HC Deb 11 June 1968 vol 766 cc29-30
Q6. Mr. Sandys

asked the Prime Minister whether the speech of the Minister of Technology at Llandudno on 25th May, recommending changes in the Parliamentary system, with a view to preventing a breakdown of law and order, represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

Q7. Mr. Turton

asked the Prime Minister whether the public speech by the Minister of Technology at Llandudno on 25 th May on the use of referenda represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

The Prime Minister

I would refer hon. Members to the Answer I gave on 29th May to a Question by the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. G. Campbell). [Vol. 765, c. 241–2.]

Mr. Sandys

If the Prime Minister shares the view of the Minister of Technology that Parliament is getting out of touch with the country, has he considered the idea of holding a Genera] Election?

The Prime Minister

I do not in any way share the view that Parliament is out of touch with the country. I heard the noteworthy broadcast the day after my right hon. Friend's speech in which my right hon. Friend and the right hon. Gentleman expressed their personal views on these matters. I thought that the truth lay somewhere between the two.

Mr. Turton

Would not the Prime Minister be wise to accept the Minister of Technology's advice and hold a referendum on whether or not we should withdraw our application to join the Common Market and so avoid the discontent which the Minister of Technology envisaged would engulf the nation in bloodshed?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that there is any question of bloodshed arising from the decision to apply to join the Common Market, which was accepted by such a large majority in the House. I do not recall that my right hon. Friend suggested a referendum on the matter which is so dear to the right hon. Gentleman's heart, but I think that most right hon. and hon. Members would regret the idea of government by referendum.

Mr. Atkinson

Would my right hon. Friend agree that there is great danger in having a referendum, which might quickly become a plebiscite? Recognising this, and also accepting that a gap may be widening between public and Parliament, may I ask him to look into the possibility of creating a system whereby it is possible for members of the public to record their opinions and make those opinions collectively accessible to Parliament?

The Prime Minister

I am not sure that my hon. Friend always fully responds to these judgments when they are made by members of the general public, but I think that the real issue, as the House recognises, is that every Government of whatever party must sometimes take, over a fairly lengthy period, measures unpopular but necessary. If each of these measures or each tax proposal had to be submitted to an immediate referendum, there would be no Government and no taxation.

Back to