HC Deb 07 December 1976 vol 922 cc228-30
Q1. Mr. Lawrence

asked the Prime Minister whether he will visit Hayes and Harlington.

Q6. Mr. Ridley

asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to Hayes and Harlington.

The Prime Minister (Mr. James Callaghan)

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Lawrence

Will the Prime Minister say quite simply whose side he is on?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir—mine.

Mr. Ridley

Now that the Reds have come out of their beds and are getting into Labour beds, will the Prime Minister say why he has shelved the Underhill Report? Is it a correct impression that the right hon. Gentleman is no longer in control of his own party?

The Prime Minister

Mr. Underhill is a very good friend of mine, but I have no ministerial responsibility for anything he does or says—and I do not think that the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) has any particular responsibility in that direction either. If we are talking about infiltration, let me make clear that I am horrified at the degree of hard-faced extremists who are infiltrating the Tory Front Bench.

Mr. Bidwell

If my right hon. Friend cannot make the long journey to Hayes and Harlington, will he take a shorter journey to my constituency of Ealing, Southall, where he will soon be able to take part in the rejoicing among the Sikh community, which has triumphed over Labour and Tory bureaucrats on the subject of the wearing of crash helmets on motor cycles?

The Prime Minister

I should be pleased to consider an invitation to my hon. Friend's constituency. Ever since I took part in the Immigration Bill debates in Committee in 1971, when the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) was an ornament of the then Government, I have been aware that my hon. Friend takes the side of the Sikhs in these matters. I congratulate him on his victory.

Mr. Anthony Grant

Will the Prime Minister accept from me, as one who fought the Hayes and Harlington constituency, that the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Sandelson) is a worthy successor to the late Arthur Skeffington but that he is guilty of only one offence, which is the serious offence of being a strong supporter of the Labour Government?

The Prime Minister

I am sure that the electors of Hayes and Harlington will in future, as in the past, always produce the correct result.

Mr. Ashley

Disregarding the incipient authoritarianism that is inherent in Conservatism, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend is aware that nobody in the Labour Party would ever stand for a witch hunt of any kind? Does he not agree that if these matters are manipulated in any way they will damage not only the right wing and the moderates but also the left wing, because all those wings of the Labour Party are democratic? The issue is not between Left and Right in the party. It is between what is democratic and what is anti-democratic. If there are anti-democratic forces at work, they should be strongly resisted by all wings of the Labour Party.

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend expresses the matter admirably, but I do not think that the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) or the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) was approaching these considerations with the same degree of dedication as was my hon. Friend.

Mr. Aitken

Why have the Government decided in principle that they are willing to spend taxpayers' money on placing Government advertising in the Communist-owned Morning Star? Whose side is the Prime Minister really on?

The Prime Minister

That question has already been answered, and the hon. Gentleman should know that the answer has appeared in Hansard. The Morning Star, as every other newspaper, is judged on whether it produces audited evidence of its circulation. It has done so, and that qualifies it in these circumstances. The fact that Government advertising appears in that newspaper does not mean to say that I have to agree with its opinions, any more than that I have to agree with the opinions of the Daily Telegraph on the same grounds.

Mr. Sandelson

If my right hon. Friend should change his mind and decide to visit my constituency—where he is assured of a warm welcome—will he bear in mind the need to regenerate industry in the Greater London area as part of the Government's programme for the country as a whole? I am sure that my right hon. Friend is aware that this is a matter of the deepest concern to the people I represent.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. My hon. Friend is quite correct in his concern about the decline in manufacturing industry in Greater London. The investigations that have taken place into this show that it has a variety of causes, into which I certainly cannot go this afternoon—like transport difficulties, traffic congestions and high rents—but the Government are reviewing the policy for urban areas and I believe that those areas will be helped by the industrial strategy generally. But certainly Hayes and Harlington needs the continuous attention, and will get the continuous attention, of my hon. Friend.