HC Deb 17 November 1986 vol 105 cc301-3
21. Mr. Beaumont-Dark

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he next expects to visit the County Palatine.

24. Mr. Roger King

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he has any plans to visit the County Palatine.

30. Mr. Michael Brown

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he next intends to visit the County Palatine.

31. Mr. Forth

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he next plans to visit the County Palatine.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Norman Tebbit)

Currently, my next visit to the County Palatine is planned for the end of March, but I hope to make a further visit earlier in the new year.

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

I thank my right hon. Friend for that interesting answer. Has he noticed that even in the selection of candidates the Labour leadership cannot trust the local party to choose its own member and that the newest Member of the House—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Is this question to do with the visit to the County Palatine?

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

Then the hon. Member should put the question in order.

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

I am asking the Chancellor to notice these things in his job, as he should do. I am asking whether he has noticed what goes on in the County Palatine, which is his responsibility. Surely it is my right, Mr. Speaker, to ask him that. I should like further to ask him whether he thinks that that unacceptable face of Socialism is acceptable to people. That surely has to be his responsibility, Sir.

Mr. Tebbit

I hope that my hon. Friend does not expect me to be in any way partisan about these matters. During my last visit to the County Palatine a number of people asked me why the Leader of the Opposition should be so upset with the local Labour party for selecting Mr. Leslie Huckfield as its condidate. After all, Mr. Huckfield was a Labour Minister at about the time the right hon. Gentleman was refusing to support the last Government. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman enthusiastically supports the membership in this House of the hon. Members for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist) and for Liverpool, Broadgreen (Mr. Fields), not to mention the candidatures of Mr. Bernie Grant and Miss Dianne Abbot. I really do not know what the fuss was about.

Mr. Brown

When my right hon. Friend nexts visits the County Palatine, will he follow up the speech that he made during his last visit and draw a parallel with what is going on in the Labour party, not only in the County Palatine, but on the other side of the Pennines in Humberside? My right hon. Friend will notice, if he makes a similar comparison with the County Palatine, that the Labour party in Humberside, especially in Hull, is the type of Labour party that one sees in the County Palatine. Will my right hon. Friend draw that point to the attention of the people in the County Palatine when he next visits it?

Mr. Tebbit

People know those things reasonably well. On 15 November, in the Financial Times, Mr. Keith Robinson, director of Merseyside chamber of commerce and industry, said: The view of much of the business community is that more damage has been done to our image by the Labour leaders of the local authority in just three years than by decades of industrial relations problems. I imagine that that view is understood and heard on the other side of the Pennines, too.

Mr. Forth

During my right hon. Friend's next visit, which I am glad he has announced he will make in the near future, will he take the opporunity to emphasise to the inhabitants of the County Palatine the dangers that would lie if they were to entrust to local government in that part of the country the sort of rule that we have recently seen with its devastating effects on employment and prosperity in that area? What solution will my right hon. Friend offer in that connection to the people of the County Palatine?

Mr. Tebbit

The people of that area are well aware of these dangers. That is why the Leader of the Opposition was unable to trust his local Labour party to select a candidate in the recent by-election. As to the advice that I should give, perhaps I should consult my right hon. Friend the chairman of the Conservative party, who will no doubt offer characteristically robust partisan advice.