HC Deb 21 July 1980 vol 989 cc25-6
38. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Paymaster General when next he intends to meet the press in his official capacity to explain Government economic policy.

The Paymaster General (Mr. Angus Maude)

In addition to meetings with individual journalists, I make frequent visits to the regions, where I take every opportunity to meet editors and representatives of the media.

Mr. Price

How will the Paymaster General justify to the cress tomorrow the figure of 1,800,000 unemployed? When he is next discussing Conservative posters with Saatchi & Saatchi, and if he is to have those posters full of queues of unemployed people, will he arrange to have some genuine unemployed people among them and put himself at the head of the queue?

Mr. Maude

I never attempt to forecast figures which have not been issued. I have no consultations with Saatchi & Saatchi, which is not a Government agency.

Sir William Elliott

Does my right hon. Friend agree that Saatchi & Saatchi did not double unemployment in the North-East of England during the time of the Labour Government?

Mr. Maude

That is absolutely true, and it would apply not only to the North-East.

Mr. Bagier

Will the right hon. Gentleman be more forthcoming? Whatever the results of Saatchi & Saatchi's propaganda, is it not a fact that tomorrow the highest unemployment figures since the early 1930s will be announced? Will he not give us a preview of what he will tell the press tomorrow?

Mr. Maude

If I were to do so, I might go back to a statement by the Leader of the Opposition, when unemployment was doubling under the Labour Government, that that was an inevitable result of the financial and fiscal policies that they were following.

Mr. Adley

Is there not ample evidence from the latest opinion poll that my right hon. Friend appears to be doing rather a good job? Does he agree that the people of this country are not as stupid as the Opposition seem to think they are?

Mr. Maude

That is perfectly true. On the second question, that would clearly be impossible.