HC Deb 18 December 1973 vol 866 cc1144-5

Q7. Mr. Horam asked the Prime Minister if the public speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Altrincham on 1st December on economic affairs represented Government policy.

Q22. Mr. Norman Lamont asked the Prime Minister whether the public speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the economy on 1st December in Altrincham represents Government policy.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Horam

In that speech the Chancellor of the Exchequer blamed our economic problems on sectional interests. Yesterday, however, in reply to a question by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. John Morris), he said that the measures that he then announced would have been necessary even if the industrial disputes were ended tomorrow. Does not that again show that it is not the miners who are to blame for troubles, but the three-year record of the Chancellor, who has produced a badly unbalanced economy and a social atmosphere in which conciliation, moderation and restraint are virtually impossible?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman has reached the wrong conclusion. I announced measures last Thursday which were required by the situation arising from industrial disputes. I shall be discussing those again later in the debate today. Obviously, if the industrial disputes come to an end, those measures can be changed.

Mr. Adley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, far from openly and provocatively blaming too much the sectional interests to which reference has been made, many people feel that he has been over-modest in assigning blame to certain members of the executive of the National Union of Mineworkers?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is quite correct. A great deal of time and energy has been spent, particularly in the last 18 months, in the very long and detailed discussions that we had—I believe, rightly. I shall say something later on that matter in the debate.

Mr. Benn

As the Government announced their measures last Thursday without any consultation with either the CBI or the TUC, will the right hon. Gentleman now make available to them and to the public the true position on distributed coal stocks so that we can assess whether these measures were really necessary or were part of psychological warfare against the miners by the Prime Minister?

The Prime Minister

I shall deal with that matter in the debate later today.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Biggs-Davison, to raise a point of order.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As all the supplementary questions on the Question to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister about population, from both sides of the House, were in one direction, I beg to give notice, without any criticism of the Prime Minister, that owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the reply I shall seek an early opportunity to raise the matter on the Adjournment.