HC Deb 08 March 1966 vol 725 cc1903-6
Q1. Mr. Bryan

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library of the House of Commons a copy of his public speech at the Royal Albert Hall on 29th January about reforming the tax system.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Bryan

Does the Prime Minister recall that at this Labour Party demonstration he described the Opposition's treatement of the Finance Bill as tomfoolery, but that in the House of Commons the Chancellor said that he genuinely thought that the Opposition had done a good job in the interests of everyone? Who is Tom Fool?

The Prime Minister

Yes, I recall very clearly what I said at the Albert Hall. The point the hon. Member has just made was made in the debate last Tuesday. As is our practice, of course, my right hon. Friend always carries through the normal courtesies at the end of the Finance Bill. I am certainly prepared—if the hon. Member will help me—to find another word to substitute for it, if he can find any words adequate to describe the cops and robbers played around Lord North Street after midnight.

Mr. William Clark

Is the Prime Minister aware that up and down the country they are firmly convinced that the Prime Minister does not like opposition of any kind? Despite the tribute paid by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and despite the plea made by the Minister of State for the Board of Trade during debate on the Companies Bill, does he not think it would be a good idea just for once to show the guts he is always boasting of and be big enough to apologise for that unwarranted attack?

The Prime Minister

I could not have wanted a better Opposition than the one we have got. What I was referring to at the Albert Hall was the difficulty of getting through Parliament all the very urgent legislation which we now have before us, recalling that the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) said last June that we had no right with a majority of three to try to get through a heavy and controversial programme.

Q11. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his public speech, about the incomes policy and the balance of payments, to the Overseas Bankers Club at Guildhall on 7th February, 1966.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Will the right hon. Gentleman recall that on that occasion he said that we were a long way from full realisation of the declaration of intent? In view of the fact that since the declaration of intent was signed earnings have gone up by about 9 per cent. and productivity by about 1 per cent., what does the Labour Party have in mind by "full realisation of the declaration of intent"? Would it involve an actual reduction in productivity?

The Prime Minister

I pay tribute to the fact that we have got a declaration of intent, which right hon. Gentlemen opposite did not get. I said that we were a long way from full implementation. It took Sweden 20 years. If the hon. Gentleman wants our full plans for the future, I will be very glad to send him a copy of our manifesto.

Mr. Heath

As the First Secretary was obviously in a state of complete confusion on television last night about the actual facts of this case, could the Prime Minister confirm that the figures are as my hon. Friend has said, that over the year there has been an increase of 1 per cent. in productivity and 9.9 per cent. in earnings? Those were the figures presented to the last N.E.D.C. meeting. In view of his recent public declaration that he wishes to be absolutely frank during the election and push nothing under the carpet, will he now publish the N.E.D.C. document giving those figures?

The Prime Minister

I will certainly consider publishing that N.E.D.C. document—[Interruption.] No, we are not holding up reports or sweeping things under the carpet. Some day, I will give a long list of the things that we found—[Interruption.]—postal charges, the B.B.C. licence and dozens of others—[Interruption.] Earlier, if you like. But so far as the N.E.D.C. report is concerned, the previous Government always set themselves against publishing these things. I will certainly consider it, and, if it can be published, I will certainly publish it for the right hon. Gentleman and the House.

Mr. Heath

Would the Prime Minister confirm the figures that I have just given?

The Prime Minister

On one basis, it was 1 per cent. On another basis, it was 2½ per cent.

Q12. Mr. Gibson-Watt

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his public speech at the Albert Hall on 29th January on the subject of fiscal reform.

Q13. Mr. William Clark

asked the Prime Minister whether he will place in the Library a copy of his speech at the Albert Hall on 29th January, 1966, dealing with taxation amendments during the Finance (No. 2) Bill, 1965.

Q14. Mr. Alison

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of the public speech on fiscal policy he made at the Royal Albert Hall on 29th January, 1966.

The Prime Minister

I would refer hon. Members to the answer I gave earlier today to a similar Question by the hon. Member for Howden.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

In his speech, the right hon. Gentleman referred to an honest, straightforward Budget. Would he now tell us to which of the five Budgets he was referring?

The Prime Minister

All the financial statements made by my right hon. Friend have been honest, straightforward and opposed by hon. Gentlemen opposite for electoral purposes.

Mr. Alison

Does the Prime Minister recall that he spoke rather glibly about the exploitation of a narrow majority? Does he recall that the only exploitation of majorities which has taken place in this Parliament has been the exploitation of the great majority of those people who voted against him at the last election? Does he realise that they will vote against him at the next election?

The Prime Minister

The people will soon have a chance of showing whether they agree with the hon. Gentleman's statement. When I referred to a narrow majority—I have dealt with this but I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman was here—I quoted what I thought was an unacceptable statement by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that a Government with a majority of this size should not have the right to introduce a heavy or controversial programme. We reject that view, and we think that this is not going to continue.