HC Deb 29 July 1975 vol 896 cc1492-4
Q1. Mr. Adley

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his public speech on the economy to business men in London on 14th July.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Edward Short)

As the House knows, my right hon. Friend is attending the third stage of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe which is taking place in Helsinki until Friday 1st August, and in his absence I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend did so the same day, Sir.

Mr. Adley

First, can the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the Prime Minister has not emigrated? Secondly, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in that speech the Prime Minister spoke some fine words referring to the Government's total will and determination to grapple with the problem of inflation? Will he take note of the fact that, if escalating inflation and rising unemployment are not controlled, there is a danger that political extremists in the country will be greatly encouraged?

Mr. Short

On the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I hope he is not suggesting that the Prime Minister should not be in Helsinki and that this country and Spain should be the only countries not represented by a Head of Government at this important conference. On the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I agree that inflation is one of the biggest problems in dealing with unemployment.

Mr. Molloy

Will my right hon. Friend ignore those elements of the media and in the Tory Party who think that the only way to save Great Britain is to run away from the task facing us? It is this sort of so-called leadership which can bring about disaster for the nation, and I am sure that my right hon. Friend will ignore it totally.

However, will my right hon. Friend convey to the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection that there is increasing irritation because of rising prices outside the official statistics which are affecting every ordinary family and that, if the Government's policy is to be successful, in the interests of the nation much more urgent attention has to be paid to these almost weekly increases in the prices of the ordinary items in the household budget?

Mr. Short

I agree that we must keep up our vigilance on prices all the time. My hon. Friend will recognise, however, that there are many other large wage increases in the pipeline which have still to come through into prices for some time which will continue to show up in increased prices. This is the penalty that we have to pay for over-large wage increases in past months.

Mr. Tapsell

Ts the right hon. Gentleman aware that since the determined speech made by the Prime Minister on 14th July there is a widespread impression that in practice the Government have been very much less determined in putting those ideas into legislative and other forms? May we have an assurance that within the next few weeks the Government will be in a position to announce the economies that they are making in public expenditure and also that there is definitely in being effective draft legislation, as promised to me by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this House a few weeks ago, to deal with wage inflation if the present measures prove insufficient?

Mr. Short

On the last part of the hon. Gentleman's question, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has answered this already. We have made this abundantly clear. Indeed, it is stated in the White Paper. On the first part of his question, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there is no weakening in the Government's resolve to deal with this matter. There is no evidence of that.

Mr. Raphael Tuck

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that if the projected price increases in the nationalised industries are allowed there will be a spate of wage demands far in excess of the£6-a-week limit? Will he therefore try to persuade the Secretaries of State responsible for these industries to follow the example of the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection and try to keep these prices down, even if this means subsidies and increased income tax?

Mr. Short

No, Sir. We would be living in a fool's paradise if we did that. The prices policy in the White Paper certainly applies equally to the publicly-owned industries. I hope my hon. Friend appreciates that point.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to give notice that I intend to raise a point of order on this Question at the appropriate time.

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