HC Deb 09 December 1996 vol 287 cc11-2
12. Mr. Grocott

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent review he has undertaken of his Department's effectiveness in the co-ordination of Government Departments. [6508]

Mr. Willetts

My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister keeps this under continual review.

Mr. Grocott

On the co-ordination of policy on Europe, is it still the Deputy Prime Minister's position—a position that he explained repeatedly over the weekend, apparently without even blinking—that on Europe the Government are "one big happy family" and that any suggestion to the contrary is just malicious rumour drummed up by the press? To reassure those of us who are sceptical about that explanation, may we have one or two examples of warm messages of support for the Chancellor's position from the Secretary of State for Social Security, the Secretary of State for Defence and the Home Secretary?

Mr. Willetts

The weekend was illuminated by public remarks from the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Social Security, and they were all entirely in harmony with one another. If we are going to play this game of political happy families, it is the Opposition whose divisions on Europe should be investigated.

Mr. Nigel Evans

Perhaps my hon. Friend could persuade other Ministers to travel around the country a little more and co-ordinate their actions as they present Government policy, talking to employers and employees about the dreadful prospects for the country should the Labour party ever be elected to Government—dreadful prospects on issues such as the minimum wage, the social chapter, regulation and bureaucracy and, of course, Europe. With their comrades in arms, the Liberal Democrats, a Labour Government would sell out Britain's sovereign powers to the ever-burgeoning Brussels.

Mr. Willetts

My hon. Friend is right. Unemployment stands at 4 million in Germany and at 3 million in France, but it is down to 2 million here because of the success of our policies. For reasons that we cannot fathom, the Labour party seems to imagine that imposing the social costs and regulations that exist on the continent would enable us to improve our performance. That would just give us the levels of unemployment that countries on the continent suffer. The electorate will have to decide which party can best fight for Britain's interests in Europe at the Amsterdam European Council next June.