Mr Robert Mellish: I think the hon. Gentleman is ignoring the fact that time was the important factor. Surely the point is that this statement issued by Lord Ammon could have had, and if I know my London docker, would have had the effect of spreading the dispute. The Government stepped in, and because of the time factor, in making the position clear they issued that statement before they had time to see Lord Ammon.
Mr Robert Mellish: Before my right hon. Friend answers that question, is he aware that the information he is giving is of vital importance to dock workers whose future is a lot more important, if I may say so with respect, than the Tory Opposition.
Mr Robert Mellish: Is not my right hon. Friend aware that direction into labour is a new thing in this country, and that in the past it was the policy to direct people out of labour?
Mr Robert Mellish: Is not this matter one which should come from the trade unions and not Members of Parliament?
Mr Robert Mellish: asked the Minister of Labour what action he is taking to settle the dispute between the management and workers of C. W. Martin & Co. of Bermondsey.
Mr Robert Mellish: Is my right hon. Friend aware that out of 450 employees 425 are members of this trade union, and that the employees have shown great tolerance for nine months in negotiating with the firm for their ordinary fundamental rights? Is this not a case where the employer is wrong and should be severely dealt with?
Mr Robert Mellish: In all fairness, although I do not support the Communist Party, I must point out that the hon. Member did apologise for having to leave the Chamber. He said he was very anxious to come back and be in his place when the hon. Gentleman spoke.
Mr Robert Mellish: This is very interesting. If I understand aright the argument of the hon. Member—
Mr Robert Mellish: Then, if I understand aright the facts which the hon. Member has stated, motor car firms are losing money by exporting to the dollar countries. As, however, last year they made what must be regarded as a colossal profit—with a 17½ per cent. dividend and a great deal going into reserve—are we to take it from that that the profit was made from sales of cars to the home market?
Mr Robert Mellish: Is it not true that when the amount of meat in the market was reduced, something like 30 per cent. of the men were discharged and that when the meat was increased, the men, quite rightly, asked for the staff to be increased to do the job, or for increased payment and that the employers, taking the attitude which they usually do in these matters, did not give them either? When we are talking...
Mr Robert Mellish: Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman comment on the Minister's statement that the War Damage Commission would be a source from which money could be obtained by local authorities to compensate them for this work?
Mr Robert Mellish: The hon. Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) has followed the line taken by the Opposition since the commencement of the Debate on this Bill. Apart from one or two passing platitudes about how nice it will be for everybody to see a little green where there is now a lot of rubble, they come back to the same argument of the interests of the property owner. It tends to teach us on...
Mr Robert Mellish: I accept that. It is a change of front and I am pleased to hear there will be some co-operation on those lines; but to date all the remarks I have heard from the other side referred to the poor property owner whose property is an eyesore to everyone who goes near it and, if the local authority touches it, he wants assurances that he will get it back. My reason for intervening is that, like...
Mr Robert Mellish: —but those authorities who, like London, have no such shares will be required to meet this new burden without Government assistance. A London borough such as mine, with all the difficulties facing it today, cannot be expected to go ahead with the proposals of the Bill without help. I beg the Parliamentary Secretary, before we reach the Committee stage, to come to some arrangement with local...
Mr Robert Mellish: Is not my hon. Friend going to say something about the money necessary for carrying out this work?
Mr Robert Mellish: The hon. Gentleman spoke about these schemes being very modest from the point of view of the work to be done; but I think he will understand that many local authorities cannot face a small expenditure such as £3,000 for fences at the present time when rates are 19s. 4d. in the pound. That would be over a 1d. rate in Bermondsey. Cannot he do something to help?
Mr Robert Mellish: Would the right hon. Gentleman allow me to interrupt?
Mr Robert Mellish: I support on behalf of the borough which I represent, the Amendment which has been so ably moved by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton). We have found from experience that it becomes vitally necessary to fence these sites. It is not enough just to clear away the rubble and sow grass seed in the top soil. One must have fencing. In our borough, out of 282...
Mr Robert Mellish: I intervene again only because I do not think the hon. and gallant Member for Holderness (Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite) ought to assume any unfairness on the part of the Parliamentary Secretary. The Amendment was put down on the Order Paper on Tuesday; there were discussions between those of us who support it and the Parliamentary Secretary, and we know some of the difficulties he has...
Mr Robert Mellish: Why not?