HC Deb 27 June 1974 vol 875 cc1725-6
Q5. Mr. McCrindle

asked the Prime Minister whether the public speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the Durham Labour Women's gala on economic policy on 1st June represents Government policy.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. McCrindle

In that speech, the Chancellor of the Exchequer underlined the overriding need to stimulate investment in industry and to control inflation. Does the Prime Minister agree that it would materially assist the former if the Labour Party were to bring forward as quickly as possible its plans for public ownership in industry? Will the Prime Minister say whether, if the social contract does not mitigate inflation in the way it is hoped, his Government will feel free to return to the statutory control of wages?

The Prime Minister

On the first part of the hon. Gentleman's wide-ranging supplementary question, I thought that the point which concerns him was answered by my right thon. Friend the Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House in my absence on Tuesday, when he said that we shall shortly present a White Paper setting out the situation quite definitively. In reply to the second part of the supplementary question, I am surprised that there has not been, either from the hon. Gentleman—who has great authority in these matters—or, indeed, from the Leader of the Opposition, a welcome for the statement made by the General Council of the TUC yesterday, which is a great advance.

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks yesterday about the Industrial Relations Act—and we welcome this great conversion, with its aim of building on his relations with the TUC—I hope that he will explain why his talks with the TUC did not lead to a voluntary policy. The TUC has made clear that it is now dealing with a Government who can introduce a great measure of social justice in the economy, which is a necessary requirement for the voluntary agreement which the right hon. Gentleman sought and failed to get.

Mr. Cant

I welcome the statement by the Trades Union Congress. Does the Prime Minister accept that the economic prospects are such that the time has come to call a world economic conference? Does he further agree that the rate of increase in money supply in this country is falling so rapidly, and the national self-interest of Germany and the United States is such, that we shall not be able to reflate the economy—and that unless there is a change of heart here and in the world as a whole, there is likely to be serious unemployment?

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend that, apart from the obligations of national Governments and national communities, there is a vast international problem connected with oil prices, oil moneys and volatile movements of capital. The recent meeting of the Finance Ministers dealt with these matters over a wide area of the world. I should like to deal with some of the matters raised by my hon. Friend, but at the weekend I hope to make a fairly full speech on the international questions raised by him and also on national issues. I undertake to place a copy of that speech in the Library.