HC Deb 07 December 1971 vol 827 cc1119-20
Q4. Mr. Joel Barnett

asked the Prime Minister if the public speech of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry at Liverpool on 20th November on unemployment represents Government policy.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Barnett

Would the Prime Minister care to clarify the Government's policy? At the moment they appear to be increasing public expenditure to deal with the appalling level of unemployment, whereas last year's White Paper on Public Expenditure indicated that there would be substantial cuts in public expenditure to achieve economic growth. What has happened to that policy?

The Prime Minister

Procedures carried out by the Government enabled cuts in non-productive public expenditure to be made to bring about decreases in taxation. The Government are now bringing forward public expenditure of a productive kind. If the hon. Gentleman does not want the nationalised industries to bring forward their expenditure for productive purposes, he had better say so clearly.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Did not the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry make clear in his speech that, while it was not Government policy to bolster up incompetent industry, the Government would help those firms which offered a reasonable chance of success? Is it not important to provide real jobs and not sham ones?

The Prime Minister


Mr. Kelley

If it is the right hon. Gentleman's intention to reinforce the "lame duck" theory, will he state that it is now the Government's intention to allow every industry to rely upon its own resources?

The Prime Minister

It has always been the position that, where particular industries, through no fault of their own, need State help of various kinds, either because the scale of the project is too large for one firm or nation to undertake, or because of particular individual circumstances, it is possible for the Government to help them.