Government Policy

Part of Orders of the Day — King's Speech – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th October 1947.

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Photo of Sub-Lieutenant Herschel Austin Sub-Lieutenant Herschel Austin , Stretford 12:00 am, 29th October 1947

I appreciate that in the short time which I have at my disposal I shall have to confine myself to a very few points. I hope, therefore, that the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. D. Marshall) will forgive me if I do not follow the line he has taken. I wish to refer to the speech made yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition. I deplore the fact that it was barren and devoid of constructive purpose; and, in fact, as usual, the Leader of the Opposition had to substitute abuse for a policy. I say only this to the Leader of the Opposition and to responsible ex-Ministers sitting on the Opposition Front Bench. Their time would be better occupied in devising and formulating an alternative policy to Socialism—which has been put before the country by ourselves in "Let Us Face The Future" and in our programme—rather than inciting forces in this country and America to war against the Soviet Union. I am certain that there is more to be gained for humanity by thinking in terms of universal peace than in terms of incitement to war. When I went to the Tory Party conference at Brighton, I was tremendously disappointed. In fact, a Manchester newspaper, commenting on my appearance at that conference, did so under the headline "Cuckoo in the Nest." Had there been any semblance of a policy at that conference this particular cuckoo might have laid an, egg. But there was no policy at all, and not the least appearance of one.

I now wish to refer to two points in particular which have been troubling me for some time. The first is that of food subsidies. I want to make an appeal to the Government in regard to this question, and therefore I am very glad to see the Minister of Food in his place. A little while ago in the country I was reported as having said in connection with food subsidies: It is no good talking in terms of academic theory about economics when one does not know the difference between a full and an empty belly. I stand by that remark. I want the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Food to go through a household budget" and to see what a difference the removal of food subsidies would make to a working-class housewife. The answer, so far as the Chancellor is concerned, is not to remove the food subsidies but to find taxation elsewhere. In taxing the middle class, the Surtax payer, or those who earn over £1,000 a year—