HC Deb 27 February 1975 vol 887 cc700-2
Q4. Mr. Stanley

asked the Prime Minister whether he will pay a visit to the headquarters of OECD.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so, Sir.

Mr. Stanley

Does not the latest OECD survey show that Britain has almost the worst rate of inflation amongst the 24 OECD countries? Will the Prime Minister tell us how long the Government intend to combat inflation in this country using, it seems, only one effective weapon—rising unemployment and mounting short-time working?

The Prime Minister

I totally disagree with the hon. Gentleman. I am interested in his new-found interest in OECD, because the Conservative Party spent the whole of the last election saying that they did not believe in anything that OECD printed or published on inflation. [Interruption.] Yes. The Opposition cannot dissociate themselves completely from all that happened in the past.

I have answered many questions about inflation over the last two or three weeks, but I have not yet heard whether the Conservative Party now supports statutory wage control or not.

Mr. Marten

On the question of overseas investment, should not businessmen under the Treaty of Accession and the Treaty of Rome be free to invest in the Common Market from 1st January this year? Does the Prime Minister know why that has not happened? As it has not happened, should not the Commission have come over just after 1st January, carried out an investigation into the question why we are not bringing this in, and told us what to do? Is the Commission, curiously, not coming until after June?

The Prime Minister

I always welcome, as the whole House does, visitors from the Continent, but I do not go out of my way to stimulate visits by the Commission on this or any other question. I recall a famous Guildhall speech in which we heard that as soon as a decision was taken to enter the European Economic Community investment would surge forward. It has not done so. It has fallen. It is this Government's policies which will revive investment in British industry.

Mr. Mike Thomas

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the reasons why investment may not have surged forward and companies are delaying investment is uncertainty about the matter, and that once the issue is settled the problem will be settled, too?

The Prime Minister

The position, of course, is that there was what was regarded as certainty in 1971, and investment did not occur then. I agree that it is important that these matters should be settled as quickly as possible, and we are working to that end.

Mr. Hooley

If my right hon. Friend does pay a visit to the headquarters of OECD, will he inquire what percentage of their national wealth its different members are contributing to overseas aid, and report back to the House on how the United Kingdom stands in that league table?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I do not know the answer to that question but I shall try to advise myself on it without waiting to go to the OECD. In view of the announcements of Government expenditure and the statement of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Overseas Development, I would think that our record in this is very good compared with the record of many other members of OECD.

Mr. Spriggs

On a point of order. I applied to your Office, Mr. Speaker, for permission to raise a Private Notice Question—

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is a convention of the House that there cannot be discussion here about Private Notice Questions.