HC Deb 04 March 1976 vol 906 cc1536-7
Mr. Tebbit

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. During the course of his replies, the Prime Minister—

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

Put down your handbag.

Mr. Tebbit

Since the Sex Discrimination Act is now law, I may carry a handbag if I wish—although what I am carrying is, in fact, a copy of Hansard.

During the course of his replies, the Prime Minister suggested that I had misled the House by quoting the wrong figures. He subsequently said, in his characteristically straightforward manner, that if he were wrong he would gladly withdraw that suggestion.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I hope the hon. Gentleman is not going to take the time of the House to prove his point now. There are about 30 hon. Members wishing to speak on the main business of the day and we are about to have business questions for a while. There are many hon. Members who will be complaining before 10 o'clock that they will not be called to speak in the debate.

Mr. Tebbit

I only suggest, Mr. Speaker that you, the House and the Prime Minister should refer to column 576 of the Official Report of 16th February where it will be seen that the Under-Secretary of State for Employment gave an answer to one of my hon. Friends which proves that I am right and that the Prime Minister is wrong.

The Prime Minister

I think the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) was chasing round after a copy of the Official Report when I answered a question from the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson), and it is clear that I mistook the time scale of the question put by the hon. Member for Chingford. I made it clear that if I had done so, I would withdraw—though I also pointed out that unemployment had started to rise much later in Great Britain than in other EEC countries. The hon. Member for Chingford was not here at that time and I want to treat him with the same respect as that with which I treat the rest of the House. I said that unemployment had begun to increase later in this country. If I mistook the time scale of the hon. Gentleman's question, I withdraw what I said.