HC Deb 29 November 1973 vol 865 cc585-6
Q9. Mr. Skinner

asked the Prime Minister what plans he has for further ministerial broadcasts.

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Goole (Dr. Marshall) on 22nd November.—[Vol. 864, c. 1545–6.]

Mr. Skinner

If the Prime Minister decides to make a further ministerial broadcast in the near future on the energy crisis, will he explain to the nation, and in particular to the miners, since he failed to do this yesterday, why company directors can take up shares in lieu of dividends to avoid paying surtax at a possible rate of 90 per cent. and avoid capital gains tax to some degree, while an ordinary surface worker at a colliery can have only £2.30 a week, less tax, which probably comes to about £1.50?

The Prime Minister

As for share ownership, we are endeavouring, through the Chancellor's last measures, to make it possible for those who work in industry to take part in owning shares in their firms. This we believe to be valuable.

Mr. Adley

Will my right hon. Friend consider making a series of ministerial broadcasts so that the Leader of the Opposition may have the right of reply, on the basis that the more broadcasts the right hon. Gentleman makes the better it is for the Conservative Party?

Mr. Eadie

Since the Prime Minister has just told us on the authority of the miners—a rather unusual situation—that they will vouch for his mental stability following a three-and-a-half hour meeting yesterday—and incidentally I have not heard any miner question his mental stability, which may give some comfort to him—[AN HON. MEMBER : "Cheap."] Yes, it is cheap. Can the right hon. Gentleman explain why he had a three-and-a-half-hour meeting with the miners' leaders? Was it to give them a lecture? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he is plunging the country into a very serious crisis by refusing to move in order to try to solve the very serious situation that the country is in at present?

The Prime Minister

Yesterday's discussion was to deal not only with the arrangements for stage 3 but with the general economic considerations affecting the country at the moment. From this point of view it was a valuable exchange.