HC Deb 24 November 1970 vol 807 cc225-7
Q2. Mr. Barnett

asked the Prime Minister if he will appoint a Minister with special responsibility for explaining the Government's economic policy.

The Prime Minister

This falls within the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. Barnett

As the Prime Minister will have heard, his back benchers are not terribly happy about that. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not bother to explain it today, would the Prime Minister take it upon himself to tell us whether it is Government policy to reduce monetary supply, which he apparently was complaining about the other day, and what effect he expects this to have on the level of employment?

The Prime Minister

I welcome the hon. Gentleman to his new place on the Front Bench. I hope his back benchers were pleased with it. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in calling for 1 per cent. additional deposits, is obviously using a form of control of monetary supply.

Mr. Cant

If the Prime Minister does not feel it desirable to appoint a special Minister, would he at least bring the Governor of the Bank of England into the general circle of his influence? Would he remind the Governor of the Bank of England that it is more important to control monetary supply in the next 12 months and provide a good gilt-edged market for redemption of £1,700 million worth of Government securities?

The Prime Minister

The Governor of the Bank of England has a constitutional position which was settled under the Act introduced by the Labour Government in the late 1940s. I am sure he is well aware of the point the hon. Gentleman has made.

Sir G. Nabarro

As a successful economic policy depends in large measure on further expansion of invisible exports, will my right hon. Friend undertake to consider the Queen's Award for Members of Parliament?

The Prime Minister

Broadly speaking, the Queen's Award goes for direct rather than indirect effort. I do not wish to see any of my colleagues in this House directly exported.

Mr. Moyle

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that if such a Minister as suggested were appointed, one of the first things he could do would be to explain whether the Government feel that the settlement reached for hospital workers is appropriate for lower-paid workers in other sections of industry in the absence of any other criteria?

The Prime Minister

The provision of criteria by the Labour Government was not very successful. Each of these negotiations should be carried on by the appropriate machinery.

Mr. Sheldon

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that any value-added tax he introduces will not apply to food?

The Prime Minister

That was the statement made when we were in Opposition, and any question of a value-added tax was a matter which was to be decided at a future date when we were to be in Government, and that remains the position.