I have to inform the House that a message has been brought from the Lords by one of their Clerks, as follows:
The Lords insist on their amendments in lieu of certain of their amendments to the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill to which the Commons have disagreed; and disagree to the amendments proposed by the Commons in lieu of certain amendments on which the Lords have insisted, for which insistence and disagreement they assign the following Reason:
Because the ship repairing companies named in the Bill are likely to be less competitive and less successful and to be able to provide less employment if they are nationalised.
I beg to move, That this House doth insist on its disagreement with the Lords in the amendments on which the Lords insist.
I must once again make it quite clear that it is the firm policy of the Government to take ship repairing into public ownership. That commitment was stated in clear and explicit terms in both Labour Party election manifestos in 1974. That commitment was just as firm as our policy to bring the aircraft and shipbuilding and marine engineering industries into public ownership.
Ship repairing was considered for inclusion in our programme at the same time as the other proposals. It was not included as an afterthought, and the Tory peers in the House of Lords are now taking it upon themselves to tell the Government what policies they will allow us to pursue. They, and they alone, have the arrogance and effrontery to tell this elected House of Commons what policies they will permit us to implement.
Ship repairing was included—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—in our proposals as long ago as 1973. It was included for strong and powerful reasons, and the industrial case is overwhelming. I need not go over the ground that I went over last week, but will merely point out that ship repairing is fragmented; it has a rapidly declining work force; the level of capital investment has been disastrous and there is urgent need for the injection of capital; and modernisation is needed.
All these conclusions were reached by PA Management Consultants, which was appointed and asked to report on the industry by the last Conservative Government. The PA report said that ship repairing would decline if it had not got a proper structure and there was not an injection of capital investment. Of course that can best be done under the umbrella of British Shipbuilders.
There has been, as we know, a vigorous and determined campaign to keep ship repairing out of public ownership. Bristol Channel Ship Repairers has been at the forefront of this campaign. That company has conducted a highly misleading and expensive publicity campaign, and of course it has not been without effect.
In future, the House of Lords will be known as "Mr. Bailey's poodle", but I should like to inform the House that even Bristol Channel Ship Repairers acknowledges the difficulties of its own industry—that is, the poor investment, the need for capital investment—and it is only right also that I should inform the House that even after the Government's intentions were known and ship repairing was included in our manifesto, we received an application from Bristol Channel Ship Repairers asking for £20 million of Government assistance. So much for this thrusting, stand-on-your-own-feet, entrepreneurial company which now claims that it can do without Government assistance. Throughout, its attitude has been one of deceit, and it has been supported by a misleading public relations exercise, not to mention its bullying tactics towards some of its own employees.
The Bill has been before Parliament for nearly a year. The Second Reading took place on 2nd December 1975 and there have been 58 Committee Sittings and hundreds of hours of debate. The Government have not lost a single Division in this House on the Bill, and if it does not reach the statute book soon the consequences for those industries will be catastrophic.
The aircraft industry's future depends on a coherent strategy based on collaborative projects with the United States and other European countries, and if we do not get it, along with the others, into public ownership, it cannot pursue those projects. The shipbuilding industry is unlikely to survive without public ownership and substantial Government help, and the same applies to ship repairing.
The Tory peers, responsible to no one and elected by no one, take it upon themselves to decide which election commitments this House should fulfil, and the only thing that we ask, and all that we have ever asked throughout, is that the Tory peers pursue the rôle that they normally pursue when a Tory Government are in office. We are and will be forced, therefore, to reintroduce the Bill in the next Session of Parliament, and I want to make it clear that the reintroduced Bill will not offer any improvement in compensation terms, that the safeguarding provisions will remain the same, and that the same effective dates will continue in effect. I say this so that there shall be no false expectations and no misunderstandings about any financial benefit resulting from the obduracy of the other place.
The impact on the industries of delaying the Bill any further will be extremely damaging to thousands of those who seek their livelihoods in the shipbuilding and ship repairing and aircraft industries, and the responsibility for that is due entirely to the Tory peers, aided and abetted by the Tories in this House.
The Secretary of State's speech was a nauseating mixture of threat and blackmail of the kind to which this House least enjoys listening. On a measure which has been before Parliament as long as this one and which has been discussed on so many occasions, one might at least have expected the right hon. Gentleman to have had enough practice to get his facts right.
His first error was picked up by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery). The Secretary of State had said that the Tory peers, and the Tory peers alone, were responsible for the Bill once again being before the House of Commons. This is an interesting description of the vote that took place this morning, in which 16 Liberal peers, 27 Cross-Bench peers, and the only Labour Member of the other House who took the trouble to speak on the Second Reading of the Bill—the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell—voted against the ship repairing provision. I shall not attempt to repeat the colourful language—nor am I permitted to do so under the rules—used by the noble Lord as to the particular ocean into which he suggests that Government Ministers should jump for their attitude to the Lords amendment.
The Secretary of State is not even implementing his own party's manifesto. He has stated once again today at the Dispatch Box that nationalisation of the ship repairing industry is in the Labour manifesto. That happens to be correct. It is in the manifesto. The only difference is that the Government are not actually seeking to nationalise the ship repairing industry. They are seeking to nationalise a certain selected number of companies—not the largest and not the main companies in certain cases but a very select number of ship repairing companies. This cannot be said to be implementation when the Government have not even achieved what the monifesto originally said that they were seeking to do.
The Secretary of State must have been bitten by his Minister of State because those of us who have travelled along the long path of the Bill have come to recognise the particularly nasty brand of vitriol that has been injected into the arguments about Bristol Channel Ship Repairers. I feel that the attitude of the Government and the incredible decision today to continue the battle over the Bill are motivated almost more than anything else on the Labour Benches by a personal sense of resentment that one company has had the nerve to fight against the Government. [Interruption.] We never hear the other companies mentioned in this connection.
When the Secretary of State rises at the Dispatch Box and uses such offensive terms as "deceit"—terms which he may care to use outside the House and face the consequences—and then has the nerve almost in the same breath to say that the Government have never lost a vote in this House over the Bill, it shows an amazing amount of conceit on the Government's part.
I find the decision quite incredible. I have been involved in the fight up to now against the Bill. We have to recognise that, having fought it by every constitutional means open to us, at the end of the day we have failed over the main provisions of the Bill. It lies within the Government's power to carry into nationalisation the aircraft industry and the shipbuilding industry and, sadly, we are no longer able to prevent this. The Secretary of State has told us—this is his belief—that these industries face very serious problems, yet despite this he has taken the decision to put all that at risk.
The Secretary of State can have no guarantee that, at such time as the Bill may be reintroduced, he will still have a majority in this House. Therefore the whole future of these industries, as far as he and his Government are concerned, is put at risk. Although I welcome the situation—because we are determined to defeat the Bill—I personally find it a quite incredible decision. I believe that it is purely motivated by feelings of malice towards one particular company in the industry.
I take no pride in the reasons that we have sent back to the Lords with every Bill for our rejection of the Lords amendments. I think they are pretty good rubbish. You do not always get a cheer for your announcements, Mr. Speaker, but I think that the reception given to the Lords' reasons on this occasion summed up the case absolutely.
The ship repairing companies named in the Bill are likely to be less competitive, less successful, and likely to be able to provide less employment, if they are nationalised. That has always been our case, and it has never been adequately answered. We shall therefore vote, as we always have done, to ensure that this particular industry is excluded from the Bill.
We have been over this ground many times before, and on every occasion this House has voted for the Bill. There has been a shuttle, and the only losers in this shuttle are the work force in the several industries concerned and the national interest in these vital industries.
There are two basic questions before us—first, the propriety of ship repairing being taken into public ownership, and, secondly, the constitutional propriety of the other place in acting as it has.
It is clear that much of the steam about the ship repairing industry has been generated by one company, of which roughly a quarter of the work force is employed in my constituency. At an earlier stage of debate I paid tribute to the commercial record of the company and its industrial relations record. I also expressed the wish that a compromise solution could be found at an earlier stage of the proceedings. That was not to be.
I also recognise the anxieties of the work force of Bristol Channel Ship Repairers about the future, but that future could be in jeopardy whatever the form of ownership, whether Bristol Channel Ship Repairers remains as it is or is taken, as I now hope, into public ownership. The natural anxieties of the men—they are not ideological in any way, about nationalisation or otherwise—are such that they want to ensure that their jobs continue roughly as they are now. Those natural anxieties have been fanned by a very strident and very misleading propaganda campaign on the part of the company.
One of the Conservative Members—some of whom are very keen to accept briefs and information from the company concerned—could answer that question rather more appropriately than I can.
As the Minister said on the last occasion, over 60 per cent. of the work force in the yard in my constituency expressed their approval of the nationalisation measure, and they resent very much indeed the criticism of them by the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) during the last debate on this issue.
We have now reached a stage where ultimately the will of the Government will prevail in respect of ship repairing, as well as the other two major industries. The question is what the health of these basic and major industries will be if the uncertainty is allowed to continue as a result of the action taken by the other place. The uncertainty is detrimental to jobs and to job prospects.
The continuance of the propaganda campaign by the company is also detrimental to the job interests of those employed in that company. In particular, it has inspired letters from a number of foreign companies which currently use the yard to the effect that after nationalisation they propose not to use the services of the company. One such letter was quoted by the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) in the debate in this House on 28th July. The company is stimulating those letters and therefore adversely affecting its prospects post-nationalisation.
A brochure entitled "For Hire" contains the threat that specialists working in the company will leave after nationalisation. It is stated in this glossy brochure that the
highly efficient South Wales ship repairing industry will … reecive no priority and inevitably die. We must safeguard the future for our specialists, some of who have already left our industry because of the threat of nationalisation.
Clearly, by such propaganda the company is adversely affecting the job prospects of the work force and, indeed, its own future.
I say again that the will of the Government in this matter ultimately will prevail. It is in the national—indeed it is in the local—interest that these companies are taken over as going concerns. I appeal to Bristol Channel Ship Repairers and to those Members of the other place who have again rejected the democratic will of this House to think again. If they do not, it will show that Members of the other place are not interested in the future of these companies but are interested simply in the political impact of this campaign. It will also show that the company is uninterested in the jobs of its work force and almost keen to leave a shell behind it as the nationalisation measure takes effect so that it can say "We told you so", and reveal its own real motives in this campaign.
In my view, it is time to remove that uncertainty for the sake of the work force and for the sake of the country. There is no reason why after nationalisation, given the commitments which my right hon. Friend has written into Clause 5 in relation to decentralisation and separate profit centres, the company should not continue in the new structure under the same management and with the same degree of commercial success.
I turn briefly to the action taken by the other place. Quite clearly it is a politically motivated campaign by another place which has no—
I am certain of one fact in relation to both questions. It is that an unelected unrepresentative other place has no legitimacy in relation to a matter of this kind which has been the subject of a manifesto by my party and which has been debated by and has received the approval of this House on a number of occasions. The other place has no legitimacy, and its Members should keep off our pitch. As a result of their action, they have made many Government supporters believe that their delaying powers should be abolished and that, because of the partisan motives of that unrepresentative assembly, their Lordships should have their teeth drawn speedily.
I thought that the speech by the Secretary of State was a disgraceful, spiteful, mean and nasty speech which was quite unworthy of him. In effect, he said that those who dared to stand in the way of this Government, however much they had the constitution on their side, would be villified, insulted and abused by him and by his sidekick, the Minister of State.
One Government supporter referred to the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell as "a turncoat". In view of that, I do not think that any further comment is necessary from those people in the country who know full well that the noble Lord has not always put as his first priority the preservation of private enterprise. The other day in a radio broadcast, the noble Lord used an analogy which I thought quite proper when he asked whether, if this or any other Government decided that in the national interest it was necessary to nationalise the boot and shoe manufacturing industry, they would also feel it necessary to nationalise every cobbler's shop in every High Street in the land. Perhaps it would not be profitable to spend too long dwelling on the future of cobblers in discussing this Bill, however.
The justification of the Labour manifesto was smashed by the Home Secretary less than an hour ago in this Chamber when he gave his reason why it was not possible for legislation to amend the Official Secrets Act to be introduced for the forthcoming Session, despite the fact that this was included in the Labour Party manifesto of 1974.
It is clear that the Government are out to repeat the Bill-killing exercise of 1970–71, only this time they are out to kill Mr. Bailey, and in case anyone may be left with the impression that it is merely another place which is trying to preserve Bristol Channel Ship Repairers and the ship repairing industry, I hope that the House will bear with me while I read extracts from two letters which I have received from trade unionists working for Bristol Channel Ship Repairers.
The first letter that I quote is dated 30th June and is from a Mr. A. J. Dobbs. He writes:
We shall continue our fight to save the jobs of those employed in ship repairing in South Wales and we sincerely hope that it will be third time lucky when the Report stage is discussed. Your continued support will be much appreciated.
I assure Mr. Dobbs that he will have my continued support.
Is my hon. Friend aware that Mr. Dobbs is a constituent of mine and is present in the Gallery now? He is an employee of this company and, like many others, is fighting a stern battle to save the company.
I did not know that. I am grateful to my hon. Friend and delighted to hear what he says.
The second letter from which I quote is dated 7th June and is from a Mr. Leslie James in Cardiff. He writes:
The Government has said that nationalisation will protect many thousands of jobs and that is why the Bill must go through. I and many other people in our company maintain that in fact the reverse will happen and that nationalisation of our small company will inevitably reduce our efficiency and put all our jobs in jeopardy. I would ask you most sincerely to continue your efforts against this Bill and to help us in any way possible to remain as we are.
Is my hon. Friend aware that Mr. Leslie James from Cardiff is also in the Gallery and that he knows far more about this industry than the Government Ministers handling the Bill?
With respect, my hon. Friend's last comment does not necessarily mean that he is complimenting Mr. James very much.
It is clear that the motivation of the Treasury Bench throughout our proceedings on this Bill has not been knowledge of or even concern for the industry. It has been based on dogma. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King) said, what the Government are doing today is possibly—it may be, mercifully—jeopardising their Bill because they are not prepared to believe that nine-tenths of the cake is better than none. They want everything and they want it now, and anyone who has the temerity to stand in their way has to be crushed.
The people who work in the industries know perfectly well that the Government have had for many years all the powers that they needed to invest in those industries, to keep them going and to keep men working.
Can my hon. Friend explain why a party which pretends to believe in industrial democracy has refused persistently to consult those who are most directly affected by the nationalisation of the ship repairing firms and to find out from them that the majority of them do not wish to be included in nationalisation?
I can answer that quite simply. It is because the creed of Socialism is "Do not do as I do; do as I say."
On 28th June, I asked the Secretary of State for Industry under what legislative powers the Concorde was funded, whether those powers had altered since 1962 and to what extent the Government's powers to effect intervention in the aircraft industry had increased during that period. The right hon. Gentleman's answer is worth reading to the House because it confirms quite clearly that the Government have all the powers that they need. The Minister of State said
From 1962 to 1968 Concorde was funded under the Civil Aviation Act 1949. Since 1968 Concorde has also been funded under the
Industrial Expansion Act 1968, later amended by the Concorde Aircraft Act 1973".
In his final sentence the Minister said
Apart from these Acts, no Government have needed to take additional powers during this period specifically to intervene in the aircraft industry."—[Official Report, 28th June 1976; Vol. 914, c. 3.]
It is obvious to the whole House and to the country that in respect of neither these companies nor any other company have we required additional powers for the Government to give them money. What we have needed is to take additional power on behalf of the people to get something back for our money in the form of accountability. The hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) has not even been awake during this period.
is the hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) not aware that the Government were elected in October 1974 when the manifesto was clearly presented? This industry represents jobs for a great many people in the North-East. There was an express mandate to nationalise both these industries in the manifesto of the October 1974 Election.
I doubt that I shall be taking advice either from the hon. Member or his agent on methods of obtaining election to this House. I believe that the people of this country are totally opposed to the introduction of this Bill.
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. An imputation of a personal kind has been made against me by the hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington in a most scurrilous aside, and I would ask for your protection in asking him to withdraw that imputation. I have been fully exonerated by a High Court of law upon a criminal charge after a lengthy hearing presided over by a High Court judge. The hon. Gentleman, with his usual scurrilous mind, has made an imputation against me—
I am not aware of what I stand accused. The hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Ryman) intervened and I merely replied. If the hon. Member thinks that anything I have said is in any way intended—
Order. If indeed there is some misunderstanding about this matter it would be better for the hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington to withdraw whatever the hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Ryman) thought he said.
Further to that point or order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In order to avoid doubt will you make clear in your ruling that my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) made no imputation, and in so far as he was thought to have made one he properly, humbly and unreservedly withdrew? Will you make clear that the fact that the hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Ryman) has been acquitted in a criminal court does not necessitate Opposition Members seeking his advice on political matters?
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The withdrawal by the hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington, in my respectful submission to you, was not broad enough. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was trying to be obtuse or whether he could not help it, but the implication and the imputation was clear. I ask for your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the withdrawal was not broad enough.
It would be in the interests of the House if I were to bring my speech to a conclusion. I am concerned that because of the interventions of the hon. Member for Blyth I shall appear to have made a very long speech.
Most people on the Opposition side of the House are aware that the Government are desperately seeking a con- frontation between the House of Commons and the House of Lords as a means of distracting the minds of the people of this country from the state into which they, the Government, have brought the economy. I suspect that the only way in which the present Government could possibly and conceivably answer the call for an election made by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) would be on the basis of a Lords versus Commons clash. If the Government were to go to the country and seek to be re-elected on that basis they would be much less successful than the Conservative Government when they went to the country in February 1974.
Mr. Eric S. Heller:
The hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) has claimed that workers in the ship-repairing industry do not want public ownership of that industry. He based his case on two letters received from two workers in the Bristol Channel Ship Repairing Company. Perhaps he is not aware that the whole of the ship-repairing industry is not concentrated in Bristol. Other ports have ship-repairing concerns, the workers in which have clearly indicated by their telegrams, letters and representations to their Members of Parliament that they are more than in favour of public ownership of the ship-repairing industry. The hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington should also be aware that some of us have actually worked in the ship-repairing industry. I have at different times worked in those industries where joiners are employed.
The hon. Member apparently would not know about interchangeability, which is precisely the subject I wish to develop. The Opposition often talks absolute rot on industrial matters. They do not understand the interchangeability that takes place among the work forces in the shipbuilding and ship-repairing industries. Workers employed on building ships find that when the ship is launched and completed, their next job is in ship repairing. Therefore, the argument by the other place that ship repairing s a separate industry is a lot of rubbish. Ship repairing is as much a part of the overall industry as are shipbuilding and marine engineering.
The Lords know that their argument on this point is phoney, but they advance it just the same because it suits their political objective, which is to hold up the Government's legislation. The Conservatives say that they are deeply concerned about jobs in the ship-repairing industry. If they knew anything about that industry, they would know—
They have yet to prove to me that they know anything about the industry. I have heard no argument from the Conservatives to show that they know the first thing about it. I am always willing to be convinced by a convincing argument.
If hon. Members opposite knew anything about the industry, they would know that employment in it had fallen drastically since 1946, when it was at its peak, when reconversion was taking place. On Merseyside the numbers employed have dropped from 20,000 to about 3,000 or below. All that happened under private ownership, but the industry has still had public money. The Conservatives always want public money—the taxpayer's money—injected into industry, but with no public accountability or public control.
If it is logical for the Lords to accept public ownership of shipbuilding and marine engineering, it is equally logical for them to accept the public ownership of ship repairing.
It is always wrong to give way to Opposition Members, with one or two exceptions. In the main, they make no contribution whatever to intelligent discussion. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hurry up.''] I can assure the hon. Member that I can go on for a long time about shipbuilding and ship repairing. I spent many years in the industry, working on the shop floor. I know a great deal about it and I could explain at length how badly it has been organised and run and how it needs a complete overhaul.
The PA Management Consultants' report indicated clearly the need for reorganisation of the industry and for public money to be put into it, and, although it did not call for public ownership, the answer was clear. Public ownership is the only way forward for the industry.
Why are the Lords objecting to this part of the Bill? If they are opposed to the whole concept, logic demands that they should throw it out completely. But they have not done so because they want to wound the Government as deeply as possible without destroying them, because they know that in the process of destroying the Government they would destroy themselves. I say to the House of Lords that by its action it has in the long term destroyed itself already. It has put the final nail in its coffin.
In 1909, the other place threw out the progressive Budget introduced by the Liberal Party. The Liberals were compelled to bring in the Parliament Act in 1911 to ensure that the House of Lords had no right to stop financial measures introduced by the House of Commons. In 1945 the reforming Labour Government found the Conservative majority in the other place opposing their Bills and were compelled to amend the Parliament Act in order to clip the wings of the other place. We are now faced with a further development in which a reforming Government are being opposed in their wishes and desires by an unelected and unrepresentative majority in the other place.
That is a very good question. I believe that the other place should have been abolished a long time ago. I trust that when a Labour Government introduce a Bill to abolish the House of Lords, the hon. Gentleman's party will openly support them in the Lobby.
The time has come to abolish the House of Lords. It is an outdated, superannuated body, and we should get rid of it at the earliest opportunity. There is one factor that the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) should bear in mind. How do we know that the devolution Bill next Session, if it gets through this House, will not be blocked by the other place, which thinks that it knows better than the elected majority here? That is a thought for the hon. Gentleman and his party to consider seriously.
I end with one comment about my old colleague and friend, Lord Shinwell. Lord Shinwell and I have fought many battles both against each other and on the same side. I am not sorry that he has spoken out in the way he has. That is his opinion. He has always been renowned for openly saying what he thinks. People like myself were brought up on the words and policies advocated by Lord Shinwell. I well remember that in his early days he wanted to see the other place done away with at the earliest possible moment. Perhaps Lord Shinwell has mellowed in his old age. That is all I would say about what Lord Shinwell has said.
Before this debate is concluded I hope that the Government Front Bench will take up the point raised so appositely by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) about why the Government are not proposing some immediate action about the other place. They would find it embarrassing to take up the other points raised by the hon. Gentleman, reinforced by the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson), about what on earth Labour Administrations have been doing since the war, leaving the other place intact, and only contributing to the agenda of reform the absurd Bill opposed by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) which I also voted against because it merely substituted patronage for birth. Unless the Government Front Bench come forward with at least a sketch of some measure to deal with the other place, we shall be bound to conclude that all their rancid and angry words on this subject are just artificial thunder on a stage.
The miserable fact is that four great industries and those who work in them—aerospace, shipbuilding, marine engineering and ship repairing—are existing in a long continued state of suspense which is damaging to everyone who works in those industries as well as to the national economy. This suspense has persisted for three main reasons. First, the Government were foolhardy in the early part of 1974 in bringing forward an identical measure to this when they had not got a majority in this House. It would have been perfectly honourable and satisfactory to tell the nation that that part of their manifesto must await the acquisition of a majority of the people.
Then in October 1974 they had the temerity to bring the measure forward again, in spite of the damage it had already done, and when they had only the support of 28 per cent. of the electorate. Because of their foolhardiness the responsibility is theirs for now having landed the industry in this desperate situation.
Secondly, it became apparent at an early stage, although not apparent in precise form, that because of the inclusion of ship repairing the Bill was bristling with hybridity. Instead of acknowledging that, and facing the fact, the Government took refuge in the wholly unworthy device of scrambling through this House a measure which deprived legitimate private interests of the time-honoured procedure for letting private interests be represented in front of this House.
Thirdly, and with particular impudence, they have in the last few days strained at the gnat of ship repairing which, if exempted, would have meant that the rest of the Bill would have been theirs. Therefore, the responsibility for the continued and damaging suspense is entirely the Government's. There can be no question about the continued resistance by Liberal Members to the Government's stubborn attitudes.
I would repudiate, as far as Liberal Members are concerned, the extraordinary incentive to cowardice which appeared in The Sunday Times leading article only yesterday. Having condemned the Government's action on this Bill on every other count, the article ended by saying that because of the continued resistance in the other place, which might sour industrial relations, their Lordships ought to withdraw in spite of right being entirely on their Lordships' side. That is a supine attitude which can come only from people who are desperate to get every reader of every political complexion to subscribe to their newspaper.
The other place, armed with the powers that Mr. Attlee's Government gave them—no doubt after the sort of due consideration that Mr. Attlee gave to everything—are not wise to add to Bills or interfere in the detailed process of legislation but are wise to act as a sluice gate to hold up a flood of outdated legislation from a manifesto which is already two years old and in circumstances that have entirely changed.
Speaking entirely for myself, I see very little difference in merit between one House of Parliament that depends upon the accident of birth or patronage and another House of Parliament that depends upon the accident of first-past-the-post elections. They are both highly unrepresentative and the circumstances of their membership are now virtually discredited. For all these reasons our resistance to the Government's behaviour has been reinforced by what has happened during the last few days.
There is an old saying that those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. Nothing could have been madder than what the Lords have done over this legislation. They have sealed their fate.
Hon. Gentlemen who believe in democracy—and say that democracy is being imperilled by certain people outside this House—but who then subscribe to a philosophy that an unelected Chamber, dominated by Tories, should be more powerful than this House are the enemies of democracy. They may be prepared to put up with the Lords acting in that manner, but the people outside will not.
The hon. Gentleman does not represent as many people in his constituency as I do in mine. Nearer 70 per cent. of my constituents who voted, voted for me.
The hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) said that he had received two letters from men employed by BCSR. They were probably from the same ship repair employees who wrote to me. I also received several letters from the same source. Is not that funny? I doubt if there is one hon. Member who did not have letters from employees of Bristol Channel Ship Repairers. No one prompted those letters. Every lad who worked with that company knew Ernie Fernyhough and decided to write to him. I represent more ship repair workers than the entire work force of Bristol Channel Ship Repairers, and I know what they want because I have been meeting them for 30 years.
Most of the ship repair workers in my constituency already work for a nationalised ship repair yard. That yard is doing very well and since nationalisation it has employed more workers. It is doing very much better than it did before nationalisation.
About a month ago my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) and I visited that shipyard. Out of the four ships in the yard, three were from foreign countries. That yard has lost none of its overseas customers as a result of nationalisation. Its sales staff are out seeking jobs, employment is going up and tonnage is going up. Similar consequences will apply in the other yards when they are nationalised.
Had it not been for the Labour Government and nationalisation, 1,500 shipyard workers would have been unemployed now. Opposition Members did not oppose the nationalisation of the shipyards that Court Line wanted to dump.
On the point that nationalisation can safeguard jobs, does the right hon. Gentleman welcome the fact that the Government are willing to throw the Bill overboard and so lose the safety which he sees in the nationalisation of the aircraft and shipbuilding industries?
I welcome the fact that the Government are prepared to stand up to an unelected House. I have always been a nationaliser, and I have been elected 10 times on that basis. There is no misaapprehension in my constituency about where I stand on this issue.
The hon. Members for Christchurch and Lymington and Bridgwater (Mr. King) called in aid Lord Shinwell. You and I, Mr. Speaker, have known Lord Shinwell probably for longer than any Opposition Member. You and I know that he was not always loved and treasured by the Opposition as he is now. I remember the time when he was despised and rejected by them. I remember the time when they would hardly allow him to speak because they hated the philosophy he represented.
Even without Lord Shinwell, the Liberal peers and the Cross-Benchers, there has always been a Tory majority against the Bill. The Tories have an inbuilt power in the House of Lords which enables them to win even when Cross-Benchers, Liberals and Labour Peers vote against them. The House of Lords has committed hara-kiri because it has decided to thwart the will of the people.
My hon. Friend said that if the Bill were postponed because of the decision made by the Lords, future compensation would in no way be affected. I hope that the Opposition have been following the industrial Press and have seen statements from those in top management about the uncertainty which their attitude is causing in the industry. Let them look at what has happened to share prices. When the Bill is implemented and we pay compensation, I hope that compensation will be based not on what my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend were prepared to pay earlier but on the present-day Stock Exchange prices. Share prices have tumbled because of the attitude of Liberals, Tories and nationalists. They have brought near to bankruptcy what could be good enterprising firms. This weekend a shiver went through shipbuilding and ship-repair localities.
If more public money is not forthcoming, the workers wonder what will happen to their jobs. Will the Government bail them out even if the industries are not under public ownership? Will there be more people like the gentleman from Bristol Channel Ship Repairers who objects to his small yards being taken into public ownership but has no diffidence about coming to the public purse with a big begging bowl? Will there be more who say "I can guarantee employment if the Government will dole out £20 million at a time"? That is, apparently, what Bristol Channel Ship Repairers has been asking of the Government.
I did not deal with that point because I knew that the House was anxious to proceed. That was a standard application for regional development aid. Is the right hon. Gentleman opposed to regional development aid? According to his previous speeches, he believes that all companies in assisted areas should receive regional development aid. If the Secretary of State's intervention was meant to be an attack on companies which claim regional aid, it was a very important statement.
The hon. Member for Bridgwater, especially now that he has been promoted, has to be much more careful. He cannot go round making fine weekend speeches advocating the cutting of public expenditure and then come here and defend a private company which asks the Government for £20 million. It is a contradiction in one speech to demand cuts in Government expenditure and in the next to demand that £20 million of public money be given to a private enterprise concern under the regional industrial policy. I support the regional industrial policy and I do not mind if public expenditure goes in that direction, but I shall not make a speech next week demanding cuts in public expenditure.
My constituency was crucified in the 1930s because its shipyards and ship-repairing establishments were closed. We have just celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the march from Jarrow to London. Many of those who took part in that march were ship-repair and shipyard workers. Since then in my constituency the industry has made some recovery. Tyneside is probably one of the most viable shipbuilding and ship-repairing areas in the United Kingdom. I have not received any letter from an employer or worker in my constituency urging me to oppose the Bill. All of them, as far as I know, want the Bill and I am glad that we intend to stay here long enough to ensure that in the next Session—even though we have been thwarted by the Opposition—we shall get the Bill. I am prepared to bet on that.
I have been close to the Bill in the last months and I must express my utter disgust at the way in which the Government are leaving the industry in a state of such confusion and doubt. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) for the way in which he has led our team. I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King) upon whom much of the work fell throughout the passage of the Bill. He, too, has done a good job, and I compliment him. It was a team effort, and we worked together in Committee. With the hon. Members for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) and Come Valley (Mr. Wainwright) we were united against the Bill. Since then we have gained the support of the Ulster Unionists and Plaid Cymru.
The Government like to call in support the figures which show that they received 11½ million votes in the last election, but those hon. Members who are opposed to the Bill received about 17½ million votes. Did the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maguire) include a pledge to nationalise the ship-repair industry in his election address?
The hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone would not have expressed a view either way in his manifesto and he is therefore free to vote with a clear conscience. But the Minister claims that all hon. Members on his side of the House expressed their support for the nationalisation of ship repairing in their manifestos. That is not the case.
The House of Lords has acted again in the true interests of the majority of people. If hon. Members do not believe that, they should examine recent events. There have been three by-elections and the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Cowans) claimed that he achieved a great victory. He has an odd idea of victory. A recent Gallup Poll shows that we have a lead of 25 per cent. That is considerable. There are also the local by-elections which clearly represent the views of the electorate. Just a mile from the Chamber, Lambeth's solid Labour support fell from 70 per cent. at the last election to below 50 per cent. last week. That is a remarkable fall.
I shall give way later, but first I must answer the Minister of State. Since voters in the conurbations tend to vote the same way, the Minister of State might reflect that in Lambeth the swing to the Conservatives was 14·3 per cent. and he would lose his seat if the swing at Manchester, Ardwick was 12·1 per cent.
That does not really matter. The hon. Member makes a fair point, and we can all quote examples. deliberately used Lambeth as an example because I hoped that the Minister would rise to it, and he did.
Mr. Jack Jones has suggested that the Prime Minister should appoint 50 life peers. Such a list would surely include the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart), the Father of the House, the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) and the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), all of whom have given great service to the country. If they were made life peers, we should have by-elections which could be fought on the nationalisation of these industries. But the Minister of State cannot be sure of how people would vote.
It would be fascinating for students of political history if Labour lost its majority in this House and achieved a majority in the House of Lords at a stroke. Is the Minister of State sure that his right hon. Friends, having been freed from the bond of patronage, would vote in the way in which they voted in this House? Might they not follow Lord George-Brown or Lord Shinwell? Whatever the criticism of Lord Shinwell by Government Members, he is a patriot and in recent weeks he has voted in the way he felt best for the country.
The delay in the Bill and the delay last summer following the May vote was caused deliberately by the Government. Bristol Channel Ship Repairers has constantly opposed the Bill. It and other ship builders and repairers—and we must not forget that other companies are included in the Bill—have opposed the measure. This morning I met shop stewards of the Bristol Channel company who told me of their great regret—they used stronger words—at the Secretary of State's speech in the House the other evening.
We understand that the Bill will come forward again in the next Session, thereby continuing the great uncertainty in these industries. I deplore the way in which the Government have treated them. I remember the Ports Bill in 1970. There was a General Election and we won.
The Government's action towards the workers in these industries will have the same result next year. They will be solely to blame for the harm that they have done to the industry in the meantime.
Not only on Merseyside but throughout the ship repair industry, workers will welcome the Government's insistence that the Bill will go through. Conservative Members who talk glibly about the industry fail to recognise that the decision taken by the other place today is cynical and ruthless. The industry has been in the doldrums for many years, since long before the question of public ownership was raised by the Government.
The Opposition argue that the Government should merely take powers under existing authority to provide the necessary capital for the industries covered by the Bill. The Government have already done that for the ship repair industry. The consequences of their feeding tremendous resources into it is not that it has been sustained and that job opportunities have been increased; the opposite is true. They have been going further and further down the spiral, and job opportunities have been decreasing. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) has pointed out that where there were once 20,000 people employed in ship repair on Merseyside the figure is now down to 3,000-plus.
The story does not end there. We need the industry in the area. We have had close consultation with workers in it, who are hanging on by the skin of their teeth, hoping that the Bill will go through so that they will know the future of their industry. By again overturning a decision of this House, the other place has taken a cynical attitude towards the workers. Their Lordships should take into account the fact that the ship repair industry does not consist of Bristol Channel Ship Repairers alone. Those who argue for the exclusion of that company should think of the industry as a whole. If the company is so effective and efficient, it will have a massive contribution to make to the new nationalised ship repair industry. The Bill should be welcomed as providing a far broader base for the industry and a far brighter future.
The trade unions in the industry have long been in favour of its nationalisation. This has been made clear in policy statements of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions. Duly elected delegates have said at conferences that they supported public ownership of their industry. That is why I believe that there will be a welcome for the Government's statement that they insist on going ahead with the Bill. The House should be unanimous in condemning the attitude of their Lordships towards an industry that has been waiting for a long time to have its future determined.
I was very disappointed by the Minister's speech. Many of his remarks were questionable and some were discreditable. He said that only the Tory Peers had turned down the Bill. He must have known that that was inaccurate. Then it came out that Lord Shinwell had voted against the Bill. But it should be noted that no fewer than 16 Liberal peers and 27 Cross-Benchers voted against. None of those 44 can be described as Tory peers.
For the sake of greater accuracy, I have been to the other place to obtain the voting lists, and I have analysed the results according to the way in which their Lordships record themselves in Vacher's. Only 94 take the Conservative Whip, 16 take the Liberal Whip, 87 take no Whip or are Cross-Benchers, one is Labour, and six describe themselves as Independent.
That puts the whole matter in perspective and shows how discreditable was the Minister's statement.
Many hon. Members have the illusion that public control of the shipbuilding and ship repairing industry will ensure that all those working in it will retain their jobs.
I remember Jarrow, and I remember that in 1931, in an extra- ordinary way, its people returned a Conservative Member. That was an illustration of how they felt about the then Labour Government, which was comparable to how many people feel about the present Government.
When I asked the Prime Minister what would happen to the shipyards and what the Government would do to ensure work in them, he said that there would be rationalisation. Rationalisation of an industry almost inevitably means that fewer people, not more, will be employed in it.
I also asked the Prime Minister whether the Government, when they had taken over the shipbuilding industry, would be prepared to give the necessary orders for ships to keep the yards open, in view of the shortage of orders in the world today. He said "You will have to wait and see what we do about that". I repeat that question to the Government now. If orders cannot be obtained elsewhere, will the Government order ships to keep the yards open and the workers busy? If they do, what will they do with the ships? Will they go to the International Monetary Fund or foreign lenders to borrow the money to order the ships?
I am also concerned about the way in which the Government intend to keep all the nationalised ship repair yards open and in full employment, as they say they hope to do. If the ships are not being built, there will not be so many needing repair. Can the Government give an undertaking that there will be a flow of ships as is necessary to keep the yards fully employed in ship building and repairing and keep the people already employed in them fully employed?
A personal interest that I must declare lies in Chatham Dockyard and the Royal naval dockyards. What will happen to the Royal naval dockyards, which are almost entirely engaged in ship repair and refit? In the past they have been in a unique position. They have given fleet support and have been highly specialised, but what is to be their position? How are the Government to treat them? Will they treat them differently from the other ship repair yards, or will they say that the Royal naval dockyards, as ship repair yards, must be treated in the way of all others? Will some of the frigates that now go to the Royal naval dockyards be sent to ship repair yards that have never done naval ship repairing in the past? That is a question of concern to all those who are interested in the naval dockyards.
Will the Minister give an absolute undertaking—I hope that he will listen—and a categorical promise that no type of ship that now goes to the naval dockyards for repair and refit will in future be sent to the other shipyards, private yards included, that are now being taken over, or will be taken over, by the Government? The dockyard workers are entitled to know. As I represent a dockyard town, I wish to know.
Perhaps the most important question—perhaps the Minister of State will listen—is what will happen in the yards after public ownership. When the Government have nationalised the shipbuilding and ship repairing industries, will they keep the orders flowing in to ensure that all the people at present working in the industries are retained in employment in the firms in which they are now serving? I am sure that that is a question to which many Labour Members, as well as Conservative Members, want to know the answer.
We are told that public ownership will bring great benefit to the shipbuilding industry and its workers. That has to be proved. I have never seen any great benefit to the workers in any publicly-owned industry unless they have been kept fully employed. The public do not benefit unless those industries can produce the goods at the right time, at the right place and on the right delivery. We are not alone involved in what happens in this industry. Its success will depend upon how it can compete on these issues with the rest of the world.
I shall speak briefly. Although we are debating an amendment that relates specifically to the ship repairing industry, the consequence of the vote will be whether the whole Bill goes forward. It is a vote that will have a severe effect on the aircraft and shipbuilding industries.
We now see an interesting reversal of positions. The Government are pressing for the House to reject the amendment, with the consequence that the Bill will be lost. It is probable that after the Stechford by-election shortly after Christmas there will be little possibility of its getting on the statute book. On the other side of the coin, the Conservative Party is pressing the House to accept the amendment. It wants the amendment carried and ship repairing to be taken from the Bill. As a result, the nationalisation of both the aircraft and shipbuilding industries would go forward. As I say, that is an interesting reversal of rôles.
It could well be that many Labour Members for whom I have great respect, and who have great knowledge of the aircraft and shipbuilding industries, will rue what took place on this date. This may be the date on which the Bill was finally lost. It may well be that in February and March next year, when the new Bill is brought forward in the next Session, it will fail to reach the statute book because of one or two by-elections.
It may well be that Labour Members who represent shipbuilding and aircraft areas will have constituents asking them "Why did you insist on the small and pedantic amendment on ship repairing, thereby jeopardising the whole of the Bill?" Given their convictions and the depth with which they hold them, the only answer for the industries is nationalisation. I find it stunning that Labour Members are willing to jeopardise all that and to throw it overboard for the sake of possibly four or five ship repairing companies. I know that there are 12 in the Bill, but it is probable that only four or five would go forward if the two Houses entered into a compromise that would let everyone off the hook.
Why have the Government taken this line? It must be that there is great pressure on them from various directions. We speculated about the nature of this pressure last week. Why do they now want to lose the Bill? In the past few days the information has come to my ears—
Labour Members are reacting fiercely, and that tells a story.
In the past few days the story has come to my ears that a shipbuilding company that is not in Wales—in fact, there is none in Wales—is so near going to the wall that it will probably collapse in the early part of next year. It seems that the Government want to see that company collapse before the Bill is enacted. They will then be able to say "That is what happens when a shipbuilding company remains in private control." On the other hand, if the Bill had been enacted and the company had still collapsed because British Shipbuilders were not able to sustain it, people would say "That is the effect of nationalisation."
The Government are playing with politics. They are playing with people's jobs, livelihoods and futures. I suggest that Labour Members search their hearts deeply before they vote. Their vote tonight in favour of the Government may be the vote that loses them the Bill.
The hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) has shown how he has missed the point completely by describing the ship repairers as presenting a pedantic little issue. He has missed the point because the debate has reached the stage of not being about the ship repairers. It is not about the nationalisation of the industries, crucial and important as that measure remains. For those who can see the wood from the trees and who have some sort of historical perception in these matters, this is a constitutional debate about the relationship between the two Houses. The votes that are registered tonight will be judged largely in terms of their constitutional implications.
I shall be intensely interested in the way in which the Liberals vote. Clearly they do not have that degree of interest, judging by the emptiness of the Liberal Bench. The constitutional issue is whether another place should throw out the clearly expressed view of this place. That on its own is only part of the story. The fact is that when Labour or Liberal Governments are in majority control in this place the attitude is taken in another place—
No, I am not giving way in the early part of my speech. There is still about an hour and a half to go.
If we had a situation where relationships between the two Houses were such that we knew that in another place there would be measured consideration of what had taken place in this place, if we had a situation in which we knew that another place, with due care and deliberation, would throw out the parts of Bills that it thought were hastily and ill-conceived and pass those pieces that it considered acceptable, and if we knew that it would do that consistently all the time with all parties, perhaps some people would be prepared to accept a second Chamber. I should not, but maybe that would be a reasonable point of view.
How long can any party such as the Labour Party—and the Liberal Party in its heyday—remain in a position in which in a game of football its goal is much bigger than that of its opponents and where the rules are different for both sides? We all know that in previous years when crucial political issues have been canvassed under a Tory Government, there was no question of the House of Lords revising or rejecting the measures so introduced. The House of Lords did not reject the Housing Finance Bill, the Industrial Relations Bill, or any of the measures relating to the Community.
Will Labour Members get the situation in perspective? The House of Lords has not killed the Bill but has only amended it. Furthermore, in past years the House of Lords has amended Bills introduced by Tory Governments. Surely the present amendment should be acceptable to Labour Members. If not, they are killing their own Bill.
The hon. Gentleman well knows that this is a wrecking amendment—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If during consideration of the Housing Finance Bill the House of Lords had decided "We shall make this Bill apply only to county boroughs and not to districts", would Tory Members have taken the view "We have a great deal of what we wanted, and that will suffice"? Would they have taken the view that the Labour majority in the other place—because that is what would have to happen in my hypothetical example—had taken a balanced and reasonable view and that therefore they would accept only a proportion of the provisions of their Bill? Of coure they would not. They would have taken the view that a political majority in another place was seeking to damage the Government.
The hon. Gentleman said that in such a case there would have to be a Labour majority in another place, but that would not necessarily have to be the case. A considerable number of Cross-Bench peers and others voted against the Government today. Therefore on other occasions they could well support a Labour Government.
It was not an issue in the first place. The decision could have been reached by Tory votes, and the hon. Gentleman knows it. If there was a bonus in terms of alleged Cross-Benchers' votes, all well and good, but that type of argument is worthless.
If the rôles were reversed and instead of a massive Tory majority in the other place there were a massive Labour majority, would the Tories be as tolerant as we have been? When one reads the Daily Telegraph—a chore which I usually manage to avoid—one gains the strong impression that it is the Labour Party that is intolerant, but when one examines the history of the Labour Party over a period of 70 years, one can only conclude that it has allowed the peculiar second Chamber to continue to use its majority against Labour's plans. It has allowed political opponents in the other place to defeat its aims. I can think of no other party that would allow that to happen. Therefore, it is Labour which is the tolerant party.
The Opposition have got themselves in an indefensible position. That is why they develop such phoney constitutional arguments when seeking to justify their position. They constantly claim that the Labour Government have no mandate because we gained only 39 per cent. of the vote at the last General Election. But there has been no Government since the war which have enjoyed 50 per cent. of the votes at a General Election. Have the Tories ever doubted their right to govern when they have been in control? Of course they have not.
On the question of percentage votes as a crucial factor, one might ask what percentage of the electorate voted for the House of Lords. One of the Members of the other place, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, who wants to reject the Bill, was decisively rejected by the electorate in October 1974. That seems a strange state of affairs. The people of Peterborough might wonder what was the point of having a General Election in Peterborough and of kicking out the then Member, only to find that he pops up again in the other place and helps the Lords there to throw out a provision put forward by the democratically-elected Chamber. That makes nonsense of any constitutional arrangement.
The other well-known political argument that is trotted out time and again is that the opinion in the country has changed following the results in a number of by-elections. How much longer are we to hear about those results? It is said that the Government must dramatically change their policies.
In May 1971—I was not here at the time—I worked pretty hard at a by-election in Bromsgrove. On that occasion a massive Tory majority—and that seat was much safer than Workington was for Labour—was turned into a healthy Labour majority. Was the unanimous view on the Tory Benches at that time, only 11 months after the June 1970 General Election "The view in the country has changed. Therefore, we must take account of it and scrap the Housing Finance Bill, because obviously we do not have a mandate for it. We must also scrap the Industrial Relations Bill and reconsider the terms on which we entered the Common Market"? Of course they did not, and Tory Members know that their argument is totally phoney. They know that it is quite wrong within a year or two of any Government being elected to characterise by-election results as suggesting that the Government in power no longer have a mandate. I hope that they will not use that argument again.
I should like to give way to the hon. Gentleman, but I have not time. I can only say that the hon. Gentleman made one statement from the Liberal Benches that must have caused Gladstone to turn in his grave. The hon. Gentleman said that there was no real difference between the House of Lords and the House of Commons. He said that both Houses were undemocratic because we were elected on a first-past-the-post system. That is the kind of phoney constitutional argument that comes up time and again.
I hope that the Government Front Bench will not deal with the House of Lords on the basis of crisis management, as they have so far. I hope they will take the view that the only sensible way of dealing with the matter is to regard a second Chamber as entirely superfluous and unnecessary. Nobody suggests that there should be a second Chamber in the Assemblies in Scotland or Wales, or for any European Assembly. Nobody suggests that there should be a second Chamber for any council in this country. The second Chamber is irrelevant. About 100 years ago, Walter Bagehot—by no means a radical or Socialist—said that the cure for anybody who admired the House of Lords was to go to watch it. It costs £3 million a year to run. I hope that the IMF does not put too stringent terms to us, but if it wants candidates for scrapping, my vote would go for the scrapping of the other place. That is the way we should proceed.
In a fiery speech the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Grocott) said that the Labour Party had for far too long been far too tolerant of the House of Lords. Of course it has. Any self-respecting reforming party would have got rid of it years ago. It is the fate of Labour Governments to allow institutions of government to moulder. It is one of the examples of the way in which Britain has become antiquated over the years. The House of Lords is a non-elected Chamber, it manages to go on from year to year, and it is allowed to exist by members of a so-called reforming party of the Left. My party would be happy to sup- port not only the abolition of the House of Lords but the abolition of the peers as well. It is time that recognition of these antediluvian titles was removed by the State.
This is a brief debate, but it has exposed a degree of hypocrisy that I have rarely encountered in this House—and that is saying something. Throughout the time when we have considered this Bill—for 140 or so hours in Committee and on the Floor of the House—the Government have told us that there is an emergency in shipbuilding and that the industry requires urgent nationalisation. In the course of these debates it was not infrequently pointed out to the Government that nationalisation was not necessarily the answer to the problems of the shipbuilding industry. It was agreed on all sides that a shipbuilding policy was necessary. The same was true, to a degree, of the aircraft industry.
We have had statements from the Government to the effect that there is an urgent need to take both these industries into public control. Yet we have now come to the "hint" end—as we call it—of the Session, when all measures that have not been promulgated and passed must fall and the Government have a choice. They have to decide whether to allow progress on the nationalisation of the aircraft and shipbuilding industries. The House of Lords is not blocking that. It has pulled back from that opposition. It has left the matter in the hands of the Government and individual Labour Members. It is they who must decide whether these two industries are to be taken over.
If the Government are beaten tonight the two industries will be taken over. If the Government win the Division this Bill will fall. If it does fall it will not be an unimportant event, because the Government have made it clear that should the Bill fall they do not intend to provide any more public money or other support for the aircraft and shipbuilding industries until they can secure their ideological goal of nationalisation. The Government have put it on record that they are prepared to sacrifice men's jobs for the sake of their ideology. They would have had my respect if they had said that they sincerely believed that nationalisation was the way to safeguard the industries. They have the answer tonight. They can allow these two industries to go into nationalisation.
I do not recollect that during the long debates in Committee much was said about the urgency of taking ship repairing into immediate public ownership. A lot was said about whether it should be taken into public ownership, just as a lot was said about the need to take over the shipbuilding and aircraft industries. Now these two industries are to be sacrificed in this battle over ship repairing between the Lords and the Commons. The Government have their answer. They can put forward two-thirds or three-quarters of their Bill, and in the next Session take over the ship repairing industry—if they can find the majority to do so. But they are running the risk that if they do not follow the course of action I suggest they may not get a majority in the next Session to ensure the passage of the Bill. Their strategy will then be in ruins.
We have told the Minister time and again that he would have our support for a reasonable policy for the shipbuilding and aircraft industries. We have pointed out the dangers that would be encountered with nationalisation. We gave Ministers the opportunity—we were criticised by the Conservatives for doing so—to give a Scottish dimension to these two industries and safeguard jobs. The Government refused to give in on both counts. That is still their attitude. In those circumstances, harsh experience dictates to us in Scotland that centralised control, even with the amendment to Clause 5 which was eventually produced, would mean a severe loss of jobs. We know that 30 per cent. of shipbuilding jobs are likely to be sacrificed by the shipbuilding corporation, if it comes into existence.
These are the criteria that the Government should be following. They have followed them in the past. They have said that jobs are important. Now they say that jobs are unimportant when set against the method by which they intend to take these industries into control. It is essential that if the Government are to hold to their responsibilities, as they see them, to the working men who put them into power, they should not seek to abandon the shipbuilding and aircraft industries regardless. If the Government follow the middle course which they are putting forward, of pressing on with nationalisation, which may never come to pass, and do not take advantage of the opportunity that they have now to put these industries into public ownership, and if, in the meantime, there is no policy for shipbuilding or for the aircraft industry and no injection of public money, they will be following the worst possible course.
In his opening speech the Secretary of State said that when the Government reintroduced this Bill there would be the same compensation terms and the same dates. He had, perhaps conveniently, forgotten that if those were changed he would not be able to get the Bill through under the Parliament Act and the other place would be able to debate and amend it. The right hon. Gentleman was, therefore, making a virtue out of a necessity. His right hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) hoped that changes would be made. If he had bothered to look at the Parliament Act he would have known that that would do the Government no good.
This measure is a typical example of the nonsense that is spoken about a Government of national unity. How can any Conservative Member contemplate such a Government when the Labour Government persist in putting forward measures that have virtually no support in the country? Those who dream of a Government of national unity are those out of office and those who have a tenuous link with the City. Neither is in touch with the needs of the country.
Most of those who have spoken so far have taken part in the earlier debates on this Bill. I speak as a Back Bench Member who has read all of the debates and who has listened to some. We must realise that the Government have already begun a massive propaganda exercise. We read on Friday that if the Bill did not get through, it would be the fault of the House of Lords. That is the first terminological inexactitude from the Government. The facts are plain. The incompetence of the Leader of the House made this Bill come on so very late. The petulance of the Secretary of State means that the amendment excluding ship repairing cannot be accepted by the Government. It is the right hon. Gentleman who takes responsibility for sacrificing the jobs of so many people—just because he is not prepared to take the three-quarters of the loaf which he is offered.
Every bit of the Government's propaganda machine will be used to show where it is alleged the blame lies. Every union journal will be used. But all of those statements will be utterly and completely false.
If the Government had any sincerity they would admit that no jobs need be lost if they would say, even now, that they would accept the latest message from the other place and would introduce a Bill in the next Session to nationalise the ship-repairing industry. Let them say at this stage that they are prepared to go along with what has been done and will take three-quarters of the loaf. If they do not say that, they must accept responsibility for the loss of jobs and for the possibility, as the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) said, that they will not get their Bill in the next
The Secretary of State, in his opening speech, made much reference to what the House of Lords had done. Succeeding Members referred to Tory peers. It would be fascinating to analyse the voting record, nay the attendance record, of the Huyton creations, none of whom could be called a Conservative. It would be fascinating to look at the voting and attendance records of the political secretary who now decorates the Upper House.
Let us get away from the cant and humbug that the Secretary of State introduced. Members of the House of Lords are exercising the powers which the Labour Government gave them in the 1940s and 1950s. If they do not use it, they should be criticised. They are using it. The only people to be criticised who have thrown away the chance of the nationalisation of the shipbuilding and aircraft industries are the Government and the Labour Party.
|Division No. 432.]||AYES||[6.1 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Campbell, Ian||Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)|
|Allaun, Frank||Cenavan, Dennis||de Freltas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Anderson, Donald||Cant, R. B.||Dell, Rt Hon Edmund|
|Archer, Peter||Carmichael, Nell||Dempsey, James|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Cartwright, John||Doig, Peter|
|Ashley, Jack||Castle, Rt Hon Barbara||Dormand, J. D.|
|Ashton, Joe||Clemitson, Ivor||Douglas-Mann, Bruce|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)||Cocks, Rt Hon Michael||Dunn, James A.|
|Atkinson, Norman||Cohen, Stanley||Dunnett, Jack|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Coleman, Donald||Edge, Geoff|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Colquhoun, Ms Maureen||Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Concannon, J. D.||Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)|
|Bates, Alf||Conlan, Bernard||Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)|
|Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood||Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)||English, Michael|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Corbett, Robin||Ennals, David|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Cowans, Harry||Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)||Ewing, Harry (Stirling)|
|Boardman, H.||Crawshaw, Richard||Faulds, Andrew|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Cronin, John||Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur||Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)|
|Boyden, James (Bish Auck)||Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)||Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W)|
|Bradley, Tom||Cryer, Bob||Flannery, Martin|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||Fletcher, L. R. (Iikeston)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiten)||Foot, Rt Hon Michael|
|Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)||Davidson, Arthur||Ford, Ben|
|Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)||Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)||Forrester, John|
|Buchan, Norman||Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)||Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)|
|Buchanan, Richard||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)|
|Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)||Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||Freeson, Reginald|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Deakins, Eric||Garrett, John (Norwich S)|
|Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||McElhone, Frank||Sandelson, Neville|
|George, Bruce||McGuire, Michael (Ince)||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Gilbert, Dr John||MacKenzie, Gregor||Selby, Harry|
|Ginsburg, David||Mackintosh, John P.||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)|
|Golding, John||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)|
|Gould, Bryan||McNamara, Kevin||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Gourlay, Harry||Madden, Max||Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)|
|Graham, Ted||Maguire, Frank (Fermanagh)||Sillars, James|
|Grant, George (Morpeth)||Mahon, Simon||Silverman, Julius|
|Grant, John (Islington C)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.||Skinner, Dennis|
|Grocott, Bruce||Marks, Kenneth||Small, William|
|Hardy, Peter||Marquand, David||Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)||Snape, Peter|
|Hart, Rt Hon Judith||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Maynard, Miss Joan||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Hatton, Frank||Meacher, Michael||Stallard, A. W.|
|Hayman, Mrs Helene||Mellish, Rt Hon Robert||Stoddart, David|
|Healey, Rt Hon Denis||Mendelson, John||Stott, Roger|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Mikardo, Ian||Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.|
|Hooley, Frank||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Horam, John||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)||Swain, Thomas|
|Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)||Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)|
|Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)||Moonman, Eric||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Huckfield, Les||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)|
|Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Newens, Stanley||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)|
|Hunter, Adam||Noble, Mike||Tierney, Sydney|
|Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)||Oakes, Gordon||Tinn, James|
|Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)||Ogden, Eric||Tomlinson, John|
|Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)||O'Halloran, Michael||Tomney, Frank|
|Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)||Orbach, Maurice||Torney, Tom|
|Janner, Greville||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Tuck, Raphael|
|Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Ovenden, John||Urwin, T. W.|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.|
|John, Brynmor||Padley, Walter||Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)|
|Johnson, James (Hull West)||Palmer, Arthur||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Johnson, Walter (Derby S)||Park, George||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Jones, Alec (Rhondda)||Parker, John||Watkins, David|
|Jones, Barry (East Flint)||Parry, Robert||Watkinson, John|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Pavitt, Laurie||Weetch, Ken|
|Judd, Frank||Pendry, Tom||Weitzman, David|
|Kaufman, Gerald||Perry, Ernest||Wellbeloved, James|
|Kelley, Richard||Phipps, Dr Colin||White, Frank R. (Bury)|
|Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||White, James (Pollok)|
|Kinnock, Neil||Price, C. (Lewisham W)||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Lambie, David||Price, William (Rugby)||Whitlock, William|
|Lamborn, Harry||Radice, Giles||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Lamond, James||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)||Williams, Alan (Swansea W)|
|Latham, Arthur (Paddington)||Richardson, Miss Jo||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)|
|Lee, John||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)|
|Lever, Rt Hon Harold||Robinson, Geoffrey||Wilson, William (Coventry SE)|
|Lipton, Marcus||Roderick, Caerwyn||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Litterick, Tom||Rodgers, George (Chorley)||Woodall. Alec|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)||Woof, Robert|
|Loyden, Eddie||Rooker, J. W.||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Luard, Evan||Roper, John||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Lyon, Alexander (York)||Rose, Paul B.|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)||Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mabon, Dr J Dickson||Rowlands, Ted||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|McCartney, Hugh||Ryman, John||Mr. Joseph Harper.|
|McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Adley, Robert||Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)||Clark, William (Croydon S)|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)|
|Alison, Michael||Bradford, Rev Robert||Clegg, Walter|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Braine, Sir Bernard||Cockcroft, John|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Brittan, Leon||Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)|
|Awdry, Daniel||Brocklebank-Fowler, C.||Cope, John|
|Bain, Mrs Margaret||Brotherton, Michael||Cordle, John H.|
|Baker, Kenneth||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Cormack, Patrick|
|Banks, Robert||Bryan, Sir Paul||Corrie, John|
|Beith, A. J.||Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Costain, A. P.|
|Bell, Ronald||Buck, Antony||Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)|
|Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)||Budgen, Nick||Crawford, Douglas|
|Benyon,W.||Bulmer, Esmond||Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford)|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Burden, F. A.||Dean, Paul (N Somerset)|
|Biffen, John||Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Dodsworth, Geoffrey|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Carlisle, Mark||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James|
|Blaker, Peter||Carson, John||Drayson, Burnaby|
|Body, Richard||Chalker, Mrs Lynda||du Cann, Rt Hon Edward|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Churchill, W. S.||Dunlop, John|
|Bottomley, Peter||Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Eden, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Rathbone, Tim|
|Elliott, Sir William||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)|
|Emery, Peter||Kershaw, Anthony||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)||Kilfedder, James||Reid, George|
|Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray)||Kimball, Marcus||Ridley, Hon Nicholas|
|Eyre, Reginald||King, Evelyn (South Dorset)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|Fairgrieve, Russell||Kitson, Sir Timothy||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Farr, John||Knox, David||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Fell, Anthony||Lamont, Norman||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Ross, William (Londonderry)|
|Fisher, Sir Nigel||Latham, Michael (Melton)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Lawrence, Ivan||Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Lawson, Nigel||Royle, Sir Anthony|
|Forman, Nigel||Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Sainsbury, Tim|
|Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Fox, Marcus||Lloyd, Ian||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St)||Loveridge, John||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Freud, Clement||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Shepherd, Colin|
|Fry, Peter||MacCormick, lain||Shersby, Michael|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||McCrindle, Robert||Silvester, Fred|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||McCusker, H.||Sims, Roger|
|Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)||Macfarlane, Neil||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)||MacGregor, John||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)||Smith, Dudley (Warwick)|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)||Speed, Keith|
|Godber, Rt Hon Joseph||McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)||Spence, John|
|Goodhart, Philip||Madel, David||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)|
|Goodhew, Victor||Marten, Neil||Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)|
|Goodlad, Alastair||Mates, Michael||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Gorst, John||Mather, Carol||Stanley, John|
|Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)||Maude, Angus||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)||Maudling. Rt Hon Reginald||Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)|
|Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)||Mawby, Ray||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)|
|Gray, Hamish||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Grieve, Percy||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Stokes, John|
|Griffiths, Eldon||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Grist, Ian||Mills, Peter||Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)|
|Grylls, Michael||Miscampbell, Norman||Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)|
|Hall, Sir John||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Tebbit, Norman|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Moate, Roger||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Molyneaux, James||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Monro, Hector||Thompson, George|
|Hannam, John||Montgomery, Fergus||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Moore, John (Croydon C)||Townsend, Cyril D.|
|Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Trotter, Neville|
|Hastings, Stephen||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Havers, Sir Michael||Morris. Michael (Northampton S)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Hawkins, Paul||Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)||Vaughan, Dr Gerard|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Mudd, David||Viggers, Peter|
|Henderson, Douglas||Neave, Airey||Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)|
|Heseltine, Michael||Nelson, Anthony||Wakeham, John|
|Hicks, Robert||Neubert, Michael||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Newton, Tony||Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)|
|Hodgson, Robin||Onslow, Cranley||Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek|
|Holland, Philip||Oppenheim, Mrs Sally||Wall, Patrick|
|Hordern, Peter||Osborn, John||Warren, Kenneth|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Page, John (Harrow West)||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)||Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)||Wells, John|
|Hunt, David (Wirral)||Page, Richard (Workington)||Welsh, Andrew|
|Hunt, John (Bromley)||pardoe, John||Whitelaw, Rt Hon William|
|Hurd, Douglas||Parkinson, Cecil||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pattie, Geoffrey||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)|
|Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)||Penhaligon, David||Winterton, Nicholas|
|James, David||Percival, Ian||Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)|
|Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd)||Peyton, Rt Hon John||Younger, Hon George|
|Jessel, Toby||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Jones, Arthur (Daventry)||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and|
|Jopling, Michael||Prior, Rt Hon James||Mr. Michael Roberts.|
|Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith||Raison, Timothy|