HC Deb 08 April 1976 vol 909 cc634-6
Q3. Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Prime Minister if he will dismiss the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The Prime Minister


Mr. Taylor

If the Prime Minister is not willing to dismiss the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose policies have been responsible for a disastrous and now almost daily slump in the value of sterling, will he at least himself try to arrest that decline by making it absolutely clear that under his premiership the Government will not introduce further acts of nationalisation?

The Prime Minister

There is no relationship between the value of sterling and nationalisation. [Interruption.] The value of sterling is dependent upon a number of factors, as hon. Members know, in relation to our—[Interruption.] The Opposition seem to be very tetchy at present. Are they frightened that I may call a General Election, or something? I am afraid that they will all have to contain their personal ambitions a little longer. [HON. MEMBERS: "How long?"] Until some time before 22nd October 1979.

However, to answer the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, the value of sterling depends not only on international movements and the attitude that foreigners take about our prospects; it also depends upon our competitive level. What is essential is that this country increases its competitive capacity in order that it may sell goods at the right price at the right time. That is the major element, in the long run—not in the short run—that will determine the value of sterling. Therefore, it must be the Government's job to ensure that productivity is increased. In certain circumstances, nationalisation may help; in others, it will not. Nationalisation has helped to increase productivity in a number of industries. If the Opposition do not know them, they had better go away and start finding out.

Mr. Faulds

Will the Prime Minister ignore these silly suggestions? May I assure him, from contacts with many of my constituents, that his new appointment and the continuation in office of the Chancellor are both nationally warmly welcomed?

The Prime Minister

What I am quite certain of is that the country wants a period of stable government and that it recognises that a divided and faction-ridden Opposition has no alternative to offer.

Mr. David Steel

The Prime Minister told us that he is not going to dismiss the Chancellor. Will he say whom he is going to dismiss?

The Prime Minister

Not just now.

Mr. Heffer

Will my right hon. Friend accept from many of us our best wishes? As one who was never a 150 per cent. Harold man, or a 150 per cent. Callaghan man, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether, in these circumstances, the Government will now take this great opportunity, with a new Government about to be formed, to move in the direction that many of us have been requesting and demanding for a considerable time—along the lines clearly laid down by the Labour Party conference and its decisions in relation to economic strategy? Will the Prime Minister say that we are now going to see new developments which have been long overwaited by the Labour Party?

The Prime Minister

I would not expect more than 100 per cent. support from my hon. Friend, and I know that I shall get that. The Government's economic policy was clearly stated on Tuesday. We shall continue to carry out the proposals in our manifesto, on which we fought the last two elections and on which we received the confidence of the people, so long as we maintain the confidence of our own party.