HC Deb 01 April 1969 vol 781 cc231-3
Q5. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Prime Minister if he will arrange for an official history of the Government since 1964 to be written.

Mr. M. Stewart

I have been asked to reply.

The question whether an official history of this period should be written, and the question whether there should be an official history of the period 1951–64, would be a matter for consideration by the standing group of Privy Councillors announced by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister of 8th June, 1967.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

In the national interest, would it not be helpful to the forthcoming Conservative Government to have a list of the grievous mistakes committed by the Government since 1964 so that they could be avoided? Would——

Mr. Speaker

Order. Questions even on history must be brief.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Would it not help the Prime Minister's image if the public realised that he had the misfortune to preside over the worst Government this century?

Mr. Stewart

The hon. Gentleman refers to the "forthcoming Conservative Government". As he knows, it is not usual to reply to highly hypothetical questions. However, I can see that a volume on the period which he has in mind and a volume on the period which I mentioned might both be valuable. In the 1951–64 volume one could deal with such issues as Suez and Rachmanism and in the subsequent volume with the more humane treatment of pensioners, the more constructive regional policy and many other matters.

Mr. Heffer

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that it is totally unnecessary for an official history of the Government to be written because, once the Government finally come to an end, hundreds of people will be waiting to write unofficial histories?

Mr. Stewart

I was not quite sure how necessary this Question was, but, bearing in mind both the questioner himself and the date today, I tried to answer in that spirit.

Sir W. Bromley-Davenport

When a history of the period since 1964 comes to be written, could there be included a list of the Socialist promises made on each occasion with such phrases as "dynamic Government", "economic miracle", "touch on the tiller" and all that sort of tripe?

Mr. Stewart

It is, of course, for the Standing Group of Privy Councillors to consider both what subjects should be written about and what learned and scholarly people should undertake the writing. No doubt they will bear the hon. and gallant Gentleman in mind.