HC Deb 01 July 1976 vol 914 cc649-50
Q5. Mr. Adley

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a transcript of his interview on ITN News on 15th June on the state of the nation.

Q6. Mr. Michael Latham

asked the Prime Minister whether he will place in the Library a transcript of the text of the interview which he gave on "News at Ten" on Independent Television on 15th June.

The Prime Minister

I did so on 16th June.

Mr. Adley

Is the Prime Minister aware that many people will welcome his remarks in that speech about people having to solve or not solve their own problems? Does he not recognise, however, that a pre-requisite of that situation is that workers, savers and entrepreneurs should be able to work within a taxation system that offers them some incentive?

The Prime Minister

I think that the taxation system must offer incentives, but the Conservatives frequently do not give the correct picture of the levels of British taxation by comparison with other countries. A more detailed and careful scrutiny will show that general taxation in this country is not out of line with that in others.

Mr. Corbett

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the first priority is to get people to work so that they can pay tax? Will he go out of his way in his current discussions to encourage the investment we need in British manufacturing industry?

The Prime Minister

I hope that at the meeting of the NEDC at which I shall be taking the chair next Wednesday I shall have further discussions with both sides of industry about this matter. Lord Watkinson has already said that the price increases are not sufficient, but he has given general encouragement to his members to make more investment in order to create more jobs.

Mr. Latham

Is the Prime Minister aware that while he replied earlier to my hon. Friend the Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) he did not answer him on the subject of public expenditure? Since the television broadcast dealt specifically with public expenditure, will the right hon. Gentleman now confirm that massive cuts are being prepared in Whitehall?

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to the answer I gave 10 minutes earlier to the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson).

Mr. Pavitt

Following what my right hon. Friend said about people solving their own problems, will he refer to the central price review body the question of cutting private expenditure as a possible way of making up the investment gap? Does he recall that last year we spent £22,790 million publicly, but more than three times as much privately? Might it not be possible to solve our problems by cutting expenditure in the private as well as in the public sector?

The Prime Minister

The level of consumption in the private sector has been falling and the standard of life of our people has not been increasing, at any rate in terms of private consumption, though their social wage has been increasing. I do not think that this would be the right moment to cut people's standard of life in terms of private consumption any further.