Adjournment (Summer) and Sittings of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th August 1966.

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Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley 12:00 am, 11th August 1966

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your Ruling.

I think that a situation has now arisen in which the Chief Whip must send for the Prime Minister. Last night, at one minute past ten o'clock, we read an announcement that the Prime Minister had made the right hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) Leader of the House. When we read it, many of us thought that it was a hoax—because some of us were living in that atmosphere. Now, within 10 minutes of the debate starting, we find that it was a hoax and that the Paymaster-General is the new Leader of the House. The only person who can settle this is the Prime Minister and he is now beating it hell for leather for the Scillies. But no doubt we can settle it later.

The final reason why the Government want this Motion is that never before have any Government put up such a ghastly performance as the present Administration have put up in the last four and a half months. We had the Budget misjudgment—again, openly admitted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer standing at that Box. He stood there and said, "I agree that I was completely wrong". He goes on producing more freeze and more squeeze, culminating in what we realise, looking back, is the worst economic crisis since 1931.

Overseas, we have had the abortive Moscow visit. I will not go into detail for the Paymaster-General. We had that lost week-end when our life blood was draining away. We have had the squalid abandonment of the United States policy in Vietnam and that near-disastrous French visit which has killed any mutterings there were—half-hearted though they were—about our moving towards the European Economic Community.