I beg to move,
That this House deplores the Government's failure to honour their election pledges.
As we approach the day when we rise for the Summer Recess, I think that both sides of the House will agree that it is not inappropriate to take stock of the events of this first Session of the Labour Government and, in particular, in this debate today, to ponder the contrast between promise and performance which, in a democracy, is rightly one of the most influential criteria governing the decisions of the electorate.
In the main, I propose to concern myself not with the casual proposals and promises of those Labour Members of little significance in their party, but with the specific election pledges made in the Labour Party's General Election manifesto and with pledges made by those who are now members of the Labour Government.
We are concerned in this debate not merely with a profusion of broken promises, which I shall show is on a scale unparalleled in modern times, but also—and I think that this is of more fundamental importance—with the effect of electoral deceit on the status of political life in this country. I say that because although politics in a free society is bound inevitably to throw up some men who command little respect, we have hitherto been fortunate, unlike many other countries, in attracting into Parliament, in the main, men and women of sincere convictions and high purpose.
But we shall not continue to do so if politics is thought of merely as a game in which one party is prepared to outbid the other with cynical disregard for the implementation of the pledges which they give. It is no good the First Secretary putting his hand on his forehead like that. I shall refer to him in a few minutes and to some of the things which he said during the General Election.
I believe that when the history of these times comes to be written the apposite chapter heading for last October's Socialist victory will be, "The Great Deception". The Government, in their first Session, have dissipated virtually every ounce of good will with which they came to office, and they have done so not merely because they have exhibited a degree of incompetence which I think must have surprised even the Prime Minister at times; they have done so not merely because they have failed to fulfil the expectations of last October; they have lost the good will of the nation primarily because it is now clear to those who voted Socialist last October that they were the victims of a political swindle.
Let me turn to some of the specific promises made by Labour leaders. If I start with taxation I do so for three reasons. First, there were no promises made by the Leaders of the Labour Party at the last election which had wider coverage than those concerning taxation. Secondly, because Socialism has always been associated, I believe quite rightly, with high and rising taxation, a specific promise not to increase taxation was calculated to have, and did have, a profound effect on the uncommitted voter. Thirdly, there is no more blatent example of political deception than this particular promise.
Let me remind the House of the record—and I am pleased that the Prime Minister is to reply to the debate, because I want, first, to remind the House once again of the words used by the right hon. Gentleman himself when he appeared before millions of television viewers on 15th September. This is what he said:
carry out our programme
without any general increase in taxation.
Does the right hon. Gentleman still stand by that statement? If he does will he now endorse that pledge by promising that during the lifetime of this Parliament taxation will be reduced by £500 million a year, the amount by which his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already increased it, for there is no other way of redeeming that pledge? I will willingly give way to the right hon. Gentleman if he wishes to intervene now.
In that case I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will answer this question when he replies to the debate.
It was not only the Prime Minister. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who, for years, as we all know,
had been the architect of the Labour Party's taxation policy—and I am pleased to see him in his place this afternoon—made this misguided promise, that Labour
will not need to increase the general level of taxation to pay for its programme.
And, finally, the unequivocal undertaking of the man who it was known at the time would be the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the event of the Labour Party gaining power—and who is today, in fact, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He could hardly have made himself clearer when he said in his speech on the eve of the poll:
The whole basis of our case is that increased social expenditure will be financed out of the growing expansion of British industry.
Before hon. Gentlemen opposite cheer, there is a little more of that quotation. As if to make doubly sure that he got the votes he was seeking, he rammed home the point with these words:
As far as we are concerned, the fulfilment of our social programme depends upon the achievement of a faster rate of growth in the economy.
The right hon. Gentleman says, "Hear, hear", but what is the simple truth? What has actually happened? Within six months of taking office the right hon. Gentleman had increased taxation by no less than £500 million a year.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite need not worry. I will be coming to the economic situation in a few moments. There is not an hon. Member in the House who would pretend that if the country had known last October what was in store for it the Labour Party would have won the three crucial marginal seats which now give the Government their only authority to govern. [Interruption.]
Order. We are all in favour of joy, but it cannot be wholly unconfined otherwise we cannot make progress. It is much easier to listen to one speech than to several speeches simultaneously.
As I was saying, every hon. Member knows perfectly well that the Labour Party would not have won the last election if it had been known that when in government hon. Gentlemen opposite would increase taxation by no less than £500 million a year. The fact is that the nation was duped, and every hon. Gentleman opposite knows it. If they do not accept my words let them put both their sincerity and their record to the test by going to the country this autumn.
Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that had his right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) and all his other colleagues in the former Administration "come clean" with the nation about the £800 million deficit there would now be less than half the present number of hon. Members sitting on the benches opposite?
A moment ago I said that I would deal with the economic position of last October shortly.
The tuth is that the Prime Minister dare not go to the country this autumn because he knows that not only will the nation note the contrast between their Government's promises and their performance, but that the nation will also note the contrast between the Labour Government's immediate taxation increases of £500 million a year and previous Conservative Governments' taxation cuts totalling more than £2,000 million a year.
It is as well to remember, when considering what the present Chancellor of the Exchequer has done, that during the 13 years of Conservative administration we five times reduced taxation for all taxpayers. Now, in one fell swoop, the Labour Government, running true to form, are back on the old familiar Socialist road of high and rising taxation.
What of that other form of taxation, rates? I hope that the Prime Minister will deal with the pledges that were made concerning rates. What is preventing the Government now from honouring their pledge to give relief from rates? Why is it that the Minister of Housing and Local Government and other Ministers associated with this matter have been so coy? I remind the Prime Minister of the pledge made in the General Election manifesto of the Labour Party, a pledge to give relief to the ratepayer which was in no way qualified by reference to reviews or investigations.
These words appeared in that manifesto:
We shall also seek to lighten the burden of rates which today falls heavily on those with low incomes. While the reform of the rate system and investigation of alternative forms of local government finance may take some time to accomplish, we shall seek to give early relief to ratepayers by transferring a larger part of the burden of public expenditure from the local authorities to the Exchequer.
The people really are entitled to know why nothing has been done. We all realise that the Government, as promised, have set up an inquiry, but during the election campaign the right hon. Gentleman who sits on the Front Bench opposite, sniggering next to the Prime Minister, the First Secretary, went out of his way to deal with this very point. I hope that the First Secretary will take note of what he said. Perhaps he does not remember.
I will. The First Secretary referred to the inquiry which is now in progress and asked this simple question:
What are we going to do while we are waiting?
Then he answered his question in these words:
Labour will transfer some of the burden of the local ratepayers to the Government.
What does the right hon. Gentleman say about that today? That was a clear
promise to the electors at that time and they took him at his word. They will not do so next time, and then he will have to wipe the smile from his face. I have no doubt that the First Secretary was eminently successful in securing a few thousand more votes for the Labour Party, but what a sordid way of proceeding.
Why have the Government done nothing to help? Certainly, they cannot rely on the hackneyed excuse that they have not had enough parliamentary time, because the Minister of Housing and Local Government was presented with an ideal opportunity in December, when he had to fix the general grant to be given to local authorities for the next two years. If the right hon. Gentleman had meant to keep his promise all he had to do was simply to increase the proportion to be paid by the Exchequer. Nothing could have been more simple. But no. He chose not to do it. He deliberately acted in breach of the pledge which had been given, which was formally set out in the manifesto and endorsed by the First Secretary.
What is even worse is that the increases in rates this year under the Labour Government have soared beyond all expectations. If the House doubts my words I will, once again, give the figures of the percentage increases in recent years. In 1960–61 the increase was 7·3 per cent.; 1961–62, 7·3 per cent.; 1962–63, 8·8 per cent.; 1963–64, 10·5 per cent.; 1964–65, 8 per cent. And now, in this first year of Socialism, the rates are going up on average by no less than 14 per cent. The Prime Minister, the First Secretary and the Minister of Housing and Local Government may all have forgotten the ratepayers, but I assure the House that the ratepayers will not so easily forget the three right hon. Gentlemen.
As to the cost of living, I do not propose to add to the compelling evidence adduced by my hon. and right hon. Friends in yesterday's debate. I would only say that there is not a man or woman in Britain who does not now regard with unmitigated cynicism the First Secretary's election boast that the rise in the cost of living
… can, must and will be halted.
For all the Labour Party's talk about co-operation with the trade unions, there is
no one, from the most humble elector to the Minister of Technology himself, who any more seriously pretends that the First Secretary's incomes policy is other than a monumental flop.
On top of the increased taxation and the increased rates there come the increased mortgage interest rates, which are also somewhat the concern of the First Secretary of State, in view of what he said during the election. If I were to retail to the House the innumerable promises made by almost every member of the Government and every Labour candidate concerning lower interest rates for the would-be home owner, I doubt very much whether we should rise for the Summer Recess next week.
They all stem, however, from the unequivocal promise to introduce specially favourable rates for "intending owner-occupiers", which was set out in the Labour Party's election manifesto. Of course, the masterly inactivity of the Minister of Housing and Local Government over these past few months has been common knowledge amongst those who are now having to pay the unprecedented rate of 6¾ per cent.—and, in some cases, 7 per cent.—for their mortgages.
But only last Thursday there was a gleam of hope. It then seemed that at last something might be done to help the owner-occupier, for there appeared the following newspaper report:
'Exploratory talks about a possible plan for subsidising house mortgages have been taking place between the Minister of Housing and his advisers and the council of the Building Societies Associaton.'
This was said yesterday by Mr. Donald Gould, the association's chairman. He said that an attempt was being made to find out how to implement the Government's election manifesto promises.
That was last Thursday. By Tuesday, only five days later, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had found the answer—the whole promised scheme was to be deferred indefinitely. It is no exaggeration to say that of the whole tarnished record of this Government, the unfufilled pledge to the owner-occupier is the most callous.
I say that because—and I am sure that every hon. and right hon. Member opposite knows this, also—those who are buying their own homes are frequently, and we see this in our constituencies, among the most over-stretched financially of our middle-class society—
Those people switched to the Labour Party in their tens of thousands on the promise that they were to get a better deal. The Government have had every opportunity to redeem that pledge. They have not done so.
What reasons have been advanced for this lack of action? First, the Minister of Housing and Local Government said that there was no time, but the whole world knows that but for the courageous action of a handful of hon. Members opposite the Prime Minister certainly took the view that there was time in this Session to nationalise the steel industry, and certainly there was time for a Finance Bill, which most people now agree was largely irrelevant to the difficulties we face—[Interruption.]
The second reason put forward is that the economic situation does not permit of the promised relief, but where is the Prime Minister's conviction which he so expressly and forcefully revealed in opposition? I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is not so vain as to read his own speeches, but perhaps I can remind him of this one—
The right hon. Gentleman will be telling us that he writes his own teleprompters soon.
This is what the right hon. Gentleman said when in opposition:
As a result of the Government's monetary policies … the householder is already paying what many people will consider to be an excessive rate of interest to the building societies though, as the hon. Member for Wimbledon made clear, that cannot be laid at the doors of the building societies. It must be laid at the door of the Government's monetary policies."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd July, 1957; Vol. 472, c. 948–9.]
The right hon. Gentleman was right—let no one doubt now where the responsibility lies.
But perhaps the most blatant breach of faith of all concerns the specific promise of an income guarantee. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) for having drawn my attention to certain facts which I believe the whole House will, in view of what the Chancellor said two days ago, consider to be highly relevant. I want the House to be under no illusion as to the calculated electoral appeal of the way in which this pledge was given—and it is no good the right hon. Gentleman the First Secretary of State mumbling there. This, for many people who took the Labour Party at its word, is a very serious matter indeed.
I should also like the House to be under no illusion as to the significance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's announcement two days ago, as I understood him to say, that there can be no question of introducing the income guarantee scheme for at least another year, and there was no hint of an undertaking that it might be introduced even after that. But, of course, even had the Chancellor of the Exchequer given such an undertaking, in view of what has happened during the past few months the whole nation would have received it as just another worthless Labour pledge.
If anyone doubts the electoral appeal of the income guarantee scheme and its coverage among the population, let me start by quoting a short passage from the Labour Party's document "New Frontiers for Social Security". It states:
… in addition to our long-term reform of National Insurance, there must be a special rescue operation designed to bring immediate relief to these forgotten millions. The remedy we have in mind is a quite novel kind of Income Guarantee …
Then came the General Election, and the widely- publicised passage in the Prime Minister's own election address, which I am sure he will remember well. He said:
An income guarantee will ensure that everyone has enough to live on as of right and without recourse to National Assistance. This will come without delay.
The Prime Minister, I understand, is to speak next in this debate, and on this matter, the whole country—or at least the millions who were enticed by that pledge—are entitled to the answer from the right hon. Gentleman himself.
And let us have no more of this nonsense—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—about the introduction of an income guarantee, scheme being dependent on the state of the economy. This, I will tell the benches opposite, is a very important matter for millions of people, and if hon. and right hon. Members opposite treat it as a joke, and it is known outside, it will redound only to their discredit. There can be no question of the income guarantee scheme being dependent for its introduction upon the state of the economy.
I say that because, on this particular point, the Labour Party's election manifesto was crystal clear. The Labour Party document "The New Britain stated:
… we stress again that, with the exception of the early introduction of the income guarantee, the key factor in determining the speed at which new and better levels of benefit can he introduced, will be the rate at which the British economy can advance.
"With the exception of the early introduction of the income guarantee"—the House will see that of all the social security benefits promised by the Labour Party, this was the benefit that was specifically excepted from the provision that the timing depended on economic progress.
The Prime Minister, realising the electoral advantage to be gained by promulgating this scheme, repeatedly drove home the point during the election campaign. In a broadcast to the nation, he said:
… I pledge the Labour Government to urgent action to deal with this problem … to ensure to each a guaranteed and adequate income …
To millions of television viewers, on another occasion, he answered a question about retired people with these words:
What we are going to do now, and we're going to do it early because the problem is urgent and it's needed … is to provide a guaranteed minimum, below which no one will be allowed to fall.
Then he went on to say:
… substantially more than the existing National Assistance scale.
If I may divert for a moment from the misguided trust of the electorate in what the right hon. Gentleman said to the near ridiculous, there must be no more shattered Member of the Government than the right hon. Lady the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, whom I am happy to see in her place, for it was she who told the nation:
We have no doubt about it that with men like Harold Wilson, George Brown and Jim
Callaghan leading this country we shall be able to afford all the benefits outlined in this statement.
It is no disrespect to the right hon. Lady to say that perhaps on this occasion we can discount her gullibility, because she is not generally a very gullible person.
In the light of the Prime Minister's election manifesto, we are entitled to a full explanation from him. [Interruption.] It is all very well the Prime Minister once again talking to his right hon. Friend the First Secretary. I do not know whether he is discussing the answer, but I must tell him this, because we have never had an answer on the point before and he is committed on it in his election address. It will take a little more than the Prime Minister's slick banter if he is to get off this hook.
If the right hon. Gentleman will refer to the passage from which he has just quoted he will see that of the five measures relating to social security, of which only the income guarantee was exempted from the relationship to the state of the economy, three have already been carried out.
The hon. Member has not been following my argument with his usual perspicacity. I was referring to the income guarantee scheme. No doubt we shall have from the Prime Minister the reasons—apart from the economic ones, which are not relevant according to the "New Britain"—why it has not been introduced.
The Prime Minister will doubtless know—I hope that he will give me his attention, because this is a matter which concerns a quarter of a million old people. The Prime Minister will doubtless know that one of the reasons which has been given consistently for turning down the proposals in the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave), which, the House will remember, was intended to give the old-age pension to a quarter of a million men and women who are at present excluded, was the impending income guarantee scheme.
As the scheme is now to be deferred for at least a year, perhaps the Prime Minister will tell us whether, next session, the Government, if they are still in office—[HON. MEMBERS: "We will be."]—will give time for my hon. Friend's Bill. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is nodding. I do not know whether he is giving time or simply exuding a little confidence.
I am obliged. A quarter of an hour ago the right hon. Gentleman promised that he would deal specifically with the economic situation last October. Does he and his party accept responsibility for the balance of payments situation as it was on 15th October, 1964? If he does, will the right hon. Gentleman answer, on behalf of his party, one simple question which we have asked for the last 10 months: should we, faced with that situation, have raised any taxes at all, and, if so, what?
The hon. Member will not alter my speech one iota—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—for the simple reason that I intended to deal with that precise point.
There is not time to deal with all the pledges, for example, the pledge given, I do not doubt, in all sincerity by a member of the Administration for whom I have a great respect, and that is my successor at the Ministry of Health. I refer to the pledge, of which the Prime Minister knows because he has dealt with it in the past, to set up four new medical schools at least. I was Minister of Health at the time when that pledge was given and I know the impact which it made on the family doctor. Perhaps the Prime Minister will tell us when he speaks whether this pledge is also discarded.
What about the hospital building programme? The Prime Minister, in his election address, promised—[Interruption.] I wish that the First Secretary would stop interrupting. [HON. MEMBERS: "Get on with it."] This is a question which, I am sure, the Prime Minister will want to answer, because in his election address he promised that the hospital building programme would be revised. I will tell the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friends what the result of that revision has been to date. As to building projects costing more than £100,000, there are to be no new ones this year. Twenty of the major projects which I approved for starting this year have now been posponed by the Minister of Health. No doubt the Prime Minister will wish to comment on this, because so far we have not had an answer on this point from any right hon. Gentleman on the Government Front Bench.
I cannot give way. I do not want to take too long.
Other pledges were held out for higher education, technical colleges and universities. I understand that the building of these is now to be postponed in accordance with the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Tuesday. I would not dream of entering the preserve of the Left-wing members of the Labour Party, so I leave them to pursue the pledges concerning the nationalisation of steel and nuclear policy.
On Monday, we are to have a debate on the economic situation. When I appeared on television with the First Secretary on Tuesday night, after the Chancellor of the Exchequer had announced his measures, the First Secretary admitted that his right hon. Friend, in his statement, had given no reasons for the sudden switch in policy over the previous 12 days. I wish, therefore, as we are to have a debate on the economic situation on Monday, to make only one point, which is relevant to this debate and which is the point raised by the two hon. Members in their interventions, a point which I intended to deal with in any event because it is relevant to the question of election pledges.
On Tuesday, the Chancellor in his statement, discarded one pledge after another. To the Prime Minister and to the two hon. Members who have intervened, I say that the time has now passed, for reasons which I will explain, when anyone in his right senses can any longer accept as an excuse the reference back to the situation last October. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] I will explain why.
Certainly, by the time of the autumn Budget in November last year—nobody will deny this—the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I am sure he will agree, at that time was in full possession of all the facts. He pretended to the nation that there were things he had not known until he got into office, but by November he was certainly in full possession of the facts, and he then introduced his autumn Budget and he told the House that he deemed it to be enough.
Then, in his April Budget, the right hon. Gentleman changed his mind again, and again he told us that he was taking all the action he then deemed to be necessary. He told us so in his Budget speech. Then, on Third Reading of the Finance Bill, when the Chancellor followed me, he gratuitously made this statement to the House about his taxation proposals, and as it is so important and quite short I propose to remind the House of it.
The right hon. Gentleman said this—only 13 or 14 days ago:
There is a temptation to assume, because the effects of these measures"—
those were his Budget measures—
are not immediately obvious, that we should rush into further measures which would have the effect of restraining the economy even more. This would be an unfortunate thing to do and I am resisting the temptation to do it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th July, 1965; Vol. 716, c. 911.]
That was only a fortnight ago to the day. The electorate, in the light of those proposals, can draw only one conclusion,
and that is that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have failed.
On 15th October last year the Prime Minister set himself the objective of 100 days' dynamic action. What the right hon. Gentleman has achieved is nine months of creeping disillusion. The nation is sick and tired of the right hon. Gentleman and his Government. They have forfeited the confidence of the British people. They have forfeited the confidence of our friends abroad.
I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and add instead thereof:
congratulates the Government on the progress so far made with the implementation of its election pledges, expresses its confidence that, contrary to the precedent of the past 13 years, the Government will in succeeding Sessions carry out in full the pledges made to the nation in its election manifesto, and regrets that throughout this present Session Her Majesty's Opposition have failed to put forward any evidence of alternative policies to enable the nation to rid itself of the economic difficulties bequeathed by the outgoing Government".
In moving this Amendment, my first task, an agreeable one, is to compliment the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) on his election as leader of his party. I am not going to inflict on him the traditional courtesy of saying that I hope he will be there a long time and have a long and happy life on that Bench. We always say this on these occasions. I am sure he will. What I do want to say is that, as the House knows, it is necessary for the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister to have many discussions of a kind which lead to the effective working of this House, and I look forward in the discussions to the same courtesies as I always had from the right hon. Gentleman the Member
for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), whether he was on this side of the House or the other.
Perhaps, secondly, I ought to explain to the House why I am speaking in this debate and hope to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, on Monday also. It is not because of the desire to hog the time of the House. It is simply this, that we understood from the party opposite, before the events of the past week, that they would be putting down three Motions of censure; first, on the cost of living, which we had yesterday; the second, covering the whole broad record of the Government in relation to their election pledges, and a third one specifically related to economics, which is for next Monday. My right hon. Friends and I thought it right in those circumstances that the Ministers most directly concerned with economics should speak on Monday, and that in this debate, covering the whole range of Government policy, it would be appropriate that I should speak. This was before we knew the change of leadership in the party opposite was coming and knew that they wanted the debate next Monday to be a general one. I fully agree with their feeling that I should take part in that debate, too, but it was too late, of course, to alter the arrangements under which I was to speak in this debate today. I only hope the House will not get too tired of my voice in two successive debates.
I now turn to the Motion which has been moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Barber). It is the most bizarre censure Motion I have ever seen in my twenty years' experience of this House, and I am going to say why. First, what it does is to complain that we have in less than 300 days not yet done all the things that hon. and right hon. Members opposite failed to do or neglected to do, or refused to do or did not know how to do, not in 300 but nearly 5,000 days.
The second reason why I regard it as such an odd Motion is that it is presented as the culmination of a process we have been noting recently—a hypocritical identification of the party opposite with the needs and problems of various groups in the country be they ratepayers, be they owner-occupiers, be they council house tenants, regional hospital boards, or those who would have been affected by the Bill of the hon. Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave)—all those categories for whom right hon. Gentlemen opposite did less than nothing for 13 years. Suddenly—
I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. He will bear in mind—will he not?—that for 13 years the Conservative Party was supported by the voters of the country.
I find that interesting. It is true that the Conservative Party was in power for 13 years. That was the point I was trying to make. But now we find that hon. and right hon. Members opposite suddenly get worked up about groups of people covered by what is now commonly known as the Airey Neave Bill, although they did nothing about them for 13 years. Now suddenly they are expressing their concern because they are in Opposition. If they had shown then one-tenth as much of the concern which they affect to show now, we should not have to face such problems as we do, social as well as economic.
The third point about this Motion is that it is really designed to conceal one very serious development we have noticed in our Parliamentary affairs, the fact that we now have an Opposition which in nine months has produced not a single proposal of policy on a single issue—except on immigration, where we have had two contradictory ones; and whether it has been on legislation, whether it has been in Supply debates, or censure Motion debates, every time we have had no proposition put forward and so must assume that hon. and right hon. Members opposite are clinging still in every particular to policies that have demonstrably failed the nation and which were adjudged by the nation as having failed.
I cannot remember an Opposition—not even in 1945–50, which was a much better one—which has relied so much on destructive criticism and put forward no alternatives to Government policies. It is all right to demand reductions in Government expenditure, as they do, but whether under the late leader, and also, I am sure, under their new one, the Opposition have opposed every cut in Government expenditure we have proposed. It is all fun, but it is not opposition, and it is certainly not credible alternative Government.
On every Bill we have put forward they have either presented outright opposition, as in their campaign against our proposals for the modernisation of the tax structure, or they have paraded a hypocritical pretence of accepting a Measure which in their hearts they oppose, but accepting it because they feared the electoral consequences of opposing it. They give the impression of willing the end, and then shortly afterwards we find them trying to win uncovenanted electoral benefit by opposing the means, especially if the means involve finance. Again, we have seen them fall back on the last refuge of a timorous and divided opposition by saying that they agree with what we are doing but oppose the way we are doing it. That is what we get all the time.
That is the second interruption to which I have given way that did not add very much. I am going to deal with every point that has been made about pledges, but I am beginning by analysing the motives for the Motion, what is behind it, and what it seeks to cover up.
Before I come to the detailed charges made by the right hon. Gentleman, I am going to make two general points about the pledges that we gave in and before the election. The first was that our programme was for a full Parliament, not for a single Session, nor even for two Sessions. There were many who doubted our ability to carry through such a programme in a four-or five-year Parliament. Now they complain because we did not do it in nine months.
Secondly, I want to make clear that, in carrying through this programme, we said many times before the election that there must be priorities, priorities in legislation and financial priorilies. My right hon. Friends and I made that clear when we spoke on television and in our speeches everywhere, not only during the election campaign but for a long time before that. I have the quotations here.
We also said that it would be necessary to deal with the economic state that we inherited. That was made clear. In the event—and I shall be coming to this later—we found that the financial problem, the balance of payments deficit, was worse than we had expected, far worse than the country had been led to believe in the repeated utterances of the then Conservative Leader, of the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and of the present Leader of the Opposition.
We found that the power and ability of British industry to get up and expand exports and to provide competitive resistance to rapidly increasing imports of manufactured goods was far less than we could have expected, and one cannot galvanise an industrial system, build new factories, encourage investment and make innovations to the point required in a few months, and nobody ever thought that it could be done. It has been a longer and tougher job, and every day that goes past provides further evidence of the effects on Britain of, first, 12 years of drift and then one year of cynical electioneering.
I turn now to our record, and I deal first with legislation. Since November there have gone through this House, or will have, I trust, by next Thursday, 65 Bills, a pretty good record. That is two more than was achieved in the previous Session by a Government with a majority of 100, and 14 more than the average for 1951 to 1964, despite the amount of time that we spent on the Finance Bill a few weeks ago.
But there is another point to consider, and here I am dealing with the Parliamentary bottleneck and carrying out our pledges. An in-coming Government do not normally have, as a continuing Government do, a sheaf of Bills drafted and ready for introduction. However fully policies may have been prepared, it takes time to prepare instructions to Parliamentary Counsel, and still more time, in some cases many months, to get a major Bill drafted. When we came in there was not even a draft Pension Bill on the stocks. It was not there.
The comparison so far as Parliamentary preparation is concerned should be with the last change of Government, which was in 1951, when they had the same problem, and I invite hon. Gentlemen opposite to see how much they got through in that year. I say nothing of the abysmal unpopularity which they faced at the end of nine months, but I ask them to consider their legislative achievements. I have checked on this. There were only two major Bills in that Session. One was a Bill to restore the rights of the brewers in the new towns, and on that I acquit right hon. Gentlemen opposite of the charge of not carrying out their pledges to those who were behind them. The other Bill was the transport denationalisation Measure which was introduced in July and did not even get a Second Reading in that first Session. We did not move any Motion condemning them for not having carried through pledges on that occasion. That is why I suggest that they are a little premature. We will have this debate year after year and they will see our progress in fulfilling our pledges becoming more and more complete.
As we heard from the right hon. Gentleman, this debate is about election pledges, and I am going to take the House through the Measures that we have carried through and the Measures that were in our election programme, and I shall come later to those which are to follow in the second and third Sessions.
The first Bill that was introduced was, I agree, a minor one, but it was very near to the heart of the Chief Whip and myself. It was only a small Bill, but it was symptomatic of what this Parliament has been about. It was a Bill to restore bus fare concessions for old-age pensioners, a concession which had been taken away by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. To some of us, where a major constituency problem was involved, this was an important Measure. I have a file knee-high of letters which I wrote to successive Tory Ministers of Transport and was turned down flat every time. Their lack of humanity on this point meant that old-age pensioners who moved out to new housing estates were unable to afford to travel, perhaps on a Sunday afternoon, to visit their relatives down town or on the other side of the city.
This is something that we were pledged to introduce. Year after year Private Members' Bills were introduced from our side of the House, but they were blocked with unfailing regularity every Friday afternoon by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Last year there were exchanges across the Floor with the right hon. Gentleman, the then Prime Minister, when I was pressing him to introduce this legislation, but he refused to act. He said that he did not think that that was the right way to do it. He thought that the best way was to increase the pensions, but he did not. When we first introduced this Bill last year, the most touching thing was the warm support that it got from the Conservative Opposition, yet we know that if they had won the election this Bill would still have been blocked every Friday afternoon.
I come now to a bigger Bill. In my pre-election broadcast when I talked about priorities I mentioned pensions, and I mentioned the Rent Act. These were the two priorities. The Pensions Bill was introduced and had its First Reading 15 days after Parliament met. It provided for the biggest increase in retirement pensions, in widows' pensions, as well as in war pensions, since Labour introduced the Walfare State nearly 20 years ago. That was a pledge that we made and which we honoured, and I say without any fear of contradiction that if the Conservatives had won last October that Pensions Increase Bill would not have been introduced. If they did nothing about it before the election, one can be sure that nothing would have been done about it afterwards, and even if they had any intention of doing it they would have taken the excuse of the economic difficulties which the country was facing not to do it.
What was the Opposition's attitude when we introduced the Pensions Bill? They did not vote against it, but they did vote against the money for it. They let the Bill go through because they wanted to pose as great supporters of the old-age pensioners, but they voted against the money to pay for it because they thought that there were votes in that. They went round the by-elections seeking votes because there was a delay in paying the pensions, but this was due to the fact that there were no plans, no draft Bill, and no administrative arrangements. In one by-election they even contrasted the delay in paying pensions with Members' pay, to which their Leader was 100 per cent. pledged, just as I was. They really plumbed the depths on that one.
Then we abolished the earnings rule for widows. They rejected this year after year. We gave a pledge to do that, and we carried it out. Prescription charges were introduced by right hon. Gentlemen opposite in one economic crisis, in 1952, made worse and more unfair by charging separately for each prescription in the next economic crisis, in 1956, doubled in the next economic crisis in 1961 following their old rule, "When in difficulties put the burden on the backs of those least able to bear them", but it was noticeable that when the economy improved, as it usually did before a General Election, and there were vast tax handouts, there was no remission of this burden. We were pledged to remove prescription charges. We honoured that pledge. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite did not oppose this, although ever since they have called it wasteful. I do not know how many times they have re-spent the saving that they say would have been made if they had opposed the Bill which they did not oppose.
Then there was the Rent Act. We were pledged to restore security of tenure, which, for seven years, they rejected. We did this as an emergency Measure in our first month. When we introduced it they agreed with it. They should have had the courage of their convictions. Where was the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell)? Having agreed to it, they kept the House up all night fighting some of the essential parts of it—willing to wound but afraid to strike.
When the Rent Bill was published, terrific attacks were made on it at the Conservative Party mid-term conference, or whatever they have in March on Friday afternoons. They promised to attack it, but in the House, having made their electoral calculations, they let it through. But having let it through they attacked it day after day in Committee, and by day and by night on Report, with all the enthusiasm and unity that they show when the interests of landlords and property owners are at stake.
I want to put a question to the new Leader of the Opposition. The Opposition did not oppose the Rent Bill on its Second and Third Readings—a Bill which was to repeal various Clauses of the Rent Act, to provide fair rents and to fight Rachmanism; a Measure which they have failed to introduce. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman, on Monday, if not now, will tell us where his party stands on the Rent Bill. Will they give an assurance that if, by any mischance, they ever get back to power they will not restore their Rent Act? I believe that in the light of their behaviour over the last seven years the country has a right to know. For seven years they kept it and opposed every attack we made on it. Then they acquiesced in its repeal. Will they now repudiate it? I tell the right hon. Gentleman at the start of his new career that he will get no respite until he answers that question.
I am not sure at this stage whether I can take official cognisance of what the hon. Member says. If he is right and there were two Government defeats on this subject and those Amendments were designed to emasculate the Bill—and I can only guess that they came principally from the Conservatives in another place—all I can say is that we do not intend the Bill to be emasculated by the Conservatives, either in this House or in another place.
I now turn to the Finance Bill—the greatest Measure of modernisation of our tax structure for 50 years. The Leader of the Opposition distinguished himself with a sustained attack on the Bill for 23 days; perhaps his motives were not exclusively fiscal in character, but they seem to have paid off. The Bill involved the fulfilment of pledges. We were pledged to tax capital gains. We honoured that pledge; the Opposition opposed it. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will tell us whether he will repeal the Capital Gains Tax if he ever gets into office.
Then there was the Corporation Tax. We said that we would bring it in. Would the Opposition repeal it? I am aware of the form of words that the right hon. Gentleman used at the end of the Committee stage, but let him come clean. Would the Opposition repeal the Corporation Tax? Do they feel so strongly about it? Do they feel that it is harmful, or that its operation bears no relation to the fiscal structure?
I now come to the Redundancy Payments Bill. We made a pledge in regard to this, and we have honoured it. We made a pledge concerning the Trade Disputes Bill, and we have honoured it. On the Highlands and Islands Development (Scotland) Bill, I remember putting our pledge forward in what I thought was, for me, a powerful speech—I do not make many—in the North of Scotland. It was so powerful that four Conservatives lost their seats and were replaced by Liberals. Although they have not universally shown gratitude for what I did for them, I must say that they joined with the Government on the Highlands and Islands Development Bill.
Where do the Conservatives stand on that Measure. Would the former Secretary of State for Scotland attack it? To some hon. Members opposite this was a Marxist Bill. The right hon. Gentleman was going on with his opposition until my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland told him that if he would move an Amendment to take his own constituency out of it my right hon. Friend would consider it. We had no more opposition after that.
Then there was the Monopolies Bill. Over a period of 13 years, until their last-minute conversion, the Conservatives weakened the attack on monopolies. They markedly weakened the powers of the Monopolies Commission. They made resale price maintenance a lot easier, for a long time. It was only last year that they started to move on this. However, we had the support of right hon. Gentlemen opposite in carrying through the Bill. I hope that they will carry on as they have begun in that respect.
I now turn to non-legislative proposals. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport removed the ideological restrictions which right hon. Gentlemen opposite placed on the right of the railway workshops and other industrial undertakings associated with publicly-owned industry to undertake certain work. This was another pledge that we had given, and which we carried out in a few weeks. The Opposition did not oppose it. Why not? There was also the decision of my right hon. Friend to remove the limitations on the right of the Transport Holding Company to allow British Road Services to expand.
These were pledges that we made, and these were pledges that we carried out in the first few months of office. This Session's record is one of which any Government could be proud. Of all the Measures that I have mentioned—with the possible exception of the Monopolies Bill—there is hardly one that the party opposite would have introduced if it had won the election. The list of Bills which have been passed would have been longer if it had not been for the activities of the right hon. Gentleman opposite and the cub tycoons with whom he surrounded himself in opposing the Finance Bill, although he knows that it was a necessary Bill and a right one.
I now turn to Measures that we were pledged to introduce but have not introduced so far. First, there is the Bill to set up a Land Commission. I am touched by the impatience which hon. Members opposite keep showing about this. I wonder why they are so impatient. Is it because they at last realise the magnitude of the problem of land profiteering, which they did not previously recognise, and the cost it involves to local authorities and owner-occupiers? Do they now realise the impossibility of planning if it is impossible to obtain the land that is needed at a reasonable price? Do they now know that they were wrong to resist these proposals? Is that why they want to see the Bill?
Let me put them out of their misery. They will have the White Paper on land and the Land Commission in a few weeks' time, and the Bill will be introduced when Parliament returns. Then they will have to tell us where they stand on this Bill. They will have to say whether they support the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, who believes in a free market, and the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire, who went further a year ago and said that he believed unequivocally in a free market in land—or whether they agree with the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), who wants a levy on land sales. They will have to sort it out between themselves. They will have the help of our White Paper in this process. Perhaps they will support the public ownership of land. The right hon. Gentleman will no doubt tell us about this, because he now leads a party that is split on nearly everything. We have some hopes of an improvement, because we have been told that for nine months he has been busy beavering away on these anonymous policy committees, and that in January he was commuting to "The Hirsel". He told us that there was going to be a March election and that his election manifesto was ready. We would like to see it. We were told that it was to be ready in March, and then in the summer. I think that summer is a little late this year in more ways than one. Some day, no doubt, he will tell us where he stands on these issues. Up until now, we have not had a shred of new policy.
We said that we would give housing priority and would increase the number of houses built to let, and this we are doing. The housing programme is up this year. It will be held next year on an even keel of equality with this year, and then it will be increased year by year. I will ask the right hon. Gentleman to wait until the publication of the national housing plan, in association with the general economic plan in September. It will provide for an increase in housing to figures far beyond anything the right hon. Gentleman contemplated, even after 13 years in office.
I tell the House frankly that, quite apart from other economic reasons for Tuesday's measures, it would be impossible to sustain a rising priority housing programme, indeed, to maintain the present level of house building, unless we held back the proliferation of competing building contracts which right hon. Gentlemen were so busy scattering as election bribes. The House knows that all over the country building work is held up by shortage of labour and shortage of materials. They announced an election target for housing which was no more than a paper target and forgot to plan the materials. Now we have to import the materials that we need, swelling our import bill.
We will not get the housing target unless less essential building is held back as we are doing. We pledged ourselves to hold back office building in the interests of housing, and we have done it in the Control of Office and Industrial Development Bill. The licensing procedure on less essential building that was announced on Tuesday is essential if we are going to get our priority programmes on houses, schools, hospitals and factories. The licensing procedure does not apply to industry or to blocks of flats or anything to do with housing.
For years, the right hon. Gentlemen held back housing and hospitals. I have been comparing their manifestoes. In 1959, they claimed that they built 12 hospitals; in 1964, that they built five. No other Government have built minus seven hospitals. What they did was to give the go-ahead to petrol stations, to gambling establishments, and to bowling alleys. All of those may be highly estimable things; it is not for me to assess their moral value or the pleasure that they give. But if we are to get houses built, we have got to have priorities, and I hope that we shall have their support. Will they show more concern about houses, or development profits?
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is not parting completely with hospitals. I hope he will tell us why these 20 major projects which I approved have been deferred?
I was coming to hospitals, because I have been into the subject with my right hon. Friend. The right hon. Gentleman produced some wonderful paper plans, and it was already clear before he went out of office that his own programme was in utter chaos. The monetary provision that had been made fell far short of the number of hospitals that he said he could build. The first job that my right hon. Friend has had has been to put that hospital plan in order. It was a purely election, paper plan, which bore no relation to real building, or anything of that kind. It was just chaotic. It has been put in order, it has been costed, and in real terms expanded, and it will still go ahead within agreed limits.
I answered a Question on this subject from the hon. Gentleman last week. At least, I thought that it was he who had put one. If he did not, he had better read the answer, anyway. I also dealt with it at a meeting in Wales the other day, because we thought it was a very important subject in Wales. We made pledges about it, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Land and Natural Resources is working on a Bill, which will be introduced next Session. After all that the hon. Gentleman has said about the subject I hope that he will vote for the Bill when it comes.
Since my right hon. Friend hopes to catch the eye of the Chair this evening, I will leave education to him.
Oh, yes; there is the question of the Ombudsman, the Parliamentary Commissioner. The Bill is about ready, and the House can have it in a few weeks.
We made a lot of promises about agriculture. There will be White Papers next week, dealing with the fulfilment of our pledges on the Meat and Livestock Commission, on agricultural development, including co-operation, the improvement of farm structure in terms of voluntary mergers, and hills and uplands.
I must say, the Press will have fun with this. After all we have heard about the great, rasping attack that we were to get from the hon. Gentlemen opposite—three days of attack that we should not have had if it were not for the new Sir Galahad who was leading them—the whole censure Motion has come down to a plaintive cry about white fish.
All I can say to the hon. Gentleman is that it has not been overlooked. I can tell him that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland were, because I saw them at it, hard at work on it only last night. May I say, as one who once spent the hardest four years of his life on a Ministry White Fish Committee just after the war, I know the importance of the subject. I would like to say, "Thank God I am not on the Committee now".
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the cost of living and to rates. The cost of living was debated yesterday. I will just refer to two examples. One was postal charges, which came up at Question Time. The right hon. Gentleman knew—he did not mention them, but they are part of the cost of living—that there was a deficit of over £100 million last year. I hope that he will not deny that that was known to the Government at that time. If they did know, why did they not tell the country? They suppressed the information. They knew that postal charges would have to go up. Is that not right?
I am replying to the questions asked by the right hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale.
The cost of living was the subject of a censure Motion yesterday. This point about postal charges was mentioned. The right hon. Member mentioned cost of living. I want to know if, even after yesterday, we can be told whether the Opposition knew that there was a deficit of £100 million and that postal charges would have to go up. As a member of the Cabinet, did the right hon. Member know or did he not?
Why, knowing this, did hon. and right hon. Members opposite put down a Motion of censure on postal charges when they knew that this was done to deal with a deficit which they had known about and suppressed when they left office? The same is true about B.B.C. licence fees. The right hon. Member knew perfectly well that the B.B.C. was moving into deficit and there would have to be an increase in licence fees, but they postponed it until after the election.
We come now to rates. The Opposition have been running a campaign about rising rates, but they know that almost every increase in this year's rates was incurred when they were in office. The first thing necessary is to get some discipline into local expenditure which has rocketed in this period. Some of it is essential, like education, housing and so on, but the system of financial control in the last 18 months of Conservative Government broke down. Loan sanction machinery was not being effectively used. While I do not say that much local authority expenditure is unnecessary or wasteful, I think that much of it which hon. Members opposite encouraged on the eve of the election, having held it back for 12 years, is not immediately essential. We would all like to have new town halls; I should like one in my constituency, but it can wait, and in the present situation it is probably right that it should wait. By holding back local expenditure of this kind we are limiting the rate burden.
The right hon. Member referred to the need—and it is a fundamental need—for an inquiry. We promised this inquiry, and it is proceeding. When it is complete we shall announce the conclusions and take whatever policy decisions are necessary and tell the House about them. I think the whole House agrees about the deficiencies of the rating system, and inequity and unfairness between householder and householder and its regressive character. The one thing which hon. Members opposite did about it was to produce a factual report showing that the system is of a regressive character. We are putting a thoroughgoing inquiry in hand.
The questions of mortgage charges, an incomes guarantee and National Health charges I shall come to in the light of the economic situation, to which I now turn.
I am sorry, but I have given way about six times. I sincerely hope that the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) will catch your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, because I know that he has a big speech to make.
Even on these three matters, mortgage charges, income guarantee and National Health charges, it is hypocritical for hon. and right hon. Members opposite to raise objection, because they did not take any steps about mortgage charges, about an income guarantee, or abolishing National Health charges. Their concern is rather like that of a crocodile and would not appear to be particularly serious.
I have outlined our highly advanced plans for practically the whole of the remaining parts of our election pledges, and I have made clear that practically the whole of them are going forward in one way or another. All this has to proceed against the background of the economic situation which we inherited. Hon. and right hon. Members opposite are very sensitive about this, but there are two facts that they cannot wriggle out of. One is the size of the balance of payments deficit which we faced on coming into office, £800 million. In fact, in their last three months of office it was at a rate of over £1,000 million, the worst since the war. Far from telling the people what we were up against and producing adequate policies to deal with the situation and acting on them in time, the previous Government deliberately misled the British people for electoral purposes and deferred action which they knew to be necessary because they preferred to get votes rather than improving Britain's viability.
As the right hon. Gentleman has repeated the statement, will he recall that the latest figures on balance of payments were published without emendation in the middle of the election campaign?
Yes, and in the middle of the night. In fact, what they showed was a deficit in the first half of the year of £350 million, and the right hon. Member knows that in the third quarter it was £251 million.
The right hon. Member knows that it is seasonal on the reserves, but this was not a seasonal increase at all. He knows that perfectly well. Also—and here I hope that I carry the right hon. Member with me; I like doing that because I like him—they postponed the election to the last few humiliating minutes. He was against postponement because he knew what was coming. All credit to him. He was angry about postponement of the election because an early election would alone enable necessary action to be taken. These are the facts, and the responsibility lies on the shoulders of right hon. Members opposite.
They knew the facts and they knew what had to be done. They were preparing emergency action. When we took emergency action the right hon. Member said—and said rightly—that the action and surcharges were his remedy. It has been typical of the conduct of the Opposition that when he made the statement, which was a truthful statement, as I know, the now Leader of the Opposition insisted on contradicting his right hon. Friend. That is why he is where he is. The right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) played it clean.
Since there will be a chance on Monday of dealing with some of these questions and the right hon. Member for Bexley has had to leave—he explained why he had to go—there are various things I want to say about him in his presence rather than in his absence, so I shall wait until Monday before saying them.
I come now to the action of hon. and right hon. Members opposite on measures which we have taken to deal with the economic situation at this time.
Will the right hon. Gentleman please explain the passage in the election manifesto about the income guarantee scheme not being dependent on the progress of the economy—
If the right hon. Member did not waste so much time, I should have come to this earlier. I am not going to let him off the hook regarding a rather important question about the economy. I am a little tired of the childish argument about the £800 million deficit, that what we did was to talk about it and suddenly tell the country the facts about it. This is below the level expected of right hon. Members opposite.
On every point when we have tried to put it right we had opposition from them. They opposed two Budgets which were designed to disinflate. They go around the country promising reduced Government expenditure and reduced taxation and oppose every step we have taken to reduce expenditure. They move Motion of censure after Motion of censure. We had two on aircraft cancellations. Here, I correct what I said to the Leader of the Liberal Party. It was on one and not on two occasions when the Liberals were on the wrong side.
We have had censure Motions on the Price Review, on postal charges and mortgages—six of them—and in every case they have advocated increases in national expenditure demonstrating that the so-called alternative Government are at least as irresponsible in Opposition as they were in Government and are prepared to sacrifice our national viability and the strength of sterling to the search for votes by courting the pressure groups. I will concede them this one virtue of consistency. They are at least as irresponsible in opposition as they were in Government.
I turn for a moment to the most recent developments and to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I must put this in the setting of the basic facts I have just given of the balance of payments deficit and of the second problem of industrial bottlenecks, particularly in the building field, because all of us know now that many building contractors are no longer having to pinch labour from one another. They are having to pinch it from themselves, because they are over-deployed, because there are too many building contracts. The same is true of a number of factories.
Therefore, it is essential, as my right hon. Friend pointed out, to reduce, to cut back, this expenditure on grounds of physical resources and on grounds of financial resources if we are to get any discipline in public expenditure. Last year we inherited a very big spending programme, but I think that the part of of it which has got more out of hand than any other is local authority expenditure. This is why so large a part of the measures of my right hon. Friend relate to the need for controls in the field of Government expenditure.
The right hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale has just asked—why this urgency; why did we act this week after the statement of my right hon. Friend a short while ago? I will tell the right hon. Gentleman. Since January the Government have been conducting a most stringent review of expenditure to keep the Estimates year by year within the 4¼ per cent. rate of increase. This review is now complete, and it was right to announce its implications to the House as soon as we completed it. We could have waited until the House rose. That was the favourite trick of right hon. Members opposite. I think that we should have been criticised if we had, and I think rightly criticised.
There were two other reasons. The most recent estimates showed some doubt about reaching a balance in the second half of next year owing to the trends in exports. We attach the highest importance, not nearly to achieving balance in the second half of next year, or achieving it a few months late, but to achieving it on time. Therefore, we decided that it was right to reinforce the measures previously taken, because of the estimates we got. When we got the estimates we acted on them. Equally, it was necessary, if the housing programme was to go on, for us to cut back on competition with it.
Thirdly—I say this very seriously to the right hon. Gentleman—it was vital to reassure the world trading community and the holders of sterling balances, of our utter determination to make Britain strong and sterling strong. For some months we have felt the effects of the American measures—the recall of profits and the reduction in working capital by subsidiaries in this country. We have also felt the side effects of the American squeeze on Euro-dollars, which has led countries desperately short of dollars to convert marginal sterling holdings into dollars, just as our reserves were hit recently by the effect of Japan's grave dollar shortage on her purchases from Australia. Then last week came the impact of the Chinese gold buying spree.
For all these reasons, we decided to act, and to act now. I hope that, having acted, no one at home or abroad is in any doubt now about our determination. What I would stress is the relevance of our actions. The two Budgets were relevant to the need to keep total spending power within bounds and to make our financial system more just and equitable. The Finance Bill was relevant to the need to plough back funds and marginally to restrain overseas lending in favour of investment in British modernisation. Relevant, too, is the restriction on bank advances, with its selective impact on imports, and our new measures for stopping prepayment on imports. Relevant, again, are the measures taken in the Budget and again last Tuesday to operate on the overseas capital account.
Right hon. Members opposite always tried to improve the balance by a crude restriction—not a selective one—of home demand, hoping that under-employed factories would buy less materials and under-employed workers less consumer goods imports. This worked for a time in keeping the balances, but only at the cost of stagnation, at the cost of deterrents to investment, deterrents to modernisation, and encouragement to restrictive practices. Then, as unemployment increased and as elections drew near, we had every four years panic spending measures leading to a fresh crisis, as the O.E.C.D. commented in its somewhat harsh criticisms of the recent increase in spending.
It is because we insist on full employment that we have exempted development districts and areas of high unemployment. Full employment will be viable only on condition of substantial redeployment—at a high rate, because it was not done before. This emphasises the relevance of our concentration on redundancy payments, industrial training and retraining, as well as our decision to give priority to wage-related unemployment and sickness benefits over the income guarantee.
To secure viability means sacrifies. We have never failed to make this clear. We said it before the election, and we have said it since. Nor are we afraid to sacrifice by deferring, as we have done, cherished and important political programmes, including mortgages, which will be deferred to 1967, and the income guarantee similarly. We said that we would follow priorities. We said that we would put the strength of the economy and sterling first. We said it in the election. We said it in the Gracious Speech.
On the specific point of the right hon. Gentleman about our deferment of the income guarantee, I will simply say this. We had hoped on coming in that it would be possible, dependent on the administrative machinery we found, to introduce the income guarantee very quickly indeed, because we all felt that this would be a way of increasing pensions without the full cost of a general pensions increase, and we would be able to concentrate on greatest need. The administrative machinery was nothing like sufficient to do this. What we did—this is where I claim that we have fully honoured the passage that the right hon. Gentleman read out—was to carry through immediately as our first priority the biggest pensions increase for 20 years. That was the way in which we honoured it.
We have deferred these two projects. I make no bones about it. The exercise of priorities—this is what government is about. This is what politics is about. It involves hard and painful decisions. We have taken them, but we utterly reject the suggestion that by postponing into the third Session of Parliament two items out of 70 in a five-year election programme we have defaulted or shall default on our pledges. Least of all, shall we take this kind of thing from right hon. Members opposite, who have consistently opposed each of the measures which have been deferred.
With this I close. As our Amendment makes plain, this doctrine of electoral pledges which we assert and shall honour comes very strangely from right hon. Members opposite. I remember three pledges in 1961—first, "Mend the hole in the purse". We had a 51 per cent. increase in the cost of living when in terms of trade import prices improved by 29 per cent. Right hon. Members opposite in three years out of every four tried to hold wages down and blackguarded trade union leaders who put them up, whilst in the fourth year they claimed credit for the increases which had been gained. Secondly, they pledged themselves to reduce Government expenditure by £700 million. That was one of the pledges of 1951. In fact, it increased by £4,050 million. I admit that their third pledge, to reopen the Liverpool Cotton Market, was carried out. It did not do any good. It was a dead letter from the start.
In 1955, they promised us a Summit, which failed. They promised us full support for the United Nations. We had Suez. They promised us an expanding economy and reduced taxation. We had the autumn Budget of that year.
In 1959, they promised us another Summit, the Summit which never was. They promised to improve Commonwealth trade, but it fell by nearly one-quarter. They gave the figures I quoted at Question Time and said that, having for the first time in history for 100 years achieved a surplus in our trade with the United States of £13 million, they would build on this. The building was successful to the tune that the deficit last year was £257 million, a worsening of £270 million altogether. If it had not been for that, we should have had a much more manageable balance of payments deficit last year. If they had carried out that pledge, we should have had almost no deficit at all in 1965. I will say nothing now about the 1964 General Election and the pledges they then gave.
The Conservative doctrine on election pledges—this is what this debate is about—was set out for all time by their then leader in 1951:
I do not admit as democratic constitutional doctrine that anything that is stuck into a party manifesto thereupon becomes a mandated right if the electors vote for the party who drew up the manifesto. We are all allowed
to have our opinions about constitutional matters. If that principle is accepted, why not shove a dozen more items in? One can always leave them out if there is not time, or circumstances change. But is it not for our convenience to have a lot to play with, and surely it costs nothing to a party seeking a change or a new deal?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th February, 1951; Vol. 483, c. 1748.]
That is Conservative doctrine. We have had 13 years in which full acceptance of it was put into practice.
For our part, this is our manifesto, and we shall honour it.
It is very seldom that I have the honour to be called so early in a debate, especially after such a distinguished speaker to whom we have listened today. The Prime Minister modestly admitted that his speech in Scotland did not persuade people to vote for his party. I am certain that his speech in the House today will not convince people in the country to vote for his party at the next election. Yesterday, in the Evening Standard, there was the report of several interviews with people who were asked about the future leadership of the Conservative Party. A window cleaner who was interviewed admitted that he voted Socialist last time, but, when he was asked for whom he would vote at the next election, he predicted that the Tories would win and said: "There is nothing but gloom since the Labour Party got into power. At the local level I am not satisfied with them either. I reckon that, with Heath against them, they will get knocked out next time. That is definite." He may or may not be definitely right about that, but one thing is definite: there has been nothing but gloom since the Labour Party was returned to power.
Certainly not. We have stuck it very well and kept hon. and right hon. Members up to their job whenever necessary.
The Prime Minister accused us of being partisan in our attitude to various groups. In my view, we have the right to protect those who need protection. It was rather strange to hear the Prime Minister say that, especially as he went on to say that he had been kneedeep in the difficulties of old-age pensioners and bus fares. He admitted that he was partisan towards one section of the population. That is how he acts in his own constituency, and he has no right to accuse my right hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Barber) of being partisan in regard to particular sections of the population who need our protection.
It is not my intention to discuss what was said in the Labour Party manifesto. I wish, first, to refute the charge that we have not been a constructive Opposition. The various Bills which have been before the House have been studied more deeply than at almost any time during the years that I have been in the House, and it is interesting to find the number of Amendments which have been accepted. For example, the Race Relations Bill left the House after Second Reading as one Bill and came back as quite another. I am certain that this was because of the reasoned Amendments put forward by the Opposition. I could take many other Bills, such as the Rent and Finance Bills, in regard to which the Opposition have been extremely constructive. In any case, it is not for an Opposition to put forward policies. Their turn will come at the next election. We have to put forward constructive proposals and Amendments to the Measures which the Government in power put before the House.
I come now to a subject which has not been referred to today, that is, defence. On 27th September, 1964, the Prime Minister came to my constituency and made a speech which was probably part of the reason for my reduced majority. He said:
It is not possible to come to Plymouth without saying something about naval affairs, about the dockyards and about the Royal Navy".
As Plymouth, for the past 300 years, has depended on and done an excellent job
for the Royal Navy, one can well imagine that that sort of remark would be welcomed with a "Hear, hear". There are 14,000 people who work in the yard. No doubt, to get their interest and, perhaps, their votes, the right hon. Gentleman went on to say:
We believe that in the present conditions"—
to my mind, conditions are worse now than they were at that time—
we need a stronger and more effective Navy".
I am sure that people again said "Hear, hear" to that, but he continued:
The Royal Navy is not adequate for our needs in the 1960s. It has been run down to a dangerous extent by the Conservatives in their pursuit of nuclear illusion for political and prestige purposes".
When the Navy Estimates came along, I listened with great interest to know what changes to improve our great Navy would be introduced by the right hon. Gentleman's Government. What did we hear? First, the fifth Polaris submarine is not to be built. The Hunter class submarines are being delayed. There is no question of the carrier being produced for a number of years, if at all. We were told that there would be four extra County class cruisers and 12 Leander class frigates. This was the major programme filling in the necessary details of the changes foreshadowed by the Prime Minister to give the country a stronger Navy.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to say—it seemed to me to prove that he really considered that we did not need this very much stronger Navy—how adequately the Royal Navy had played its part in the past year, for instance, in Kuwait, Brunei, Tanzania, Malaysia and Cyprus. In fact, the Royal Navy never failed.
Another of his statements interested his audience very much. He said:
We have to renegotiate the Nassau Agreement.
As far as I know, no action has been taken about that, and I hope that whoever is to reply at the end of the debate will tell us what has happened about the renegotiation of the Nassau Agreement.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to say:
Redeployment in our defence expenditure as promised in our manifesto will help to provide the resources needed to stimulate regular recruitment.
This is a very big problem. What has happened? The hon. Gentleman went on to say in the same speech:
It is not only rates of pay—it is just as much a question of accommodation and married quarters, which have suffered severely defence cuts dictated by the missile Polaris programme.
We on this side of the House have asked several times about the scheme for ratings to be able to have loans to buy their houses on re-engagement. All that we have had from the Minister of Defence for the Royal Navy is a promise that he may make a statement before the end of the Session. As there is to be a cut of £100 million in defence expenditure, I want to know whether this will involve withdrawing the promises which were definitely given to the ratings that there would be a scheme for them, if they re-engaged, to get some loans for their houses, because the situation with regard to married quarters and other accommodation, as I know only too well from my interview session, is extremely difficult at the present time.
Furthermore, on 11 th March the Minister for Defence for the Royal Navy said:
We are looking forward keenly to flying Phantoms from our carriers."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11 th March, 1965; Vol. 708, c. 659.]
If we are looking forward keenly to flying Phantoms from our carriers, I should like to hear when we shall be able to know something about the new carrier. At the moment we have only H.M.S. "Eagle", a modern carrier, and the "Hermes", which will not be ready for approximately another two years, and the older carriers which will soon be at the end of their service. How can we look forward eagerly to flying Phantoms from our carriers if we have not got the carriers, or, as far as I know, the Phantoms either at the moment?
The right hon. Gentleman went on to say:
I believe, and state with all the sincerity at my command that I believe, that our reappraisal of defence policies, with our emphasis on the rôle of the Navy's regular job, will provide better security, better assurances for the future than the vacillations of Tory defence policy.
I would beg to differ with the Prime Minister over that last remark. There have been more vacillations by the present Government in a shorter time than ever in the history of our country in
regard to our policy for defence. We cannot have an answer today, but I hope that on Monday we shall have a very definite statement as to what is meant by all these points which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned in my constituency. He continued:
I … state with all the sincerity at my command",
and this is a very important question affecting not only my constituency but the whole of the Royal Navy and its future recruitment, and many other dockyard towns as well. If the right hon. Gentleman is sincere in wanting a stronger Navy, he will have to get the recruits to man the ships. I want to know what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government. At the moment the right hon. Gentleman is breaking his personal pledges. I agree that they were made to persons in a particular area, to my constituents, but, of course, this kind of statement gets round—I am sure that it was meant to get round—to all the other dockyard towns.
The right hon. Gentleman also said in that speech:
Another issue—we believe in fair wages and fair conditions.
I suggest that this hardly appears to be the case. For some time I have been trying to get action taken on behalf of certain sections of people who, I think, are being treated most unfairly, and I keep on being pushed off all the time. I want particularly to mention the apprentice group instructors. They have been asking for non-industrial status. It seems ridiculous that in the dockyards they have industrial status but if they do exactly the same job in H.M.S. "Fishgard" they have non-industrial status. I do not consider that this represents fair conditions.
I received a letter from the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy stating that the Department had not heard from the Amalgamated Engineering Union on this subject for many years. I can understand that. The Amalgamated Engineering Union knows that if those concerned are given the fair conditions promised by the right hon. Gentleman it will lose some members. We are told that the Civil Service Staff Association would support the promotion of these people to non-industrial status. We then get a further difficulty, because we are told that this Civil Service union is not a negotiating body for the conditions of these men and has nothing to do with the conditions under which they work. Therefore, how can it ever hope to get fair conditions for that area? I should have thought that this point could have been tacked by now.
I gather that while discussions were in progress between the trade union side and the Treasury—I have this information in a letter which I received on 9th July, 1965—the Chancellor accepted the proposal of the trade union side to stand still on future negotiation. Does this represent fair conditions? Surely it is for him to make up his mind about what status these men should have. The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy should be able to do his own thinking and not solely be dependent on the trade unions for advice in this respect.
I had a further letter on the subject of fair conditions for surgery assistants, who wish to be non-industrial. I mention this particularly because I received a reply saying:
I am not surprised to learn that the Transport and General Workers' Union is not taking up their case since the trade union side of the Council have agreed with the Chancellor that a moratorium should be placed on all further non-industrialisation pending negotiations.
Why should a moratorium be placed on these individuals? Is it purely to save money? If their status were raised, they would get better pay and better pensions. I want to ensure that the right hon. Gentleman carries out his pledge to the people in the Royal Navy and the dockyards that they shall get fair wages and fair conditions.
The right hon. Gentleman said in his speech, with a sentence which I think needs a great deal of explanation if we are to know what the future of the Service is to be:
But there is one thing I want to add—the greater use of Royal Dockyards as well as Royal Ordnance Factories for civil work.
Nobody, I am sure, would quarrel with that. At present there is, I believe, sufficient work for the Royal Navy. But it makes us very doubful about Socialist pledges when one looks at what has happened in other quarters.
The Minister for Defence for the Royal Navy is one of the Parliamentary representatives of Woolwich, and in his election address he said:
There is the problem of the Arsenal. For years I have fought hard in Parliament and elsewhere to keep the R.O.F. alive and flourishing. Now the Government"—
that is, the Conservative Government—
has finally decided to close it down. I have however—
This was in his election address—
received the assurance of Mr. Harold Wilson that a Labour Government would carefully review the decision. If re-elected I would immediately draw this question to the attention of the relevant Labour Ministers.
I should like to know who in this case are the relevant Labour Ministers. As the hon. Gentleman is himself now a Minister, why has he not been able to take any action?
The hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling) also had in his election address a passage about the closing down of the R.O.F. at Woolwich Arsenal:
… a typical piece of Conservatism. Contracts go to private interests first. The public interest and the taxpayer's pocket come second.
On 21st December, 1964, the "Go-Ahead signal was given for the Royal Arsenal to be gradually shut down. There was to be no civilian work. In the Daily Telegraph of 22nd December, 1964, one of the shop stewards said:
We are more disgusted than words can express The Labour Party slammed the Conservatives for announcing last year only two weeks before Christmas that the Arsenal was to be run down. Now the Labour Government announces this four days before Christmas. What are we to say?
Knowing dockyard language, it was obvious what he might have said. However, I am sure that, on this occasion, words failed him. Words will fail us if similar action is taken in the rest of the naval establishments. I therefore seek a full assurance that the pledge given in the speech by the right hon. Gentleman will be carried out—civilian work being provided if necessary—because it is essential to the whole area that we should know what is to happen in regard to future employment. The dockyard towns are concerned because of the announcement of the £100 million cut likely to take place in the near future.
The final sentence from the right hon. Gentleman's speech made one wonder
what is going on with regard to planning for the future. He said:
I believe there will come a time when Plymouth's dependence on the Admiralty side of the Ministry of Defence will be matched by growing interest in the work of the new Ministry of Overseas Development.
It will he interesting, and it is rather worrying, to know what is meant by that sentence. Perhaps we can be told.
I only mention this one point because it has not been mentioned before and it is essential to thousands of people throughout the country that they should not be deceived, as they were deceived in the last election, into voting for a Government that promises them a better Navy and even more security in future. It is on this point that I hope the Government will keep their pledges.
I hope that the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers) will forgive me if I do not follow her since she raised the question of Plymouth and I know very little of the town except about its football team. Nor am I am expert on instructors and apprenticeships questions.
Every Labour M.P. felt grave disappointment when hearing the announcement made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Tuesday. When he announced his "squeeze", let us admit that it was a serious disappointment to us, in particular the postponement from next year to the following year of three dearly held reforms—not-ably, the minimum income guarantee, the cheap mortgage rates for those wishing to buy their own houses and the removal of the charges on teeth, spectacles and other appliances.
The question is: why is the squeeze taking place? The Prime Minister has made it clear that it is due to the deficit that the Government inherited of £800 million on the balance of payments and the consequent lack of confidence among foreign bankers in the E. The point I wish to make is that, even so, there is a way of restoring our country to international solvency. There is one sphere, and only one sphere, where the Government can cut without hurting the ordinary people—and that is in the field of arms expenditure.
When the Chancellor spoke on Tuesday of a £400 million a year cut in arms expenditure by 1969–70, many hon. Members and people outside the House believed that this really did mean a cut of £400 million a year. In other words, they believed that the fantastic burden of £2,100 million a year would be reduced to £1,700 million a year. Today, however, the Prime Minister has confirmed that it means nothing of the sort. All it means is that, by 1969–70, we will be spending £400 million a year less than we would have been spending if the arms programme had continued to expand unchecked at the rate which had been projected by the Conservative Government.
I do not want to be disrespectful to my Irish friends, but we all know what an "Irishman's rise" is. To be honest, this is an "Irishman's cut", because it is not a cut at all.
I gather that there is a counter-attraction in another place not unconnected with the 1922 Committee, but one would think that, in a debate on a Motion of censure, right hon. and hon. Members opposite would have been in the Chamber.
The point I was making is that what looks like being to many of us a cut in arms expenditure is not a cut and that, just as we have heard of an "Irishman's rise"—when he expects his wage to go up but it comes down instead—the reverse is actually happening and we are having an "Irishman's cut".
I am certain of that because my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has confirmed it. I am not so certain about the next point, but I fear that I am also right in saying that the £100 million a year reduction in arms expenditure by next year, which was also mentioned in the Chancellor's statement and to which the hon. Lady referred, is a similar kind of cut. In other words, I believe that arms expenditure far from going down will, in terms of £ s. d., go up.
I ask why military expenditure alone should be sacrosanct, untouchable and have top priority. Whilst I strongly disagree with the criticisms made by the right hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Barber), I believe that in this matter the Government are not doing enough. It is not good enough merely to knock £400 million off what might have been expenditure when one intends to increase the actual financial burden. Some hon. Members on this side are entitled to make this criticism. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite are not entitled to do so because they were responsible for this wild, military dream of uncontrolled arms expenditure which would have gone far higher still if it had not been contained to a certain extent. Secondly, they are not entitled to criticise because they opposed the cutting of the TSR2, which would have cost £700 million. They are, therefore, not in a very good position to criticize, but, repeat, some of us on the Labour benches are.
If there has been a delay in honouring some of our pledges—and we have to admit that there has been—it is due to this cause. Many of my colleagues on this side of the House feel very strongly about the size of the arms programme and I am sure that they are right. In politics, the way to success is to seek for the master key which will unlock not only one door but all doors. It is quite clear that the master key in the present situation, the key to the problems facing the British people and the Labour Government, is a drastic cut in arms expenditure. If the Government turn this key, they can carry out all their pledges with little further delay. I believe that they intend to carry out their pledges, but there is a postponement due to the international position, which, in turn, is caused by the size of the arms programme and particularly overseas arms expenditure.
If we took this road and cut arms far more drastically, the effects would be dramatic. Our problems would be greatly eased and we would be able to carry out our pledges completely, for instance, to re-equip industry, to reduce prices and to encourage the export trade. All these things could be done far more rapidly if we were not wasting our substance on the arms programme.
Overseas military expenditure is £350 million, but it involves far greater sums. I will give two examples. East of Suez the official figure is that military expenditure is £320 million per annum, but if overhead military expenditure is included, such as headquarter costs of the Ministry of Defence and the cost of the Navy some of which is in the Far East, the total bill is nearer £500 million a year. I agree that not all of it is in currency across the exchanges, but a high proportion of it is. Similarly, in Germany we are spending £85 million a year in foreign currency in maintaining the British Army of the Rhine. My hon. Friend the Member for Bilston (Mr. Robert Edwards), who is a member of the Estimates Committee, assures me, however, that the total cost of maintaining B.A.O.R. is not £85 million but nearly £200 million a year.
Another door which could be opened and another pledge which could be honoured more easily is marked "Pensions". One part of that pledge has been implemented by raising the basic old-age pension by 12s. 6d. a week, but we have not so far honoured the pledge on the minimum income guarantee, or graduated pensions. The way to do that is by cutting military expenditure. Similarly, by switching materials, money and manpower from war production to peaceful production, we could carry out our housing programme. I speak with great feeling on this subject, because in Salford the waiting list for council houses is 21 years and there are families who have been waiting that number of years. Unless a family is in one of the areas of the city scheduled for slum clearance—and much of the city is a slum—or practically dying of tuberculosis, it has no chance of getting a council house unless it has been on the list since 1944.
We have pledges on this. The Labour Party gave the pledges of cheap interest rates for council house building and cheap interest rates for those wishing to buy their own houses. I am still hoping desperately that the former pledge will be implemented by October, even though the latter is being postponed for another year. Otherwise, starts on council house building will be delayed.
Yet another pledge which we could honour is that of the war on want in the hungry nations. Seventy-two Labour Members last week signed a declaration which appeared in Tribune, and I understand that there have been a number of additions since. In this declaration they stated that we should aim at a cut of £500 million a year in our arms expenditure, and by that they meant a real cut and not the Irishman's cut which I mentioned earlier. I believe that those Labour Members were firing at the right target. Most of them have held this view for a long time, but it is now becoming obvious to everyone outside a mental institution that we cannot afford to continue out arms expenditure at the present rate. No Government of any colour could carry out these pledges and maintain that kind of expenditure.
Naturally, we would prefer to see disarmament take place by agreement, but there is no need to wait for that. In 1963, Russia cut her arms programme by £240 million a year and the American Government responded with a cut of £360 million a year. Arms expenditure is being cut in Germany and a number of other countries, but in our country it is going up.
I have recently been reading the third volume of Hugh Dalton's autobiography, "High Tide and After." He describes the run of the £ in 1947. I must say that that situation was frighteningly similar to this. Whether or not one agreed with everything he said and did, Hugh Dalton was convinced that, in order to carry out the Labour programme of 1945, the payments which had to be cut, and quickly, were those for the Armed Forces, particularly those stationed overseas. He wrote to the then Mr. Attlee as follows:
We must think of our defence in these hard and heavy years of shortage not only against the more distant possibility of armed aggression but also against the far more immediate risk of economic and financial strain and collapse. What would it profit Britain if, by spending nearly £1,000 million a year on defence"—
as it then was—
it were to come an economic and financial cropper two years hence?
We do not want that part of our political history to repeat itself. What good would it do our people or the prospects of peace if we were to spend even more on arms and become a bankrupt nation in consequence?
I always listen with interest to the hon. Gentleman for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun), because I know that the views he holds are held sincerely. While I do not agree with his arguments, I do agree with the suggestion he made about the figures for the cutting down, given in the speech of his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, being Irishmen's cuts.
I would go further than that and say that his right hon. Friend's speech was an Irishman's speech. When the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, at the end of the Prime Minister's speech, waved their Order Papers and cheered, I felt I was witnessing a completion of an almost impossible trick, namely, the making of a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
I think that the hon. Gentleman would agree that although I pointed to this confirmation by the Prime Minister of the lack of reduction in arms expenditure, I also said that this was a great speech. I think that he himself will admit that this was one of the most powerful speeches we have heard in this House.
It was certainly a great speech from the conjuring point of view. It was making gold out of lead, in the most literal form. When I saw this remarkable feat take place earlier this afternoon I felt that those hon. Members who were cheering the Prime Minister were either totally ignorant of the true facts or were completely bemused by the conjuring trick.
When the Labour Government took office in October we, as the Opposition, made it clear, both here and in public statements in the country, that we were prepared to give the new Government a fair run for their money. I speak as a new Member of this House, who entered it at the last election. Listening to the Labour Ministers telling us of the plans which they had for Britain, I waited eagerly to see them being carried out. In the months before the election, I listened to their ambitious programmes, which, frankly, I felt were overambitious, but as they were propounded with such conviction, I thought that they had a new way of handling the whole economic situation, so that this virtual Utopia could come to us without delay. Feeling that there must be something in their plans I was prepared to sit back with my hon. Friends and to give the Government a fair run.
Their plans read like a catalogue for a wonderful store, when one remembers the prizes which were offered. They offered increased social services without increased taxation. This is a devastating argument, a wonderul platform for any party at a General Election. They promised a halt in the cost of living, again a most attractive suggestion to all the electors in my own constituency. More homes, cheaper mortgages, cheaper money, better schools, more schools, more universities, great technological advance, were all promised.
It was a wonderful platform. I ask the House to look at the results. This was the prospectus we were given, but it was a bogus prospectus. It was a fraud. We gave them every chance in those spacious days which now seem so long ago. They are only 10 months ago, but they seem a long time ago and one can hardly realise that today we are just reeling after the third Budget announced by the Government.
The cheap mortage policy has been completely abandoned; house building, if at best holding up, is more likely to fall below the target set; huge extra taxes have been imposed and, there is absolutely no sign at all that we have reached the end of this Via Dolorosa. It may get a great deal worse. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Salford, East, said he saw a parallel between the situation which Hugh Dalton saw in the important book, which I also have read, and the situation we face today.
We find prices everywhere rocketing. If hon. Gentlemen opposite really believe that the Labour Government have kept their pledges, and are satisfying the people of this country, then all I can suggest is that they are completely out of touch with their own constituents. They know in their hearts that there is something terribly wrong. They know that their promises are worthless. They will be going away over the weekend to meet their constituents. They are not relishing that, because they know they will be met by angry people who gave them their support because they thought they could trust them. They have found that the trust they placed in their party has been utterly betrayed.
Why are they in that terrible situation? Why, as a country, are we in a terrible situation? I give the one simple answer. It is because they have a bad leader. The Prime Minister, whose political genius was so often flaunted in the months leading up to the General Election, and afterwards, has proved not to be a political genius at all, but a bad politician.
The hon. Member will perhaps rue making that remark.
I say that the leader of the Government is a bad politician. He must know that in a small island with a population of 56 million, half of whom would starve to death if goods were not brought in from outside, the financial balance in the economy is bound to be extremely delicate. He must realise that the confidence of the people abroad is absolutely essential if one is to make the economy of this country operate at all, let alone be prepared to stand the strain of enormous social programmes, such as were outlined in the election campaign.
The Prime Minister must know of this, or else be a had politician. Why, if this is so, does he, having been elected to office, start upon a deliberate campaign to denigrate the position of Britain in the world? We saw, soon after the Government was elected, a document issued by them, on the economic situation as they found it. This document is available to Members in the Vote Office. It certainly points to problems which an economy such as ours is always likely to be faced with—the difficult problems of import-export balance of payments. It is because we live on an island that such problems exist.
In this document, summing up the economic situation as the Labour Government found it, there is the sentence:
We reject the stop-go policy.
Yet since the Government has been in power we have had nothing except stop.
I am grateful to the hon. Member, because he has thought ahead of me, to the next point I wish to make. It is now apparently unpatriotic to point to the mess that the Government have landed the country in. Anybody who raises his voice to say that this is the worst Government which this country has had since the war and to point to the disastrous policies which they are pursuing is immediately criticised as being extremely unpatriotic.
I for one am not prepared to be muzzled by comments of that sort. I am not prepared to stand back and watch the country bled white by a thoroughly incompetent Government led by a bad politician. We in this country are, as the Americans put it, "on the toboggan" and we are heading for a brick wall. As long as this Government remains in office, the situation will get worse. Indeed, the parallel of the hon. Member for Salford, East between now and 1947 is abundantly plain to everybody. The people are disillusioned, betrayed and fed up. Those who supported the Government realise that they made a terrible mistake.
It is not enough, after the third Budget that we have had in eight months, to blame the Tories. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer is so brave—and he has had many cockshies at the problems—why is he still introducing more Budgets? It is because there is a hole in the boat and it is sinking. He knows perfectly well that he will have to take tougher and tougher measures all the time. Those of us on these benches who have been pointing this road to ruin since the Government took office look back on the history of other Labour Governments and realise that they all proved dismal and costly failures; and this one is an exact copy.
The only fair course open to the Government is immediately to call a General Election.
The Conservative Party will not only not lose the next election; it will sweep home. If hon. Members opposite are so confident of victory, why do not they take this immediate opportunity to increase their majority so that they do not have to suffer humiliating defeats "arranged" by the Conservative Party? They are no longer in a position to ask their supporters to support them again. I suggest that the Government should immediately offer themselves for judgment by those whom they have betrayed.
The hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. McNair-Wilson) laid it on a bit thick. The measures which were taken earlier this week were not designed to be popular. No doubt we shall have to explain them in our constituencies when we visit them this weekend. Let me assure the hon. Gentleman that here is at least one Member on this side of the House who is not afraid of visiting his constituency this weekend and who is not planning to take to the hills or to disappear until the end of the summer.
I do not wish to pursue these preliminary remarks further.
I wish to come to the subject of the debate, the censure Motion, if that is what it is, which is levelled against us. I seem to remember that it deplores our failure to honour our election pledges. If the Motion is to be taken seriously, we have to subject it to a certain scrutiny and to see what it means. The first thing which, I suppose, it could mean is that we are being censured for not having carried out our manifesto in nine months. Some hon. Members opposite have almost suggested this, but I think that they can be somewhat better in their criticisms than that. I do not think that they can really mean to make such an accusation, because they know as well as we do that no Government can be seriously judged on its first nine months of office. If anyone doubts that, he should look at the legislation of the Conservative Government in 1951–52. It is rather difficult to get a programme mounted. I think that we have achieved rather more success in our first year of office than right hon. and hon. Members did in theirs.
The 1951–52 Session was memorable. It was a most marvellous occasion for back benches. There was a great deal of time available and some very exotic Measures were passed. A hypnotism Bill, a cockfighting Bill, a cremation Bill and an intestates' estates Bill all managed to reach the Statute Book during that rather underpowered Session. I think that that deals with the accusation about our not having carried out our manifesto in nine months. We are not seriously being accused of not having carried out the whole programme in nine months.
A second accusation which might be made is that we gave the impression that we would carry out the greater part of our programme in this time. If that accusation could be made, it would obviously be damaging. But it is a very difficult accusation to sustain by anyone who bothers to read what was put in our election manifesto. The second part of it—"Planning the New Britain"—begins with the warning words:
We offer no easy solution to our national problems. Time and effort will be required before they can be mastered".
It goes on to deal with specific aspects of policy. The House is entitled to know what we said.
Take housing. Right hon. Members opposite might be interested in this passage in particular:
While we regard 400,000 houses as a reasonable target, we do not intend to have an election auction on housing figures. It is no good having paper plans for houses if—as the present Minister of Housing is now discovering—you haven't the bricks to build them. The crucial factor governing the number of new houses that we can build—and indeed the schools, hospitals, factories, offices and roads that can be completed—is the output of the construction and building supply industries.
That is hardly a rash and foolish pledge to immediate action or a commitment to programmes which could not be reasonably sustained.
No wild promises were made about education. On the contrary, we struck a rather sober note. We said: "The modernisation of our schools system will require time, and money and manpower."
Turning to social security, our pledge on the incomes guarantee has been cited and quoted. But the Prime Minister's point is the obvious reply, that as it turned out this aspect of our social security programme proved in the short term to be administratively impossible and so we switched to the all-round flat rate increase, which was not part of our immediate programme.
The words of the social security section need to be quoted again. It is a very sober statement indeed:
… the key factor in determining the speed at which new and better levels of benefit can be introduced will be the rate at which the British economy can advance.
These are not rash words. They were put in the manifesto quite deliberately because the leaders of the Labour Party had very clear knowledge of the difficulties which lay ahead. I therefore dismiss the charge that we gave the impression that we would carry out our programme in nine months. We did nothing of the kind.
The only other charge which can be brought within the words of this censure Motion is that we will not be able to carry out our election programme during the next five years, that there is something so intrinsically difficult in either the situation which we face or the proposals which we put forward that it lies beyond the reach of this nation to achieve it within the period of a normal Parliament. This connects very strongly with the charge made by the right hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Barber), who opened for the Opposition. He accused us of election deceit.
But if it is said that we are unable to carry through the programme that was put into the manifesto "The New Britain", it can only be because the basic assumptions on which that programme was drawn up were false. Those assumptions were mainly the figures, the facts and the projections which were made available to the nation by the then Ministers in the last Government. It was they who produced the key figures based on a 4 per cent. growth rate with all that that meant and implied in the growth of national income in the years to come.
It may be said that we were unwise to take notice of their plans, but their own programme also was based upon—indeed, it was the central sentence in their whole election manifesto—the claim that they would achieve and that all their proposals depended upon an increase of 4 per cent. per year in the national income. If it is said that that now lies beyond our reach, a point which I do not accept, it is Ministers of the former Government who must bear the guilt and the blame just as much as we do, because if it invalidates our programme because we cannot achieve 4 per cent. growth, equally it invalidates theirs. Who was responsible for drawing up the plan? Who was responsible for the careful costing—a phrase which I seem to recall—that went on during election year?
We cannot, therefore, accept—indeed, we reject entirely—any such charge as electoral deceit on our part. If there has been electoral deceit, there is no doubt whatever that the deceit has come from the failure of those who either knew or largely suspected the truth about our economic position. They should have spoken up and told the nation with candour what lay ahead. No one can expect certainty in Ministerial forecasts about the economy over the course of a year, but we do have some idea of the way that things are going.
When I hear my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer being attacked and lambasted for having done his duty on three separate occasions—each time when he saw that the economy was getting out of hand he came back to the job, however unpopular, and went ahead with it; when the right hon. Gentleman who held the same great office of State only a year ago made a decision in April, 1964, which he knew, the nation knew and the world knew was wrong and then failed to correct his judgment, as events showed just how false that judgment was—I can only feel a great deal of anger that such criticisms are made against my right hon. Friend.
In this debate, we on this side are not quite certain whether we are answering serious charges. [Interruption.] Obviously, we are not. Hon. Members opposite have not considered what they want to accuse us of. As I listened to the speeches that were put from the benches opposite, I thought that we were listening to a number of hastily assembled debating points more appropriate to the Unions of Oxford or Cambridge than to the House of Commons. It was not good enough.
We on this side feel that it is not just a question of our good name and good faith which is at stake when were are faced with accusations of this kind. The nation has a great interest in this. If we fail to produce a "New Britain," if we fail to organise and plan the modernisation of our economy and if we fail to modernise our social services, if we fail to do these things and the nation has to turn back again to the dreary policies that have been seen to fail for so many years, it would indeed be a disaster.
I cannot really say that this kind of debate is one which I specially enjoy. Since coming to this House a relatively short time ago, I have frequently greatly enjoyed the occasions when we on different sides of the House have got down to the business of trying to understand what are the different principles which we hold and what are our different methods of implementing those principles in terms of policy.
Today does not seem to me to be one of those occasions. I doubt very much whether anything that is said this day or this night will contribute greatly either to the understanding of hon. Members of each other on separate sides of the House or to our understanding of the many problems with which the country is faced and which, as we have heard, are crowding in on us. Indeed, I suspect strongly that the Motion which is before us is not designed to do that but is designed, if the speeches which we have heard thus far are any indication, to give an opportunity for the sort of marketplace oratory which at election times tends to inflame the ignorant but also to sadden the wise.
I speak from the Liberal bench representing what is certainly a minority party. To put it poetically,
My strength is as the strength of ten.
To put it more practically, my strength is as the strength of 3 million. Today's Motion has been initiated by the Conservative Opposition. If we on this bench had an opportunity on Supply Days to initiate subjects for debate, as I feel our representation in the country more
than warrants in all equity, this is certainly not the sort of subject which we would choose.
Obviously, if one is discussing election pledges, one can discuss practically anything. Election manifestos are generally fairly comprehensive. I should, however, have thought that we would better spend our day and our night in looking more closely at some of the many subjects which should engage our attention, such as, for example, transport, industrial relations, wage differentials or some of the many subjects for which the Leader of the House is pressed each Thursday to give time.
I suggest that to discuss white fish in detail would certainly be more advantageous than to discuss this Motion.
However, let me none the less play the game for a short time. Let us look at the Motion as it is set out:
That this House deplores the Government's failure to honour their election pledges.
The first thing that I would do in looking at a subject of that sort is to ask what are the credentials of the proposer. That is an obvious thing to ask, because if one deplores something one generally ought to be entitled to deplore something. Drunkards do not generally deplore other drunkards. Thieves do not generally deplore other thieves. Consequently, if somebody deplores it should generally imply that he has, if not a cloak of virginal white over him, at least a very good case. I suggest that the Conservative Party is not in a particularly strong position when it comes to the question of broken pledges.
I do not propose to spend long on this, but if one goes back across the span of years to the beginning of Conservative rule after the war, one finds that many things were said which were indicated as "This is what we are going to do". I remember that in 1950 the then Leader of the Conservative Party, the late Sir Winston Churchill, in his election manifesto just before the Conservative Party surged into power said:
Of every £ earned in Britain today Government take and spend 8s. Conservatives
think that this is far too much. Most of the taxes come from the earnings of private persons. The amount they are able to spend and save is reduced, and their choice is limited.
This is all very fine, but when we look at the present rate of Government expenditure expressed as a percentage of the gross national product we find that it is at a rate of about 8s. 6d. or so in the £. I think the latest figure is nearly 46 per cent.
Again, if we look at the 1951 pledge, a year after this. I am not going to spend much longer on this, but I would quote from the 1951 manifesto of the Conservative Party.
Would the hon. Gentleman please explain the basis on which he arrives at this figure, because it was accepted by both sides that taxation had been greatly reduced in 13 years as a percentage of the gross national income?
I will declare my source. I am always willing to do that. It is Cmd. 2235 published by the Conservative Party in December, 1963, and I would commend the hon. Gentleman to go forthwith to the Library and study it.
As I was saying, the 1951 manifesto said:
A Conservative Government would cut out all unnecessary Government expenditure, simplify the administrative machine and prune waste and extravagance in every department.
This is an example of what was said at the beginning of Conservative rule and reflects very much on the credentials of the proposers of today's Motion, and of the sort of criticisms they are making today. In fact, as we know, Government expenditure has vastly increased. There are many reasons for this. Some of them are justifiable reasons, but it is also clear that there was a very considerable increase in Government expenditure throughout the period of Conservative rule. I think the Prime Minister himself today put the figure at between £4,000 million and £9,000 million.
Therefore, it would seem to me that the credentials of the proposers are not very strong at all. Mind you, it is a common fault among political parties to make promises. That is something which Liberals are certainly from time to time accused of doing, though I may say that that is something I certainly would be more than willing to debate at another time.
Let us look at the Motion as it stands and give it a little objective treatment, so far as I am capable of being objective: most of us are not very capable of being that. It speaks of "the Government's election pledges". I would make a quotation, and I am surprised it has not been made before, from the Labour Party's manifesto:
The country needs fresh and virile leadership. Labour is ready. Poised to swing its plans into instant operation. Impatient to apply the 'new thinking' that will end the chaos and sterility. Here is Labour's manifesto for the 1964 election restless with positive remedies for the problems the Tories have criminally neglected.
Really, this was very strong stuff. I remember that the programme "That was the week that was" which was running at that time dealt with the question of "instant Wilson", making an analogy with the television advertisements of the time.
The fact of the matter was that, as hon. Gentlemen opposite will, I think, readily admit, they were not poised to swing their plans into instant operation. The Prime Minister himself quoted the example of the land commission, which I think had been brought to his attention earlier by the right hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Barber). The fact was that the Labour Government were not ready for this piece of legislation or to transform their ideas into legislative form. They had their ideas, but they were not ready in that sense. Yet during the election the Prime Minister was asked,
What would be the most important measures you would take in the first year of a new Government?
That was in the Daily Mail of 19th September. He answered:
Since housing is undoubtedly the most pressing social problem, we shall not waste time before establishing our new land commission.
Obviously it was his intention to set up a land commission.
The hon. Gentleman has really passed the point, but it has some significance, so perhaps he will permit me to ask him a question. He said that the amount taken in taxation in 1951 was 8s. in the £ and rather more in 1965. Then he quoted as his authority for saying that, a White Paper issued by the Conservative Government in 1963. It looks as though the Liberal Party looks up the record the year before last and not even the last year to get the facts.
In the first place, this point has been passed a very long time ago. Secondly, I rather suspect that the hon. Gentleman was not in at the beginning of my speech. I think I will leave it there, if he does not mind, but if he would care to write to me I will certainly explain it.
Now as I was saying regarding the land commission, the fact is that we have not had this land commission. The Prime Minister said that he hoped to introduce it in the new Session of Parliament in November. It was his intention, and it was hoped to do it in the first year. In fact this did not happen.
Then there is the question of house purchase and the hopes which were held out. This has been mentioned already by the right hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale and one or two others who have spoken before me. Whatever view one takes about the difference between the First Secretary of State and the Sunday Express as to what the right hon. Gentleman said, the fact was that it was generally accepted that there would be a decrease in mortgage charges, that there would be lower interest rates for home buyers. The Labour Party said in its manifesto that it was its policy to
introduce a policy of lower interest rates for housing".
This did not happen and we have already heard quoted that they are up to 6¾ per cent.
It seems to me that, weighed against that, we have a list of things which the present Government have done, and in my part of the world there is the question of the Highlands and Islands Development Bill which this very evening is going through its final stages and it was urgently desired. In spite of what the Prime Minister said about the effect of his speech in Inverness, I would say that this is a very good example of the Labour Party adopting a very longstanding piece of Liberal policy. That would not prevent me from complimenting the Government on the prompt introduction of it. Rather the contrary. It was interesting to notice that the Conservative Party, which consistently opposed this Measure for many years, did not go to the extent of opposing it in this House, because it knew of the real feeling in that part of the world in favour of that idea.
This brings me immediately to the other factors which must necessarily be considered in examining a Motion of this kind. The first factor is obviously the time factor which has already been mentioned. We cannot, obviously, expect any Government, whatever their colour or persuasion, to do things in nine months. How do we normally phrase a manifesto? We may say that a manifesto contains the prime elements of policy. First of all, there is an outline of short-term legislation. By "short-term" I mean about five years, because that is the normal expectation of life of a Parliament. Secondly, there is the vein of what one might call the long-term vision, and I hope that there are many idealists on both sides of the House who feel that when their party comes to power this does not mean just a series of specific Measures to be put on the Statute Book, but the development of a new feeling in the country and the shaping of society in a new way. This finds but one expression in certain phrases in the party manifestos, but one does not expect this sort of thing to happen in a short time.
There is also a small third section which can reasonably go into a manifesto. I am referring to the few actions which can be taken almost at once. Generally they are actions which amount to saying "No". For instance, one can say "No" to the proposal to close certain railway lines. One can give the same answer in respect of office development in London. One can also say "No" to an excess of imports, by clamping on some kind of restriction. It is important to bring in this element as well as it will help to explain some of the confusion in the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
There is a further point to be made with regard to the time factor. There has been what one might describe as a running General Election since 1961 or 1962, and it looks as though it is the intention to continue that state of affairs. I do not think that this is good for the country, nor do I think that it is particularly sensible to engage in this sort of criticism after such a short time. What the country desperately needs is stability, and this cannot be achieved if people get the impression that an election is imminent.
My next point on the time factor concerns the question of cost. One must clearly differentiate between the inability of the Government immediately to frame their proposals in legislative form—for example, the Land Commission Bill, which is a failure of Government—and their failure as an Opposition. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were in opposition for 13 years, yet they failed to frame legislation on this subject even though they had the facilities for doing so, but they cannot necessarily be criticised for inheriting a situation which makes it impossible for them to do certain things which they hoped to do. We on this bench feel that the responsibility for the economic crisis of last autumn rests fairly and squarely on the Conservative Party. Therefore, although some of the Measures taken by the Government are welcome, if they had acted more firmly and more quickly things would not be as bad as they are now.
To put it in terms of Scots law, the Motion is not proven. For the benefit of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who do not have the good fortune to be Scotsmen, that means not that the charge is dismissed but that the verdict is delayed until new evidence is found. We feel that there is insufficient evidence to justify this kind of Motion.
There is one further point which I should like to make with regard to the Motion, and that is that its emotional crux lies in the use of the emotive word "honour". The Motion refers to the failure of the Government to honour their election pledges. As has ben said, if one does not honour something one is engaged in an exercise whereby one deceives. I think that that is the weakest argument of all, because if Members of the Conservative Party are seriously saying that the public were bluffed—I maintain that the public are not all that gullible—and that they fell lock, stock and barrel for the alluring promises made to them by that compulsive siren the First Secretary and rushed out and tumbled over themselves to vote Labour, I must say that we are being called on to believe something which is not true at all. After all, the total Labour vote at the last election fell by comparison with the previous one, and it is because of our crazy electoral system that we continually produce crazy results.
It is a criticism of the Liberal Party, of the Conservative Party, and indeed a little while ago of the Labour Party, that because of our party system any opposition party depends for its advancement on the failure of the Government party. However good one's intentions and ideals, if the Government party is making a good job of things the likelihood is that it will not be turned out of office because people do not wish to change an Administration which is working satisfactorily and which is giving them the sort of economic and spiritual answers for which they are looking.
It is therefore fair to say that after 13 years of Conservative Government it was not merely a question of people rushing to join the Labour Party because that party promised them better things, but there was a real sickness in the country and a real tiredness with the failure of the Conservative Party to take advantage of the many opportunities which it had to put things right.
The hon. Gentleman says that the electorate tend to go on returning to power a party with which they are satisfied. Would not he agree that during the three elections in the 'fifties the electorate did just that? When he is arguing that there were 13 years of failure and broken promises, is it not relevant to point out that the Tory Party won one election after another during those years?
It may be relevant to do so, but it does not destroy my argument. The hon. Gentleman is talking about an historical situation. It may be that the country was pleased with the Conservative Party during those years. There was an increase in prosperity during that period, but the point I am making is that the Conservative Party did not take advantage of that situation in the way that it ought to have done. I do not necessarily dissent from the point made by the hon. Gentleman, but nevertheless I regard this Motion as primarily a party political exercise without any real effective justification. Perhaps this is the last kick of the previous Tory heirarchy, which has now been changed. We on this bench compliment the new Leader of the Conservative Party on his appointment to that office and wish him well in the future. I noticed in the newspapers this morning that he said that the Conservatives would fight the Government on their policy. I hope that they will, because that is the sort of fighting that we should have in this House.
I have devoted my speech to the Motion, and I do not wish to speak for very much longer, but there are one or two points that I must make about the Amendment. It is natural that the Government should table this kind of Amendment. We, too, thought of putting down an Amendment. One of our Members, in a rather frivolous mood, thought that it might be a good idea to delete the words after "deplores" so that the Motion would read:
This House deplores the intention of Her Majesty's Government to implement their election pledges, and further deplores the fact that the Opposition are urging the Government to implement such measures as the nationalisation of steel",
but we felt that such an exercise was not desirable.
The Government have tabled a political Amendment saying that they are a great Government and that they are doing a fine job. It is natural that they should do that, but this is not necessarily something that we on this bench can support. We disagree with the Labour Party on many things. We disagree with hon. Gentlemen opposite over taxation. We disagree with them over nationalisation and over their approach to industrial relations. We disagree with them over the governmental structure, and we also disagree with them over foreign affairs and defence. The Amendment cannot be supported by us, and the Motion is certainly not one that we can support in any way.
The people outside the House—the ones who are round about us and who sent us here to work as well as we are able for the advancement of our country—will not thank us for using our abilities for party fraction. They would appreciate much more our sitting down and trying to deal with the fundamental problem that face this nation—the difficulties of industrial relations and of trying to bring the two sides of industry together which is fundamental so that we have a unified country moving forward.
The hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston), who made an entertaining speech, referred to the fact that we had adopted one aspect of Liberal policy. For many years the Liberals have deservedly served in opposition, in which time they have embraced so many policies that it was statistically inevitable that, sooner or later, there would be a certain coincidence of policy. What is remarkable is that for members of a party which still claims to be radical they do not find a little more coincidence with our policies.
It is also interesting to point out that just an hour ago, when we had a Count—on the day when, we are told, a new dynamic Conservative leadership was about to emerge, and when the Opposition were about to put pressure on the Government, in order to fight them and harry them from office—the Conservative benches could muster only five Members. This is the enthusiasm with which they are now fighting the Government.
I must point out something that is often forgotten by the hon. Member and his colleagues. On many occasions other important business is going on outside the Chamber. The Conservative Party sat here day after day when only two or three Government supporters were in the House when the Finance Bill was being debated.
In reply, I would say that we have long expected Conservative Members to put the interests and needs of the Conservative Party before those of the country. We would not expect them to be here, serving the needs of the country, when they have a meeting they could attend elsewhere. We see here the whole significance of the change in Tory leadership. It means that instead of ambling aimlessly towards defeat they will now be led vigorously to defeat at the next election.
We should not overlook the significance of the fact that this Motion came forward at all from the Conservative Party. If hon. Members opposite mean what they say in their Motion it is a major victory for morality in this country and it represents a major conversion. At last, it seems, the Conservatives have realised that an election promise is something which should be kept. We have been trying to tell them this for 13 years, with little success. During that period we have had many Tory broken promises. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister listed some of them. They have debased the political coinage of the country and to some extent undermined the standing of the House in the country, because people have felt that their words could not be trusted in matters of policy.
One could well write the history of the 1950s in terms of Tory broken promises. There has been the spiraling cost of living—which has risen 42 per cent. in the last 10 years and 51 per cent. over the whole of their spell of office—which we can relate to their promises to mend the hole in the purse and their creation of a property-owning democracy. It was not very democratic to own a house, because the Conservatives cut back very heavily on council house building. There was nothing very democratic in it for the property owners, because the Conservatives cut back housing in that respect, too, later.
They deluded many people into thinking that under Conservative leadership they would have a house of their own.
I put to the hon. Member the same point that I put to the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston). During the 13 years of broken promises that he has told us about—years of Tory cheating of the voters—the Tory Party won election after election. How does he explain that? If the promises were not being kept why did the voters go on returning the party that made them?
That is answered by saying that the Conservatives put forward a series of bigger and better promises. The misfortune of the 1950s is that whereas the Greeks always had a word for it the Tories always had a solution for it. They were always very good at advertising, but they were not very good at solving problems. They could always appeal to the public through a good advertising campaign, although eventually it came home to the electors what the real situation was.
The Conservatives spoke of it as a landslide victory when they increased their majority from 30 to 100. How much more of a landslide was it when they lost that 100-seat majority completely at one sweep? The public have come to realise the real nature of Conservatism.
Already hon. Members opposite, who are telling us that we ought to honour our election pledges, have fallen into disgrace—if I may use that word—in respect of the next election. They are already ahead of themselves. This spell in opposition is putting some verve into them, but they have already started breaking their promises for the next election. Only a few weeks ago, on television, we were assured that at the next election the Conservative Party would be led by a certain right hon. Gentleman who has now, unfortunately, departed from the scene. They are ahead of themselves. Do not let us have any show of virtue from them about keeping promises.
My intention is to talk about a set of promises which were linked to Wales, and to ask how far those promises, as embodied in the policy statement, have been fulfilled. I regret to say that, unfortunately, none of those Conservative Members who represent Wales have seen fit to be present in the House—not even the Conservative spokesman for Wales. First, we promised to create a real Secretary of State for Wales. The Tories opposed this. We have now set up this office, and the former Leader of the Opposition has said that the Conservatives would not abolish the office if they came back to power.
But not only have we set up this office; we have been gradually increasing its range of responsibility beyond what we stated in the election manifesto. We have added a responsibility for roads. We heard only last Saturday from the Prime Minister, in Newtown, that a certain responsibility will also be given to the Secretary of State for Wales in respect of higher education. As a result of all these measures Wales has been given a clear voice in the Cabinet. Not only that; it has been given a Welsh voice in the Cabinet.
The Conservatives do not seem to know where Wales is. They have perambulated all around Britain trying to find it. We had one charming gentleman who had a Scots name—Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, as he was when he was in this House. We had a Member who represented one of the London constituencies. We even got as far as Leeds. The Tories obviously thought that Wales was one of the Ridings of Yorkshire. Now we have reached Hereford. The Tories have not yet come to the Floor of this House to find one elected Conservative Member whom they would consider fit to speak for Wales. Labour Members have had more regard for Conservative Members from Wales than the Conservative Members themselves have had.
Not only have we given the Cabinet a Welsh voice; we have given it a voice which is intended to speak purely about Wales, instead of a voice which speaks in respect of various other duties coincidentally, as occurred under the Conservatives. Under them the Secretary of State for Wales also dealt with one of the trivia of the Home Office, or the minor problems of housing all over Britain. We now have a Welsh Secretary of State who deals exclusively with the problems of Wales, and we therefore have a greater chance of her problems being solved.
We promised a new town for Wales, and already surveys are being undertaken and consultants have been appointed. We expect to have a report in the early autumn. That is very quick action on such an important development, but it was attacked in the Welsh Grand Committee by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the other side. They said that it was ill-considered, but the remarkable thing is that they have never made any investigations on which to found their rejection of it as an idea.
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that in the 16 years during which I have been in the House this is the first time that we have had a full Session where there has not been a day given to debate Wales?
The hon. Gentleman is making a slight mistake. I was not aware that we had yet had a full Session. I was under the impression that we still had some of the Session to come. He knows the procedure of the House better than I do, but I thought that we went on with the Session when we came back in October, and that that would seem to be a more suitable time. If I am wrong, no doubt he will correct me. But I am very interested to hear him say that this is the first Session in which he cannot remember a Welsh day. When did the hon. Gentleman's party give us a Welsh day? It gave it to us on the very last day before the Summer Recess, year after year.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite should not try and belittle what the Government are doing for Wales. They are actually solving problems which have existed in Wales for a long time. As I have said, consultants for the new town have been appointed, and it is under way. We have also made a declaration about leaseholds. In December, as soon as we got into office, we fulfilled part of our pledge by saying that we were putting a standstill on the loss of houses through the leasehold system, and already we have given security. In addition, we had a pledge from the Prime Minister—and he repeated it today—which he made at Newtown on Saturday, that leasehold reform would be introduced next Session. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite flatly refused to introduce legislation for 13 years; they were not interested. One or two went through pantomimic performances, displaying a not very far-reaching support for it, but they made sure that it never got through. In that sense, Wales has already seen the benefit of a Labour Government.
We have seen the benefit in housing. Already we have been told that there will be 5 per cent. more houses built in Wales this year than there were last year.
Oh, yes. These houses are already started. There will be 5 per cent. more.
Compare that with the record under the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. During a recent debate on housing we heard from them about a highly successful Conservative housing campaign, but let us see how highly successful it was and how sincere it was in Wales. In 1951, having won an election on the housing programme, for a couple of years they did increase the number of houses. In 1954, they were building more houses than were built in 1951. They achieved that, but what I have never understood is why, in 1955, they built fewer than in 1954; why, in 1956, they built fewer than in 1955; why, in 1957, they built fewer than in 1956; and why, in 1958, they built fewer than in 1957. By 1958, for every 100 houses that had been built in Wales in 1954, they were building only 66. That is why we still have a hard-core problem of housing in Wales.
As a result, it was not until 1964 that the number of houses built managed to equal the number which had been built 10 years before, and the loss in those intervening 10 years of disinterest and mismanagement was the equivalent of the output of 22 months, if they had maintained the 1954 output. In other words, if the 1954 output had been kept up they could have said that they were putting the building industry on holiday for 22 months, and they would still have built the same number of houses.
Between 1963 and 1964, they achieved an increase in Wales of 20 per cent. They expect people to accept that as creditable, but surely it is their own indictment. What occurred in the building industry between 1963 and 1964 to enable that to happen? Was there an increase in the number of workers and an increase in capital outlay? No. What there was in 1964 that had been lacking before was not the means to produce houses, but the will to produce them. That is what was lacking in 10 years of Conservative Government. Twenty-seven thousand people are without houses or are living in sub-standard housing because of the calculated housing policy of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
I would like briefly to refer to what has happened in relation to industrial development in Wales. Here again, the people of Wales owe a debt of gratitude to the Labour Government. They contrast it sharply with what happened under the previous Administration. Already, new development districts have been set up and new firms are coming in. In Swansea, the town which I have the honour to represent, though not in my own constituency, we have recently had a Ford factory come as a result of negotiations undertaken by the Welsh Office and the Board of Trade in December.
We have had a planning board set up. It may be asked, what is the value of planning boards? To that I would reply, what is the importance of not having planning boards? Under a Conservative Government, Wales had a desperate problem of depopulation in the centre of the country, and we found that, far from dealing with the problem—because they had no technique for controlling and planning—under the Tories the rate of depopulation between 1951 and 1963 actually doubled, because they did not plan to cure it. Under the Tories, the rate of increase in the number of jobs in Wales was half that of the rest of Britain, and they told us that we shared fully in the prosperity of Britain How fully did we share?
What about incomes standards? The Tories say that in Wales they are high, and they are, if you consider only one statistical fact. They are high because of one industry, steel. If you take steel wages out of the average earnings in Wales and if you take them out of the average earnings in England, the average earnings in Wales are 16s. 2d. a week lower than they are in England. It may be said, what is 16s. 2d.? What it indicates is the nature of the Welsh problem. We have not got the high wage industries which have been set up in England. We were not given a fair stake in the twentieth century by the previous Government, and they did not establish in Wales the industries that we will need if prosperity is to carry on through to the end of the century.
For those reasons, I suggest that what has happened under the present Government has been quite remarkable, particularly when we have been working with a majority of three, and when we inherited a deficit of £800 million, which means that not only do we have to pay that back but we have to limit our spending to make sure that we do not repeat it. Controlled by the economic situation which we inherited, in foreign policy, in peace bids in Vietnam, in saving the £, we have found that the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite have all too often stabbed in the back the efforts that have been made by the Government to save the situation for the country.
Without hesitation, I say that the people of Wales have no doubt that the Government have kept faith with Wales.
I hope that the hon. Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Alan Williams) will forgive me if I do not directly follow his speech but comment on it as I go along. At the outset I wish to say something about the Prime Minister's speech. I thought it one of the most unconvincing speeches I have every heard in this House. The hysterical cheers of Government supporters when he sat down did not conceal from any of us the very low morale there is on the benches opposite nor the guilty consciences of many hon. Members opposite because of the broken promises we are debating today. It was notable that in his speech he barely answered a single point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Barber) in opening the debate. It was a really remarkable achievement.
This debate is about our view that it is unforgivable for politicians to make promises which are unrealistic or unrelated to the nation's resources and therefore unlikely to be carried out. As I was in this House in 1945, I shall make a brief comparison with the situation which arose then. I shall not talk about the Labour manifesto of 1945, "Let us Face the Future", an over-optimistic, starry-eyed and somewhat naive document, but I shall say a few words about some of the speeches, articles and broadcasts made by leaders of the party opposite in 1945 and make some comparisons with last year.
I acquit the Socialist Party absolutely of any deliberate policy of wishing to mislead the public in any way in 1945. I do not believe they did that. I do not accuse them for one moment of dishonest politics or of making promises they did not think they could carry out, but many of the promises they made were extremely rash and extremely misleading. That was in 1945.
Looking back it is interesting to find that on the subject of housing we were told by Cabinet Ministers that there was "an immediate plan for 4 million well-planned and well-built houses." At the rate achieved in the six years of that Government it would have taken 22 years to build 4 million. We were told that there was a plan for "new and better old-age pensions" which would be introduced at once". In fact is was a terrible story of the 26s. pension at the last moment being raised to 30s. and even then not given to everyone. We were told by an ex-Minister that unemployment would be "eliminated" and that nationalisation "would ensure that goods would be available at decent prices for everyone." That was a big laugh. Public ownership of gas and electricity undertakings would "lower prices for everyone". That was another big laugh. We were told,
Labour will protect your savings against rising prices".
Every pound which was saved in 1945 was worth only 15s. six years later. We were even told in an election broadcast,
You can have all you want.
If that was not a big promise I do not know what was.
These were the sort of promises made out of over-confidence, inexperience and, to some extent, irresponsibility, but with no deliberate intention, I suggest, to mislead the electorate, although, in fact, the electorate was misled. It gave evidence of that when it voted in 1951. Failure to carry out those promises was an important factor in our winning three General Elections in a row with an increased majority each time. I go so far as to say that there is no doubt that we would have won four in a row but for the lavish promises made in the last General Election, which people took at their face value. Those promises were not just starry-eyed, well-meaning, naive, irresponsible promises but promises which were so far beyond the nation's resources that the chances of carrying them out were not 10 to 1 against or 100 to 1 against—there was no chance of carrying them out at all and, therefore, they should never have been made.
We are offered three excuses why many of the things promised, and which people had a right to assume would be carried out in the first Session of this Parliament, have not been carried out. We are told that there has been too little Parliamentary time. Everyone knows that is rubbish. We have had time for a vicious, unnecessary Finance Bill—the longest, I think, in history—taking a terrific amount of Parliamentary time. There has been time to debate an anti-hanging Bill in Government time which everyone knows the great majority of the general public are opposed to, and ample time for all kinds of nonsense, but no time to carry out these pledges.
The right hon. Gentleman says, "Hear, hear", but it was the Prime Minister himself who said only two weeks before the General Election:
I do not believe we are facing any danger to sterling, any run on the £.
On 23rd November he said:
so far as the trade gap is concerned … there were reserves and borrowings more than adequate to meet this."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 23rd November, 1964; Vol. 702, c. 933.]
This cannot be denied. This excuse will not wash. The party opposite knew exactly the balance of payments position when they made their promises during the General Election. It was a difficult position, but they knew it just as well as we did. This is a fact. The Prime Minister admitted it before the election and after the election. It was in the light
of the known balance of payments position that these promises were made, so that excuse will not wash either.
I find a third excuse. I apologise that I have not warned the right hon. Gentleman concerned. It is difficult before a debate like this to warn every hon. Member that one might refer to him. I have not informed the First Secretary of State and the First Secretary of State for Economic Affairs that I would quote something which he has been reported in inverted commas, in a newspaper recently, as saying. He gave another excuse, and perhaps this might be a valid one. According to the Press:
He promised that every pledge given in the Labour manifesto would be honoured by the end of their term of office, 'assuming, of course, that our term of office will be at least 10 years'.
This may be the explanation. It is just possible that, "Let's go with Labour" left out this sentence by mistake, as a printer's error. That could be an explanation, that it was assumed by those who made these promises that the Socialist Party would be in power for 10 years. It is an odd reason for making such promises.
The difference between 1945, between promises made then and promises made in the 1964 General Election, is very contrasting. I have said that I acquit the party opposite absolutely of any intention to mislead in 1945, but I certainly do not do so in regard to promises made in 1964. Many of the promises made were plainly dishonest. If they had not been made I do not believe the party opposite would have won the election. I am sure of this.
I think it worth while having a look at some of those premises. Some of them have been quoted and some have not. I do not want to quote too many, but it is worth having on the record why this debate has arisen and what sort of promises were made. I shall not quote the names of those who made the promises, but in every single instance they are well known members of the party opposite and the promises were made in broadcasts, speeches, election addresses or the party manifesto.
First there was:
The Labour Party will not need to increase the general level of taxes to pay for its programme.
That was said by a Cabinet Minister and confirmed by the Prime Minister himself. Another Cabinet Minister said:
The continual rise in the cost of living can, must and will be halted to give the housewife relief and her family a genuine rise in their standard of living.
a dynamic expansion of the road programme
was promised by an ex-Cabinet Minister. Home ownership—the Prime Minister promised
One hundred per cent mortgages, lower interest rates and cheaper legal charges".
Another promise was
Special low interest rates for house purchase".
Education—we were promised "greatly increased school building" and
greatly increased recruitment and training of teachers".
We were promised
a massive programme in higher, further and university education".
We were promised that the Labour Party would guarantee at least half pay in the case of sickness and unemployment. "Signposts for the Sixties" had earlier said that this would be one of the "first jobs" of a Labour Government. There was no mention of a 10-year period of office there. We were promised by the Prime Minister:
An income guarantee will ensure that everyone has enough to live on as a right, and without recourse to National Insurance This will come without delay.
There is no mention about it coming in 10 years. It was to come "without delay".
We were told by another Cabinet Minister:
One of the first jobs of the next Labour Government will be to introduce a new 'income guarantee' which will apply to everyone over 65 and to every widow.
I emphasise "one of the first jobs". There was no mention of 10 years there. What a scandalous disgrace this is. Yesterday I was horrified to hear both Government spokesmen virtually denying that the Prime Minister himself and the Colonial Secretary, as Chairman of the Labour Party, and the spokesman for the party opposite in a debate last spring had all promised, or practically promised, parity for public service pensioners and for Armed Forces pensioners. I have four quotations in my hand, two of them
from the Prime Minister, making absolutely clear promises of parity for public service and Armed Forces pensioners. I challenge the Minister of Public Building and Works, who is now sitting on the Treasury Bench, to deny that these promises were made. He knows full well that they were made, and so do the public service and the Armed Forces pensioners. They feel terribly badly let down.
Lastly, on this list of promises, the reform of the rating system, something which matters a great deal in my constituency. This was a promise which, like many of the other promises, won thousands of votes for the Labour Party. My right hon. Friend quoted this:
We shall give early relief"—
I emphasise this, not in 10 years—
to ratepayers by transferring a large part of the burden … from the rates to the Exchequer.
There has been no relief. Instead, there has been the biggest single rise in rates for many years, averaging 14 per cent. throughout the land. Tens of thousands of people living on fixed incomes are suffering tortures and unhappiness as a result. These are people who believed the promise that "early" relief would be given.
The promises given in 1964 were a very different kettle of fish from those given in 1945. The electorate is increasingly sophisticated. This goes without saying. But many people were taken in by these promises. There is no doubt about that. They feel that they were deliberately foxed. Who can blame them for accusing the party opposite of double dealing in politics? For this the Prime Minister himself bears a very heavy responsibility. Democracy is in danger when promises so carelessly, even callously, given can be so casually broken. Honest politics have been debated by the giving of these promises in this way, and the people who made these promises are laying themselves open to the charge that politics is a dirty game, which I do not believe it is. By making these promises they are running a grave risk of encouraging cynicism in the electorate.
Any party that knowingly makes promises of this character is bound to pay the price next time round. The manifesto, coupled with the broadcasts and the election addresses and speeches, from a few of which I have quoted, at the 1964 General Election amounted to a confidence trick on the electorate. Put together, they amounted, as has been said several times today, to the issuing of a false political prospectus. This was unforgivable, and it will not be forgiven.
It is not my intention to follow what the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) has said, because so much of it is based on the assmption that the Government who were returned nine or ten months ago should in that time have implemented a programme which was designed for five years. It must be emphasised that the Government have been in power for only nine or ten months, one-sixth of the time that they are entitled to be in power and one-sixteenth of the time that the party opposite were in power during 1951 and 1964.
We have a long way to go. The steps that we have taken in the nine or ten months we have been in power reflect in many ways great credit upon the Government faced, as they have been, with a terrible economic situation. It is important that members of the Liberal Party should recognise that we have survived in this Parliament, shall continue to survive, and that we have not been dependent upon them for their support. The Liberal Party is dependent upon us if it wants the social reforms that it claims are part and parcel of its policy and philosophy brough into effect. The Tory Party will certainly not bring in the great social benefits that we have been, and will be attempting, to bring in.
We have been criticised for not doing all that we promised in a short space of time. It is cheek and impertinence on the part of right hon. and hon. Members opposite to say that we should have done everything in this short space of time. We knew in the run-up to the election that the Conservative Party had been playing tricks. We knew that it was playing the electioneering game. We knew that it had hung on to office, though it had a dispute over its leadership then, as it has now—or, rather, it has just resolved one. The Conservatives clung on in the hope that something would turn up. The Conservative Party is the Micawber of British politics. The Conservatives clung on until the last month, until they were forced to go to the country so that the nation could reach a verdict.
Although we knew this and although we knew that certain things were being concealed, it was not until we came to power and the books were examined that we realised that much had been kept secret in the hope of it working advantageously to the Conservative Party.
Yes, I will. First, a report on the state of the schools was not published until after the election, because the Conservatives were frightened of the consequences. Secondly, they did not disclose the terrible financial situation into which we were moving. Thirdly, the Conservatives concealed the fact that the Post Office had a deficit of £100 million. I could give many more examples. The policy of the Tory Party has been to conceal the true issues, in the hope of getting some electoral gain from such a policy.
During the last nine months of Tory government, between January and September, 1964, it is an undeniable fact that production did not increase by one single point. We know the heartless way in which the Tories looked after their own interests. People were evicted from their homes. They became the victims of landlordism and all kinds of evils of that kind. The Tories concealed many important facts which should have been placed before the nation.
As a Government and a party we decided that this attitude had to be changed and one of the things we set out to do was to try to rid the country of the word "Rachmanism" which had become synonymous with the Tory Party. It was a part of the whole outlook and mentality of the Conservative Party. We have recently passed the Rent Bill, which is a good thing in itself and which will get rid of many of the evils with which we were faced in those intervening years. By giving security of tenure and protecting people from exiction we are doing useful things, and also keeping our promise to the electorate.
I know what happened in Huddersfield during the period that the Tories were in power. That great county borough is still faced with a situation in which out of 40,000 houses, 8,000 have no bath and 10,000 have no inside toilet. That is a reflection upon the fact that the Tories were in power for 13 years but did very little about that housing situation.
That was the background when we came to power—a terrible mess with £700 million or £800 million deficit in our balance of payments, imports entirely out of control, goods being imported and not sufficient exported. We had to take immediate action. But, faced with that situation, we still honoured our election promise to the old and the sick and the weak and to people for whom we had specifically promised that we would do something immediately. 'We abolished the earnings rule for widows and trebled the pension of 10s. widows and we abolished prescription charges.
Of course the Conservative Party could not openly oppose those things, but why then had it not done them while still in power? Were hon. Members opposite still in favour of us giving people on National Assistance some kind of Christmas box to get them over the worst period of the winter? They did not vote against many of these things, but they must have been against them because they sought to do little about them and, when they had the opportunity they refused to vote the money to make them possible now.
If it is true, as we are told, that we are spending too much on the social services, will any hon. Member opposite tell me what we should cut, how we should reduce and where we should do it? There is no point in saying that we must reduce public expenditure without identifying the projects in mind.
We have kept our promises in many different ways. In spite of the crisis with which we are now faced, we have done what we could to reduce public expenditure. The review of defence programmes which is now taking place should be applauded. Under the Conservative Party, hundreds of millions of pounds were frittered away on projects and missiles which were never any good and which soon lost any useful purpose which they might have had. The Government should be applauded for trying to find ways and means of reducing and at the same time making more efficient our whole defence programme. Personally, I would like there to be a much greater cut in defence, because until defence costs bear a realistic relation to the economy as a whole, we shall never get anywhere.
Equally, we have attempted to do something which hon. Members opposite failed to do in the whole time that they were in power—to stimulate exports and to try to ensure that we sell more abroad. I had the pleasure only a few weeks ago of going on an Inter-Parliamentary Union delegation to Iceland. It is a very small country with a very small population, but what was true in that country must be true in others. I was told by the chief purchasing officer on behalf of the Iceland Government that British exporters did not go there, but waited until someone got in touch with them, which they did by letter. People in areas like Iceland want to see and talk to representatives of British industry and discuss problems with them face to face, and the Government are now doing everything they can to assist exports in that way.
Again, it was essential that we should meet the pledge in our election manifesto that we would overhaul our antiquated tax system. This is what we have been doing. We said that we would attack business expenses and we have started doing so. We said that we would attack the great capital gains which were being made without any work being done for them, and we have been doing that. In that respect, too, we have kept our promises. These reforms were long overdue, but the Conservative Party was loth to undertake them because it represents not the ordinary individual but the great vested interests. We believe that the burden of taxation must be more equitably shared, but do the Tories believe that? If they do, why did we have such a sustained argument against the Finance Bill which in many respects sought to redistribute the whole burden of taxation?
Equally, we promised to introduce another reform which was long overdue—the setting up of regional councils to look after areas to which it was necessary to take work and where it was necessary to set up new kinds of employment. In case of any falling-off in work in the transfer of men from one job to another, we introduced, as we promised, a Redundancy Payments Bill to help to deal with the situation.
Through the action of the First Secretary, we have kept an election promise that we would introduce an incomes policy; not a wage freeze but an incomes policy, not the pay pause which we had in 1961 when, as a Health Service worker, I realised only too well what it meant to have wages held back when the Whitley Council reached agreement and the Minister stepped in and prevented the award. An incomes policy is not a wage freeze but is the realisation that those at the bottom of the scale should receive greater rewards than they are getting and that those at the top in this set of circumstances should take something slightly less.
We have honoured another election promise in the setting-up of the Incomes and Prices Review Board which is already having its effect, as was seen only recently with road haulage rates. These are definite political promises which we made in our election manifesto and which we are honouring.
I accuse the Conservative Party of being nothing more or less than political hypocrites in that hon. Members opposite want it both ways. They want defence costs to go on soaring and they want greater subsidies to the farmers, but they are not prepared to vote the money essential to obtain these things. Again I ask hon. Members opposite where they would cut and where they would attack the social services if they were the Government.
Overseas we have attempted to repair the damage which was done to the Commonwealth by the hasty and ill-conceived action of hon. Members opposite when they sought to take us into the Common Market without giving any, or very little, thought to the effect which that would have on the Commonwealth. We have cemented the Commonwealth together much more than has ever been the case before.
In the limited sphere in which we can operate we have tried to initiate greater moves for peace, but from the Opposition all we have had has been carping, baying, yapping criticism of every step we have taken. The Prime Minister's initiative at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference was treated almost with disdain and at the same time the sending of my hon. Friend the Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) to Vietnam was treated as a joke. We are working for peace, something we have been attempting all the time that we have been a political party.
I have sat on these benches for nine months, but I have not yet heard a single constructive comment from hon. Members opposite. From beginning to end, it has been nothing but destructive comment. The nation has had more than enough of Toryism. For 13 years it suffered under the Tories. The Tories appealed to base materialism, but we are trying to appeal to something better. We have thought of the people who need our help and assistance, and they have turned to us and we shall not let them down, either as a Government or as a party.
If we are given the time—and the time is ours, for we can have an election whenever we choose and not when hon. Members opposite decide—we shall get out of this mess. Because we have a Government with guts and which believes in keeping its election promises and because we stand by those election promises, I am convinced that when the election comes, in twelve months, or two, three or four years, we shall win it handsomely and we shall have laid the foundations on which we can build the kind of society which we set out to build when we started on this great drive forward in 1945.
The Prime Minister, at the end of his speech, said two things; in one case, he quoted the words of the late Sir Winston Churchill, that manifestos do not matter and no attempt need be made to carry them out, and in the other—I cannot imitate the eloquence with which he uttered the words—he said that the Labour Party manifesto would be carried out.
This equivocation illustrates one of the difficulties that we are in in this debate, the difficulty of knowing exactly what the Labour Party did promise and what it meant by it, and the difficulty of knowing this especially in the case of local pledges, the kind of promises which were scattered around the constituencies to swing votes here and there, with no regard to the consistency of those local promises with the total national programme.
The difficulty depends on whether one is to rely on the Labour Party's manifesto or the statements made by the Prime Minister and some of his senior colleagues in their speeches during the year or so before the General Election took place. We know where we are in cases where there was a straight contradiction between the manifesto and the pre-election speeches, as in the case of immigration policy. On this side of the House at least, we have no doubt that the manifesto was deliberately phrased in ambiguous terms to enable the Government to reverse their way out of a foolish position, as, for instance, was the case with their financial policies.
But in some matters we just do not know whether there was an undertaking being given or not, and it is with one of those that I want to deal. I shall be brief, and I apologise to the House for the fact that this will in part be a parochial matter, but even though it is parochial, it is typical, because parochial pledges of the same kind were given all over the country. The matter also involves national issues. It involves, indeed, one of the central issues of the Labour Party manifesto, the issue of rate reform.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Barber) pointed out, the manifesto promised not only reform of the rating system but also interim Measures to give early relief to ratepayers by transferring a larger part of the burden of public expenditure from local authorities to the Exchequer. Everybody knows that that has not yet been done. Even the interim measures have not been carried out. I do not deny that this is an extremely difficult operation. I am not blaming the Labour Party for having failed to carry out this extremely difficult and complex operation. I blame it for ever having promised that it would do it. The whole gravamen of the charge against the Government is not so much that they have failed to carry out their promises as that they saddled themselves with so many promises which would be impossible to carry out.
But there is one aspect of rating reform which it is possible to isolate from the general question. It is very simple to carry out the reform about which I wish to speak once a decision in principle is taken. It is one which the electors in my constituency and in the sister constituency of Cambridge were led to believe that the Labour Party had decided in principle and that the Labour Government both could and would immediately carry out. This pledge concerns the intricate matter, which I will not elaborate in detail, of the rate relief enjoyed by the Oxford and Cambridge colleges, and them alone among all the university institutions, at the expense of the other ratepayers.
I will merely summarise the crux of this problem and the pledge that appeared to have been given. The problem is whether or not this admitted anomaly should be cured by an Exchequer subsidy. I do not wish to attack the Government on this; I merely seek information. I just want to ask whether there was or was not an undertaking given by the Labour Party to seek a possible cure by means of an Exchequer subsidy. The electors in my constituency certainly believed that there was such an undertaking, and they found it in a letter written by the General Secretary of the Labour Party, Mr. Len Williams, to the Oxford City Labour Party, which was prominently published in the Oxford newspapers on 31st January last year.
They also thought that this undertaking was confirmed by a letter published in the same Oxford papers from the agent of the Oxford City Labour Party a few weeks later in which he repeated and confirmed the words of the General Secretary, saying that the next Labour Government had been committed to initiate early discussions between the Treasury, the University Grants Committee and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government with a view to special grants being made to the Oxford and Cambridge colleges through the U.G.C. in lieu of rates.
All this appeared to amount to a definite undertaking. I say that it "appeared" to do so, because since the Government came into office the Labour candidate at Oxford, in the General Election, on being reminded of this apparent undertaking, denied publicly that there had been any undertaking, and on being reminded of the words of his own agent, he denied that his agent had any right to make statements of policy. In these denials he was supported, though somewhat ambiguously by the chairman of his party. I accepted those denials, because I have respect for the honour of these men, but, curiously enough, when I put the same point to Ministers in the House of Commons they did not deny that there had been an undertaking, though they did not exactly admit it, either.
In a debate on 25th March this year, the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government said:
It is not a question of an embarrassing pledge which we want to forget."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th March, 1965; Vol. 709, c. 865.]
That can, of course, mean that there was a pledge and the Government are doing their best to carry it out, or it could mean that there was no pledge. I should like to know which. On the face of it, I should have no hesitation in believing the first, and preferable, alternative, that there was a pledge and it is to be carried out, were it not for the fact that the second, and more regrettable, alternative has been publicly supported by the Labour candidate in Oxford and his chairman.
Unfortunately, too, every Question which I have tabled in the House on the assumption that the pledge existed and is being honoured is being met with increasingly evasive and uninformative Answers. The time has come to seek a definite answer. Was there a pledge to initiate early discussions on an Exchequer subsidy or not? Who is right—the Labour Party agent in Oxford, ambiguously supported by the Minister who replied to the debate, in saying that there was a pledge, or the Labour candidate in Oxford, apparently supported by his own chairman in saying that there was not? If I may have an unequivocal answer tonight from whichever Minister winds up the debate, I will make him a fair offer. If the answer is that there was a pledge, that it has been honoured and that a satisfactory settlement based upon an Exchequer subsidy is to be announced in the early future, preferably before the Summer Recess, I should not feel disposed to vote against the Government tonight, but I should be very surprised if I receive that answer.
The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse) will forgive me if I do not follow him in dealing with the parochial problems he raised. I thought that the subject was one for an Adjournment debate rather than for this great debate to censure the Government. Indeed, hon. Members opposite seem to be scraping the barrel. Now we have been told about a local promise confined to Oxford. That is almost better than the intervention about white fish, which was the best red herring in the debate.
The hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish), rather than deal with the promises we made in our recent election manifesto, dealt with the promises made in "Let Us Face the Future" in 1945. He claimed that the 1945–51 Government did not fulfil the promises in that manifesto. I challenge him to read the document again. A five-year programme was set out in the manifesto. We said that we should take over the basic industries, and we did. We said that we would establish the Welfare State, and we did. We introduced a vast programme of National Insurance, National Assistance, industrial injury benefits and other welfare measures.
Indeed, the period 1945–51 was a unique occurrence in British social history. For the first time, the pledges that a party had made to the electorate were fulfilled almost to the letter. It is true that we did not go as far as we wished in housing, but do not let us forget that in 1945 we still were suffering the ravages of the war and 250,000 blitzed houses had to be repaired.
We should remember the situation that faced the Government in 1945. Sir Winston Churchill, when he was Prime Minister in 1945, told Mr. Morgenthau that this country was bankrupt and that he did not know what he was going to tell the Forces when they returned because he feared the consequences. Yet between 1945 and 1951 there were the tremendous achievements which we on this side are justifiably proud of.
However, we are not debating what happened then. That is history. I thought that this was to be a censure debate on the present Government, but even from the Liberal benches we have had more censure of the 13 years of Conservative Government. When right hon. and hon. Members opposite examine the terms of their Motion again they will regret that they chose this subject as a Motion of censure. What we set out in our manifesto was a programme for a five-year Parliamentary period. Now the Opposition are accusing us of not having done in nine months what we said we would do in five years. That, to me, is a weak case.
I am sure that the speech made today by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will have made Parliamentary history. It was a complete, comprehensive and convincing case of what the Government has done. It was a brilliant speech.
I remind the House of what my right hon. Friend said, as Leader of the Opposition, before the election. He said that the Labour Party would endeavour to achieve three main tasks. The first would be to restore a sense of social justice to the conduct of our national life. The second would be to restore a sense of purpose to Britain's economic and industrial life. The third would be to achieve a new greatness based on the unique contribution that we had it in our power to make to world affairs.
If we examine what the Government have so far done to deal with those tasks, we can see how the Motion deserves no consideration in the Division Lobbies. Much has been done to achieve our objectives. Three things should be remembered in considering what the Government have done. First, there is general agreement that the economic situation in October was hopeless. I would go further. Our relations with other countries were not too good and the fabric of the social services, of the Welfare State that we created between 1945 and 1951, was torn.
Secondly, of course, there was the size of the Government's majority. That has not helped matters. Despite it, however, the Government have put through major tax reforms in the Finance Bill against filibustering tactics by hon. Members opposite.
Finally, as has been pointed out by my right hon. Friend, we are considering what the Government have done in the first 300 of the 1,800 days that the people of Britain gave in electing the Government, for 1,800 days is about the normal life of a Parliament. If we are to make comparisons, then we can make favourable comparisons between what the Government have done in these 300 days and what was done by the Conservative Party in the 4,500 days between 1951 and 1964. Hon. Members opposite have said that the Conservatives had a majority in 1951. The fact is that although the Conservatives had more seats more people voted for the Labour Party than for them.
What has been done to restore the sense of social justice to Britain? National Insurance benefits have been improved by the largest amount since 1946, when a Labour Government were also in power. Industrial injury benefits have also been improved by the largest amount since 1946. It was the post-war Labour Government which put the legislation on the Statute Book. The maternity benefits have been improved and the payments to widows trebled. The prescription charges have been abolished. I remind the House of what happened under the three successive Conservative Governments. The first imposed a charge of 1s. per prescription; the next made it 1s. per item and the third made it 2s. per item. Again, there has been the abolition of the earnings rule for widows, improvements in the scale of National Assistance, improvements in war pensions and the travel concessions Bill to allow the aged to travel on buses at concessionary rates.
All these things could have been done by the Tory Government when they were in power. Yet today they criticise this Government because we have said that we intend radically to alter the structure of the social services in our five years of office. If we are given the opportunity to remain on this side for five years many hon. and right hon. Members opposite will regret that they spoke as they did today. Again, in the social services, we introduced the Protection from Eviction Bill in the early months of this Parliament, and now going into the other place is the Rent Bill which will restore security to the many thousands of people who were living in dread because of the action the Tories took in their 1957 Rent Act. A great start has been made in the Government's planning to bring about the necessary social changes. Although there is more to be attained, we have, certainly in the first tasks, gone a long way to fulfil our election promises.
Before one can improve the social services, however, there must be a sound and strong economy. What has been done to restore a sense of purpose to Britain's economic and industrial life? This year's Finance Bill has set the pattern. We said that, under a Labour Government, taxation would be fair. The introduction of the Capital Gains and Corporation Taxes will ensure not only that those who work hard are taxed but that those who make large gains through speculation on the Stock Exchange will be taxed equally. In the Queen's Speech we said:
Our industries will be helped to gain the full benefits of advances in scientific research and applied technology.
Tremendous changes are taking place in the world, automation is coming, and enormous scientific advances are being made. This Government set up the Ministry of Technology to deal with these problems. These are early days yet, but, as the months go by, we shall see Britain once again leading the world in industry.
We said that there would be
central and regional plans to promote economic development, with special reference to the needs of the under-employed areas".
We have set up the Department of Economic Affairs, which has done much already to deal with the problems of those areas which suffered tremendously under Tory economic policies. In addition, we have established the regional economic planning machinery which is already doing an enormous amount to bring a new dynamism into the localities which suffered so much in recent years.
We said that we would deal more effectively with monopolies. Already, the House has had the Monopolies and Mergers Bill before it. One may say that more needs to be done in this connection, but we have, at least, made a beginning. We said also that there would have to be a proper relationship between increases in productivity and the growth of incomes in all forms. We have established the National Board for Prices and Incomes, and this has got off to a good start.
Our economic progress should be judged not by the heights which we have so far reached but by the depths from which we have emerged. We did not start from scratch. We started from the slough of the Tory period, and we are now bringing ourselves out of it, looking forward to building on the new foundations we are creating. We have hitherto spoken of a balance of payments deficit of £800 million, but we heard from the Front Bench today that it was nearer £1,000 million. This is a serious situation from which to start. It is very pleasing to know—I hope that the people of Britain will realise it—that in nine months this deficit has already been halved. I hope that the Government will pursue their economic policies so that, in a year or two, we can see our nation's debt in the form of the balance of payments deficit finally removed. This Government are certainly taking us out of the economic mess which we inherited.
Some of my hon. Friends, notably my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun), have spoken about cutting defence expenditure. I believe that we must begin to cut our military cloth according to our economic resources. For many years we have had an imperial army to maintain an empire. But when one begins to dismantle one's empire, one should take appropriate action to dismantle one's imperial army. I am pleased to see that the Government are making a real review of our defence commitments. These commitments depend, to a very large extent, on our foreign policies, our attitude to other countries.
On the question of beginning to plan our economic policy, it is true that the party opposite is now won over to the idea of planning.
The hon. Gentleman is one of the very few who supports the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). One of the revelations of the recent exercise in which they have been involved has been that the other party is making progress as far as that attitude is concerned.
We must look at what action has been taken by the Government to influence international events. First, we had the establishment of a Minister responsible for disarmament. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman fails to understand that on this major issue concerning all of humanity this Government is taking a lead. While all Governments throughout the world have Ministers of Defence the Labour Government have set a new example by giving someone the task of looking at the problems involved in disarmament, and seeking ways and means to remove the threat of nuclear annihilation. A lead has been given to freeing the world from the heavy burden of armaments. Something like £50,000 million is being spent by the leading industrial nations of the world on military expenditure. We are putting our £2,000 million-odd into that and we must therefore make sure that we use the raw materials of this world, and the brains and capacity of our people to divert this expenditure to real world problems. We are playing an important part as a Government in the disarmament discussions which are taking place at present.
The appointment of a Minister to the United Nations was of special importance. It established that this Government was four-square behind the belief that the United Nations is a keystone to this country's foreign policy. The principles of the United Nations must prevail if peace is to be preserved. There is no shadow of doubt that the United Nations Organisation has had far more support from this Government than from the previous Tory Government. Not only have we played a part in the United Nations world peacekeeping operations, but in the present financial crisis which faced the United Nations it was Great Britain which made the proposal for an additional contribution to the U.N.O. to meet the financial problems. It was Great Britain which made the initial contribution.
The third contribution we have made is that of a Ministry of Overseas Development with a Minister in the Cabinet. Once we have resolved the problem of disarmament the one serious problem remaining, and it is going to be a great heartache and headache for mankind in the future, will be the problem of world poverty. This Government have created a Ministry to deal with this problem. We should consider what this Government have done in the last nine months. We have certainly made great progress in making a contribution to greater national understanding.
The Colonial Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office have a vitally important part to play in the transition and development of mankind, one wiping out the old Empire and the other creating new and stronger bonds between developing Commonwealth countries. The Commonwealth has a new sense of purpose with the initiatives taken by the Prime Minister at the Commonwealth Prime Minister's Conference. The Commonwealth Prime Ministers took an initiative in the war in Vietnam. They want the Commonwealth to play a greater part, as it should since it represents a quarter of the world's population, in solving the world's problems.
Our greatness will not be measured by military might or by possession of the so-called independent nuclear deterrent on which the Conservative Party spent so much time in its last years of office in trying to convince the people. [An hon. Member: "And our money".] Yes, and our money. It spent so much of our resources and so much of its time in putting forward this fallacious argument.
There is to be a review of our defence commitments. The Government appointed a Minister with specific responsibility for disarmament who is trying to bring about a pact to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. If they are given the opportunity, the Government will give a lead in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will wait a few months longer to see what the Government do in this respect.
An hon. Member opposite spoke about the danger of democracy. We have people queuing up outside to listen to our debates. There is tremendous political interest in the country, and there is certainly a democratic awakening. Democracy has at last even entered the thinking of the Tory Party. It now has a democratic procedure to elect a leader. At long last, with all the history of the Conservative Party, it has now decided to adopt a democratic procedure. The right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) is not present, but he was the man who debunked the magic circle. I do not know whether he will now speak about a conspirators' circle, but that is another story.
I wish no to the new Leader of the Opposition. I hope that he will hold office for three or four decades. I hope that he will lead his party for many years to come. However, the Tory Party had better be wary, because the Liberal Party will replace it as the official Opposition if it is not careful.
The Labour team has worked very well over the last nine months. We have not had all this shuffling and reshuffling on the Front Bench. We have not had to change our leaders.
The Liberal Party representative says that neither has his party, and I accept the point. Of course, the Liberal Party has not much censuring to do. The Conservative Party has been playing political musical chairs. This is, perhaps, why right hon. and hon. Members opposite want an organist to lead them.
It was Sir Winston Churchill who, speaking when the House of Commons was rebuilt, said that we shape our buildings and they in turn shape us. The same principles apply to our political policies. We shape our economic, defence and foreign policies, and we in turn are shaped by them. Our policies are now taking a new, decent and better shape under the Labour Government. Harold Wilson as Prime Minister will do for Britain in peace time what Sir Winston Churchill did for Britain in war time. He has already given the nation the leadership required. I am convinced that, given some good fortune, the tasks we have set ourselves will be accomplished and that once again, just as we fulfilled our promises in 1945, the promises which we made in 1964 will be fulfilled.
The hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Joan L. Evans) certainly deserves well of his party. He has done his best for his Prime Minister and I hope hat his merits will be duly recognised. With all respect, however, to what was an entertaining speech, it was very much beside the point. Listening to the hon. Member's dithyrambic account of the wonders that have been worked by the Labour Government, one wonders what in the world the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been talking about this week. One wonders why every foreign capital appears to be speculating what economic disaster may be about to befall us.
If the Labour Government really were doing a; well as the hon. Member has convinced himself they are doing, how does he explain the action taken this week by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Is that any evidence that the Government are recapturing confidence?
As has been pointed out from this side of the House, we inherited a serious economic situation. I pointed out in my speech that we had reduced the deficit of £1,000 million to almost half, a tremendous achievement. That was part of the problem that we inherited. It took the party opposite 13 years to get into that situation. We must have a little more time to get out of it.
I do not want to deal with that argument at great length, but I want to deal sufficiently with it.
During the last election, the party opposite was well aware of the trade position. The balance of payments situation did not come as a bombshell to it after the election. And yet, knowing as its members did during the election what the trade position was, they proceeded to make the promises which they made. It really will not do for the Labour Party, nine months after having got its votes by making those promises, knowing as it did when it made them that the promises could not be kept, to tell us now that it will keep those promises sometime in the future.
Every one of us here went through the last election successfully. Every one of us knows—I think that this is true on both sides—that the Labour Party got votes in handfuls by promising to do this, that and the other, not in 10 or 20 years' time but forthwith. Nobody on the benches opposite said at the last election—I should like to be told of any Labour candidate who did say it—"If you vote for us, we will not do anything at all about cheap loans for a couple of years." That was not how Labour candidates talked, and everybody knows it. Everybody knows that they never suggested to the voters that nine months after coming into power they would have done nothing at all about interest rates or about mortgages. If only Labour candidates at the last election had told the electors what the Chancellor told the House this week, the result of the election would have been very different.
There can be no doubt whatever that the promises on which the Labour Party got votes at the last election were promises which so far have not been kept.
The hon. Member has made suppositions about what the electors would have done had the Labour Party told the country the state of our balance of payments. Has he made any assumptions about what the electorate would have done had Conservative candidates told the electors exactly the same story?
The hon. Member has not, apparently, listened to what I said. At the election there was no secret about the balance of payments. The trade figures were there for everyone to see. Does the hon. Member dispute that the trade figures were published at the end of September. Did he not know this? Was that how he fought the election?
I do not know as much as I should like to know about the political underworld of East Dunbartonshire, but I am saying that there was no secret about the trade figures last September. To assert that those figures were being handled, as the hon. Member apparently thinks, by M.I.5 is not really credible.
I invite the House and I invite hon. Members opposite to agree to two statements. First of all, that during the election, when the Labour Party was making these promises, it knew of the state of the balance of payments. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Secondly, I am inviting the party opposite to agree with me that very large numbers of votes were obtained at the last election, particularly in marginal seats, by those two promises about cheap loans and about taking action about rates. I am inviting hon. Members of this House, on whichever side they sit, to agree that these two promises alone were worth their weight in ballot papers to the Labour Party.
The hon. Member is making a quite valid point that Labour candidates were not saying that cheap loans and a system of rating reform would not come in nine months, but would he agree that the electorate probably decided that, as none of these things had happened in the last 13 years, they were prepared to take a fair gamble?
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman considers that a serious contribution to a serious argument or whether he really thinks that is the best he can do by way of interrupting me, but I regard this as a serious argument and not a matter to be dealt with by secondrate backchat.
I now turn to what is really the basis of our case against the Labour Party. At the last election I am certain that many people believed what Labour candidates said, that Labour would be able when they came into power to provide bigger and better social benefits and to spend more money on welfare than we were spending, or offering to spend, because they would run this country more efficiently. The underlying case for the Labour Party was that it could make a better job of running this capitalist country than we Tories. That was really the central assertion of the election. It is that assertion which is now being weighed and appraised by foreigners who are displaying such a lack of confidence in our financial stability.
Is it likely, is it credible, that a party which proclaims itself to be Socialist will make a success of running a capitalist country? This question has been asked before; it was the key question when the Labour Government of 1929 collapsed. I shall make a reference to that a little later. But it seems to me that it is not reasonable to suppose that a party which does not believe in capitalism can make a success of running a capitalist society. After all, the mainspring of the capitalist system is the profit motive. That is what makes the system tick. It is not reasonable to expect a Government put into power by Socialists, to uphold or to advance a system based on the profit motive.
It is all very well for some members of the Government to say, as they have said, that they believe in a mixed economy. It is all very well for members of the Cabinet to make placatory gestures in the direction of the City. But such words and such gestures do not alter the fact that the Labour Party, by its very nature, is opposed to capitalism and is therefore not prepared to let the profit motive flourish as it should. We can see that from the speeches we have had today.
If we want this country to be more prosperous, we have to stimulate the profit motive. That is how capitalism works. It works, not by promoting egalitarianism but by making some people richer than others. [HON. MEMBERS: "Like Ferranti."] It works in a way that is completely hostile to the whole spirit of the Labour movement. This is the difficulty in which the Labour Party finds itself. Because it does not accept the capitalist values, because it will not stimulate the capitalist appetite, because it regards profits and profit seeking as socially undesirable, because it regards acquisitiveness as something which ought to be damped down instead of stimulated, it is not able to make a success of running this capitalist country. The Labour Party may be able to persuade some sections of the British electorate that it can do so, but it is unable to persuade foreigners of that. This is the root of our trouble.
We have heard in this debate, just as we have heard throughout this Parliament, the authentic voice of the Labour Party displaying its hostility to acquisitiveness, its dislike of competitiveness, its dislike of profit seeking and profit making, its dislike of conspicuous expenditure and its suspicion of advertising. It is basically an anti-capitalist party.
I make no criticism of the Labour Party for being that. I recognise that hon. Gentlemen opposite do not like the capitalist system with its profit seeking and acquisitiveness. But, since it is the profit motive that keeps us going, to put in charge of this capitalist country a party which rejects the profit motive is like putting a man who does not believe in drink in charge of a public house. Of course he will not make a success of it. He will not try to make a success of it. He will not want to make a success of it. It is not likely that foreigners, who can look at these matters dispassionately, will believe that this anti-capitalist party will make a capitalist country flourish.
At the moment we have in charge of this capitalist country a party which does not believe in capitalism. Because of that it does not command foreign confidence. Everything that the Government have done since they came into power has been an attempt, so far unsuccessful, to inspire foreign confidence. That is why we have had one crisis after another.
I do not believe that it will be possible for this country to re-establish confidence abroad so long as we are governed by a Socialist Party. This is not new in our history. In 1929 a Labour Government came to office, and ran into difficulties for very much the same reasons. Finally it crashed. There was in this House then a Labour Member who watched the process. He wrote an account of it. I have been looking at that account, and I recommend hon. Gentlemen opposite to look at it too.
I am talking about John Strachey and his book, "The Coming Struggle for Power". Three chapters of this book describe the decline and fall of the 1929 Labour Government. They are well worth reading today. For this is where we came in. Strachey makes exactly this point—that the root reason why that Government failed was that they were trying to inspire confidence in their ability to run a capitalist system although they did not believe in capitalism. He said that this job was impossible. I suggest that just as it was impossible in 1931 it will prove equally impossible in 1965.
Let me finish by quoting the final sentences from Strachey's account of that Labour Party failure. He said:
Nor will any of the leaders of the Labour Party, on whichever side of the House they may find it convenient to sit, ever falter before the expostulations of their supporters, however cogent, so long as they know that in the end the expostulator will remain a supporter. 'The war and fortune's sons', they will 'march indefatigably on', so long as life is in them, to ever new defeats, surrenders, deceptions and betrayals.
We are debating today a Motion and an Amendment. As it stands, the Motion is one that nobody could vote against, because nobody could deny that pledges have been broken, and presumably everybody must deplore it. So the Government had to nut down an Amendment. I need read only the first part, which
congratulates the Government on the progress so far made with the implementation of its election pledges.
Let us see. The Prime Minister—I do not know where he is; he does not come here often—seemed concerned that we were censuring the Government for not achieving in 90 days what had been planned for the duration of Parliament, or four to five years. That is quite a fair point, with two exceptions. Every time the Prime Minister speaks we have to read the small print very carefully.
The first exception is that when, both in the Labour Party manifesto and, in particular, in the election address of the right hon. Gentleman who became Prime Minister as a result of that election, it has been promised that urgent action would be taken, we are entitled to ask why that promise has been broken.
Secondly, we have a very clear and very easy test, because we are now within a short time of the Summer Recess and the end of the Session, and if we study the Queen's Speech we find that it tells us not what was planned for four years, but what was planned for this Session. Therefore, we can judge exactly the truth of the allegations that have been made and the strength of the defence that has been put up against them.
The one exception to which the right hon. Gentleman referred was the income guarantee. He said:
with the exception of the early introduction of an income guarantee the key factor will be the rate at which the British economy can advance.
According to the Prime Minister's own election address,
An income guarantee will ensure that everyone has enough to live on as a right, and without recourse to National Assistance. This will come without delay.
He will not come without delay.
A number of questions were asked of the Prime Minister, some of which I propose to go over again because he made not attempt, in an hour-long speech, to answer them. Let me take, first, the question that was put to him by my right hon. Friend—[An HON. MEMBER: "About white fish?"] No, I am not passionately interested in white fish. The Prime Minister said, "Over the period of a Parliament"—these are the words that come in; this is the small print—"I believe that we can carry out our programmes without any general increase in taxation". So the question was asked, "Are you prepared now to tell the House and to tell the country that, before the end of this Parliament, you will take something like £500 million a year less in taxation from the people of the country?", because, if the Prime Minister is not prepared to say that—and, of course, he is not; the Chancellor of the Exchequer would resign tonight if he did—that proves that the Prime Minister's undertaking at that time has been broken.
Let us look at the Queen's Speech, because that is the menu through which we have been struggling. My right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) said this afternoon that the whole of the Queen's Speech could suitably be carried forward to the next Session. I do not think that that is true, because the Government have carried out some of the Measures that were proposed. One was that:
A Bill will be introduced to provide for the independence of the Gambia".
They have done that. They have introduced the Bill, but all the arrangements made for the independence of the Gambia took place under the old Administration, and the advance of the Commonwealth towards independence has been slowed to a stop under the Socialist Administration.
For the rest, I calculate that there are 12 domestic Bills in the Queen's Speech, which it indicated would be taken this Session, and I think that they have got either seven or eight of them—the wording of one is not very precise. As for the others, the undertaking has not been carried out. It therefore cannot be argued that the pledges of the Government have been carried out, because the major Measures that they indicated to us when they knew the economic position of the country on Tuesday, 3rd November, have not so far appeared before us.
Take steel, for example. The Prime Minister got through an hour's speech today without mentioning the word "steel", which is quite an achievement.
I will give way in a few minutes.
We are talking about pledges and broken pledges. The pledge was made in these specific and exact terms on 18th March of this year:
… the Government intend to table a White Paper in the near future setting out the main provisions of the Bill which we shall ask Parliament to pass into law this Session."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th March, 1965; Vol. 708, c. 1474.]
There is a pledge broken, and the confirmation of it was given by the Leader of the House this afternoon.
Then we have the question of the Lands Commission. We were told this afternoon that at some time in the autumn there is to be a White Paper, but that is not what we were told in the Queen's Speech and that is not what we have been told all this year, over and over again.
The major Socialist Measures in the Queen's Speech have not been put through Parliament this session, I am delighted to say.
I have recollections of hearing the former hon. Member for Kidderminster, Sir Gerald Nabarro, saying on numerous occasions that the Conservative Party had broken its pledge to the electors by not denationalising steel. Will the right hon. Gentleman direct his attention to that?
I have given a firm undertaking that if steel is nationalised we shall denationalise it, including R.T.B.
Both main Socialist Measures have gone. There is not to be leasehold enfranchisement, but that was promised. There is not to be an ombudsman, but that was promised in the Queen's Speech. We are not even to have legislation about political contributions.
I turn to the announcement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer this week. In one sense this makes the debate easier, perhaps almost less critical for the Government than it would otherwise have been because there are some things in this field which, frankly, I do not want to press on the Government at this time, but in another sense that statement tears up every Election address on which the Government obtained the confidence of the people. They are all scraps of paper now, everyone of them, and I have had the grizzly task of reading dozens of them.
Last night, an hon. Member of this House who is very much respected, the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), felt that he had given a pledge on behalf of the Labour Party when in opposition. He felt that he had been asked or invited to join the Government Party in dishonouring that pledge, and to his eternal credit he refused to do so. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish), in a splendid speech this afternoon, punched home this breach of faith. This breach of faith alone won the party opposite the election last October. Quite enough votes turned on it with a majority of four for that to happen.
When one adds to that the other pledges which have been broken, some of which I have referred to and others I am coming to, there can be no doubt at all that that majority was obtained on a false prospectus. There can be no doubt that the Government house is built on sand, that it is built on deception.
I turn now to the background of the Chancellor's change of mind, because it is vital to understanding the present position. I do not suppose that the whole story has emerged—of course he does not emerge—of what exactly happens to the reserve figures and other key factors of currency. It is quite right that it should not. I found the Prime Minister's comment on this flippant this afternoon. He said, "We have been working out a plan so that we can keep the expenditure within the nation's income and we were ready so we announced it".
Then the right hon. Gentleman said, "There was, of course, the Chinese gold buying spree last week." This is his explanation which he offers to the House of Commons. The facts as I understand them are these. That is what he said this afternoon—[Hors. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] If he wants to object to this, he can come to the House of Commons and object to it.
I am very glad to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer here. I do not know whether he heard what I said earlier, that there are matters which I genuinely do not want to press him on now. On the Third Reading of the Finance Bill the Chancellor made what my right hon. Friend described as a gratuitous comment. He was quite right. The debate was on Third Reading, on what is in the Bill. Comment outside that, although it may be valuable, is perhaps dangerous; and on this occasion it was. We have already heard the quotation. I need not give it again. The Chancellor ended by saying that he was resisting the temptation to restrain the economy further.
The Financial Times, in a very interesting article this morning, commenting on it, says that the Chancellor was tired—I am sure that he was—and that it was late. No doubt it was. That was usual of that Bill. However, the Chancellor will realise very well that this is not an excuse. When he makes remarks like that, which have an immediate effect upon sterling, upon our currency, and upon our reserves, because the attacks started the next day, whatever the state of his tiredness may be, he must weigh his words a little more carefully than that.
Two days later, speaking at Durham, the Chancellor said:
If the situation demands I shall be ready to take further short-term action which would operate immediately and could be quickly reversible.
I want to come back on those last words. It was too late by then. By that time the strains were there. The Chancellor went off to Paris. The Prime Minister made one of his tough speeches, about people getting off their backsides—I think that this was the one in this case—and here we have these reserves now.
I wish the Chancellor of the Exchequer would understand that every crisis—he knows the first part of this—is a crisis of confidence. I wish he would realise that the main thing that has gone wrong in confidence is that the Government all the time have said one thing and done another. The switch from the soft message of the Thursday to the hard message of the Saturday is typical not only of the irresolution, but of the plain incompetence, of Her Majesty's Administration.
I will give just one example of the utter folly of words. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is here. I know that he was talking about National Insurance. I know that he was referring to the poor and the needy at the beginning of this Parliament. He will remember very well the words I am about to quote to the House:
… the courage and determination of the Government to see that the poor and needy shall not suffer, come what may, and if the international financiers do not like it, they can lump it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1964; Vol. 702, c. 1404.]
That is what the right hon. Gentleman said. It was utterly irresponsible. It went straight away into every embassy all round the world as a message from a member of the Cabinet.
We have, then, this hopeless inability to command events running through this Administration. It finds its patron saint in the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister seems to lead a sort of Walter Mitty existence. He is always governing with guts. He is ordering people off their backsides. He is knocking hell out of the Americans. He is glaring into the television cameras and telling them how tough he is today, or anyway that he will be with luck tomorrow.
All the time his military metaphors multiply and become more meaningless as they go. A year ago he was talking, of all the ludicrous ideas, of putting our heavy tanks into Cyprus. A few days
ago Anthony Howard, in his article "Battle of the Finance Bill", said that Harold Wilson told him:
It was rather like marching your troops through a long deep valley with the enemy ranged on the mountain tops on either side. We were fighting them on their own ground and in the worst possible conditions. But we won through.
Hon. Members had better try fighting a battle like that sometime.
Then we had the famous science speech—it was a very good speech—at the party conference—
The Britain that is going to be forged in the white heat of this revolution will be no place for restrictive practices or for outdated methods on either side of industry.
What have we got? Instead of white heat, we have got the Minister of Technology. There is not enough white heat in the whole of the Government to boil an egghead. Perhaps I may read to the House Disraeli's words from his most famous speech:
As I sat opposite the Treasury Bench, the Ministers reminded me of one of those marine landscapes not very unusual on the coasts of South America. You behold a range of exhausted volcanoes.
The Prime Minister is a brilliant man, as he is the first to admit, but he is also essentially a trivial man. It is good of the right hon. Gentleman to come back to the Chamber. I was saying that he is essentially a trivial man. His horizons are bounded by the next speech or the next Parliamentary Question.
His answers get longer and longer and the content of them gets less and less. I have been quoting from his election address. If he will do me the honour of reading my speech in HANSARD tomorrow he will realise that he has come here from Huyton on what is basically a tawdry and false prospectus. I have already quoted what he said about the income guarantee. I understand that he said this afternoon—perhaps he will correct me if I am wrong—that this is now postponed until 1967. Not this Session. Not next Session. Not even in this Parliament, because that Government will not be there.
I take up one particular point from what the right hon. Gentleman said about schools. He must have had this in mind during those Cabinet discussions which took place on the Chancellor's statement.
We will expand massively our higher, further and university education so that all who would benefit from it will have the chance.
Let us see where we are exactly in relation to what has been said and to what the Secretary of State for Education and Science will say in reply. There is not one education building programme that official Labour spokesmen did not promise in the last Parliament to increase. Schools, universities, teacher-training, technical colleges, youth clubs—all these were led to expect larger programmes even than we planned. Now the axe falls on universities, technical colleges, colleges of education and youth clubs—everything except schools. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) will remember very well that in 1961—we have heard a great deal of comment about this—there was no cut in the technical college building programme.
I wish to ask the Secretary of State some questions. I have given him notice of them. Are the Government still intending to meet the Robbins' targets for next year or the year after? If university building is now halted, it is hard to see how the extra numbers can be accommodated—and the Labour Party manifesto spoke of a massive expansion of higher education. Worse still is the decision to stop building technical colleges. If one wants proof of my description of the Prime Minister as a trivial man, how could he say this afternoon that his programmes are relevant and modernising when he is putting a stop to the building of technical colleges? What use is it to encourage the demand, as we have all been doing—both sides of the House have had a share in this—while, at the same time, cutting off the supply?
I also asked the Secretary of State whether the Government are still committed to the Henniker Heaton figure of an extra 250,000 by 1970. I hope that he will tell us exactly what the effect on these programmes will be of the announcement that the Chancellor made.
We have been dealing with broken promises and broken pledges That they have been broken is not in dispute. They fall into two categories, those relating mainly to defence, which we are delighted the Prime Minister has broken, and those for breaking which we despise him. That is the only division. But I think that behind all the broken promises there is a much more serious weakness in the Government. I believe that the Government are day by day getting further and further out of touch with the ordinary feelings of the ordinary people. They are out of touch because they understand nothing. They have all the statistics, and maybe they have the good intentions, but they have not the ability. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] No, they have not. It is a Government basically of the second-rate.
The Prime Minister presides over the smallest majority in our modern political history, and to help him do this he has the largest, the oldest, the most highly paid and the most incompetent Government of modern times. The Recess is only a few days away. Perhaps they will get a little breather now, and they will need it. The day of reckoning for the Government and for the Prime Minister is coming very swiftly and when it comes Socialism will not just be defeated; it will be destroyed.
I must congratulate the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) on an amusing, trivial, lighthearted and characteristic after dinner speech. It could hardly be described as a serious contribution to our political life. But no doubt he is delighted at having finally broken the "magic circle".
The right hon. Gentleman's speech hardly accorded with the kind of predictions made in the Press about the result of the election of the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) as Leader of the Opposition. I read in the Daily Express that one hon. Member opposite had said that now that the right hon. Member for Bexley had been elected there would be blood on the Dispatch Box. The only blood on the Dispatch Box tonight will have come from the knuckles of the right hon. Member for Enfield, West as he was laughing at his own jokes.
Of course, the fact is that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman is typical of the kind of style that we are to have in this new period of opposition under the right hon. Member for Bexley. It is a combination of synthetic rage, of amusing Spectator jokes, of a total lack of any constructive criticism, and a marked degree of irresponsibility about the country's economic situation. I am certain that this kind of speech—full of synthetic anger, as I have said, and devoid of any content—is typical of the sort of sound and fury and huffing and puffing we are to have under the leadership of the right hon. Member for Bexley. Having said that, perhaps I might be allowed to congratulate the right hon. Member for Bexley on his election.
The Motion is an excellent example. It purports to be serious and angry, but in fact it is totally frivolous. It appears to imply that the Government are under an obligation to carry out an entire five-year programme in a single year. It appears to imply that in one single year the Labour Party is to correct all the sins and omissions of the last 13 years.
It can hardly be seriously maintained that a pledge is broken if it is not carried out in the first year of what will be a five-year Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "The Queen's Speech."] I am coming to that. I shall deal with every one of the major points raised by the hon. Member for Enfield, West.
The position was made clear in the Labour Party Manifesto. It said:
Drastic reforms are now needed in our major social services. To make them fit for the 1960s and 1970s will be costly. … This will not be achieved all at once;
There is an even more striking statement which shows that someone had a sense of what was on foot.
We do not delude ourselves that the tasks ahead will be easy to accomplish. Even now we do not know the full extent of the damage we shall have to repair after thirteen wasted years of Conservative governmnet.
Indeed, we did not know all the damage, and I shall come to the Queen's Speech, which is highly relevant to this. It is well that we should look at the facts of the situation of last autumn, when the Conservative Government—and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer strongly criticised them at
the time—were continuing and were committed to a dangerous spree which my right hon. Friend rightly said would outrun the resources available to us. Despite this fact, Tory Ministers, who must have known that the economic crisis was getting worse and worse, indulged in these promises, including, for example, in the Tory manifesto the promise to build or rebuild 300 hospitals.
Despite the fact that they must have known that the economic crisis was developing more and more seriously throughout the year, they did nothing to warn the country or their own supporters of how serious matters were. The right hon. Gentleman managed to make a speech on this topic without even referring to this—[HON. MEMBERS: "Queen's Speech."]—and this is relevant to the Queen's Speech.
It is perfectly true that right hon. Gentleman published the figures in September, but let us see what effect this had. The Tory Party Manifesto, published in September, contained not one hint of the balance of payments deficit. Speeches made by right hon. Gentlemen after the figures had been published contained no hint of how serious the situation was. The present Leader of the Opposition rebuked my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 6th October saying that he was giving a disgraceful distortion of the facts of the then situation. In fact he was grossly underestimating them.
In the course of saying:
It is said of me that I am in disagreement with Mr. Maudling. This is quite untrue.
I forget what that was about.
The right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) said:
I made no suggestion that there is now a crisis" in our economic situation.
Typically the best and most accurate of all came from the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), who in October, after the publication of the September figures, said:
There is little doubt that they are all getting a bit wild. These reckless accusations and absolutely fatuous statements show every sign that they are getting rattled".
He went on:
Only today you observed the detestable glee with which he"—
now the Prime Minister—
tried to make out that Britain was on the verge of an economic crisis. Well, is it true?" Only to the extent of the deficit of £800 million.
I will give way to the hon. Gentlemen later.
I could go on to quote the right hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Barber), who said that the nation was duped. Certainly the nation was duped, but it was duped not by my party but by the party opposite, and of course the nation is still being duped—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—as a result of the completely doubled-faced attitude still being taken up by the party opposite, an attitude which reflects itself in voting for the pensions increase, but against the taxation needed to pay for it, reflected on the one hand in criticising us for not spending more and on the other hand saying that we should deflate more.
I do not think that these are very good exercises. To whom the Secretary of State was in fact giving way is of course for him to say. I was only trying to assist the House because I thought that he was giving way to the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph).
The right hon. Gentleman said that this party voted against the means of raising pensions. That is completely untrue. In the annual report for 1964, issued last week by the right hon. Lady the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, it is shown quite clearly that contributions were raised by £187 million for the year 1965–66 and the extra cost of the higher pension was £181 million and we voted for the increased contributions. [Interruption.] [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]
Certainly I will answer. Does the right hon. Gentleman seriously suggest that it would have been the advice of the party opposite to raise pensions to the extent that we did without a penny on any other form of taxation? [HON. MEMBERS: "You said that."] I am perfectly well aware of that. I do not withdraw in the slightest degree. There is no right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite, certainly not the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling), who would have suggested that, with the economy very heavily loaded, we should have increased pensions without an increase in taxation.
The basic fact of the matter is that we were presented with a deficit of £800 million. Of course this is an unpalatable fact, but it is the centre of the whole situation in which we find ourselves. There is no method known to man of curing a deficit of this size painlessly. The country is spending £800 million more than it is earning. Somehow, somewhere, we have to spend £800 million less, and that explains the higher taxes, the higher rates of interest, the higher prices and the fact that certain social reforms, to which we are committed and which we shall carry out, have now had to be postponed.
Against this extremely unfavourable situation, the proportion of our manifesto, and the proportion of things in the Queen's Speech, which is not necessarily a commitment to do things in a single Session, which have been achieved is remarkable, to put it mildly. I would like to mention some of the things which we have done, and to consider whether a Tory Government in those circumstances would have done them.
First of all, let us take the subject that has been discussed, the matter of social security. There has been the largest increase in old-age pension since 1946, a corresponding increase in sickness benefits, unemployment benefits, industrial injuries and war pensions. There has been the abolition of the earnings rule for widows. Would the party opposite have done these things in this situation? Prescription charges have been abolished; there has been control of rents and security of tenure. Would the party opposite have done that? They have moved completely in the reverse direction for 13 years.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) spoke of education. There is the national policy for abolishing the 11-plus and establishing a comprehensive system, the 13 per cent. salary rise for teachers, which carries out what we said in the Queen's Speech and what we said in our election manifesto. As far as higher and further education is concerned, to answer the question of the right hon. Gentleman, we will stick to the Robbins and the Henniker Heaton targets and are confident, despite the Chancellor's statement, of achieving them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Certainly we are.
For right hon. and hon. Members opposite to start talking about university starts—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I will answer. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite seem to have very little desire to hear an answer. It is our view that these targets, even with the cuts which have taken place, will be achieved in the particular years for which they were set. We are now in discussion with the University Grants Committee as to how this can be done.
Is it seriously suggested that in the last nine months the party opposite would have carried out any of these reforms in social security, health, housing and education? The simple answer is that it would have done none of them. It would have used the economic crisis as an excuse for carrying out none of these social reforms.
I turn to another sphere which links up with social reform, and that is the question of taxation—and I am still on the pledges which we made and which we have carried out. Another of our pledges was that we would make the tax system juster and fairer than it is now. This pledge also we have carried out by introducing the Capital Gains Tax, which hon. Members opposite certainly would not have done, and by introducing the Corporation Tax. [An HON. MEMBER: "And putting 6d. on Income Tax."] Yes, in order to pay for the increase in pensions. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] All the things which I have mentioned, and many others which the Prime Minister mentioned this afternoon, are the fulfilment of pledges made in the Labour Party's manifesto. They are the fulfilment—
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would be interested to read the Conservative Party's manifesto of 1951, which promised the restoration of the university seats, which it never carried out in 13 years.
I want to pass to the way in which the Labour Government, in the light of our manifesto, have dealt with the crisis which we inherited from the previous Government. I want to point out one basic difference. Whereas the previous Government had one method, and one method only, of dealing with the balance of payments crisis, namely, blind general deflation, this Government have adopted a far more selective, discriminating attitude.
On regional policy, which should interest the hon. Gentleman, we have a real policy instead of the half-baked one which the Leader of the Opposition had in government. On prices and incomes—so much sneered at by hon. Members opposite—we are far nearer achieving a policy, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour made it clear last night how seriously the Government took it. In labour mobility and redundancy payments we have a far more direct policy than the previous Government had. There has been control over office development and a serious attempt through the "Little Neddies" to increase the efficiency of British industry.
In every one of these ways the Government have shown that they have an alternative to the 1961 policy of general deflation. If anyone thinks that there is no difference between the reaction to a crisis of a Conservative Government and a Labour Government, does he seriously think that if these measures had been announced by a Conservative Chancellor they would have excluded schools, hospitals and housing? Of course, they would have done no such thing. They would have done what they did in 1961: attack the nurses and teachers first.
I have given way a great deal more than the right hon. Member for Enfield, West did. That is the difference between our policies in the economic field and those of the Conservatives. [Interruption.] What is the fuss about the Queen's Speech? [HON. MEMBERS: "Read it."] Hon. Members opposite need not worry about steel. I know how keen the party opposite is on steel. There is no change in the Government's policy on steel.
The party opposite will find that our policy comes forward in due time. The party opposite will also find that every one of the few items in the Queen's Speech which was not carried through in this Session of Parliament will come in the next Session of Parliament. [Interruption.] There will be a White Paper on land shortly and a Bill in the next Session of Parliament. There is not one item in the Queen's Speech which has not been introduced this year which hon. Members will not have the pleasure of looking forward to in the next Session of Parliament. So they need have no worry about the Queen's Speech. In the course of this Parliament, everything that was mentioned in our manifesto or the Queen's Speech will be brought forward and put into law.
I turn to one other direction in which this party has carried out its election pledges and where those pledges differ markedly from the policies of the Tory Government. One of the worst indictments of the Tory Government—
—over 13 long years was the appalling desecration which they allowed of the British coastline and countryside. [Interruption.] That reaction reflects a completely different sense of values. One of the things that the Government propose to do, and which, again, was mentioned in the manifesto, is by a much tougher and more rigorous town and country planning policy to do something to save those bits of Britain which the previous Government allowed to be desecrated.
I am delighted that even though hon. Members opposite do not care—although some of them, I happen to know, do care—one of the Chancellor's first acts, despite our balance of payments difficulty, was to make a large contribution to Enterprise Neptune to save the British coastline. [Interruption.] I have a particular interest in white fish. White fish was the one single constructive intervention which I heard from the other side. [Interruption.] I quite agree that if the Labour Party's manifesto were not carried out on the subject of white fish then I would regard that a No. 1 resigning issue as far as I am concerned.
I do not think that this point about the British countryside is a frivolous one. I think that there are many issues outside the strictly economic field where reform is very urgently needed, and this Government are carrying it out, and though right hon. and hon. Members opposite may laugh I am delighted that this Government are giving far greater encouragement to the arts than ever was given by the previous Government.
I am delighted at the fact—and this alone justifies our having a Labour Government—that we have been able to help through the Bill for the abolition of hanging. The Bill is not through yet, but if it goes through with the support of the great majority of Labour Members of Parliament then it will have been a remarkable achievement, in itself justifying a Labour Government, and I may say that it is a Bill which had no help and assistance from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. He may be famous for his strong leadership, but on the question of the abolition of hanging he gave no kind of leadership at all.
So I would claim that in nine short months, and despite the crisis which we inherited from the previous Government—and it is no good having this debate at all except against the background of the deficit which we did inherit—I claim despite the short time this Government have been in, and against
—and I repeat that if the hon. Gentleman is unhappy, everything in the Queen's Speech he will see achieved in due time. Our view on this side of the House is that the achievement which the Labour Government have accomplished is an achievement which any Government can rightly be proud of in these circumstances. It is a remarkable achievement which would not have been approached in the slightest by the Tories if they had got in on 15th October last year. And it is an achievement which we shall be proud to vote for in the Lobbies tonight.
I do not think there is much to choose on such a ritual occasion between either side of the House, except that an hon. Member, having been called, should be allowed to be heard.
I just wanted to put one question to the right hon. Gentleman, and that is why right hon. Gentlemen opposite have used a critical balance of payments situation as an excuse to cancel so many excellent aircraft projects and to order from the United States?
|Division No. 266.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Berkeley, Humphry||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Berry, Hn. Anthony||Bruce-Gardyne, J.|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Biffen, John||Bryan, Paul|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Biggs-Davison, John||Buchanan-Smith, Alick|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Bingham, R. M.||Buck, Antony|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Bullus, Sir Eric|
|Astor, John||Black, Sir Cyril||Butcher, Sir Herbert|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Blaker, Peter||Buxton, Ronald|
|Awdry, Daniel||Bossom, Hn. Clive||Campbell, Gordon|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Box, Donald||Carlisle, Mark|
|Balniel, Lord||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Cary, Sir Robert|
|Barlow, Sir John||Braine, Bernard||Channon, H. P. G.|
|Batsford, Brian||Brewis, John||Chataway, Christopher|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Brinton, Sir Tatton||Chichester-Clark, R.|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)|
|Cole, Norman||Hopkins, Alan||Percival, Ian|
|Cooke, Robert||Hordern, Peter||Peyton, John|
|Cooper, A E.||Hornby, Richard||Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P.||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Cordle, John||Howard, Hn. G. R. (St. Ives)||Pitt, Dame Edith|
|Corfield, F. V.||Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)||Pounder, Rafton|
|Costain, A. P.||Hunt, John (Bromley)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Iremonger, T. L.||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Crawley, Aidan||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pym, Francis|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Crowder, F. P.||Jennings, J. C.||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Johnson Smith, G. (East Grinstead)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Curran, Charles||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Jopling, Michael||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Dance, James||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Ridsdale, Julian|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Dean, Paul||Kershaw, Anthony||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Kilfedder, James A.||Roots, William|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kimball, Marcus||Royle, Anthony|
|Doughty, Charles||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Kirk, Peter||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kitson, Timothy||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Lagden, Godfrey||Sharples, Richard|
|Eden, Sir John||Lambton, Viscount||Shepherd, William|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Emery, Peter||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Smyth, Rt. Hn. Brig. Sir John|
|Eyre, Reginald||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Soames, Rt. Hn. Christopher|
|Farr, John||Litchfield, Capt. John||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Fell, Anthony||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'd field)||Speir, Sir Rupert|
|Fisher, Nigel||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Stainton, Keith|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Stanley, Hn. Richard|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton)||Longbottom, Charles||Stodart, Anthony|
|Foster, Sir John||Longden, Gilbert||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Loveys, Walter H.||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D.||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Talbot, John E.|
|Gammans, Lady||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Gardner, Edward||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Gibson-Watt, David||McMaster, Stanley||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan||McNair-Wilson, Patrick||Teeling, Sir William|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)||Maddan, Martin (Hove)||Temple, John M.|
|Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Maginnis, John E.||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Maitland, Sir John||Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Glyn, Sir Richard||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Conway)|
|Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Marten, Neil||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Goodhart, Philip||Mathew, Robert||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Goodhew, Victor||Maude, Angus||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Gower, Raymond||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Grant, Anthony||Mawby, Ray||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Grieve, Percy||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Walder, David (High Peak)|
|Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Gurden, Harold||Miscampbell, Norman||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Mitchell, David||Wall, Patrick|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Monro, Hector||Walters, Dennis|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||More, Jasper||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Hamilton, M. (Salisbury)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Webster, David|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Murton, Oscar||Whitelaw, William|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Neave, Airey||Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)|
|Hastings, Stephen||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Hawkins, Paul||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Hay, John||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Wise, A. R.|
|Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Onslow, Cranley||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Hendry, Forbes||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Hiley, Joseph||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)||Mr. McLaren and Mr. MacArthur.|
|Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Peel, John|
|Abse, Leo||Alldritt, Walter||Bacon, Miss Alice|
|Albu, Austen||Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Bagler, Gordon A. T.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Atkinson, Norman||Barnett, Joel|
|Baxter, William||Gregory, Arnold||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Beaney, Alan||Grey, Charles||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mapp, Charles|
|Bence, Cyril||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Marsh, Richard|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Griffiths, Will (M'chester, [...]change)||Mason, Roy|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Maxwell, Robert|
|Bessell, Peter||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Binns, John||Hale, Leslie||Mellish, Robert|
|Bishop, E. S.||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Blackburn, F.||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Millan, Bruce|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.)||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Boardman, H.||Hannan, William||Milne, Edward (Blyth)|
|Boston, Terence||Harper, Joseph||Molloy, William|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Monslow, Walter|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. w.)||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Boyden, James||Hattersley, Roy||Morris, Charles (Openshaw)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hazell, Bert||Morris, John (Aberavon)|
|Bradley, Tom||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick (SheffieldPk)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Heffer, Eric S.||Murray, Albert|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Neal, Harold|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Newens, Stan|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury)||Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)|
|Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)||Holman, Percy||Norwood, Christopher|
|Buchanan, Richard||Hooson, H. E.||Oakes, Gordon|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Ogden, Eric|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||O'Malley, Brian|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.)||Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham, S.)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Orbach, Maurice|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Howie, W.||Orme, Stanley|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Hoy, James||Oswald, Thomas|
|Coleman, Donald||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Owen, Will|
|Conlan, Bernard||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Padley, Walter|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Cousins, Rt. Hn. Frank||Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)||Paget, R. T.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Cronin, John||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S. E.)|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.||Jackson, Colin||Parker, John|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Janner, Sir Barnett||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Dalyell, Tam||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Darling, George||Jeger, George (Goole)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St. P'cras, S.)||Pentland, Norman|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull. W.)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey||Probert, Arthur|
|Delargy, Hugh||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Dell, Edmund||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Randall, Harry|
|Dempsey, James||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Redhead, Edward|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Rees, Merlyn|
|Dodds, Norman||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Doig, Peter||Kelley, Richard||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Kenyon, Clifford||Richard, Ivor|
|Driberg, Tom||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Dunn, James A.||Lawson, George||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Leadbitter, Ted||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Ledger, Ron||Robinson, Rt. Hn. K. (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|English, Michael||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Rose, Paul B.|
|Ennals, David||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Ensor, David||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Rowland, Christopher|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S. w.)||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Sheldon, Robert|
|Evans, Ioan (Birmingham, Yardley)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Lipton, Marcus||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Finch, Harold (Bedwellty)||Lomas, Kenneth||Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Loughlin, Charles||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)|
|Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.)||Lubbock, Eric||Silkin, John (Deptford)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||McBride, Neil||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Floud, Bernard||McCann, J.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Foley, Maurice||MacColl, James||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||MacDermot, Niall||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||McGuire, Michael||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Ford, Ben||McInnes, James||Small, William|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)||McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Snow, Julian|
|Freeson, Reginald||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty)||Solomons, Henry|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank|
|Garrett, W. E.||Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Garrow, A.||McLeavy, Frank||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Ginsburg, David||MacMillan, Malcolm||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Stonehouse, John|
|Stones, William||Tuck, Raphael||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Urwin, T. W.||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Stross, Sir Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)||Varley, Eric G.||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley||Wainwright, Edwin||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Swain, Thomas||Walden, Brian (All Saints)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Swingler, Stephen||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Symonds, J. B.||Wallace, George||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Taverne, Dick||Watkins, Tudor||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Weitzman, David||Woof, Robert|
|Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||White, Mrs. Eirene||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)||Whitlock, William||Zilliacus, K.|
|Thornton, Ernest||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Thorpe, Jeremy||Wilkins, W. A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Tinn, James||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Mr. Sydney Irving and|
|Tomney, Frank||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)||Mr. George Rogers.|
|Division No. 267.]||AYES||[10.15 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Doig, Peter||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Albu, Austen||Donnelly, Desmond||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Driberg, Tom||Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)|
|Alldritt, Walter||Dunn, James A.||Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Dunnett, Jack||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||English, Michael||Jackson, Colin|
|Barnett, Joel||Ennals, David||Janner, Sir Barnett|
|Baxter, William||Ensor, David||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Beaney, Alan||Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Evans, Ioan (Birmingham, Yardley)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St. P'cras, S.)|
|Bence, Cyril||Fernyhough, E.||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Finch, Harold (Bedwellty)||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Binns, John||Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.)||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Blackburn, F.||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Floud, Bernard||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Boardman, H.||Foley, Maurice||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Boston, Terence||Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Kelley, Richard|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. W.)||Ford, Ben||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)|
|Boyden, James||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)||Lawson, George|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Freeson, Reginald||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Bradley, Tom||Galpern, Sir Myer||Ledger, Ron|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Garrett, W. E.||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Garrow, A.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Ginsburg, David||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)||Gourlay, Harry||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury)||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)|
|Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)||Gregory, Arnold||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Buchanan, Richard||Grey, Charles||Lipton, Marcus|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Griffiths, David (ROther Valley)||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Loughlin, Charles|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Griffiths, Will (M'chester, Exchange)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Carmichael, Neil||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||McBride, Neil|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hale, Leslie||McCann, J.|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||MacColl, James|
|Coleman, Donald||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||MacDermot, Niall|
|Conlan, Bernard||Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.)||McGuire, Michael|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hannan, William||McInnes, James|
|Cousins, Rt. Hn. Frank||Harper, Joseph||McKay, Mrs. Margaret|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)|
|Cronin, John||Hattersley, Roy||McLeavy, Frank|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Hazell, Bert||MacMillan, Malcolm|
|Grossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Heffer, Eric S.||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Darling, George||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Mapp, Charles|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)||Marsh, Richard|
|Davies, Itor (Gower)||Holman, Percy||Mason, Roy|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Maxwell, Robert|
|de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Delargy, Hugh||Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.)||Mellish, Robert|
|Dell, Edmund||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Dempsey, James||Howie, W.||Millan, Bruce|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Hoy, James||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Dodds, Norman||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Milne, Edward (Blyth)|
|Molloy, William||Rees, Merlyn||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Monslow, Walter||Reynolds, C. W.||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Morris, Charles (Openshaw)||Richard, Ivor||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Morris, John (Aberavon)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Thornton, Ernest|
|Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Sheffield Pk)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Tinn, James|
|Murray, Albert||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Tomney, Frank|
|Neal, Harold||Robinson, Rt. Hn. K. (St. Pancras, N.)||Tuck, Raphael|
|Newens, Stan||Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Urwin, T. W.|
|Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Rose, Paul B.||Varley, Eric G.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Norwood, Christopher||Rowland, Christopher||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Oakes, Gordon||Sheldon, Robert||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Ogden, Eric||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.||Wallace, George|
|O'Malley, Brian||Shore, Peter (Stepney)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham, S.)||Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)||Weitzman, David|
|Orbach, Maurice||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Orme, Stanley||Silkin, John (Deptford)||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Oswald, Thomas||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)||Whitlock, William|
|Owen, Will||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Padley, Walter||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Skeffington, Arthur||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Paget, R. T.||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Palmer, Arthur||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Small, William||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Snow, Julian||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S. E.)||Solomons, Henry||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Parker, John||Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Pavitt, Laurence||Spriggs, Leslie||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Pentland, Norman||Stonehouse, John||Woof, Robert|
|Perry, Ernest G.||Stones, William||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Popplewell, Ernest||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Prentice, R. E.||Stross, Sir Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Probert, Arthur||Swain, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Swingler, Stephen||Mr. Sydney Irying and|
|Randall, Harry||Symonds, J. B.||Mr. George Rogers.|
|Redhead, Edward||Taverne, Dick|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Errington, Sir Eris|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Buxton, Ronald||Eyre, Reginald|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Campbell, Gordon||Farr, John|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Carlisle, Mark||Fell, Anthony|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Fisher, Nigel|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Cary, Sir Robert||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)|
|Astor, John||Channon, H. P. G.||Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Chataway, Christopher||Foster, Sir John|
|Awdry, Daniel||Chichester-Clark, R.||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Balniel, Lord||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D.|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Cole, Norman||Gammans, Lady|
|Barlow, Sir John||Cooke, Robert||Gardner, Edward|
|Batsford, Brian||Cooper, A. E.||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Cordle, John||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Corfield, F. V.||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Costain, A. P.||Glover, Sir Douglas|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Glyn, Sir Richard|
|Bessell, Peter||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Gather, Rt. Hn. J. B.|
|Biffen, John||Crawley, Aidan||Goodhart, Philip|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Crosthwaite Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Goodhew, Victor|
|Bingham, R. M.||Crowder, F. P.||Gower, Raymond|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Cunningham, Sir Knox||Grant, Anthony|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Curran, Charles||Grant-Ferris, R.|
|Blaker, Peter||Currie, G. B. H.||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Bossom, Hn. Clive||Dalkeith, Earl of||Grieve, Percy|
|Box, Donald||Dance, James||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.|
|Braine, Bernard||Dean, Paul||Gurden, Harold|
|Brewis, John||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Doughty, Charles||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Hamilton, M. (Salisbury)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Drayson, G. B.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)|
|Bruce-Gardyne J.||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Bryan, Paul||Eden, Sir John||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Buck, Antony||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Hastings, Stephen|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Emery, Peter||Hawkins, Paul|
|Hay, John||Maddan, Martin (Hove)||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Heald, Rt. Hn, Sir Lionel||Maginnis, John E.||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Maitland, Sir John||Sharples, Richard|
|Hendry, Forbes||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Shepherd, William|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Marten, Neil||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Hiley, Joseph||Mathew, Robert||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Maude, Angus||Smyth, Rt. Hn. Brig. Sir John|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Soames, Rt. Hn. Christopher|
|Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Mawby, Ray||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Speir, Sir Rupert|
|Hooson, H. E.||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Stainton, Keith|
|Hopkins, Alan||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Stanley, Hn. Richard|
|Hordern, Peter||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Hornby, Richard||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Stodart, Anthony|
|Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P.||Miscampbell, Norman||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Howard, Hn. G. R. (St. Ives)||Mitchell, David||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)||Munro, Hector||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Hunt, John (Bromley)||More, Jasper||Talbot, John E.|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Murton, Oscar||Teeling, Sir William|
|Jennings, J. C.||Heave, Airey||Temple, John M.|
|Johnson Smith, G. (East Grinstead)||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Conway)|
|Jopling, Michael||Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Onslow, Cranley||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Kilfedder, James A.||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Kimball, Marcus||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Peel, John||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Kirk, Peter||Percival, Ian||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Kitson, Timothy||Peyton, John||Welder, David (High Peak)|
|Lagden, Godfrey||Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Pitt, Dame Edith||Wall, Patrick|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Pounder, Rafton||Walters, Dennis|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Litchfield, Capt. John||Prior, J. M. L.||Webster, David|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)||Pym, Francis||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Whitelaw, William|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)|
|Longbottom, Charles||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Longden, Gilbert||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Loveys, Walter H.||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wise, A. R.|
|Lubbock, Eric||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Wood, Rt. Hn, Richard|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Ridsdale, Julian||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty)||Robson Brown, Sir William||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain||Roots, William|
|McMaster, Stanley||Royle, Anthony||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|McNair-Wilson, Patrick||Russell, Sir Ronald||Mr. McLaren and Mr. MacArthur.|
That, this House congratulates the Government on the progress so far made with the implementation of its election pledges, expresses its confidence that, contrary to the precedent of the past 13 years, the Government will in succeeding Sessions carry out in full the pledges made to the nation in its election manifesto, and regrets that throughout this present Session Her Majesty's Opposition have failed to put forward any evidence of alternative policies to enable the nation to rid itself
of the economic difficulties bequeathed by the outgoing Government.