Oral Answers to Questions — Administrative Policies

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th December 1968.

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Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking 12:00 am, 5th December 1968

asked the Prime Minister what recent steps he has taken to improve public understanding of the policies of his administration.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

Placing before the public the facts of the situation the country has faced since 1964, and earlier, and drawing to the nation's attention the systematic misrepresentation and falsification of the Administration's policies by leading members of Her Majesty's Opposition.

Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking

Will the Prime Minister be frank with the House and recognise that these steps have not worked any better than the policies themselves? Will he not now admit that on every major issue of domestic policy—housing, unemployment, the cost of living, the level of Government expenditure—the Government have utterly lost the confidence of the majority of people?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

No, Sir. I do not accept the judgment of the hon. Gentleman in these matters. He might set an example to his own Front Bench by not misrepresenting the facts on all of these issues.

Earl of Dalkeith:

Can the Prime Minister give a straight answer—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—which everyone wants to know to the simple question of whether the accelerating plunge in our national fortunes, as testified by the latest of many savage squeezes, is happening by mistake or on purpose?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I would be very happy to try to answer that question if I understood it properly. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will make clear what he was saying. Was he referring to the recent economic measures and is he asking whether they were taken by mistake or on purpose? Was that the question? If not, perhaps he will explain what he had in mind.

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

Will my right hon. Friend recognise that most of the demands made by ordinary people to ordinary Members of Parliament are for an increase in public expenditure and that one of the things most resented is cuts in public expenditure? Will he consider getting local authorities to convey with their rate demands some of the relationship between what is taken from people in taxation and the benefits which they get from public expenditure?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

It has been our invariable experience that every cut we have made and every restraint which we have applied to public expenditure almost without exception has been the subject of party capital by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. This was true of the announcement which we made last January. Local authority expenditure certainly needs to be contained, despite the unprecedented help which we have given to local authorities by rate relief. which has never been done before. I believe that there will be an opportunity for the House to debate rate support grants and all related questions in the very near future.

I am sorry that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Norwood (Mr. John Fraser) was called, I was not able to answer the question of the noble Lord, and I hope that he will have a chance to make clear what he meant, because I should like to answer.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Walter Bromley-Davenport Lieut-Colonel Sir Walter Bromley-Davenport , Knutsford

Is there not today a better understanding of the right hon. Gentleman's political double-crossing combined with political somersaults gradually dawning on all sections of the community irrespective of race, colour, or creed, and is this not evidenced by the report this morning of a public opinion poll?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

The hon. and gallant Gentleman is at last beginning to prove, despite my doubts last week, that he can read. He is obviously a little slow with his newspapers, because the account o which he refers was published yesterday. I did not notice the same interest by the hon. and gallant Gentleman in public opinion polls when the lead of the Conservative Party in another eminent poll fell from 22 per cent. to 3·9 per cent. a couple of months ago.