HC Deb 11 January 1977 vol 923 cc1252-3
Q3. Mr. Michael Latham

asked the Prime Minister whether the public speech of the Secretary of State for Energy regarding the democratic process on 10th December at Bristol University represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

Q7. Mr. Wyn Roberts

asked the Prime Minister if the speech of the Secretary of State for Energy on the democratic process, at Bristol on 10th December, represents Government policy.

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend's speech raised no issues of Government policy.

Mr. Latham

The Prime Minister may wish to shuffle off responsibility for some of the wilder utterances of Cabinet Ministers, but does he agree with the Secretary of State for Energy that Marxism is a source of inspiration to the Labour Party? If so, is not one such source of inspiration currently sitting inactive in Transport House, as National Youth Officer?

The Prime Minister

I realise that the Opposition are hard put to it to find sticks with which to attempt to belabour the Government, especially this afternoon. I sympathise with their difficulty. But I do not intend to answer for matters for which there is no ministerial responsibility. I am trying to get a little order into Parliamentary Questions, and sometimes I should like assistance from the Opposition in doing so.

Mr. Roberts

Does the Prime Minister accept that Cabinet Ministers are Cabinet Ministers wherever they are and whatever audiences they address? Does the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues accept collective Cabinet responsibility for their utterances on policy, such as the speech by the Secretary of State for Energy in Bristol?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Heffer

Is my right hon. Friend aware that our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy made the point that Marxism was one of the sources of inspiration to the Labour Party? Is he also aware that recently I came across a book by Keir Hardie and that in the bibliography the first book that Keir Hardie suggested that those who read his book ought to read was "Das Kapital"?

The Prime Minister

These are not matters for which there are ministerial responsibilities—not even my hon. Friend's reading list during the recess. Although they are very interesting subjects for speculation, they are not matters for which I have responsibility to answer at the Dispatch Box.