Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd May 1966.

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Photo of Mr Patrick Wolrige-Gordon Mr Patrick Wolrige-Gordon , Aberdeenshire East 12:00 am, 3rd May 1966

That is true, and it is the reason why the farmers would be so concerned by the Chancellor's statement that in some vague way they were going to be looked after in the Price Review.

I want to deal with the second part of the judgment upon the Budget, that is whether it points the way to getting the country out of its present difficulties. This is a very important point and one upon which everyone in this House would wish the Government success. If we are to succeed in solving our present economic difficulties, we have to depend upon the voluntary effort of all the people. To that extent any increase in taxation makes that voluntary effort on the part of the people for the sake of the Government that much more difficult.

To a certain extent the Chancellor is responsible for his own misfortunes by his apparent determination to concentrate upon economics alone. We have heard strong speeches last weekend from two Treasury Ministers, talking about "The age of grab." They described a very selfish country. If they were right, which is certainly possible, then to concentrate purely on the economic situation is to concentrate and to seek to cure merely the symptoms and not the disease. If the Chancellor is saying to the nation in this Budget "Come on, let's now proceed to solve our economic difficulties," I believe the average reaction that he will get is, "Why?" That is the normal British reaction to every sort of crisis particularly a financial crisis such as we are now in and which is still disguised from the great majority of our people.

That is the normal British reaction. It is a very phlegmatic reaction and correctly led it leads to a steadiness and composure of great strength. Misused and misled it means finding ourselves in warfare without weapons, in economics certainly without work, wealth and welfare. I imagine that everyone agrees with the Chancellor that the Budget is an important weapon but that it is just one weapon used to get our economic situation corrected. He and the Government are also responsible for providing the kind of leadership which the people will see and respond to and work for in order to put things right.

The goals set by the Government are so small. Their line is "Raise our production by ¾per cent, and all will be well". In my experience, given modern methods and the will, the enthusiasm, the dash and energy and the dare, it is possible for production to rise in our modern 20th century Britain, in specific industries, by anything from 20 per cent. to 30 per cent. a year. Two things are needed—the incentive to do the job and the necessary team work. I do not think that self-interest is an adequate incentive. Men do not live by bread alone and there is a need for new horizons to make efficiency and hard work acceptable once more in Britain. We did it in the war when there was an obvious battle to be won. Are there no great aims left? We have not far to look.

The world is in danger of falling to bits. Humanity has to fashion a new age quickly, where greed must be replaced by care and selfishness by sharing. If we decided to do these things, they could mean a lot for Britain. First, they could mean the assumption of responsibility for a task so big that we would not have time to grumble if we thought that somebody was better off than someone else. And we would begin to see how out of place such grumbles are when we think of the difference between how we live and how millions of our fellow citizens of this world live, in terrible conditions.

For our industry, it would mean beginning to meet the world's needs for its products as well as making profit the aim of that industry. It would mean, in other words, a redirection of motive.

For our politicians it would mean considerable change I never understand why, with all this talk about modernising Britain, modernising industry and modernising Parliament, so very little attention is paid to modernising the British. It is a field in which Parliamentarians might, with justice, be expected to give a lead. It is a gigantic task, but this is an age of giant problems as well as of great opportunities. I believe that it is by dealing with big issues that Britain will solve her small ones, never the other way about.