been mentioned, are improvements such as a genuine spine motorway leading in fact from one place to another—namely, from London to the Channel ports. Whether or not we enter Europe, there is no question but that our trade with Europe is developing rapidly. It is not logical to accept that the area should have anything other than a sensible spine motorway system—not only to the ports but to the Channel tunnel. At the same time, I should like to see another motorway from those ports right along the South coast. If people are coming from the Continent, it will encourage tourists to enjoy the facilities all along the coast. We also need a motorway link right around London to wherever the third London Airport will be.
With railways, the situation is grim, as many hon. Members from the South-East know. We have to put up with commuting standards which would be banned if we were animals. We have to suffer these day after day and week after week: many people must suffer them all their lives. It is not sensible just to accept this as a condition which cannot be changed.
Our railway freight services tend towards restriction. Only yesterday in my constituency we were told that the freight services are likely to be withdrawn without consultation. We have only just fought off—temporarily—the threat to close our main rail link with the Channel ports, and now another bolt from the blue comes upon us.
Therefore, the type of aid needed in these South-East coastal towns may be totally different from that which is applicable in Scotland or the North. I believe that the local and area aid which I envisage for these towns could make their economies self-sustaining and could give them the growth potential which they simply cannot develop from their own resources. They must be seen to have this so as to induce modern industry and commerce to come to them and help them develop. The entrepreneur should be allowed to make his own judgment. If he makes a judgment to develop within those towns, that is the best way that those towns can get the development they need. We are looking not for a subsidised economy but for an opportunity to develop and get on. At the very least, we want to rejoin the progress, the pace and the prosperity that the rest of the area around us has.
I thank the House for its courtesy in hearing me today, and I hope that I shall be able to make a further contribution in a later debate.
The hon. Members for Hastings (Mr. Warren) and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Dick Douglas) have inadvertently made a difficult task more difficult for me. I am only too well aware that I cannot compete with the knowledge and fluency with which both have spoken, but I hope that I can compete with their brevity.
I have the honour to represent Rom-ford. My predecessor, Mr. Ronald Ledger, served here for 15 years, during which time he made a distinctive mark in the House and the constituency. Soon after his election, he made a remarkable maiden speech, which I gather from many hon. Members is still remembered vividly today. It is far beyond my capacity to hope to make a similar impact.
Romford is a constituency of many striking contrasts. In its ancient market place, traders have sold their wares week in and week out since the years 1267. Immediately alongside this market place is the most modern shopping centre in the country, encircled by a ring road opened only during the recent Election campaign. The constituency, which is within the Greater London Council area, contains a tiny village, Havering-atte-Bower, which is completely surrounded by open countryside. Not far away is the Harold Hill Estate, the second largest council housing estate in London, where 30,000 of my constituents are tenants of the Greater London Council. The constituency also contains several smaller G.L.C. estates and other estates belonging to the London Borough of Havering.
I hope that hon. Members will bear with me if I speak about the economics of council housing and particularly those in the Greater London region, rather than follow some of the wider aspects of regional policy with which other right hon. and hon. Members have dealt. The question of the sale of council houses has already been discussed by several hon. Members, notably my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. David Stoddart) in his maiden speech the other day. I do not want to bore the House by reiterating his points: I simply say that I completely agree with them. But I should like to say something about council house rents.
As hon. Members will know, the Minister of Housing has the power, under the Rent (Control of Increases) Act, 1969 to restrict the freedom of local authorities to increase the rents they charge to their tenants. This power will lapse in June, 1971 and it is disturbing that there was no mention in the Gracious Speech of the Government's intention to seek a renewal of this legislation.
In case any hon. Member should doubt the need for such a renewal, I should like to give a few facts and figures about the way rents have been forced up in recent years, despite the fact that the Minister's predecessor, Mr. Anthony Greenwood, made extensive use of his power to moderate the increases sought by many local authorities. The average weekly rent of a council house in Greater London in 1957 was 21s. 2d. a week. By last October, it had increased, according to the official publication Housing Statistics, to 55s. 11d. Since then, the G.L.C. has increased rents by the maximum allowed by the previous Minister—an average of 7s. 6d. a week. This means that council house rents in London have trebled over 13 years. Increases in the rest of England and Wales have been almost as great.
Those increases have been much greater than those experienced by tenants of private landlords in recent years. Their rents are now effectively determined by rent officers appointed under the Rent Act, 1968. Council tenants in my constituency feel that far from removing the restrictions introduced by the last Government, there is now an overwhelming case for strengthening them and for ensuring a period of respite for a number of years during which the recent substantial increases can be absorbed.
They were alarmed by a speech made by Mr. Desmond Plummer, the leader of the Greater London Council, on 27th February in which he said, according to the Evening News, that he
banks on a Tory Government to let the G.L.C. put up council house rents by larger amounts than the Labour Government has permitted.
If the Government do not take early steps to prove Mr. Plummer wrong, I feel that they will rapidly lose what support they have previously been able to command from council house tenants. More importantly, they will be guilty of allowing a harsh and unjust new burden to fall on the shoulders of many thousands of people who are least able to bear it.
I note that the Gracious Speech contains a pledge that housing subsidies
will be refashioned so as to give more help to those in greatest need.
That is an aim which, in principle, I am sure, we would all warmly support, but I warn the Government that it is an aim which they should approach with due caution. Any large-scale switch of the distribution of subsidies resulting in a further rapid increase in rents for large numbers of tenants would cause
widespread and justified resentment and would go flatly against the Government's election promises to prevent further rises in the cost of living. Moreover, to single out subsidies for council houses for this treatment without, at the same time, refashioning—a nicely ambiguous word—the larger subsidies given to owner occupiers would constitute a retreat from rather than an advance towards social justice.
The subsidy which is received by owner occupiers is, of course, the relief which they obtain from income tax payments or through the option mortgage scheme introduced by the last Government. Those subsidies are largely directed to those in least need. A house buyer who purchases a house for £10,000 receives twice the relief gained by one who buys a £5,000 house although, in all probability, his total income and resources are far larger. If the Government are interested in reducing anomalies in the distribution of public assistance to those in housing need, I suggest that their attention might be more fruitfully turned in this direction.
While council house tenants now demand a period of respite from rent increases, this will not give them the permanent security which they desire and to which they have a right. In my view, the Government should take steps to put council tenants on the same footing as tenants of the very best private landlords, because it is not merely the cost of rent increases which hits tenants but the arbitrary and unpredictable way in which councils have been able to impose them. Tenants should have an assurance that the rents they pay will remain unchanged for a fixed period—say, three, five or seven years—as is normal in agreements for private rented property, and there should be no possibility of their being raised before the expiry of that time. This would relieve tenants of the fear that their rents will be raised year after year and it would enable them to plan their personal budgets ahead with some degree of certainty.
Moreover, the time has surely come when council tenants should be granted the same degree of security of tenure as is enjoyed by private tenants under the Rent Act. It was always presumed that as local authorities are not in the housing business for the purpose of making private profit, they would behave responsibly towards their tenants. This reliance has, in the great majority of cases, proved to be justified. In recent years, however, there have been a number of disturbing instances when councils have sought to dispossess their tenants on questionable grounds. I appeal to right hon. and hon. Members on the Government Front Bench to convey to the Minister of Housing and Local Government the suggestion that this protection should be extended to council tenants.
There is in some quarters a belief that council tenants are privileged people. Others take the view that they are second-class citizens. In my opinion, both those views are mistaken. Council tenants do, however, suffer from certain disabilities, and they look to the Government to remove them.
The House has just listened with great pleasure to three notable maiden speeches. The hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Leonard) was well informed and well prepared, and the House will always listen with great interest to one who knows his facts so well. I enjoyed particularly the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. Warren), who was extremely fluent. To one who comes from Scotland, it was interesting to hear the problems of regional development from the point of view of an hon. Member from the South-East of England.
I should like also to congratulate the hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Douglas). We knew his predecessor very well and listened with great respect to what he said. The hon. Member was well informed and humorous in parts. He was contentious, but not too contentious. On the next occasion, we shall look forward to hearing what he is like when he is really contentious.
I am glad of the opportunity to speak in this debate, because there has recently been published the Report of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs which looked into the question of economic planning in Scotland, and particularly the question of industrial incentives. I was Chairman of the Sub-Committee which worked on this subject.
Undoubtedly, the last Government were committed to regional development, as,
indeed, are the present Government. In listening to the debate, I have felt that many hon. Members who have spoken have not read the Gracious Speech or the passage in it which states that
My Ministers attach the greatest importance to promoting … an effective regional development policy.
When one looks, however, at the results of the policy of the last Government, they were not particularly remarkable or effective in Scotland. Certainly, emigration was reduced, but the figures of unemployment were much too high and the loss of jobs in Scotland throughout the whole period of the Labour Government was most disappointing.
We were, of course, lacking the first essential, which is an expanding economy, because when the economy is expanding it is like a high tide, which floats all boats, and manufacturers who want to expand will start another factory in a development area or engage more labour. In times of freeze, however, that effect is absent.
The regional policies of the last Government cost a lot of money. There were suggestions that investment grants were sometimes given to people who did not really need them as they would have chosen the same area for the location of their project in any case. It was sometimes suggested that the regional employment premium went to people who could have done without it. In listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton), I was interested to hear that he went quite a long way with this point of view.
It is absolutely right that the new Government should review the policy to ensure that public expenditure is saved wherever possible. I want, however, to make the point that the people who go out to attract industrialists to come to Scotland, like the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) want a settled package of inducements which they can "sell" to industrialists from, perhaps, America or from other parts of Britain. They do not want to have the package chopped and changed, as it has been so often during the last 10 years.
We in Scotland need all the new industry we can get, whether it is capital intensive like the aluminium smelter at Invergordon or whether it is labour intensive like shipbreaking at Cairnryan in my constituency. The object of incentives should be the promotion of new technological industries as well as traditional industries. In the Scottish Select Committee we were quite clear that industrial development certificates played a valuable part in showing to industrialists the attractions of a development area, and this was of more effect on them than actually getting them to move. It may interest the House to know that in 1969 only 8 per cent. of applications for industrial development certificates were refused in the South-East and Midlands. We undoubtedly need a further reverse incentive to get industry to move from over-heated areas. We examined, as a witness, Professor Brown of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, who suggested in the Hunt Report on intermediate areas a form of congestion tax. It would work as a payroll tax in certain areas where there is a shortage of labour and consequent over-heating of the economy.
In the evidence we took in the Select Committee we found that the cost of congestion had never been examined in this country. There are such questions as the bidding up of wage rates when labour is very short; familiar losses due to traffic congestion; the cost of additional infrastructure for people moving into an area which is already congested such as the housing and sewerage which has to be provided. We were given no figures as to costs except that in France it had been worked out that for every family which moved into the Paris conurbation the cost was an extra £3,000 in providing infrastructure. It was fascinating to see the other side of this picture in the maiden speech of the hon. Member for Kensington, North (Mr. Douglas-Mann). I recommend that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology sets up a working party to look into the costs of congestion in the South-East and the Midlands of England.
I am sure my right hon. Friend is right to concentrate on growth points. All European experience points to this as being a correct solution. The present system of inducements which we have inherited from the last Government was weighted too heavily in favour of the conurbations like Merseyside and the central belt of Scotland, because the same inducements were offered in those towns where there was a plentiful supply of labour, and they obviously were much more attractive to industrialists than such areas as Wigtownshire, one of the counties I represent, or Banffshire, another county not in the Highland Board's development area. To correct this distinction the last Government had various categories of development area. There were, for example, the special development areas, areas where there had been colliery closures; then there was the Highlands development area which had a distinct edge over the next category of development area; finally the Government had to produce the intermediate area or grey area as a result of the Hunt Report.
If we are to have this sort of categorisation it seems to me utterly logical that areas of persistently high unemployment should not get a higher status, areas like Stranraer and Newton Stewart or Inverurie in Aberdeenshire where the railway workships are scheduled to close down, and special area development status should not just depend on whether there has been a colliery closure in the area.
The last Government always seemed to me to be prejudiced against the service industries. They felt that they did not really contribute to employment; they were like new shops opening in a town with the custom from other shops drawn to them. I think this is an oversimplification, and that service industries can provide a great deal of employment. I know that the Stranraer to Larne ferry service increased with the provision of new boats for the crossing and a larger number of extra lorry drivers was needed in the districts served. All that was very welcome. Exactly the same thing can happen if we can induce offices, perhaps head offices of insurance companies, to move from congested areas to, say, a city like Edinburgh.
Very little research is being done on the question of service industries and the contribution which they could make to curing unemployment. Again I suggest that my right hon. Friend should look into this aspect and see if there are any possibilities of providing more employment in the service industries.
Finally, a word about small industries and small places. Let us by all means encourage small industries to grow bigger but I have found in my experience that there are often considerable difficulties for one reason or another in getting the necessary finance. There are not nearly enough small industries on the move, small industries seeking to employ 40 or 50 people. Will my right hon. Friend see that such few as are on the move do not settle in the middle of a big conurbation like Liverpool or Glasgow? These are industries which should be induced or persuaded to go to smaller places in development areas. At the moment this is not being done in the Ministry, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will look into this.
I am glad to follow the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis). He will forgive me, I hope, if I say that I saw a contradiction in some of the things he was saying. He said at one point that the Government were entirely right to concentrate on growth points and the next moment he was for steering industry to Wigtownshire and the remoter areas. Such areas as that will never become growth points. Growth points, by definition of the present Prime Minister, are areas capable of massive industrial development. That is a quotation from a speech by the present Prime Minister at Dundee last year. He said that regional development under the present Government would be concentrated on points of massive industrial growth. These will never include Wigtownshire or Inverurie or the rural peripheral areas. I do not unduly blame the hon. Member for Galloway for this deep-seated confusion in his thought because it only reflects the confusion in the Government's thought about regional policy.
I have a collection, which I used for campaign purposes and to entertain audiences, of contradictory statements by members of the Conservative Party about regional policy. For instance, there is the sort of statement which one gets from the present Prime Minister to the effect that the jam is spread too thin by the Labour Government. It should be concentrated on areas of rapid industrial growth and should be less in quantity. Money can and should be saved. Then one gets the present Secretary of State for Scotland who used to go around saying nowhere in Scotland would lose its development area status under the Conservatives, but the value of this was reduced when he also said that within development areas there would be special growth points. I think he became known as "Growth point Gordon" because everywhere he went there was described as a possible growth point.
I do not wish to develop this because it is a little unfair to push the present Government around on contradictions in its development policy. Clearly, they have not worked out these matters at all, but one point which all members of the Government should notice is that they should take great care before returning to the policy they applied to Scotland before 1964 when they relied on growth points because, in addition to not producing a satisfactory situation in Scotland as a whole, that policy had a detrimental effect within Scotland.
I think the hon. Member for Galloway dislikes, as I also dislike, the drift from peripheral points to the Central Belt of Scotland, since it is socially damaging and inadequate as a development policy.
No. I would not agree with that for one moment. It was under the Labour Government that the Highlands and Islands Development Board was set up for development policy in the north, and then there was the decision to make the whole of Scotland a development area, and not to give special advantages to the central belt. There was also the production of development plans for the Borders. If the Conservatives are undertaking a reexamination of this matter they might consider giving special advantages to the remoter areas, since those are the areas to which it is harder to attract industry.
Rather than pursue this pointless theme of attacking the Government on a matter which they have not thought out, I will turn to a different subject in the Gracious Speech which was also indirectly illustrated by the speech of the hon. Member for Galloway, because he was Chairman of a Sub-Committee of the Scottish Specialist Committee which looked into these matters. Those aspects of his speech which contained new information came from the evidence which he and his colleagues on the committee were able to collect.
I want now to deal briefly with the machinery of government. Each Government is elected in an atmosphere and brings in its own attitude to problems. The atmosphere of this Government, typified by the Treasury team, is an atmosphere of economic efficiency. They have come in on the notion of a long-term approach to streamlining Government to make it work more effectively and more cheaply in terms of public expenditure. But I hope that they will not set aside or stop thinking about the proposals brought forward as part of the 1964–66 atmosphere, for parliamentary reform, a great deal of which is necessary from a long-term national point of view in improving the whole machinery of government.
In addition to the need for efficient government, we also have to face declining public confidence in Members of Parliament and in this House. I was disturbed by the fall in the poll and by the number of people reported by the polls as saying that what happened in the House made very little difference. I know what these people mean, and if we are to have Conservatism of the traditional type which conserves by reforming and preserves by improving, I hope that the policy of parliamentary reform which we started in the last Parliament will not be set aside and that the Reports of the Select Committee on Procedure will not be ignored.
To give one example of the contempt with which people tend to view the working of Members of Parliament is typified by the way in which directly the House is dissolved the job of the M.P. is assumed to disappear. The Minister's job does not cease to exist; it is worth doing; his job and his pay continue until a successor takes over; but the M.P., who is apparently just here to produce hot air and lobby-fodder, loses his job when Parliament is dissolved. This is irritating and humiliating when an M.P. is in the process of dealing with certain problems. I had twenty cases which I had started before the Dissolution and which I was unable to finish because my job had ceased.
For instance, I wrote to a Government Department about a pension case. I received a reply which was not satisfactory, so I wrote again to the Department. In the meantime the House was dissolved and the reply which I received from the civil servant said, "We are not in the habit of discussing the affairs of citizens with other citizens who have no interest in the matter." This is intolerable.
Another example is that I was concerned with the possibility of building a motorway in my constituency. I had had two meetings with the Department and local authority officials when it became apparent that the House was about to be dissolved. The civil servants had the courtesy to ask whether the next meeting could be put forward, otherwise it could not be held. The suggestion that I should get political capital by stopping my election campaign to hold this meeting is nonsense and it is ridiculous that my constituents should not be represented at an important meeting in this period because the job of the M.P. had technically ceased.
Meanwhile, in the House, our secretaries were locked out from their filing cabinets and their offices and rooms. This typifies the attitude that the job of the M.P. is so trivial and pointless that it can stop dead and only start again once the M.P. is re-elected.
I am discussing the Gracious Speech, and I informed Mr. Speaker by letter that I wished to talk about those aspects of it which dealt with local government and parliamentary reform. The debate is on the totality of the Queen's Speech, but if I am out of order I hope you will inform me.
This is why I began on the question of the Amendment. I know that the Leader of the House will be winding up, and I thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker for the slightly greater latitude which you have been kind enough to give me.
Be it for regional development or any other purpose, efficiency of Government should be improved, not merely, as the Government have announced, by bringing in executives from Shell, but by improving the efficiency of the House and taking the work of Members of Parliament more seriously and equipping them to do the job.
I was citing the attitude to the Member of Parliament after dissolution as an example of what the public thinks of Members of Parliament and their work in general. I will now be more constructive and point out the deficiencies in the House which are known to the public. The public feel that we are too dependent on the Government. I have always thought it an unhappy situation when a quarter of the occupants of the Government benches hold offices in the Executive, and I welcome a smaller Executive in that it increases the independence of the House.
I welcome the remarks of the Leader of the House in evidence to the Select Committee on Procedure when he said that a great criticism was that the House came too late into the processes of legislation and administration, and that these matters were often settled in negotiation between the Government and outside pressure groups. He proposed methods by which the House could intervene and bring the general point of view, the public's point of view, to bear in matters at an early formative stage. I hope that in winding up he will give an explanation of how he hopes to do this.
Parliament is not sufficiently well-informed. One result of the Scottish Select Committee was that we were able to find out the arguments which were taking place within the Administration on the best techniques of regional development. We were able to find out on which matters the Government were clear and on which they were not, and how effective, in the Government's view, was the impact of the i.d.c. policy. We were able to find out the technical arguments for and against grants compared with investment allowances.
Without this sort of machinery the Member of Parliament cannot be informed about the critical decisions open to Governments and the leeway open to the Government so that he can use his influence in the best possible way. If the present Government are to dedicate themselves to efficiency and improving efficiency, one of the best methods of doing so is to equip the House of Commons to help them in this way. The idea that the chief problem with efficiency in Government is a matter of cost technique and programme planning budgeting and things of that kind is largely mistaken, because Government can improve these matters by internal arrangements. On the whole, our civil servants are hardworking, sensible, honest and dedicated men who do their best and try to keep up to date with modern management techniques.
The chief weakness in Government which I have observed in the four and a half years during which I have been a Member of this House has not been in technical efficiency but in a refusal to re-examine the assumptions on which established policy has been working. Sitting behind me is the right hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Gordon Walker) who wrote a book about the Cabinet, one full chapter of which explains that the Labour Government never re-examined the decision to remain east of Suez but said that the decision to quit east of Suez was taken ultimately by some sort of irrational process, I do not know what, an internal rumination but never explicitly thought out and argued.
This is the trouble with British government—an ongoing policy tends to drift on without the basis of it being questioned. This cannot be done by business efficiency experts, it can only be done by the sort of equipment this House should have if it is properly organised.
Would the hon. Gentleman say that there is, therefore, a natural break point in the process of Government at which some of the assumptions governing regional development policy should be pressed?
That is exactly what I am trying to argue and I was saying that the Scottish Select Committee was doing this. It was questioning the assumptions which we otherwise have not got the equipment or machinery to handle if we are simply working from an isolated position on the back benches of the House. Also, many Ministers operating a policy may be too busy to re-examine the fundamental assumptions on which a policy is based. I hope that this Government will consider very carefully the recommendations of the Select Committee on Procedure for an expenditure committee—divided into subcommittees on each Departmental set of Estimates, on each Departmental sector of policy—to do this questioning and control through the mechanism of financial control.
The right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) said in a recent debate, when he was on the Opposition Front Bench, that he accepted the proposal for an expenditure committee of this kind. I hope that he will stick to this and that we will have an announcement tonight from the Leader of the House that this expenditure committee, with its sub-committees, will be set up. Although we have now won the agreement that we are to get a White Paper on the rolling programme on expenditure and Parliament has the first chance in its recent history of examining public expenditure. This requires the sort of committee I am describing to look at the breakdown of the items of this expenditure, sector by sector, so that, for instance, we know what effect public expenditure cuts which right hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to make will have on particular programmes.
It will be very satisfactory for right hon. Gentlemen opposite if they can announce public expenditure cuts, but we want the machinery to find out what such cuts would mean in terms of the educational programme, in terms of the overseas aid programme and the health services. It is in the interest of hon. Gentlemen opposite too because if they do not find this out and exercise adequate pressure on their Front Bench they will find out from the public at the next election. It is in the interests of all hon. Members that we have this equipment.
I would also suggest that hon. Gentlemen opposite should consider the views of the Select Committee on Procedure about a taxation committee. The Select Committee was unable to report on this because of the Dissolution but not only do we wish to scrutinise expenditure we want a committee that can give long-term thought to methods of raising money, to the impact of taxation, that can inform the House about such proposals as a value-added tax and a wealth tax. Only in this way would the House be equipped to exercise its proper function of control and only in this way will it increase its standing in the eyes of the public as an effective, independent check on the Executive, a check which would not require voting against the Government but which would be a means of examination, questioning, getting information, producing arguments which the Front Bench would have to answer and, in the process of answering might be influenced to reconsider some of its proposals. These are the directions of change which I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will consider. This is the time to consider them, at the beginning of the new Parliament.
If such reforming policies are adopted, there will be tremendous opposition. The Civil Service will object because no one likes being questioned; no senior group of people likes to be forced to re-examine their assumptions. They do not like what they call "ignorant and ill-informed questions" but often it is these questions which get to the heart of the matter, which find out why policies are being pursued, which force men who are doing something to think up reasons why they are acting in certain ways when they often have not done this sufficiently and when the original reasons for the policy may have disappeared in changed circumstances. This is what we wish the Government to do as well as dedicating themselves to efficiency. If the Government are to reform the machinery of government they should ally themselves not merely to men from Shell and big, private concerns—they should take into partnership Members of this House and permit them to do the work necessary to help Ministers. In the process, they will produce not only better government but, I hope, will increase the standing of this House in the eyes of the public.
Welsh accents, English accents and Scottish accents having been heard in this House, it is only right and proper that the voice of an Ulster Unionist should be heard on this important topic of regional development. Having listened with amazement to the breathless fervour of the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh), I have a slight inkling of what Irish Republicans feel about the Ulster people. Irish Republicans criticise the majority of people in Northern Ireland for their origin, which is Scottish.
I regret that I cannot follow the argument of the hon. Gentleman because I wish to speak about Northern Ireland. I should like to pay a well-deserved tribute to my predecessor, George Currie, who represented Down, North for many years. He entered this House not long before the Irish Republican Army began once again a ruthless and intermittent campaign which aimed to destroy Northern Ireland by the use of the gun, bombs and explosives. Now we are faced with the same unfortunate situation and we have the gunman casting his sinister shadow across many parts of Northern Ireland. I should like to pay tribute, expressed already in the Gracious Speech, to our soldiers serving in Northern Ireland who, despite the fatigue and strain of their service, patiently protect the peace of our Province.
In Down, North there are, fortunately, no riots and Protestant and Catholic live happily side by side. We enjoy a degree of prosperity and peace which I and my Unionist colleagues would like to see established throughout the length and breadth of Ulster. The good relations in my constituency and its good name are apparently too much for the opponents of Northern Ireland who never cease in their smear campaign. A short time ago publicity was given to a statement said to be made by a Roman Catholic to the effect that the Roman Catholics in Bangor, which is a progressive borough in the area, were living in terror. In fact, the Roman Catholic who was reported in the Press as saying that did not make the statement at all and he repudiated it. I am happy to say that it was also repudiated by leading Protestant and Roman Catholic members of the Borough of Bangor. That is the sort of nonsense with which we in Northern Ireland are frequently faced. I hope that that incident gives this House some idea of the problem which we face in Ulster. It is not the gunman alone, but the vicious propaganda which people outside Ulster are deceived into believing.
The Irish Republicans will go to any lengths to damage the fabric of our society and our economy. The dead, the injured and the homeless are a sad monument to their embittered and ceaseless campaign. Republicans are not intent on asserting their rightful place in the community. Their purpose is to usurp power and overthrow the State. They must be made to realise that the views of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland, regardless of their religion—tolerant, decent, fair-minded—will not be changed one iota by bullets, bombs and incendiary devices. On the contrary, such measures have hardened public opinion.
In view of the fact that the 12th July Orange parade is to take place on Monday, perhaps I might comment on it. It is a matter of regret to me that, when-even that parade is mentioned by political commentators on television or in the Press, it is referred to constantly as the parade which commemorates the defeat of Roman Catholics by Protestants. That is not what the majority of people of Northern Ireland commemorate. They commemorate a battle in which a king who did not believe in democratic government was defeated by a power which asserted the right of the people, and the victory which is commemorated on the 12th—[Interruption.]—even though hon. Gentlemen opposite may laugh—
It was a victory of civil and religious liberties for all in Northern Ireland. That is what that parade commemorates.
All decent people in Northern Ireland want to see their fellow citizens living in harmony together. We must all pray and work for that. There will be no future for Northern Ireland unless there is peace and unless it has a healthy economy, and they are inter-dependent since the economy depends on having peace in the Province.
One aspect of Conservative policy which more than any other caused real concern in Northern Ireland was what we tended to regard as the less-than-enthusiastic attitude towards regional development. Happily, confidence was restored by the prompt acceptance of the five-year development plan, for which I wish to thank my right hon. Friends. The psychological effect of that quick response by the newly-elected Government to a plan which could make the difference between lethargy and vitality for the Ulster economy came as a much-needed shot in the arm.
Under the Ulster Development Plan, it was hoped that 40,000 additional manufacturing jobs would be created by 1975. In view of the present sad situation, we all realise that that is an optimistic target. However our unemployment situation is so severe that we must aim high. It is not only making sure that people get employment. It is ensuring the future of Ulster itself.
Unemployment has always been a major problem in Northern Ireland, which has a rate of about 7 per cent., or four times the United Kingdom average. If long-term sickness were added, the true rate of unemployment would be even higher since sickness benefit is often claimed as an alternative when entitlement to unemployment benefit has been exhausted. Because of the unhappy employment situation, many young people have emigrated or are thinking of emigrating from Northern Ireland. Two or three A-levels, a Higher National Certificate or a university degree is a passport to a one-way ticket for Australia, Canada or the South-East of England. At the graduation ceremony at Queen's University, Belfast, last Tuesday, the Pro-Vice Chancellor complained that 60 per cent. of science graduates went abroad immediately following graduation. These are the persons who are trained at the expense of the Ulster taxpayer. They are lost to the country on reaching the age when they are able to make a contribution to the prosperity of the community because the jobs are not there for them to take.
The riots also have had an adverse effect on the economy and the wellbeing of Northern Ireland. Only last week, British Insulated Callender's Cables announced the postponement of a major addition to its two Northern Ireland plants. Not since the late 1950s when the great shipbuilding decline threw 15,000 men out of work in Belfast has Northern Ireland faced such a difficult economic prospect.
The growth of investment which changed the industrial face of Ulster in a decade up to 1967 has been brought to a halt by the recent riots. In that ten-year period, industrial production increased at the rate of about 5 per cent. a year, which is higher than that for the United Kingdom as a whole. External trade grew at much the same rate. By 1967, exports were more than £500 million or about 80 per cent. of the gross domestic product.
Against that sort of background, it is unfortunate in a way that Northern Ireland has attracted capital-intensive industry rather than labour-intensive industry. Many of the new industries have been costly to set up yet do not employ as many people as the cost warrants. The capital grants offered by the Northern Ireland Government to newcomers to Ulster have played a part in this, though the regional employment premium has helped redress the balance slightly.
I do not suggest that the capital grants have been unsuccessful. Clearly they have been of the greatest benefit to Northern Ireland in bringing new industries to the Province which play a vital part in its progress and prosperity. What I suggest is that it is more difficult and perhaps more expensive to attract labour-intensive industry to the Province. The total effect of S.E.T. in Northern Ireland has been bad in an area of continuously high unemployment, and several thousand jobs have disappeared under its impact. The abolition of S.E.T. will be a great relief to hard-pressed service industries. Tourism, for example, plays an important part in my own constituency, and, despite what hon. Gentlemen opposite may say, I regret that the troubles which have been highlighted on television and in the Press have discouraged people from going to Northern Ireland, especially to the resorts in North Down—
I have not suggested that. I am saying that the publicity given to the riots in Belfast and other relatively small areas have given the impression to a great number of people in Scotland, Wales and England that there are riots in every street, town and village of Northern Ireland. That is not so. Anyone who has been to Northern Ireland and experienced the generosity, kindness and fair-mindedness of the people will realise that strangers and friends from across the water will find a happy and peaceful reception in the greater part of Northern Ireland. I hope that the Press and television will tell the people of this country that they will receive an enjoyable holiday in Northern Ireland.
I think that the hon. Gentleman is right in saying that most people in Northern Ireland are kindly, decent and friendly. If he will use his good offices, irrespective of religion, to encourage them, instead of preaching these virtues to the English, Welsh and Scots, to practise them to one another, happiness might return.
Until about 18 months ago the people of Northern Ireland were coming to a stage where bitterness was disappearing. That bitterness was brought back to the scene because of the activities of a few republicans and revolutionaries.
I come from Donegal in the Republic of Ireland. Hon. Members opposite might credit the Unionist Party for selecting someone not born in Ulster. From all the places that I know, both inside and outside Ulster, Protestants have always wished to live in peace with their neighbours. I think that any fair-minded person examining Northern Ireland and perhaps some parts of England might say that there is a better future for children in Ulster with its good schools and amenities and the pleasant land that makes up Northern Ireland than in other places.
I return to the question of regional policy. If in rethinking regional policy the Government reduce the amount of money, they reduce the competitiveness of the manufacturing industries in Northern Ireland. If they remove the differential with the rest of the United Kingdom, Ulster will be adversely affected. The ending of R.E.P. would mean the end for many linen firms in Northern Ireland. At the moment, by means of S.E.T. and R.E.P., we have a certain amount of money helping the Ulster economy. I want a clear assurance from the Government that, with the disappearance of S.E.T. and R.E.P., at least the same amount of money will be provided by the Government to help our critical economic situation. I hope that that assurance will be forthcoming this evening.
I am sorry that Northern Ireland's development plans did not attempt a fundamental appraisal of the consequences for Ulster of Britain's entry into the E.E.C. I do not think that any development plan nowadays can be meaningful without a thorough-going investigation into this aspect of regional problems.
Finally, concerning all development areas. I feel that there must be a greater awareness of the importance of industrial training. I am glad to see that Northern Ireland has been particularly successful in its programme. About 60 per cent. of the working population in Northern Ireland is now covered by Industrial Training Boards. About 40 per cent. of the boys and girls now obtain apprenticeships compared with only 16 per cent. a few years ago. One unique feature of apprenticeship training in Northern Ireland is that two of the industrial training boards, the Construction and the Engineering Boards, directly recruit apprentices, train them at Government training centres or at technical colleges, and then place them in employment. This is the only part of the United Kingdom where this happens. About 2,500 boys have completed training under this scheme in the past four years. It is a remarkable record that only about a dozen out of that very considerable number have not been placed in work. The Industrial Training Board continues to pay and to train those who are not placed until they do get work. This is an excellent achievement with a 7 per cent. unemployment rate.
I know that the Government receive numerous claims for assistance from various regions. But if we in Northern Ireland do not achieve a reasonable economic target, the results are far worse than elsewhere in the United Kingdom. It is not only unemployment about which we are concerned, but the peace, future prosperity and the very existence of Ulster.
I hope that the hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder) will forgive me if I do not follow him. I find it exceedingly difficult when people in Northern Ireland cannot understand themselves. Therefore, I should be in deep water, as an ordinary Member of a northern area of Great Britain, if I attempted to venture on the ground which the hon. Gentleman described in his speech.
I will, however, make one point. The hon. Gentleman made references to economic conditions in Northern Ireland. I suggest that if he looks at the history books and finds the basic causes, he will arrive at different conclusions from those he imputed in his speech. That is as far as I am prepared to go in commenting on what was said by the hon. Member for Down, North.
I am the chairman of the northern group of Labour Members of Parliament. Over the past six years I have noted in my part of the country a great transformation. I would not in any sense of wishful thinking presume that we had reached the targets of achievement required to bring prosperity to that area. We cannot change long years of indifference and decades of neglect in merely five years of Government. No Government can do that. But the hallmark of success has been stamped on the Northern Region. I am perturbed not only about policies—this dismays me, because we have heard so little about them—but about these great thinkers, the businessmen, the great financiers, the part-time workers in this House who know all the answers, who have indulged in a week of vagueness, generalities and shifting. Indeed, it is taking so long for Ministers to get used to their seats and desks that I wonder what the civil servants are thinking.
On Monday my hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Milne) asked a Question of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Technology. My hon. Friend congratulated the Parliamentary Secretary on his appointment. While we all enjoy the courtesies in this House—I hope we are sincere about them—we are, nevertheless, always critical about the Answers that we get. My hon. Friend asked about the effect on firms being attracted to the North-East arising from comments which had been made by the Chairman of the Northumberland County Council. I could not quite see the connection in the Parliamentary Secretary's reply, but this is what he said:
When the Government's review of regional policy has been completed we shall see how best to attract the jobs that are certainly needed in the North-East."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1970; Vol. 803, c. 300.]
I felt that it was proper to try to follow the general theme of replies, and that day was quite interesting. I refer now to
industrial development grants. I am sorry that the Minister of Technology is absent, but I must make reference to him because of his speech today on another matter. My right hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) asked the Minister of Technology
if he will take steps to evaluate the effectiveness of industrial development grants",
to which the Minister replied:
This is under review.
A little later another hon. Member asked the Minister
if he will introduce legislation extending current support for the mining industry…
This is important to us in the northern region. It is an important aspect of our policies, and arises from humanitarian considerations not only for the problems of the industry itself, but of the people who are affected. The Minister of State replied to that question:
The hon. Gentleman must await the completion of the consideration which I am giving to this."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1970; Vol. 803, c. 304–5.]
I could go on finding instances of the Government "reviewing", "considering", and "not having made up their mind", and that by itself is dangerous.
To take my region alone, it is common knowledge that, arising from firm inquiries for development in that region, 42,000 jobs were in prospect. I have a right to ask the Government, and the Government have an obligation to tell me, how many of the inquiries which were firm are no longer so because the conditions under which the inquiries were made, namely, the availability of investment grants and the Government's development policies, are now in doubt. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have suddenly discovered a compassion for people out of work. This is a rather strange, modern facet of the Tory Party. If there were 42,000 jobs in prospect and the unemployment rate in the Northern Region is higher than any of us is prepared to tolerate, we want to know how many of those jobs are now in doubt.
The Minister of Technology has a reputation in the House for being robust, sometimes blisteringly so. He used to dash to and fro and lash Members of my party when we were the Government. Today, however, he sat on the Government Front Bench a most subdued man, looking awfully worried, and when he spoke he hedged from one pathetic paragraph in his speech to the other without giving any answers about anything, without even getting to the point at issue. He seemed to think that we were in the kind of coma in which he finds himself as a reaction to the election, and that we would be unmindful of what he was saying. The right hon. Gentleman said that he was concerned about Government training centres. I remind him that it was the Labour Government who introduced Government training centres in the North, with an output of 3,000 trainees every year. I ask him to compare that with the record of his party which closed Government centres during its term of office. The truth just could not get near the right hon. Gentleman, just as his own leader expected it would not get to the electorate.
Every time I rise to take part in a debate while the party opposite is in power, and I hope that it will not be for too long, I shall remember that during the last week of the election it was the leader of the Tory Party who put out the story which led to hon. Gentlemen opposite being returned to power on a false prospectus. Perhaps I might tell the House who gave the lie to the story that was put out then. When we were in office we were able to claim that those Members who represented the North came from the same soil as the men for whom we were fighting. When the Prime Minister talked about a national economic crisis he stampeded the country away from the truth. In his first speech in the House the new Chancellor of the Exchequer went out of his way to say that we must not call the situation a crisis. It is no longer a crisis. We just have a little bit of trouble.
It is against that background that I am prepared to give an undertaking to the party which now has the power to govern. I cannot charge them with having industrial policies relating to the Northern Region with which I disagree. I can only charge them with having no policies at all. When hon. Gentlemen opposite were in opposition they were a real milk and water crowd, but time and again when we debated the development areas they used to tell us that unemployment levels were higher than ever before and that we were failing in our duty. They used to tell us that they knew all the answers. In fact, they went down to Selsdon Park, enjoyed their caviare and port, and told us that they had produced firm policies to put before the electorate.
I should like to tell the House what was said by one bright spark in my constituency. According to him, he had all the answers for the problems in my area. In fact, he was so up to date that he announced—and I was very sore about this, because I was chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party's port sub-committee for the nationalisation of the ports—that if we nationalised the ports it would be disastrous for Hartlepool. This was the contribution made to the industrial problems of my area by this bright spark. The port of Hartlepool has been nationalised for 23 years. I can understand how the electorate can be confused. Goebbels used to talk about the big lie. The Tory Party talks about many lies so that it cannot go wrong.
Let us get down to the hard facts about development in the Northern Region. If we on this side of the House do not know what policies the Government intend to pursue, at least they might learn tonight the kind of questions that we shall persist in asking. First, are hon. Gentlemen opposite prepared to accept the blatant facts of a situation which can be found in every other development area?
Fact one—in five and a half years we have introduced 160 new manufacturing trades in the Northern Region. This has never been known before. In all the years that the Tory Party were in power they never got near a fraction of that figure. There are 90 Ministry of Technology trading estates in the region, with 400 employers, creating 98,000 new jobs. This has never been known before. A total of 116,000 new jobs have been created in the region in just five years. An average of just over 20,000 a year, compared with the last five years of the party opposite, when it was just under 9,000 a year. Those are hard facts, from the record.
Another simple little figure is that £50 million was spent on road construction in the region in the year 1969–70. Anyone travelling in the region today can see the revolution in road building. This was never known in the 13 years of the Tory Government. There was £143 million for reconstruction last year in the region.
The cost of materials will not alter prices in the private sector. The party opposite cannot do it; their paymasters will not let them. There is such a charitable association of industries who gave the party opposite £2 million; they will not let that party control their prices. Remembering that the cost of materials and labour and the rate of construction are constants and should be accelerated rather than reduced, by what test can the Conservative Party reduce that aid without doing harm?
I have been following the hon. Gentleman's figures with great interest. Could he give the total number of unemployed in 1964 and the total now in the development areas?
I will give the hon. Gentleman a fair answer. We all got fed up with the party opposite in the pre-election years of 1963 and 1964 when the unemployment level fell temporarily, but we had 800,000 unemployed in the worst year, 1959, under that party. So in the Northern Region in the basic formula—
I have answered it. The highest unemployment figures occurred when that party was in office and they cooked up an election bonanza.
But to get back to the point, the problem in the Northern Region is that, traditionally, it had to rely on a small number of basic heavy industries. They have declined, and the number of men who have been made redundant is very large. Our job has been to inject new, sophisticated, light industries into the region. We have succeeded mainly because we have introduced 116,000 new jobs in five years. But in coal mining alone, in the last three years or so, we have lost 38,000 men. Nobody could keep those uneconomic pits open. We had to counter with new industries.
In a fair analysis of the North, one comes up with a fair question. If, in five and a half years, one produces 116,000 new jobs, with the policies of this party, is it likely that the same policies will produce the 210,000 jobs that we need by 1980? I should have thought that the answer was yes, bearing in mind that one has to alter the formula of treatment in the face of changing events. But generally the policy is right.
To give a quick example of the most unfortunate constituency in the whole United Kingdom in 1964, there were 4,000 men, or 15 per cent. of the total, unemployed in my constituency. Today, Hartlepools has over 30 new industries or extensions of existing ones, over 3,800 new jobs and a new nuclear power station—the only one in the world being built in a populated area. There is a new central area development, a new college of art, a new college of further education, a new central road development, a large steel industry employing 6,000 men and an extensive industrial trading estate. They are only a few of the developments. That is the record of achievement generally during Labour's years of office.
I now want to turn to two serious matters. For special reasons the Labour Government introduced the special development area. Their general policy was to develop and improve the infrastructure—to build more schools, more and better roads than the previous Administration, and more and better houses—because for the first time, under the 1969 Housing Act every house that is built must conform to the Parker-Morris standards. Outside this policy they had to introduce a policy to deal with the special problem of mining closures. More substantial aid was therefore given to the special development areas.
Today we have asked about the Coal Bill. I want to ask about the treatment of the special development areas affected by mining closures. If the party opposite interferes with them it will invite upon itself the wrath of every man and woman in the North. We send sufficient Members of Parliament here to be unafraid of the ebbs and flows of political fortunes. The vicissitudes of political life do not affect the solidarity of the North. We are here to say clearly, "Keep your hands off the special development areas. If you do not you will be exercising a cruelty that is typical of your party, although we hope that since there are some more progressive elements in it they will inject into other hon. Members a little sense". We shall not have these places touched if we can help it.
Secondly, the Labour Government had a Minister for the North. People in the North had the special privilege of being able to go to him immediately, not only to talk about their problems but to see that he sought solutions to them with his immediate Ministerial colleagues. Not once but many times serious problems were solved.
One example is the Palmer-Hebburn Yard where, under the Labour Government, we stayed the loss of employment for many hundreds of men. Another example is the Furness shipyard, with 4,000 men employed at one point and just over 2,000 at the point of closure. Immediate attention was given to those matters. Under the philosophy of the party opposite—the policy of a free market—those yards could have gone to the wall, although the Furness shipyard was one of the most modern in Europe. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Technology, whose company built the yard, told me privately at the time that it should close, but his company made quite a lot of money out of the construction of the yard. If he were sitting on the Front Bench now I would ask him whether his company has benefited from investments grants paid to the northern region.
I have always understood that private conversations in the House were regarded as confidential to the Members concerned. Did the hon. Gentleman give notice to my hon. Friend that he was going to breach that confidence?
I am talking of a matter that affects people. I am not interested in the sensitivity of the hon. Member. If he is upset about it he can see me behind Mr. Speaker's Chair. I have a loyalty to my people, and when my people are treated in that way I do not expect that kind of conversation to be kept confidential.
I think it a tragedy that this Government have decided, while claiming that they are reviewing policies, that they can make a firm declaration about a Minister for the North. Even though they are not the party of instant government, I should have thought they would wait for the review so that they could draw proper conclusions about whether or not their idea about a Minister for the North was correct. This was one of their first actions, and we do not like it. We do not like their attitude. We are not interested in how they feel but about their loyalty to the people of the country. If people in the development areas receive any less good treatment than they had under the Labour Government, hon. Members opposite will get their answer whenever the next General Election comes.
This has been a very interesting debate, not least because of the very fine range of excellent maiden speeches. I shall long treasure the memory of the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Robert Hughes) achieving the distinction of being interrupted by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House when making his maiden speech. This must be almost unprecedented. It showed shrewdness on his part which I much envy because it should surely ensure for him two or three column inches in The Times tomorrow with reference to the rumour that the recess was to be stretched to 17th November.
I thoroughly enjoyed the speech by the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh), particularly in championing of hon. Members' rights. I have been in this House for a number of years and, until recently, the rôle of hon. Members' shop steward was unquestionably held by the right hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell). I consider that after today I have acquired a professorial shop steward and I am very pleased to have him campaigning on my behalf.
The line of argument which I wish to employ in the few minutes at my disposal is in sympathy with the approach employed by the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) when he saw this debate as one conducted in parallel with that of the day before yesterday. He quite rightly related the whole question of regional policy and the Government's relationship with industry to that of public expenditure. A number of hon. Members have debated whether we are in a situation of economic difficulty. I think we are, in the sense—and I think that it is a sense which properly commands our full attention—that we now have a rate of inflation which is desperately dangerous.
I quote from the Financial Times of 18th June:
The Retail Price Index rose in May by a further 0·4 points to 139·5. This brings the rise in the first five months of this year to 5·1 points, equivalent to an annual rate of increase of 8 per cent.
An annual rate of increase of 8 per cent. applied to someone who retires at the age of 65 and has 15 years of retirement—my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. Warren), in an admirable maiden speech, reminded us that half his electors were over 65 and, therefore, living in the period of retirement I have described—would reduce their income to barely more than 30 per cent. of its original value. We would see a large and growing section of the community having wiped out in their retirement the incomes to which they had every reasonable expectation. We would do well to remind ourselves that we should court a whirlwind of social distress if this situation continued unabated.
One of my happiest memories is of often listening to Mr. Nigel Birch, a right hon. Gentleman who is, alas, no longer with us, when he used to quote Lenin as saying that if one wished to destroy a country one should first debauch its currency. That seems perilously nearer now than any of us had ever imagined would be possible. That it is happening in most major industrial countries in the West merely underlines the tremendous threat that this poses for Western society at large. It must be a responsibility of any government in this country to make dealing with that threat the first priority of its economic policy, and not to be deterred into a fatalistic acceptance that it is a characteristic of Western advanced industrial civilisation. For once that attitude becomes implicit, once it becomes received, we truly witness the decadence of the West and the decline of the West in the sense that Spengler might have meant.
The Government's approach to the problem is shown in the passage in the Gracious Speech that:
At home my Government's first concern will be to … curb the inflation. The … enterprise needed to achieve this will be encouraged by … reducing the burden of taxation, …
Naturally enough, we must think where those reductions will come. Many hon. Members will know—not least, the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Cant)—that this is a subject to which we have addressed our attention in the past, more particularly last January, when we considered the question of the forward plans for public expenditure. I do not think that anyone reflecting on what my right hon. Friend the Chancellor said then will believe that he sees the economies in public expenditure coming, for example, in education. He then said, turning an agnostic eye on expenditure on investment grants:
… there is the possibility of a very large saving of money … and the matter which we think should be discussed and on which we intend very soon to put a final view before the House and the country is whether, outside the development areas, it is better to maintain a system of allowances roughly matching the present system of grants—in which case there would be no saving of significance—or not to pay … the standard rate and to use the money for reducing taxation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st January, 1970; Vol. 794, c. 544.]
I very much hope that when he has concluded his consideration of these matters he will go for a reduction, or the abolition of the standard rate of investment grant outside the development areas and not replace it by a tax allowance. The argument that investment grants facilitate investments is not proven. I know that this question is being considered by a Committee, but the evidence that has been available of, for example, the behaviour of investment in distributive trades where the grant is not paid compared with manufacturing industry, where it is, does not lead me to think that subsidies to investment necessarily in themselves promote a total volume of investment.
Of course, this leads one immediately into the intimately and parallel related activity of the subsidies to the regions, now sanctified as regional investment policy. Dr. Jeremy Bray, no longer with us, did much by argumentation to reveal to us the dubious advantages of investment grants as a system of regional policy. The hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian, whose speech I very much enjoyed, said that this was a time to question assumptions on which regional policies had hitherto been pursued.
After all, we are here talking about very large sums of money and there are some questions which we owe it to ourselves to ask as a House trying to take an intelligent view of the subject, which we owe it to our constituents, who have sent us here to set out on new courses, and, above all, which we owe to even wider considerations, if the threat of inflation is related, as I believe it is, to the levels of public expenditure, carrying with it the ultimate dangers which I believe inherent. As the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian said, we have to be courageous. I should like to question some of the assumptions.
For example, are the policies designed primarily to be pump priming, to create a self-sustaining growth thereafter? This afternoon we have heard the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) quoting Lord Polwarth and the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Elystan Morgan) quoting Brindley Thomas, giving the most glowing descriptions of the present state of the Scottish and Welsh economies. What are we to deduce from that? Are we to deduce that they are in a position where one can re-examine the present pattern? Surely the answer is "Yes". If we do no more than accept the intelligent advice offered to us by Labour Members, that is what we should do.
Should we not ask ourselves seriously whether we are to try as a deliberate policy to see that the second industrial revolution, the revolution related to electronics, so far as possible takes place in the industrial environment inherited from the first industrial revolution? It is seriously worth questioning that proposition.
We ought to ask ourselves what are the dangers of working into our way of conducting Parliamentary business the unhappy aspects of American log-rolling and pork barrelling of competitive regional bidding. This afternoon we have heard speech after speech contrasting the disadvantages for which an area suffered compared with an area just across the border. I see this only too well from my constituency which is right alongside a development area.
I will not give way; I am trying to be charitable to the hon. Gentleman and to allow him a few minutes for his speech.
My hon. Friend the Member for Conway (Mr. Wyn Roberts), in an excellent maiden speech, pointed out that this is easy. There are not many people who say that such-and-such a region is getting advantages from the Exchequer and that, as a matter of parity of treatment, those advantages should be taken from it. That is not the uncharitable way in which a politician behaves to a politician. We say that we do not want quite as much as the folks across the road, but at least we should be taken part of the way there.
However, I am this charitable to the hon. Member for Fife, West, that he warned us all not to be too sanguine about the prospect of success for this policy. He was absolutely right. Whatever objective criteria we try to apply, essentially we must make a subjective judgment of the consequences of the policy which has now been pursued for a number of years. The hon. Member for Fife, West was right to say that we should be very modest before claiming success. We know that the policy has increased public expenditure, but whether it brings success is much more debatable. We have only to reflect on the figures provided to my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery) in a Written Answer on 29th May to see that expenditure on the provision of preferential Governmental assistance to development areas has doubled in three years. I do not regard that in itself as a sign of success.
The situation demands courageous decisions equivalent to those which were undertaken by Lord Butler when he completely re-examined food subsidies and proceeded to abolish them. I do not advocate the abolition of regional payments, but we need a courageous approach showing determination in examining, testing and applying intellectual standards. When it is known that such a study is under way the professional lobbyists, whether corporate or regional, will be in full cry by the autumn. But we on these benches have a responsibility to support decisive and courageous action in terms of public expenditure which alone can give reality to our aspirations and our professed commitments.
I will get on if the hon. Member does not interrupt me. I was thanking him for giving way.
I say right away that I disagree with his opening statement. Unlike him I do not believe in deflation. I believe in inflation, because I have seen deflation as it was operated in my division in 1964. It could not have come upon us in a worse year. In 1964 the country was just beginning to recover from 13 years of Tory misrule and deflation. It was in no position to face up to the circumstances with which the ship-building yard in my division was faced in November, 1964.
At that time 3,000 men were faced with no work for the simple reason that the owners had decided to withdraw their investment from the yard. The result was that no funds were left to provide wages for the men at the end of the week and there was no money to carry on the yard. There was only solution and that was to turn to the Government. There was no other agency which could come to our aid. The Government provided the money which kept the yard in production. Orders were able to be overtaken, work went on and the men got their pay. That was as a result of the intervention of a Labour Government. When the matter was brought to this House there was one individual on the Tory side of the House who was pulled down by the Minister sitting beside him in case his mouth opened too wide and he spilled the beans which the Tory Party at that time wished to conceal. They wanted to present a face to the country as though they were quietly supporting the Labour Government in their attempt to keep the yard going.
Government policy succeeded and the yard is now functioning satisfactorily. Work is good; orders are there; and wages are being paid to the men, who were faced with the problem in 1964 the solution of which the hon. Member for Oswestry has just propounded. This would have killed the yard completely and brought misery and destruction to Govan. Govan will never forget that, and so long as a Tory presents his face at any time in Govan he will get the reward that was given to the Tory Party when they opposed me a fortnight ago, namely, total defeat.
I wish to begin by offering my congratulations to the maiden speakers who have given the House an indication of the worthiness of the replacements who have come in as a result of the recent Election. It was, I think, the hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. Warren), on the benches opposite, who showed such a mature approach to this subject that I felt, like the Leader of the House, that I would interrupt a maiden speech. We have at least made history today, when the Leader of the House has interrupted a maiden speech. I hope that when he goes to St. Andrew's he will remember that that is not done when somebody is driving off the first tee in the Open.
My hon. Friend the Member for Kensington, North (Mr. Douglas-Mann) spoke with a fluency and an approach to the subject which would have been commendable from an hon. Member who had been here much longer. My hon. Friend gave us a moving appeal for the retention of community spirit in areas which were breaking up and being replaced. That is a special problem. My hon. Friend emphasised that regional development policy was not purely for the areas which get the benefits directly of regional development.
It was brought home, too, by other hon. Members that if we are concerned about congestion in the South-East—and the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) is surely concerned about inflation—we cannot accept a situation whereby, in doing nothing or doing something that is quite ineffective, we create the drift towards the magnet areas of the Midlands, London and the South-East, because that congestion of people is itself a creator of inflation in those areas. Indeed, to come to terms with that inflation of people will cost us dearly, as it has done in the past.
We are faced with an increased population in Britain over the next 20 years or so, in addition to the present imbalance. Surely, what we want to do from the viewpoint not simply of the areas where there is a lack of population and a lack of employment is to get together sensible land use planning procedures and to marry the needs of the population to the needs of industry.
That was the basis of what we set out to do in 1964, when we set up the economic planning councils and followed that in various areas—Wales, the North-East and certainly Scotland—by bringing in local industrialists, local authorities and the universities and setting forward to study the potentials of each area. This has been widely welcomed as the first real approach to the channelling of national planning into the areas and regions. It is too facile for the hon. Gentleman to widen this by an argument related to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardigan (Mr. Elystan Morgan) who quoted Professor Thomas, and of my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton), who quoted Lord Polwarth, and to say that if things are so good in Scotland and Wales we should not be spending so much money on them. The whole argument of the Government during the Election and in the debate has been that the policies of the previous Government had failed and been ineffective: but it does not necessarily follow that we should return to the policy of spending less money.
The Prime Minister in an electioneering visit to Glasgow was reported by the Glasgow Herald of 11th June, 1970, as saying:
Under Socialism there had been stagnation. That was why firms were not coming to Scotland. We would return to a policy in which value for money was provided for industrial development in Scotland.
The report goes on—and this gives the whole argument:
He emphasised the dangers of State intervention in firms and the consequent loss of freedom in decision. He instanced such firms as Rolls-Royce and Cammell Laird which had received Government aid and fallen victim to what he clearly regarded as creeping nationalisation.
We have not been told in terms the financial result of the Prime Minister's approach, but in September last year when he came to Scotland and was asked whether the Conservatives would spend as much money on regional development, his answer, eventually, when it was dragged out of him, was quite specific:
There will undoubtedly be a cut from the point of view of the regional employment premium and we shall concentrate the expenditure on roads, rail, docks, airports, houses, schools, public works, which is where I think it ought to be spent.
The right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) has said that the commitment in respect of the regional employment premium, would be honoured, but the commitment was that it would last until 1974. Is that commitment being honoured? If it is, there will be no saving in respect of it and no concentration on an increase in expenditure on other things. Where will the saving come from? Will it come from investment grants? It is arguable whether changing from investment grants to investment allowances will give any real saving, for this is to be a financial concession in another form. Is it there? Or is it that the Government are returning, in the words of the Prime Minister, "to the policies of the Local Employment Act, which they knew so well," and which everyone seemed to think worked so well? Is that to be the solution?
I have been a Member of this House for 24 years—[HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."]—Oh, I know, but fortunately my constituents do not think that. I have participated, I think, in every debate we have had on this subject during that time, and I can remember the Conservative Party, when it was in Government, at the election in 1959, saying that when it came back it would deal with the problem of local unemployment and there would be a new Act of Parliament. There was: the Local Employment Act, 1960.
Of course, there was a new definition. It was "pockets of unemployment", and the Government were to concentrate on those pockets of unemployment. We on this side asked about depopulation and said that something should be done for the areas of depopulation, areas which people were leaving, the Highlands, the North-East, the Borders particularly, the South-West. It was the present Home Secretary who said, "No, we cannot do anything about that at all." I hope that the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers) is listening to this, for that was the principle upon which her party entered. It said, "No. We cannot be like Canute and stop this tide, stop people drifting into the Midlands or drifting into the London area." Is it to that that the Government are going back?
The fact was that at the time when that Bill was going through the House, unemployment in the development areas was 4·4 per cent. and three years later it was 7·7 per cent. That Act failed, and failed completely. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Technology knows the whole history of the Local Employment Act. If he or any new Member of the House wants to know something about it, let them refer to the Report of Sub-Committee F of the Estimates Committee which studied the workings of the Act in May, 1963, and said that it was totally ineffective. And at a time when more money needed to be spent the Government were actually spending less and were going to spend less. The sum of money actually to be spent was being reduced in 1964 to £3 million in Scotland.
This is why we made a new start. This is why we changed from "pockets of unemployment" to the wider areas. It is interesting indeed to see here the hon. Gentleman now in charge of development in Scotland. He will remember the argument at that time; that this was spreading the jam far too thinly. Now, today, the whole argument of the Government is that there is far too much jam.
Did we have any success? Of course we did. The speech of my hon. Friend the Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter) showed the transformation which has taken place in the North, the number of new jobs, the number of new factories. There they still have the terrible problem, and to them it has come later than it did to Scotland or even to Wales, of the coal mining industry. What is the answer to that? We got no indication today from the right hon. Gentleman as to what are the Government's intentions. What an insult to the mines meeting in their annual conference in the Isle of Man, that the Government say absolutely nothing about it.
But there is more to it than that. One of the other things which the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not mention today was the special development areas. If any area of the country has benefited from the special development area it is the North, Wales and parts of Scotland.
What is the Government's intention in relation to the special development areas? I notice that the hon. Gentleman is not here. I hope that he is not away to St. Andrew's as well. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman takes the advice which was given to him about when he and the Prime Minister journey to St. Andrew's—that they should go through Fife and see the transformation which has taken place. They will see what he described as stagnation. They might stop over and talk to some of the miners there or go into the computer factories and talk to the ex-miners. They will then see exactly what has been happening.
The position is quite clear in Scotland. The transformation has been fantastic. Under this policy, there has been a remarkable improvement. In the period 1960–64, the kind of situation to which they want us to return, 832 new projects were born; in 1965–69, there were 1,341. Yet we are supposed to believe that nobody is coming to Scotland—[Interruption.] The Secretary of State had better keep his mouth shut or I will quote him again on the subject of corporation tax. He said that it would drive off the firms from overseas, yet 149 such firms were attracted in 1965–69, compared with 97 in the period 1960–64.
The right hon. Gentleman had better revise his figures or get his civil servants to get up to date in respect of the fact that I.D.Cs. for which approval has been given and in respect of which the factories are still to be built to provide 55,000 jobs are a present to his Government. It is a bitter tomorrow for me to think that 42,000 jobs are still to come in the North and in Wales.
The Minister of Technology talked about training. He does not know what he is talking about: the Conservatives closed training centres. We multiplied them. He did not refer to the in-plant training supported by the Department of Employment and Productivity, which meant the training of 12,500 people in Scotland last year and 12,000 in Wales. I could give the figures for the other development areas, too.
I asked the Minister how he would improve the training—and he did not know. Then the hon. Member for Tyne-mouth (Dame Irene Ward), I think, asked whether they were getting the jobs—and he could not answer that. In fact, 92 per cent. of the people trained in Government training centres get jobs, thanks to the unions, in the industries for which they were trained.
The trouble is that no one told the Prime Minister the facts when he came to Scotland. The same is true of Wales. I cannot imagine him making another speech. It was probably the same one trotted out again, anyway. But he should know. A Parliamentary Question which is down to him suggests that he should visit Perth. I hope that he does: perhaps he will make another declaration there.
But I have a quotation here which is good stuff:
The extent of the increase in government regional aid during the last decade has been nothing short of remarkable, although too little has been done to publicise the advantages Scotland has obtained. It is certainly necessary to offer firms inducements to attract them into a development area, and to improve an area's infrastructure. But the critical factor in successfully steering industry to Scotland is the restriction of industrial development in the congested areas of England.
Unhappily the impression has already been given by the flexibility about which the right hon. and learned Gentleman spoke that this lynch-pin of development area policy is being weakened. I give him these words to study. If he is concerned about Scotland or Wales then he ought to fashion special policies of regional development suitable for them because the electors in Scotland, Wales and the North have clearly said what they want and what they prefer. [Interruption.] I will continue with my quotation.
Within centrally-determined economic policies, however, there is room for greater flexibility of application, to take account of Scotland's diversity and distinctive needs.
I base my case on that.
I have quoted this deliberately as evidence of the success of the Scottish policies. Who wrote those words? The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) in a report of the Scottish Constitutional Committee, entitled "Scotland's Government", to the Conservative Party, to the Prime Minister—the same man who talks about Scotland being stagnant. He was the man who set up that Committee, the man to whom it reported and the man who says the Conservatives will make this the basis for future development. And he talks about honest government! Where is there honesty in that, when he goes around Scotland, as he went around the rest of the country, giving a misleading and false picture.
I come to the question of what is felt in Scotland, as in Wales and the North, about I.D.Cs, about advance factories, about investment grants as opposed to allowances and about R.E.P. I should like to draw attention to the fact that we have just had a report from the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs. It came out in favour of the present policies because they were successful. That Report is in the Library, and I draw attention to the reference to the fact that the C.B.I. in Scotland prefers grants to allowances. Sir Robert Maclean, of the Scottish Council (Development and Industry), made it clear that what we require—[Interruption.] This is true of the other development areas—[Interruption.]
On 19th January of this year, Sir Robert was asked by a Specialist
Committee of this House which of the incentives for development he thought were the most important. He replied:
I would not care to distinguish between the force of these three incentives, the three incentives being R.E.P., the availability of a factory, and different rate of grants. They are like the three legs of a stool. If you knock any one away, the whole may collapse.
We require all three, but we need more than that in respect of regional development.
The major basic industries of the country—coal, steel and transport—must be equally concerned with the regional rôles that they have to play. Anyone who knows about the current developments in steel should be conscious of the need to ensure that, nationalised as it is, the steel industry should keep in mind the responsibility that it has to people who have been in that industry for generations. A decision there can wipe out a community. That is why we place emphasis on the need for humanity and respect towards the industry.
I hope that the Secretary of State for Scotland will appreciate the importance of this to Scotland. Decisions will be taken in a few years which will affect the future of the Scottish steel industry and, if he is not seized of the importance of this, Scotland will suffer.
Regional development goes a long way beyond just the Local Employment Acts. I have quoted what the Prime Minister said. He seemed to object to Cammell Laird being helped and saved. Cammell Laird means a great deal to Merseyside. It also means a lot to the place represented in this House by my own Member of Parliament, the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger). One of the subsidiaries of Cammell Laird is Scottish Aviation at Prestwick. In respect of that, the Government interfered further and ensured that an order from the Swedish Government was completed in Prestwick. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman think that this kind of intervention should cease, be it in respect of Cammell Laird, U.C.S. or Linwood, where the I.R.C. had to intervene when Chrysler seemed likely to be taking over that sector of the car industry? This would have resulted in its being 100 per cent. under American control?
The Government must accept their responsibilities in respect of the whole health of the nation, and that means industrially in the areas as well. Recently, we have seen an old face coming back looking younger than before but still perplexed with the problems of Northern Ireland. He, too, should appreciate that they are not just the problems of one area and that only by United Kingdom effort will they be solved. That is why I fight nationalism. I only wish that the Conservative Party had fought it, too.
This is a United Kingdom concern and the Government must accept their responsibilities. They must intervene and muster effective policies to meet the need. If right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite set out merely to save money to satisfy the C.B.I., not in Scotland or in Wales, but in the South, I assure them that they will fail the nation. I sincerely hope that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen appreciate that the politcal strength that has come from Wales, from Scotland, and from the North is such that we demand satisfaction in this respect.
The Government have said nothing about their real intentions, as they have said nothing about the whole of the Queen's Speech—[HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] The kind of stuff to which we have been listening is rubbish. The Prime Minister said that we should wait. Yet he was proclaiming his policies in Scotland in September last year. Has he not fashioned them yet? The fact is that this is the Government of Edward the Unready.
This, I must admit, is a moment of truth for me. For six years I have sat silent in that corner seat over there—at any rate, officially silent—criticising other Members' speeches in the certain knowledge that I should not be tested. But now, alas, has come the day of retribution. I have to face the critics.
My anxiety is increased by the knowledge that this particular speech, winding up six days of debate, is a particularly difficult one. Quite frankly, my predecessors, to whom I have been lucky enough to speak in recent days, have reminded me of it. They have given me various pieces of advice as to how best I should carry it out, but they have been equally depressing. They have made clear that it is, on the whole, a totally impossible speech. Indeed, I saw it described in the Press the other day, in terms which I admit are rather nostalgic to me this week, as one in which it was hard to beat par.
However, long silence in this Chamber gives me a fellow feeling for those new Members who made their maiden speeches in this debate. The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) was right that I did, alas, fail to appreciate that I was interrupting a maiden speech, but I think that I interrupted the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Robert Hughes) with a kindly and helpful reference.
The number of hon. Members who wanted to take the plunge presented you, Mr. Speaker, with a particularly difficult task. However, by your choice, you have enabled us to hear with great interest the first contributions of many of our new parliamentary colleagues. I should like to mention them all by name, but I am afraid that would take a long time, and there might be those who would think that I was thereby seeking to evade further discussion of the debate. Therefore, I would simply like to congratulate them all on taking this first important step in their parliamentary careers. I am sure that all of us who had been in the House in previous Parliaments welcome them, and indeed all new Members, into this rather curious community, the House of Commons, and I expect they will find it as curious as ever in the next 25 minutes. I say "community" because, despite all the arguments and properly passionate disagreements across the Floor of the House, there is, and in my view certainly should be, a corporate spirit here, and if as a result of our public or private exchanges in this spirit we sometimes succeed in modifying each other's views, then surely that is the purpose of Parliament and, indeed, of democracy.
In this context I think it is worth saying that this is a debating Chamber. We must all be prepared to listen to expressions of view with which we do not agree. Therefore—and I think that this view will be shared by both sides of the House—I hope that the sensible Parliamentary custom of listening at least to the speech after one's own will continue to be observed.
As this is my first speech as Leader of the House, I think it would be right for me to say something about my approach to the job. It is, of course, true that I have lived in the world of the usual channels for longer now than anyone else in this House. Like the Lord Aylestone, for whom I have great admiration, I am now the classic example of the poacher turned gamekeeper. I have worked with three Leaders of the House and three Government Chief Whips.
I know that the sensible conduct of parliamentary business depends upon mutual trust and understanding between those who are responsible for arranging it.
In this regard, I can only hope that in time I may inspire something of the confidence which I certainly had in my predecessors, including particularly my immediate predecessor, during the last six years. I also recognise that the Leader of the House has a special duty to all minorities and to all individual hon. Members.
The House, I think, also has a right to know my views on Parliamentary procedure and the committee system which has been developed in recent years. I believe that the House of Commons as an institution is so much greater than all of us, its individual members. Our predecessors have handed down to us a parliamentary tradition which is the envy of many countries all over the world. This certainly does not mean that we must shrink from changes in our procedures. But it surely does impose upon us all the duty not to rush into reforms. Frankly, however, I have never thought that the House of Commons as a whole is in much danger of that. On the contrary, many of our new Members may consider that the real risk is too ready an acceptance of things as they are. Personally, I am keen to make changes, and I have some ideas of my own.
In that spirit, I want to approach the consideration of the various reports now before the House. There are reports of the Select Committee on Procedure—varying from proposals of fundamental importance, like the reports suggesting a Select Committee on Public Expenditure, to those dealing with narrower subjects, like the handling of Ten-Minute Rule Bills. There are reports by other Committees which affect the way that the House conducts its business, such as that by the Select Committee on Parliamentary Privilege. The previous Administration had some of these reports before them for a considerable time and have not put forward any proposals.
I accept at once that before we act we must be sure that whatever changes are made are practical improvements and that they command a wide degree of consent in all parts of the House. For that reason, my basic approach will be to put before the House proposals which will have been carefully considered and worked out, rather than rushing into immediate action.
I should say now, however, that on one thing I have very strong views. The Floor of the House must be the centre of Parliament. This is the place where true debate must take place. In my opinion, we must avoid developments which will lead to a position like that reached in the United States Congress, where Committees are all-important and the Chamber itself of little account. I have noticed that in recent years—I think that we have all seen this—there has been a tendency for attendances at debates in the Chamber itself to decline. I regret this and I hope to see the tendency reversed.
Nevertheless, I am sure that the increased opportunities of scrutiny of the Executive which have been introduced in the past few years must continue. I believe that such scrutiny is an essential part of Parliament's rôle in the modern world. Indeed, penetrating parliamentary criticism of the Executive is vital for the health of both Government and Parliament. I recognise that this can best be achieved by some form of Select Committee system. We might make our principal aim the one so clearly expressed many years ago by Lord Campion, which was "to devise a committee system which, while retaining the essentially subordinate and advisory character of committees, might make the House of Commons"—this is the important point—"more generally capable of informed criticism".
Right hon. Gentlemen opposite told the last Parliament that they had embarked upon a comprehensive review of the results of the specialist committee experiment. We propose to continue with this comprehensive review. We shall also take into account the extremely important proposals for a Select Committee on Expenditure, and also the evidence published recently by the Procedure Committee on the possibility of a Committee on Taxation. When the House returns after the Summer Recess I hope to be able to put forward, perhaps as a Green Paper, proposals on the future of the Select Committee system.
Naturally, on a matter like this, it would be right for the House to have an opportunity to express its own views on the proposals and for the Government to take this into account before any new system is instituted. In the meantime, I would propose to the House that we set up immediately only the Public Accounts Committee, the Select Committee on Procedure and the Committees concerned with the efficient working of the House.
I can, however, give an assurance to my hon. Friends the Members for Abingdon (Mr. Neave) and Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) and to the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) and those other hon. Members who have spoken to me on the subject that all the hard and valuable work done by other Select Committees last Session will not be wasted but will be made available to whatever system of Committees the House eventually adopts.
There is one other matter of particular interest to back benches—the allocation of Private Members' Time. The House will have noted my Motion last Friday which has the effect of delaying until after the recess the allocation of days for Private Members' Time. I thought that, in the circumstances of this new Parliament, new Members in particular would find it useful to have a little time to consider what subject they wish to put forward before balloting began. I should however make it plain that I intend proposing to the House that the same amount of time be allocated to Private Members as in the last Session. On the question of the division of Private Members' Time between Bills and Motions, I have an open mind. I intend to take soundings on this.
Finally, in this part of my speech about the business of the House as a whole, I take this opportunity of saying quite clearly that I do not wish to be judged as Leader of the House on the total number of Bills introduced and of Acts passed in a Session. I am much more concerned about the quality of the legislation than its quantity.
For many of the developments about which I have spoken we are indebted to the right hon. Member for Coventry East (Mr. Crossman). He was much criticised by some hon. Members when he was Leader of the House. I do not accept that view. I think that he was right to stimulate the House with new ideas and with his considerable intellect. He introduced many reforms, some of which will survive and will rightly be attributed to him.
In that connection, I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman will continue to regale us on these subjects in the columns of the New Statesman. Perhaps I may suggest to him that we on this side of the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] I should make it clear that I warned the right hon. Gentleman that I was going to refer to him this evening.
Perhaps I may suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that we on this side of the House are awaiting his memoirs with keen anticipation. I hope that he will not keep us waiting for too long. Perhaps he will give us a preview in some articles. When he does he might help us over some of the issues that have been raised in this debate. For instance, he may be able to tell us which of the Ministers in the Cabinet, in December 1967, were in favour of a limited sale of arms to South Africa, and what were their arguments. He may also be able to give us an account of that remarkable Cabinet meeting last year, at the time of the surrender over the Industrial Relations Bill. We have been led to understand that after a good talking to from the Chief Whip the Cabinet all deserted the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), even to the extent, it is said, that the right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore)—
Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I am coming to the Amendment, but I want to make it quite clear to the right hon. Gentleman that it is my job as Leader of the House to wind up the whole debate. I have been asked specific questions about parliamentary procedure by many hon. Members opposite, and that I have said I shall do.
On a point of order. Before you resumed your seat, when my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) was speaking, he was interrupted by your predecessor and told that we are debating an Amendment. It was made exceedingly difficult for my hon. Friend to carry on with what he was then saying. I understand that he was advised from the Table that my hon. Friend was out of order in what he was saying. As it happened, what he was saying was something of the nature of what is being said now. [Interruption.]
If I am given the opportunity, I will now do what I perfectly correctly sought to do—first, spend some time replying to the whole debate, which is my duty, and then reply to the Amendment, which I am very pleased to do. [Interruption.] Yes, I am perfectly entitled to do that.
In answer to the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), when the day comes that I am to be told by him what I am to do I shall find it a very sorry day indeed.
We have been debating today—[An HON. MEMBER: "Ten minutes to go."] If hon. Members allow me, I shall be able to go on. We have been debating regional policy on what I can describe only as a pretty woolly Amendment. Like my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Technology—
Yes, I did. My constituency is in the North and I know the problems there. Anyone would think from the tone of the Amendment and of many speeches by hon. Members opposite that regional policies and development areas were invented by the former Government and that we on this side of the House never did anything about the problems—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—and, indeed, care less. Of course the facts show that that line of argument is plain nonsense. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] It was my right hon. Friend the present Home Secretary who first introduced differential treatment of depreciation allowances in the development districts in his Budget of 1963. That was a very important development.
Most important of all from the point of view of this Government's attitude to the development areas, the Prime Minister was the first Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development in 1963. He knows the problem at first hand. [An HON. MEMBER: "What did he do?"] I will tell you what he did. He was responsible for the introduction of many firms which are providing valuable employment in some difficult areas today. So I hope we can have an end to some of the rather arrogant talk from the benches opposite claiming a monopoly of interest in regional policy. We are all rightly committed to policies which will spread employment opportunities throughout all areas of the country. The argument should properly centre on how best those aims can be achieved. In this connection, for all the talk, the party opposite has to face the unpalatable fact that the level of unemployment in the development areas today is higher than it was in those areas in the comparable month of 1964.
As my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology said, the party opposite always seems to judge its contribution to the development areas by the amount of money it spent there. What is required is to ensure full value for the money spent in creating now jobs, new facilities, communications and amenities in the regions. That is what we want to do.
We have also heard quite a lot in the debate about the number of Ministers, particularly at the Welsh Office. Again the party opposite uses a rather curious criterion for the success of its policy. Its philosophy always seems to me to be, "If in doubt appoint another Minister, another Commission, or another Board". We on this side think differently. We said in our election manifesto that we would cut the number of Ministers. We have carried out that pledge. We have reduced them by 17. We have saved £85,000 in Ministerial salaries. [Laughter.] The party opposite would be very unwise to laugh about that, because when we have
The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock did his best to spread alarm and despondency about the prospective effect of our policies on the Scottish economy. I can only think that he neither listened to the Queen's Speech nor read our Scottish manifesto. Having heard his speech, I can come to only one rather interesting conclusion. When the party opposite first came to power the right hon. Gentleman was invited to speak in the debate on the Address as Secretary of State for Scotland. Remarkably enough, he was never asked to do so again, until after the party opposite had lost the election.
We have now come to the end of the first debate in this Parliament on the Address and the first Queen's Speech of this Conservative Government. In as far as we are all involved in politics because we want to serve our country and its people, so we belong to particular political parties because we believe that policies based on their principles will be best for Britain's future. Therefore, we Conservatives are naturally delighted that the British people have given us this great opportunity to care for all their interests. We on this side know that the Conservative Party has behind it a fine tradition of service to our country over generations. This Conservative Government will uphold those traditions as they face the future. We shall not be swayed by merely sectional interests. We shall govern in what we believe to be the best interests of all the people. So it is with confidence and determination that I ask the House to reject the Amendment.
|Division No. 2.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Baxter, William||Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)|
|Albu, Austen||Beaney, Alan||Brown, Ronald(Shoreditch&Finsbury)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Buchan, Norman|
|Alldritt, Walter||Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)|
|Allen, Scholefield||Bidwell, Sydney||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Bishop, E. S.||Campbell, I (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Blenkinsop, Arthur||Cant, R. B.|
|Ashley, Jack||Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Carmichael, Neil|
|Ashton, Joe||Booth, Albert||Carter, R. J. (B'mingham, N'field)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Bradley, Tom||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara|
|Barnes, Michael||Broughton, Sir Alfred||Clark, D. G. (Colne Valley)|
|Barnett, Joel||Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Cocks, M. F. L. (Bristol, S.)|
|Cohen, S.||Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur(Edge Hill)||Paget, R. T.|
|Coleman, Donald||Janner, G. E.||Palmer, Arthur|
|Concannon, J. D.||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Conlan, Bernard||Jeger, George (Goole)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Parry, R. (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Cox, T. M. (Wandsworth, C.)||John, B. T.||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Cronin, John||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Pendry, T.|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Johnson, W. H. (Derby, South)||Pentland, Norman|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Prescott, J. L.|
|Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Jones, G. (Carmarthen)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Jones, S. B. (Flint, East)||Probert, Arthur|
|Davidson, Arthur||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Rankin, John|
|Davies, D. (Llanelly)||Judd, Frank||Reed, D. (Sedgefield)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Kaufman, G. B.||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Kerr, Russell||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Davis, S. C. (Hackney, C.)||Kinnock, N. G.||Richard, Ivor|
|Deakins, E. P.||Lambie, D.||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lamond, J. A.||Roderick, C. E.|
|Doig, Peter||Latham, Arthur||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Dormand, J. D.||Lawson, George||Roper, J.|
|Douglas, R. G.||Leadbitter, Ted||Rose, Paul B.|
|Douglas-Mann, B. L. H.||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|Driberg, Tom||Leonard, Dick||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Lestor, Miss Joan||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Dunn, James A.||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham N.)||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N.E.)|
|Edelman, Maurice||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lipton, Marcus||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Lomas, Kenneth||Sillars, James|
|Ellis, R. T.||Loughlin, Charles||Silverman, Julius|
|English, Michael||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Skinner, D.|
|Evans, Fred||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, East)||Small, William|
|Faulds, Andrew||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Smith, J. (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Fernyhough, E.||McCann, John||Spearing, N. J.|
|Fisher, Mrs. D. M. (B'ham, L'wood)||McCartney, H.||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||MacColl, James||Stallard, A. W.|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||McElhone, Frank||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)|
|Foley, Maurice||McGuire, Michael||Stoddart, D. L. (Swindon)|
|Foot, Michael||Mackenzie, Gregor||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Ford, Ben||Mackie, John||Strang, G. S.|
|Forrester, John||Mackintosh, John P.||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Maclennan, Robert||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Freeson, Reginald||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Swain, Thomas|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||McNamara, J. Kevin||Taverne, Dick|
|Garrett, W. E.||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Gilbert, J. W.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Ginsburg, David||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)|
|Golding, John||Marks, Kenneth||Tinn, James|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||Marquand, David||Tomney, Frank|
|Gourlay, Harry||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Torney, T.|
|Grant, G. (Morpeth)||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Tuck, Raphael|
|Grant, J. D. (Islington, E.)||Mayhew, Christopher||Urwin, T. W.|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Meacher, M. H.||Varley, Eric G.|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Mendelson, John||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)|
|Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Mikardo, Ian||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Millan, Bruce||Wallace, George|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Watkins, David|
|Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Weitzman, David|
|Hardy, P.||Molloy, William||Wellbeloved, James|
|Harper, Joseph||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||White, J. (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Whitehead, P.|
|Hattersley, Roy||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)||Whitlock, William|
|Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Moyle, Roland||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Hilton, W. S.||Murray, R. K.||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Horam, J.||Ogden, Eric||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||O'Halloran, Michael||Wilson, A. (Hamilton)|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||O'Malley, Brian||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Huckfield, Leslie||Oram, Bert||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Orbach, Maurice||Woof, Robert|
|Hughes, M. (Durham)||Orme, Stanley|
|Hughes, R. (Aberdeen, North)||Oswald, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)||Mr. Alan Fitch and Mr. Hamling.|
|Hunter, Adam||Padley, Walter|
|Adley, R. J.||Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Atkins, Humphrey|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Awdry, Daniel|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Astor, John||Baker, W. H. K.|
|Balniel, Lord||Fry, Peter||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||MacArthur, Ian|
|Batsford, Brian||Gardner, Edward||McCrindle, R. A.|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Gibson-Watt, David||McLaren, Martin|
|Bell, Ronald||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||McMaster, Stanley|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Glyn, Dr. Alan||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)|
|Benyon, W. R.||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||McNair-Wilson, Michael|
|Berry, Hon. Anthony||Goodhart, Philip||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)|
|Biffen, John||Goodhew, Victor||Madel, D.|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gorst, J. M.||Maginnis, John E.|
|Blaker, Peter||Gower, Raymond||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Marten, Neil|
|Body, Richard||Gray, J. H. N.||Mather, D. C. M.|
|Boscawen, R. T.||Green, Alan||Maude, Angus|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton, K'ptown)||Grieve, Percy||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Mawby, Ray|
|Braine, Bernard||Grylls, W. M. J.||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Bray, R. W. T.||Gummer, J. S.||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Brewis, John||Gurden, Harold||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Hall, Miss J. V. (Keighley)||Mills, stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, C.||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Mitchell, Lt.-Col.C.(Aberd'nshire, W.)|
|Bryan, Paul||Hannam, J. (Exeter)||Moate, R.|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus, N&M)||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Molyneaux, J.|
|Buck, Antony||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Money, E. D.|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere||Monks, Mrs. C. M.|
|Burden, F. A.||Monro, Hector|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Haselhurst, A. G. B.||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray&Nairn)||Hastings, Stephen||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hawkins, Paul||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Hay, John||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hayhoe, B.||Mudd, David|
|Channon, Paul||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Murton, Oscar|
|Chapman, S. B.||Heseltine, Michael||Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Hicks, R.||Neave, Airey|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Higgins, Terence L.||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hiley, Joseph||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Clark, William (East Surrey)||Hill, J. E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Normanton, T.|
|Clarke, K. (Rushcliffe)||Hill, S. J. (Southampton, Test)||Onslow, Cranley|
|Clegg, Walter||Holland, Philip||Oppenheim, Mrs. S.|
|Cockeram, E. P.||Holt, Miss M.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Cooke, Robert||Hordern, Peter||Osborn, John|
|Coombs, D. M.||Hornby, Richard||Owen, I. W. (Stockport, N.)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P.||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Cordle, John||Howe, Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Corfield, F. V.||Howell, David (Guildford)||Peel, John|
|Cormack, P.||Howell, R. (Norfolk, North)||Percival, Ian|
|Costain, A P.||Hunt, John||Peyton, Rt. Hn. John|
|Critchley, Julian||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Crouch, David||Iremonger, T. L.||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Crowder, F. P.||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pounder, Rafton|
|Curran, Charles||James, David||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Dance, James||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.|
|Davies, J. E. H. (Knutsford)||Jessel, T.||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. J. A.||Jones, Arthur (Northants, South)||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Dean, Paul||Jopling, Michael||Raison, T. H.|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Dixon, P.||Kellett, Mrs. Elaine||Redmond, R. S.|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, East)|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Kershaw, Anthony||Rees, P. (Dover)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kilfedder, James A.||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Kimball, Marcus||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Dykes, H. J. M.||King, Evelyn (Dorset, South)||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Eden, Sir John||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Edwards, R. N. (Pembroke)||Kinsey, J. R.||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Kirk, Peter||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Kitson, Timothy||Roberts, M. (Cardiff, N.)|
|Emery, Peter||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Roberts, W. (Conway)|
|Farr, John||Knox, D.||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Fell, Anthony||Lambton, Antony||Rost, P. (Derbyshire, S.E.)|
|Fenner, Mrs. P. E.||Lane, David||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Fidler, Michael (Bury & Radcliffe)||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Scott, Nicholas|
|Finsberg, G.||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Le Marchant, Spencer||Sharples, Richard|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Fookes, Miss J. E.||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)||Shelton, W. J. (Clapham)|
|Fortescue, Tim||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Simeons, Charles|
|Fowler, P. N.||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Fox, J. M.||Longden, Gilbert||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Loveridge, J.||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Soref, H.||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)||Warren, K.|
|Speed, Keith||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Spence, J. D.||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Sproat, I. M.||Tilney, John||White, R. (Gravesend)|
|Stainton, Keith||Trafford, Dr. J.||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Stanbrook, I. R.||Trew, P.||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Stewart-Smith, G.||Tugendhat, C.||Wilkinson, J.|
|Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Stokes, J. H. R.||van Straubenzee, W. R.||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Stuttaford, Dr. I. T.||Vaughan, Dr. G. F.||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Sutcliffe, J. H.||Vickers, Dame Joan||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Tapsell, Peter||Waddington, David||Worsley, Marcus|
|Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Walder, David (Clitheroe)||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)||Younger, Hon. George|
|Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Taylor, R. (Croydon, N.W.)||Wall, Patrick||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Tebbit, N.||Walters, Dennis||Mr. Jasper More and|
|Temple, John M.||Ward, Dame Irene||Mr. Reginald Eyre.|
|Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
That an humble Address to be presented Her Majesty, as follows:
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.