HC Deb 01 May 1973 vol 855 cc984-5
Q2. Mr. Redmond

asked the Prime Minister if he will invite the Association of British Chambers of Commerce to join future discussions with the CBI and TUC on counter-inflationary policy.

The Prime Minister

The Association of British Chambers of Commerce took part in the consultations on stage 2, and will certainly be invited in due course to take part in similar consultations on stage 3.

Mr. Redmond

I thank the Prime Minister for that reply. Is he aware that, just as there are workers who are not affiliated to the TUC, so there are many firms which are not members of the CBI? Are not chambers of commerce more representative of the 1¼ million small firms which are of tremendous importance to the economy?

The Prime Minister

It is because chambers of commerce have an important membership and a considerable part in representing small firms that they were consulted in full detail over stage 2. But one of the points that chambers of commerce have made in correspondence with me is that they also represent a considerable number of large firms. They do not wish it to be thought that their only interests are in the very small trader.

Mr. Molloy

Does the Prime Minister agree that it would help all these organisations and the country at large if he now made a statement that he was prepared to abandon his inflationary policies, which have increased rates, rents and the prices of food, clothing and petrol, and saying decisively that he has made a serious error, that his Government have contributed most to the inflationary spiral and that they will do their best to reverse this policy? After all, they have reversed almost everything else that was contained in their election manifesto. Why not reverse this one as well?

The Prime Minister

I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman. If he had any points which had merit, I should willingly consider them. But when the hon. Gentleman makes wide-ranging statements containing no element of truth, I find it difficult to accept what he says.

Dame Irene Ward

I thank my right hon. Friend warmly for his reply to the Question, which I also consider will be very helpful in the future. May I take this opportunity to suggest to my right hon. Friend that, in order to have stability in areas, we are anxiously awaiting publication of the Booz-Allen Report on shipbuilding? Can my right hon. Friend do something about that?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend's interest in the Booz-Allen Report is well known. At the moment I cannot give a specific date for action. We shall take it as soon as possible.