Minister without Portfolio (Speech)

Oral Answers to Questions — Wireless and Television – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th July 1967.

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Mr. Gresham Cooke:

asked the Prime Minister whether the public speech of the Minister without Portfolio at Madingley Hall, Cambridge, on 18th June, on the social services, represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

Photo of Mr Fergus Montgomery Mr Fergus Montgomery , Brierley Hill

asked the Prime Minister whether the public speech made by the Minister without Portfolio, on the social services, at Madingley Hall on 18th June, represents Government policy.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

My right hon. Friend made no statement of Government policy. He was discussing possible developments in the social services over the next 20 years.

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?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

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.

Photo of Mr Fergus Montgomery Mr Fergus Montgomery , Brierley Hill

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?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

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.

Photo of Dr Shirley Summerskill Dr Shirley Summerskill , Halifax

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?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

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.