HC Deb 26 February 1976 vol 906 cc613-5
Q1. Mr. Rost

asked the Prime Minister when he expects to make his next Ministerial broadcast.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Mr. Stanley) on 25th November, Sir.

Mr. Rost

As an all-party Select Committee has today unanimously condemned the Government for the folly of their defence cuts, which are a threat to our security, and as Moscow is doing a marvellous public relations job to promote the Leader of the Opposition as the wicked witch of the western world because she has the courage to warn the nation of the dangers—

Mr. Speaker

Order. This is Prime Minister's Question Time. Half the House wants to get in.

Mr. Rost

As my right hon. Friend has warned the nation of the dangers of appeasement and disarmament, when is the Prime Minister going to tell the nation where he stands?

The Prime Minister

I am glad that when the hon. Gentleman put down his Question two weeks ago he had information about what might appear in yesterday's Select Committee Report, which will be studied very seriously by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. There is no ministerial responsibility here for what is said in Moscow. Moscow made a typically humourless reaction to the discovery that the Leader of the Opposition has now discovered that the Berlin wall was built 15 years ago. In regard to defence policy. I notice that in the right hon. Lady's "Panorama" broadcast—

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

It was damned good—far better than the Prime Minister's.

The Prime Minister

It was very good. The right hon. Lady said that she was not querying 94 per cent. of the defence cuts, but only the last 6 per cent. That will not be enough to tear down the Berlin wall.

Mr. Bidwell

When my right hon. Friend makes his next ministerial broadcast, will he do me and himself a lot of good by explaining to our people how we are to bring about a fundamental and irreversible shift of wealth and power in favour of working people and their families? Does he think that it will be brought about by—?

Mr. Speaker

Order. Let us have one question at a time to the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister

Since I have said that I have no plans for a ministerial broadcast, it is wasting the time of the House to give advice on what I should say in a broadcast I am not going to make. If my hon. Friend had been where I was last night, he would have had a very full answer from the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mrs. Thatcher

When will the Prime Minister concentrate on seeing that this country is properly defended and concentrate his diplomatic policy on seeing that people can fly to freedom from Communist tyranny if they so wish?

The Prime Minister

This country is much better defended within the 94 per cent. of defence expenditure cuts which the right hon. Lady accepted in her broadcast. As for people flying from the Soviet Union, or any other Communist country, I never like to say these things in public, but if she will inquire she will find out how many people have come out of the Soviet Union over the last 20 years as a result of my requests and pressures. I would refer to the statement by Moshe Dayan that Ruth Alessandrovich was let out in response to my requests. Hon. Members opposite may laugh, but this is a serious matter. The Israeli ambassador said that the Panovs were released as a result of certain action taken by me. On returning from Romania the right hon. Lady was stupid enough to publish the list of the people she had asked for. I am happy to say that a much larger number have been released this week as the result of my representations.

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