HC Deb 18 December 1975 vol 902 cc1646-7
Q8. Mr. Townsend

asked the Prime Minister when he next intends to visit Brussels.

Mr. Edward Short

I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend has no immediate plans to do so, Sir.

Mr. Townsend

Will the right hon. Gentleman try to persuade the Prime Minister to visit the NATO headquarters in Brussels to learn first hand about the fear in the NATO headquarters that Britain's planned defence cuts will create a snowballing effect within the Atlantic Alliance, will lower the nuclear threshold, and will destroy NATO's policy of flexible response?

Mr. Short

The Government have so far announced no further plans in defence, but any proposals we have in this regard will be fully discussed with our NATO allies.

Mr. Atkinson

With regard to the OECD's prediction of a figure of 1¾ million unemployed in the United Kingdom by the end of next year, will my right hon. Friend accept that he is looked upon as one of the most honest members of the Government—?[Hon. Members: "Oh."] He is looked upon as one of the most honest members of the Government in the answers that he gives. Although he says that the Government do not accept that unemployment will rise to that figure, will he clarify the situation so that we may have no misgivings about the figure he has in mind? If we have rejected the idea of reflation, is it not right for us to assume that in the Government's opinion unemployment will rise above 1½ million?

Mr. Short

What I said was that we reject the solution of reflation so long as that would endanger our battle against inflation. I cannot today give the figure for which my right hon. Friend asks. If he tables a Question to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment, no doubt he will be given an answer. What I am saying is that in our view unemployment will not rise anywhere near the figure suggested.