Orders of the Day — Licensing (Abolition of State Management) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th April 1971.

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Photo of Mr Gordon Campbell Mr Gordon Campbell , Moray and Nairnshire 12:00 am, 20th April 1971

I am aware of that, and I am also aware that these are many more who are in favour. In Scotland there is no brewery in either of the two districts. The property there to be sold consists mostly of hotels and public houses. The property in the three State Management Districts represents about £4½ million capital resources. We believe that this money could be better employed for the benefit of the taxpayers.

It has been pointed out that the State management system makes a profit, but it is modest. The return on capital is less than that which successive Governments, Conservative and Labour, have set as targets for the nationalised industries. It should also be remembered that the State management organisation does not pay corporation tax. The ending of the State monopoly and the change from a Government Department to private enterprise will reduce the Civil Service by about 1,500. Most of those employed are likely to keep their jobs, but they will cease to be in the category of civil servants. In future they will be in the same situation as everyone else in the country who is engaged in work in hotels and public houses.

The reduction of the number of civil servants by a withdrawal from a function which is totally inappropriate for a Government Department surely is to be welcomed. The Leader of the Opposition when Prime Minister, on one of the many occasions when he made a statement about an economic crisis, attempted to set a limit to the size of the Civil Service. He saw this as a necessary way of curbing public expenditure. Perhaps I am in a suitable position to make this comment since I was an established civil servant for a dozen years before a number of my constituents asked me to represent them in Parliament.

As for the remarks of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), I have seldom heard such a scurrilous and irresponsible speech. It was even wrong in its fundamental facts. For example, he began by saying that the State management system had operated for 66 years, when everybody concerned knows that to be incorrect. He ended by referring to State breweries in Scotland when there are none. By innuendo and accusation he debased the standing of the Dispatch Box.