HC Deb 09 March 1978 vol 945 cc1605-8
Q2. Mr. George Rodgers

asked the Prime Minister if he will pay a visit to Adlington.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Rodgers

Is the Prime Minister aware that if he visits Adlington, he will find it a very attractive village, set in the heart of Lancashire? Is he aware that the prosperity of this nation was created in such areas by labour-intensive industries, such as textiles and coal mining? Is he also aware that it is unlikely that manufacturing industry will in future recruit labour on this scale? Therefore will he ask the public sector, including the education and hospital services, to provide job opportunities? Will he utilise the revenues from North Sea oil to implement a full Socialist policy?

The Prime Minister

We have had exchanges about this matter at Question Time before. There is no doubt that manufacturing industry finds that its rationalisation sometimes involves some slimming of jobs and not adding to them. My hon. Friend wrote to me about the success of the Leyland Bus and Truck Company in his constituency. This has a sound manufacturing base, and manufacturing investment is important for exports, as this company has demonstrated. Also, there must be a balance between private and public sector expenditure. I find more and more often outside this House, and away from the asperities that divide us, that the crude old argument about the division between public and private expenditure no longer exists when this matter is discussed by people in industry.

Mr. Grylls

If the Prime Minister changes his mind and does go to Adlington, will he tell the people there which of his achievements he is most proud? Is it the fact that prices have risen by nearly 90 per cent. in the past four years, or is it the fact that production has risen no more than it did in 1973?

The Prime Minister

I believe that due humility is becoming in every walk of life. I am well known for it. If I had to work out what was important I would advance as a very good claim the fact that when the Conservatives left office the retail price index was steadily going up and was forecast to go up further. Now it is coming down, and it will continue to come down.

Mr. Gould

Has the Prime Minister seen today's reports of a warning by the Chairman of ICI of the damage done to British industry by the overvalued pound? If the Treasury persists in ignoring all the evidence provided by our unemployment, output and trade figures and by all statistical indicators and common sense, will the Prime Minister ensure that before we go too far down this blind alley he encourages the Treasury to listen to what is being said by the leader of our biggest industrial company?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend need have no fears about my listening. I always listen, and I read all the letters that he sends me. They are very well informed, as well as being rather lengthy. When he becomes the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as no doubt he will, one day, he will find that it is easier to talk about moving the pound up or down than it is to achieve that. Sometimes it is not as easy as he thinks.

Mr. Montgomery

If the Prime Minister visits the North-West, will he make a detour and go to see the Bishops of Lichfield and Ripon and read them page 326 of the Crossman Diaries, where he is quoted as saying: No more bloody immigrants, whatever happens"? Does the Prime Minister agree that that is the sort of language that one would expect from a recruiting officer for the National Front?

The Prime Minister

I must confess that I have not read the Crossman Diaries. I was afraid of what I might find. If I were to speak to the two bishops, I would point out that probably their statements were justified, especially when I look at figures for immigration that were published yesterday. These show that there was a substantial reduction of immigration from the New Commonwealth, without infringing any of the undertakings or obligations that we made in the past.


Mr. Burden

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Everybody but the Prime Minister knows that the retail price index is not coming down. Will it be in order for him to make the situation clear?

Mr. Speaker

I think that we are wasting time.

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making that point, because as soon as I said it I realised that it was not what I wanted to say. The hon. Gentleman knows what I wanted to say, and that was to refer to the rate of inflation and not the retail price index. It is the rate of inflation that is falling.