Disposal of Assets by, Dissolution of and Grants to the Transport Holding Company etc.

Transport Holding Company Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th January 1972.

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10.12 p.m.

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

I beg to move, Amendment No. 1, in line 16, leave out subsection (3).

Although the Amendment is innocent in appearance, it seems to embody the whole argument between the two sides on this Bill.

Section 53 of the Transport Act, 1968, provides that the Transport Holding Company can be wound up, but only under subsection (1)(b), to which the Amendment is directed, and which provides that the property remaining in the Transport Holding Company—in other words, Thomas Cook & Son—is transferred to a publicly-owned body.

We deeply regret and oppose the Government's intention to put up the company for sale to private interests. I move this Amendment because, if it is not possible to make Thomas Cook & Son a viable and prosperous concern as a separate publicly-owned company, and if a change of structure and management is thought necessary, I see no reason why it cannot be retained in the public sector. It is the view of hon. Members on this side that some consortium could be arranged for the purpose, perhaps with British Railways, the new Air Holdings Company, B.E.A., B.O.A.C., or possibly under the general supervision and direction of one of the tourist boards. If the Government feel that it cannot be left as a separate, viable, publicly-owned body then their first duty should have been to make some arrangement where it could be transferred to a public body.

The Under-Secretary argued in Committee that technically and legally the

Bill was unnecessary but that the Government are making doubly sure by coming to the House for the legislation. We are grateful and agree that they should do so. I and my right hon. and hon. Friends feel that it is a totally unnecessary and doctrinaire Measure because Thomas Cook, like the State breweries, has been in public ownership for many years, under successive Governments. At a time when the country is demanding more public investment to deal with our desperate economic situation, the Government should not be concerned with this matter. The issue is whether we should keep the important assets and potential of Thomas Cook in the public sector or whether it should go up for auction. I hope that the Government will undertake to look at this again and consider the possibility of Thomas Cook remaining in the public sector if it cannot remain a publicly-owned, separate entity.

Photo of Mr Eldon Griffiths Mr Eldon Griffiths , Bury St Edmunds

The right hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) is always persuasive but I must advise the House that if subsection (3) were to be left out we should be left with Section 53 of the 1968 Act and this would not be consistent with the purposes of the Bill. I must advise the House to retain subsection (3) and to reject the Amendment, because, as the 1968 Act made clear, it is appropriate and expedient—hon. Gentlemen agreed to this—for the Secretary of State to have the power to transfer elsewhere the assets of the Transport Holding Co. and thereafter to dissolve it.

As the parent Act now stands it cannot be said unequivocally, beyond peradventure, that after the sale of Thomas Cook we could use the Section 53 procedure to dispose of any vestigial assets or liabilities that might remain and thereafter to wind up the T.H.C. Since this is the whole purpose of the Bill, we must dispose of any possible doubt, and I must ask the House to reject the Amendment.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 189, Noes 223.

Division No. 43]AYES[10.19 p.m.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Armstrong, ErnestAtkinson, Norman
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)Ashton, JoeBagier, Gordon A. T.
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)Oswald, Thomas
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony WedgwoodHattersley, RoyPalmer, Arthur
Bidwell, SydneyHeffer, Eric S.Parker, John (Dagenham)
Bishop, E. S.Horam, JohnParry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Blenkinsop, ArthurHoughton, Rt. Hn. DouglasPavitt, Laurie
Boardman, H. (Leigh)Howell, Denis (Small Heath)Peart, Rt. Hn. Freo
Booth, AlbertHuckfield, LesliePendry, Tom
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. ArthurHughes, Mark (Durham)Pentland, Norman
Bradley, TomHughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)Hughes, Roy (Newport)Prescott, John
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)Hunter, AdamPrice, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Buchan, NormanIrvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)Price, William (Rugby)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)Janner, GrevilleReed, D. (Sedgefield)
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)John, BrynmorRees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Cant, R. B.Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)Rhodes, Geoffrey
Carmichael, NeilJohnson, Walter (Derby, S.)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)Jones, Dan (Burnley)Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n&R'dnor)
Clark, David (Colne Valley)Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)Roper, John
Cohen, StanleyKaufman, GeraldRose, Paul B.
Concannon, J. D.Kerr, RussellRoss, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Conlan, BernardKinnock, NeilSandelson, Neville
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)Lambie, DavidShore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Crawshaw, RichardLamond, JamesShort, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)Latham, ArthurSilkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)Lawson, GeorgeSillars, James
Dalyell, TamLeadbitter, TedSkinner, Dennis
Davidson, ArthurLee, Rt. Hn. FrederickSmall, William
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Lestor, Miss JoanSmith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Spearing, Nigel
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)Lomas, KennethSpriggs, Leslie
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)Loughlin, CharlesStallard, A. W.
Deakins, EricLyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Dell, Rt. Hn. EdmundMcCartney, HughStrang, Gavin
Dempsey, JamesMcElhone, FrankSwain, Thomas
Doig, PeterMcGuire, MichaelThomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)
Dormand, J. D.Mackenzie, GregorThomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)Mackie, JohnThomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Duffy, A. E. P.Maclennan, RobertTinn, James
Dunnett, JackMcMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)Tomney, Frank
Eadie, AlexMahon, Simon (Bootle)Torney, Tom
Ellis, TomMallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Urwin, T. W.
English, MichaelMarks, KennethVarley, Eric G.
Evans, FredMarquand, DavidWainwright, Edwin
Ewing, HenryMarshall, Dr. EdmundWalden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.Mason, Rt. Hn. RoyWalker, Harold (Doncaster)
Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Ladywood)Meacher, MichaelWallace, George
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)Mellish, Rt. Hn. RobertWatkins, David
Foot, MichaelMikardo, IanWellbeloved, James
Ford, BenMillan, BruceWhite, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Forrester, JohnMilne, EdwardWhitehead, Phillip
Garrett, W. E.Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)Whitlock, William
Gilbert, Dr. JohnMorgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Golding, JohnMorris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Gourlay, HarryMorris, Charles R. (Openshaw)Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Grant, George (Morpeth)Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)Mulley, Rt. Hn. FrederickWilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)Murray, Ronald KingWoof, Robert
Hamilton, James (Bothwell)Oakes, Gordon
Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)Ogden, EricTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hardy, PeterO'Halloran, MichaelMr. James Dunn and Mr. William Hamling.
Harper, JosephO'Malley, Brian
Orme, Stanley
NOES
Adley, RobertBray, RonaldClegg, Walter
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)Brinton, Sir TattonCockeram, Eric
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Cooke, Robert
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)Bruce-Gardyne, J.Coombs, Derek
Astor, JohnBuchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M)Cooper, A. E.
Atkins, HumphreyBuck, AntonyCorfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Balniel, LordBullus, Sir EricCormack, Patrick
Benyon, W.Burden, F. A.Crouch, David
Berry, Hn. AnthonyButler, Adam (Bosworth)Curran, Charles
Biffen, JohnCarlisle, MarkDavies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)
Biggs-Davison, JohnCarr, Rt. Hn. Robertd'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. James
Blaker, PeterChannon, PaulDean, Paul
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)Chapman, SydneyDeedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.
Boscawen, RobertChataway, Rt. Hn. ChristopherDrayson, G. B.
Bossom, Sir CliveChichester-Clark, R.du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward
Bowden, AndrewChurchill, W. S.Dykes, Hugh
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. JohnClarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Eden, Sir John
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)Kershaw, AnthonyRawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)Kilfedder, JamesRedmond, Robert
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Eyre, ReginaldKing, Tom (Bridgwater)Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Farr, JohnKinsey, J. R.Roberts Michael (Cardiff, N.)
Fell, AnthonyKirk, PeterRoberts, Wyn (Conway)
Fenner, Mrs. PeggyKitson, TimothyRossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Fookes, Miss JanetKnight, Mrs. JillRost, Peter
Fortescue, TimKnox, DavidRoyle, Anthony
Foster, Sir JohnLane, DavidRussell, Sir Ronald
Fowler, NormanLegge-Bourke, Sir HarryScott, Nicholas
Fox, MarcusLe Marchant, SpencerSharples, Richard
Fry, PeterLewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Galbraith, Hn. T. G.Longden, GilbertShelton, William (Clapham)
Gibson-Watt, DavidLoveridge, JohnSimeons, Charles
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)McAdden, Sir StephenSinclair, Sir George
Goodhart, PhilipMacArthur, IanSkeet, T. H. H.
Goodhew, VictorMcCrindle, R. A.Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Gorst, JohnMaclean, Sir FitzroySoref, Harold
Gower, RaymondMcMaster, StanleySpeed, Keith
Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)McNair-Wilson, MichaelSpence, John
Gray, HamishMcNair-Wiison, Patrick (NewForest)Sproat, Iain
Green, AlanMaddan, MartinStainton, Keith
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)Madel, DavidStanbrook, Ivor
Grylls, MichaelMather, CarolStewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Gummer, SelwynMaude, AngusStoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Gurden, HaroldMawby, RayStokes, John
Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Sutcliffe, John
Hall, John (Wycombe)Meyer, Sir AnthonyTapsell, Peter
Hannam, John (Exeter)Mills, Peter (Torrington)Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Haselhurst, AlanMiscampbell, NormanTebbit, Norman
Hastings, StephenMitchell, Lt.-Col. C.(Aberdeenshire, W)Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Havers, MichaelMoate, RogerThorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Hawkins, PaulMolyneaux, JamesTrafford, Dr. Anthony
Hay, JohnMoney, ErnieTrew, Peter
Hayhoe, BarneyMonks, Mrs. ConnieTugendhat, Christopher
Higgins, Terence L.Monro, HectorTurton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Hiley, JosephMore, Jaspervan Straubenzee, W. R.
Hill, James (Southampton, Test)Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.Waddington, David
Holland, PhilipMorrison, CharlesWalder, David (Clitheroe)
Holt, Miss MaryMurton, OscarWard, Dame Irene
Hooson, EmlynNabarro, Sir GeraldWarren, Kenneth
Hordern, PeterNeave, AireyWeatherill, Bernard
Hornby, RichardNicholls, Sir HarmarWells, John (Maidstone)
Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame PatriciaNoble, Rt. Hn. MichaelWhite, Roger (Gravesend)
Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)Normanton, TomWiggin, Jerry
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)Onslow, CranleyWilkinson, John
Hunt, JohnOsborn, JohnWinterton, Nicholas
Hutchison, Michael ClarkOwen, Idris (Stockport, N.)Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Page, Graham (Crosby)Woodnutt, Mark
James, DavidParkinson, CecilWorsley, Marcus
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)Peel, JohnWylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Jennings, J. C. (Burton)Peyton, Rt. Hn. JohnYounger, Hn. George
Jessel, TobyPike, Miss Mervyn
Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)Pink, R. BonnerTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Johnston, Russell (Inverness)Powell, Rt. Hn. J. EnochMr. John Stradling Thomas and
Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)Proudfoot, WilfredMr. Michael Jopling.
Kaberry, Sir DonaldPym, Rt. Hn. Francis