HC Deb 11 March 1971 vol 813 cc585-7
Q10. Mr. Sillars

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library copies of every public speech he has made in which he has referred to the necessity for price restraint in the private sector.

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to the answer I gave to a similar Question from the hon. Member on 9th February.—[Vol. 811, c. 137.]

Mr. Sillars

Will the Prime Minister confirm the view, held by very many people, that we shall have to wait until two days before the next General Election before we get any appeal from him for price restraint in the private sector?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Members knows from previous answers, copies of my previous speeches are all available in the Library. I have always made absolutely clear my views about prices, and the need for competition to bring down prices—[Interruption.]—and, at the same time, to allow industry sufficient profitability from which to get its investment. If the hon. Gentleman is not prepared for private industry to be profitable enough to get investment he cannot expect to see growth in the economy. I should have thought that most people working in British industry would prefer to work with a profitable firm—[Interruption.]—in which they could see an assured future rather than one whose profitability was removed by excessive wage demands, resulting in loss of jobs.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

Will the Prime Minister tell us in which part of his long and considered statement on prices on 16th June he referred to the need for private industry to put up prices in order to improve profit margins?

The Prime Minister

I have constantly made it plain that where industry is unable to generate sufficient profitability to maintain jobs or to finance investment it is entitled to try to secure such profitability through its prices.

Mr. Lipton

Is the Prime Minister aware that some of us do not want any or all of the Prime Minister's speeches placed in the Library, the Library being sufficiently congested already?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman differs from many of his colleagues, but if he wishes to remain unenlightened he will only have himself to blame.

Mr. Harold Wilson

Dissociating myself entirely from my hon. Friend the Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) on this occasion and seeking enlightenment from the right hon. Gentleman, may I ask him whether he will now do what my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) has asked and put in the Library a copy of his considered statement of 16th June last and indicate, in any colour of ink that he considers appropriate, the particular passage in which he then said that it would be necessary for private enterprise to raise prices?

The Prime Minister

I suspect that that copy is there already, but I will certainly check to ensure that it is. I will also give the right hon. Gentleman, and put in the Library, copies of my speeches during the General Election campaign in which I pointed out that one of the consequences of five and a half years of Labour Administration was that so many of the great firms of this country saw their profitability so reduced that they had to go to Government organisations in an endeavour to get capital; but even I did not expect when we came to power to find the tragic condition which we did find in Rolls-Royce.