Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister (Speech)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th August 1966.

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Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , South Angus 12:00 am, 4th August 1966

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his public speech on 12th July to the Australia Club on the state of the British economy.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

asked the Prime Minister if he will place a copy in the Library of his public speech to the Australia Club on 12th July about the economic situation.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I did so two days after making the speech, Sir.

Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , South Angus

Is the Prime Minister aware that I have been rereading the speech with great interest? He will no doubt recall that, in that speech, he referred to the "moaning Minnies and wet editorials", in a typically elegant phrase. Has he worked out how much money he would have saved the reserves if he had taken the advice of these people more promptly? Does he not owe them an apology?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman read the speech, even if he did not use the one in the Library. The wet editorial which I had in mind was one in the Observer the Sunday before I made the speech, which suggested that the £ was over-valued and ought to be devalued. I thought that this was particularly wet and particularly irrelevant. I thought that, since we have increased our exports to the most competitive market of all—the United States—by 40 per cent. in the last 18 months, the term "wet" was a very kind appellation to apply to that editorial.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall saying in that speech that the "sell Britain short brigade" seemed incapable of looking beyond their own noses? How far beyond his own nose does he think he saw when he told the Press that all was well—a week before the eve of the worst crisis in our economic history?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I certainly did not tell the Press on that occasion a week before that all was well. In that speech, I said that anyone who doubted our resolve and determination would be wrong. This was proved by the measures which we have taken. On the "knock Britain brigade", I think that this country has suffered as a result of a lot of anti-British propaganda at home and abroad and one has not to look very far from where I am standing now to see some of the brigadiers opposite who have played a leading part in it.