Skip to main content
THE PRIME MINISTER : " It has to be a great deal more
than that if it is to be an improvement on the present system.
I submit to hon. Members that you can do a great deal
to-day by persuasion, by voluntary effort, and by co-operation
with labour and with employers ; but if you want to produce
the sort of effect you had in the Great War, when the
Government had absolute control over the whole of industry
throughout the country, you must give this ministry the
same sort of powers. I would remind hon. Members that
among those powers were not only the power of controlling
factories, but the power of relaxing trade union practices
and regulations, the power over strikes, the power over
MR. KIRKWOOD : " You are not going to get that."
THE PRIME MINISTER : " That is what I am pointing out.
I think we can do what we want without. What I am saying
is that I do not think it is any use setting up a ministry of
supply with the same limited powers that we have already.
If you want to go further than that, you must have these
further powers over industry and over labour, and I doubt
very much whether we should be justified in asking for such
powers, or whether, if we did ask for them, Parliament
would give us them in time of peace. The analogy of
war-time is really misleading. We are not at war.
" I need only remind hon. Members of one feature of the
Ministry of Munitions Act to bring to their minds how very
different are the conditions to-day. Under that Act one of
the Sections provided that men could volunteer for service
in controlled factories. If they volunteered for that service
they had to enter into an undertaking to move from factory
to factory according as they were instructed by the Ministry
of Munitions. What did they get in return ? They got a
badge which exempted them from being called up for military
service in France. We have no such persuasive powers at
our disposal to-day, and I think hon. Members should always
bear in mind, in considering this question of a ministry of
supply, what an immense difference there is betiween times
of peace such as we, at any rate, are enjoying, and times of
war, or times when war seems imminent. Without those
powers the only effect of setting up a ministry of supply