HC Deb 15 June 1971 vol 819 cc227-9
Q2. Mr. Skinner

asked the Prime Minister if he will make an official visit to Bromsgrove.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to visit either Bromsgrove or Bolsover.

Mr. Skinner

All is not lost. The Prime Minister could consider going to Macclesfield, and he could leave behind him his political private secretary, Mr. Douglas Hurd, the man who ran away from the Tory selection conference because he found that the political path in Macclesfield did not lead to Europe. If the Prime Minister cannot go to Macclesfield, will he issue a writ for the by-election there before the Summer Recess?

The Prime Minister

I think that when the hon. Gentleman reflects on what he said about an individual who is a private secretary and cannot answer for himself, he will realise that his comment is not in accordance with the general traditions of the House. The person concerned wishes for nothing more than to be judged on his merits as a candidate, in the same way as anybody else is, and it is regrettable that on the last two occasions, because of similar comments, that has not been possible.

Mr. Montgomery

Can my right hon. Friend say whether he has any plans to visit other parts of the West Midlands in the near future?

The Prime Minister

I am going to make an official visit to the West Midlands on 30th September and 1st October.

Mr. Terry Davis

Is the Prime Minister aware of the totally impossible situation into which he has put the Conservative candidates for both Bromsgrove and Macclesfield by not keeping either of the two most important promises which he made a year ago; namely, his promise to reduce unemployment, and his promise to reduce the rise in prices?

The Prime Minister

If the hon. Gentleman will now take the opportunity of studying the matter, instead of carrying on his election campaign, he will see that selective employment tax, which is being halved, has already cut prices, and on 5th July will help to cut prices still further. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman made a point of telling the electorate of the tax reductions through children's allowances, which will take place in July, of the help for lower-paid workers, which will take effect in August, and the help for old-age pensioners, which will be provided in September?

Mr. Harold Wilson

Now that the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has turned Queen's Evidence, none of the Prime Minister's alibis is going to stand up. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware how much the whole House welcomed what he said in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), when he referred to the inability of private secretaries and others to be able to speak for themselves? Does that mean that the right hon. Gentleman regrets some of the things that he said in 1965 about some of the advisers then in Downing Street and the Treasury? In view of the honours which the right hon. Gentleman has loaded on a great public servant, does he now regret having called Professor Zuckermann, as he called him, an expert on tadpoles?

The Prime Minister

To say that the particular gentleman is an expert is not a criticism. I withdrew my remarks afterwards because, as I told Sir Solly, I had not recognised that he was not an expert on tadpoles but an expert on apes.