WES TM •NSTER HAUL
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Surprised there was no mention of nationalisation in the Transport Bill?
David Penhaligon is not.
Which is hardly to be wondered at, for — as he told an intrigued Commons last week — it was he, the Liberal Member for Truro, and Party spokesman on transport (and one or two other things) who had persuaded the Minister not to include any plans for a state take-over.
"It was not difficult," he admitted with disarming frankness. "I got the impression that if ever his Party should have a majority in the House it would have some difficulty in convincing him to produce such nationalisation plans."
It was impossible not to warm to such openness, especially when Mr Penhaligon forecast a moment later that, though the operation had not taken much effort on his part, he would try to take the credit for it when he was in his native Cornwall.
Peter Temple-Morris was soon on his feet, a sight which caused Mr Penhaligon to forget his earlier avowed intention of overcoming his Cornish modesty and learning to say "No" when a Member wanted him. to sit down and listen to an intervention.
With his legal experience taking him straight to the point, Mr Temple-Morris demanded to know one provision that had been put into (or not put into) the Bill due to the representations of the Liberal Party.
Mr Penhaligon observed that he had mentioned what had not been put in — and added that they would not be discussing a Bill which dealt so much with rural transport had it not been for the endeavours and pressures of his Party.
A reply which caused Tory Eldon Griffiths to remark that many of the clauses dealing with rural buses were the same as those in the 1973 Bill ... "that was before the Hon Gentleman was ever heard of."
A little harsh. After all it was not Mr Perthaligon's fault that he was not born until D-Day, and anyway by 1973 he was a longserving member of the Liberal Party Council, and had contested Totnes.
Not that a good Liberal is put down that easily, especially when he can call on the GOM to help him.
Mr Gladstone had a Bill to that effect in 1872, but it did not reach the statute book replied Mr Penhaligon.
There's no answer to that!
But what a pity it was that he let slip that he had not read all the Bill (the 1978 Bill that is). George Younger, who wound up for the Tories had great ftin with that.