Mr. Gresham Cooke:
After the 1,001 nights—the 1,001 days and nights—of story-telling, has not the Prime Minister now finally abandoned Socialism by being associated with his right hon. Friend's speech in favour of a selective Welfare State? Does that mean that the Prime Minister will now adopt the Tory policy in future?
The reference to 1,001 knights is a reference to the patronage policy of the Tory Government, not of this Government. So far as the policy question is concerned, my right hon. Friend was speaking at a seminar having a long look at the social services, and his main theme related to the likelihood of a move to wage-related pensions and wage-related benefits generally. There was certainly no retreat from any principle in the matter of social security that this side of the House holds.
Is the Prime Minister aware that this speech was in flat contradiction to the speech made by the right hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) in the House last Friday? Is this another case of a split in the party opposite? Or is it another case of this Government trying to face both ways at the same time?
No. My right hon. Friend was saying, obviously as a long-term development, taking up, indeed, a point which has been made several times by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), that when it is possible to have more fully developed computer services, it may be possible to have, as was originally proposed by Lady Rhys-Williams many years ago, the position of each individual, whether on a net tax liability or a net social security benefit position, on a single basis. This is what my right hon. Friend was talking about. There was certainly no suggestion of extending means testing in the social services.
Will my right hon. Friend assure the majority of hon. Members on this side that when the Minister without Portfolio spoke of making our social services selective he was at least excluding the National Health Service, since illness is neither a luxury nor a necessity and does not confine itself to particular income groups?
My right hon. Friend was not dealing at all in this seminar with the National Health Service. He was dealing with the social services as properly understood, and he was not proposing in them, still less in the National Health Service, any question of extending the means testing principle.