Nationalisation of Steel and Gas Industries

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Nationalisation of Steel and Gas Industries

Nationalisation of Steel and Gas Industries.

P.M. 

Ques. for Cabinet is - which Bill goes fwd. this next Session?

A.G. 

F.L. Cttee recommended only one nationalisation Bill. Bills on floor : electoral reform, India and Burma. Many Bills with dates wh. must go thro'.
There is a full p'mme in itself. From Parly. angle, Gas wd. be the easier.
Steel wd. be v. controversial and take more time than we cd. give next Session. But if we shall have to use Parlt. Act on it, that is argument for starting it next Session.

E.Sh. 

Bad Bill to choose for use of Parlt Act. Esp. as there will be controversy w'in Parlt. on merits of Bill. In favour of Gas Bill a) has bn. hanging around for some time ¨Heyworth Cttee : uncertainty in industry. b) N.C.B. will have to do much carbonisation because takg. over coke ovens.  c) Complete the trilogy to secure co-ordinated fuel policy.

A.B. 

Major political strategy. Need we decide.

R.S.C. 

Cd. Steel Bill be ready in time for presentn. in autumn.

J.W.  

Yes.

A.B. 

The longer you p'pone, more encouragemt. you give to idea tht. we are being frightened off.

A.V.A. 

If we don't do this now, we shan't do it in this Parlt. I therefore favour going on.

H.D. 

I wd. like to see both Bills taken next Session - completing the socialising policy. Know that can't be done. But there is weakness on steel in the Party : we must keep to the Left of the Party in this matter; and we must be firm.
We want a fight with H/Lds. That will cheer people up. At beginning we put the diff. Bills first. Now again we shd. give priority to the more controversial of the 2 Bills.  M/F & P. is overwhelmed with adminn. Give him this interval before he goes on with Gas Bill. Promise it (as far as you can) for 4th Session.

E.Sh. 

Co-ordinn.  of fuel policy has for years bn. prominent plank in Labour p'mme. Since 1921.  T.U.C. also. I'm as keen on socialn. of steel as anyone. But fr. the start I've bn. doubtful about this scheme : and even at last mtg. of S.I.C. expressed misgivings. Will Party accept it as consistent with Socialist principles. Gas post in S. Wales - where undertakgs. have virtually broken down. If we are to supply devel. areas we shall have diffy. Are we to give electricity too long and start over gas? It represents large capital investmt. by l.a.'s. If both Bills could be taken next Session. I wd. prefer that.

A. 

Agree much depends on temper disclosed by H/Lords. this summer.
It will be impossible to do both next Session. H/C. will have much on Floor next Session. We may have Parlt. Bill : if so, must be next Session. If it's a choice between the 2 Bills, my normal instinct is to put the more diff. Bill first. Ques. Parly. tactics because I wd. put Steel first - if we agree to the project.

R.S.C

Favour steel. If not this next Session, not at all. Pity we can't have both.

J. 

Feel strongly the other way. Vital to get Gas thro' to complete fuel policy - and pretty easy to get that thro'. P'mme for next Session already longer than practicable. It is not facing facts to suppose you can add Steel to it.
Far too much on legve. plate already. Anyway, I don't favour this steel scheme : which will give you worst of all worlds. Wd. prefer a new national plant in Lincs. Don't be commd. to any such scheme. Whatever scheme, we can't hope to get it thro' next year.

P.M. 

Said in W. Paper fuel is basis of economy. Will be said we have burnt fingers with coal and electricity and now are running away fr. gas. If you want steel to be issue with H/Lds., time it. Parlt. Ministers and machine all overworked. Boards still in experimental stage. And now you pick on diff. industry like steel. Can you be ready by Oct?

J.W. 

Only if this scheme is quickly approved.

P.M. 

But one hour's Cab. won't settle it.

J.W. 

Effect on industry. Need for max. output and big re-organisations.
Much political interest - first incursion into real industry. Party want to know what we are doing about it. Debate May '46. Cab Ministers have since re-affirmed decision to bring steel under p. ownership in this Parlt. Steel Bd. has approved £50 m. tin plated scheme in S. Wales. We are assistg. in ceation of huge private monopolies - and workers want to know if it's to be private. Sc. steel industry gripped by Lithgow, is pursuing monopolistic policy and we are assisting it thro' the Bd. Announcement of legn. however, may have bad effect on output. Ques is: shall we go on next Session or p'pone for this Parlt. If we put it off, pol. controversy will rage round industry for next 3 years. Least evil therefore is to go forward now.

A.G. 

Doubt if this Bill will be ready quite so soon.

J.W. 

Parly. Counsel have bn. in on this.

B., J., A.G., P.L., G.A.I.

Gas.

A., A.V.A., C.J., A.B., R.S.C., G.T.

Steel

P.M. 

Predominant views : go on with steel.

Taken from C.M. 37(47)(7) - Meeting held on 17 April 1947.