26 NOVEMBER 1965, Page 9

Sanctions Begin at Home

Clearly the Government is determined to en- force oil sanctions upon someone; if not Rho-

desian rebels, then British householders. How else to explain Mr. Fred Lee's ridiculous attempt to `persuade' the oil (and coal) men not to advertise their home-heating services during the chilly months ahead? Cold weather always makes the British appear at their dottiest. Once again this week we have seen railwaymen seeming to inhabit a meteorological fantasy world where it never freezes, motorists unaware of the slippery nature of ice on roads, and the nation's power suppliers revealed as a surprised tribe of foolish virgins. But surely Mr. Lee's effort surpasses the lot.

What sort of `sense of purpose' is fostered by discouraging a successful industry from selling more of its plentiful wares because it would be `unfair' to competitors (nationalised, as it hap- pens) who cannot meet the market demands? I congratulate those oil companies which have told Mr. Lee where he gets off. Lord Robens ought to be furious, too. This is the kind of muddled, tin- kering approach to the economy, accompanied by bleats about 'fairness,' which one dreads from the Labour party. We have heard much talk from that quarter about toughness and cutting edges and knocking hell out of people. But real competition, which is effective competition, is still regarded as disturbing and even shocking.