HC Deb 21 May 1973 vol 857 cc36-7
37. Mr. Jessel

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will make a statement on progress by the Government towards a population policy.

Mr. Prior

When the report of the Population Panel was published I said that the Government would allow public opinion to crystallise before announcing its conclusions on the panel's recommendations. I do not think that there has been sufficient time for public discussion, so it would be premature to make a statement now. I propose to make a statement after Parliament reassembles in the autumn.

Mr. Jessel

Does my right hon. Friend agree that public opinion is tending towards crystallising in the direction of what is said in the report of the population Panel? Does he further agree that many of the problems with which we have to deal, such as the housing shortage, high food prices and traffic congestion, are made worse by the rate of population growth? Does he also agree that the size of the population is a matter of rightful concern for the Government of the day?

Mr. Prior

So far, the letters that I have received have been generally in favour of the Population Panel's recommendations. I am aware that there are other points of view, and it may be that we shall receive further representations from those who hold them, but, as for the general remarks of my hon. Friend, I should tell him that anything we could do at this moment to control the population or to have a population policy would have little immediate effect on the housing or food situation.

Mr. Wall

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that grave moral and religious matters are involved in this question?

Mr. Prior

Yes, Sir; that is one of the points I was trying to make. But for all that I must tell my hon. Friend that so far the overwhelming consensus has been in favour of the report.