HC Deb 01 August 1978 vol 955 cc253-6
Q3. Mr. Adley

asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to Dundee.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to visit Dundee.

Mr. Adley

In view of the widespread and mounting concern many people feel about the infiltration of the Labour Party by extreme Left-wingers, Marxists, Communists and Trotskyists, is the Prime Minister aware that many people will be disappointed that he chose to leave the meeting of the NEC last week before being able to support his hon. Friends the Members for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) and Leicester, East (Mr. Bradley) in opposing the candidature of Mr. Jimmy Reid, who is to be the candidate of the Prime Minister's party for Dundee, East at the next Election? What are the Prime Minister's views on this, specifically and in general?

The Prime Minister

As you know, Mr. Speaker, there is no ministerial responsibility for the selection of candidates. The type of McCarthyite sneer with which the hon. Gentleman always distinguishes himself may well rebound on his own head, because it may lead others to ask whether there are any former Communists employed in the Centre for Policy Studies of the Conservative Party.

Mr. Molloy

Is my right hon. Friend aware that what is important, as the people from Dundee and every other constituency in this United Kingdom appreciate, is that the policy of this Government at home in the fight against inflation is to seek sensible co-operation from all sides of industry, and that overseas they seek sensible co-operation amongst all the industrial nations—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I cannot hear the hon. Gentleman—[Hon MEMBERS: "You are not missing much."!] I do not know if I cannot hear the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Molloy

In this endeavour, in seeking international co-operation in the fight against inflation, my right hon. Friend has played a pre-eminent part, and the only recalcitrants seem to be the Japanese Government, some Common Market commissioners and the right hon. Lady.

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is correct, because if Conservative Party policies were adopted in Dundee there would be about 1,900 extra people out of work who are now in jobs. These are the people for whom special measures have been adopted under the various employment proposals. Indeed, if the Conservatives had the opportunity today in the country as a whole and all grants and subsidies which are said to be harmful were abandoned there would be 425,000 more people out of work.

Mr. Prior

Is the Prime Minister aware that he has just produced a totally unjustified smear and that all the laughter of Labour Members will not sound very good to the 1½ million unemployed that there are now in this country?

The Prime Minister

If it is a smear, I shall of course be willing to withdraw it, but what I never have had denied is the statement made in a speech by the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph), which I have repeated time after time, that all subsidies and grants are harmful. That was his statement, and the conclusion is that subsidies and grants should be abandoned. That would lead to the unemployment of at least half a million more people.

Mrs. Bain

As the nomination of Jimmy Reid is virtually irrelevant to the future representation of Dundee, East in this House, can the Prime Minister, if he manages a visit to Dundee, concentrate on more serious matters? Will he first explain to the unemployed in Dundee why this Government have consistently set their face against an oil fund, the revenues from which could alleviate unemployment? Secondly, does he not agree that Dundee would be an ideal place to name the date of the referendum, or at the very least to name the date on which he will name the date?

The Prime Minister

In fact, in Dundee under various Acts a total of about 7,000 jobs have been safeguarded during the lifetime of this Government. I believe that that is fully appreciated by the people of Dundee.

The question of an oil fund has been argued out in this House, the House has reached a conclusion about it, and I have nothing to add to that.

As regards the date of the referendum, I believe that we must wait for the new Session to start in November, and then we can fix the date of the referendum accordingly.

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