HC Deb 20 December 1973 vol 866 cc1598-9

Q1. Mr. Wyn Roberts asked the Prime Minister if he will make the encouragement of patriotism a concern of his administration.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Edward Heath)

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Roberts

Is my right hon. Friend being kept fully aware of the disruptive activities of the followers of another kind of "ism" who are intolerant of patriotism, especially in the trade unions? Also, is he being kept fully aware of the Communist contribution to the present confrontation between the Government and the trade unions, and of the Communist plan announced as early as last autumn to have as many as 5 million workers involved in industrial action as a New Year's greeting to the Government and the country?

The Prime Minister

The media have given publicity to the statements to which my hon. Friend has referred, and to that extent I have full information about them.

Mr. Kinnock

Will the Prime Minister try to direct his back benchers to stop seeing "reds under the Ted" in the present crisis? Does he agree that, unlike the Tory Government of a previous generation, patriotism has become the first refuge of a scoundrel, and will he stop perverting love of country for his own peculiar short-term aims by trying to bring public criticism down upon the heads of miners and other industrial workers in strife, who are good servants of this country?

The Prime Minister

The view expressed by the hon. Gentleman is not that held by many trade union leaders who come to see me and discuss these matters.

Sir Gilbert Longden

Is the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) aware that it is not only those on this side who see reds under the bed? Has his attention been drawn to Mr. Frank Chapple's remarks, in his union journal "Contact", that the moderates of the unions have allowed the Left to make the running for far too long?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. I have read what Mr. Frank Chapple had to say, and of course he made the point very clearly. But he is not the only trade union leader who has done that. Tom Jackson has done it, and so have many others.

Mr. C. Pannell

Will the Prime Minister, particularly at this time of the year, refrain from lending any cover from his own great office to the idea that the line of patriotism is drawn straight down this Chamber? Will he allow that half of the nation which largely supports the Labour Party is just as likely to stand for this country in peace or war as any of those yappers from the back benches opposite?

The Prime Minister

That is not a line which I should ever have dreamed for a moment of drawing, as I think the right hon. Gentleman, who knows me very well, will agree. Of course, a line like that cannot be drawn. The great majority of people in all parties in this country are, in my view, patriots.