HC Deb 20 April 1978 vol 948 cc666-7
Q3. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Prime Minister whether he will list his official engagements for 20th April.

The Prime Minister

This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall he holding further meetings with ministerial colleagues and others.

Mr. Janner

Will my right hon. Friend be speaking to President Carter today to congratulate him on his highly imaginative energy conservation programme? In view of the limited nature of our own North Sea treasures, is it not time that we had a similar programme here?

The Prime Minister

I shall not be speaking to President Carter today, but I am sure that he would not mind my telling the House that I spoke to him on this matter on Monday last. We had a very interesting conversation. I repeated the view that I have expressed to him privately—I know that he will not mind my saying it publicly—that I believe that the passage of the energy Bill by Congress would do more to strengthen the dollar, in the short term, than would any other single action by the United States. I hope that Congress will pass that Bill, if it is not improper for me to say so. I believe that it would strengthen world confidence and world output.

As for our own policy, I believe that the domestic insulation and industrial insulation conservation measures announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be a great help, together with the other measures announced in the White Paper on North Sea oil.

Mr. Churchill

The Prime Minister will be aware that since 1st April 1975 the pay of the Armed Forces has now fallen more than 30 per cent. behind average industrial earnings.

Mr. Ashton

Because they have such a lousy shop steward.

Mr. Churchill

Does he agree that it would be wholly wrong for members of the Armed Forces to be penalised over the next 12 months merely because they had been badly treated over the past 24 months? Will he now confirm that he realises that if he were to give a pay increase of less than 30 per cent. he would be perpetuating an already grave injustice?

The Prime Minister

I note the hon. Member's views. I hope to make a statement on this subject next week. All these matters will be taken into account before then.

Mr. John Garrett

Will my right hon. Friend contact President Carter today to verify newspaper reports that the American Administration are rather concerned about the growth of racialism in this country, prompted by the leading figure on the Opposition Benches, because he believes that this detracts from the moral superiority of the West?

The Prime Minister

I discuss matters of substance, not the Opposition, with the President of the United States.

Mr. Gwynfor Evans

Has the Prime Minister had time today to reflect upon the major change to the Wales Bill that was made last night by the House, with the unexpected help of the Conservatives? Is the Prime Minister aware that this change, according to "Erskine May", means that if the Bill becomes an Act it will become operative immediately without a referendum? What proposals has he to make in view of this situation?

The Prime Minister

I thought that this was very interesting. I went into it with some care and I believe that the hon. Member's interpretation is right. What the Conservative Party—which is opposed to devolution—has voted for is that the Bill should come into force immediately that Royal Assent is given without a referendum being held. The Opposition then have the infernal impudence to suggest that the Bill is a shambles. I agree. They made it a shambles.

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