Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th April 1970.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr John Mendelson Mr John Mendelson , Penistone 12:00 am, 20th April 1970

Quite a number of the arguments used before 1964 were as propagandist as some of the arguments advanced from the other side today. The hon. Gentleman knows me well enough to agree that I have never denied that. We are all subject to the temptation from time to time. That is why I say it is so fruitless and sterile to quote from the past, and that the national Press and many informed people are right to tell us not to go back over all those years and repeat every little statement that was made.

We have to tell the people about the real problems, and about the real difficulties which produce hesitation in my right hon. Friend's mind, and which would produce hesitation in the mind of any Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is only because the right hon. Member for Enfield, West has no responsibility at all today that he can tell these fairy tales on the television screen, with his little men marching up and down. He is allowing himself the freedom of the fool at court. He knows very well that when he ceases to be the fool and becomes the king he would have to tell a different tale. This is what is so irresponsible. We shall be able to expose this irresponsibility of the right hon. Gentleman, and he will have made a handsome contribution to staying where he is as one of the Front Bench Opposition spokesmen. That is much the safest position for the country.

My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary pointed out how the leaders of the Opposition have suddenly discovered their social conscience since we have been in office, how they are so terribly interested in poverty among children, how they are so terribly concerned with those injured at work. I was a Member when the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) was Minister of Pensions. I took part in a dozen delegations that went to ask him whether there could not be another 10s. for the injured, and whether something could be done about children. We got a dusty answer year after year. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman is not present now, because I am one of those who still know the evidence. There are many new Members in the House today, and we are very glad that they are here. I am one of those who remember when we went to the right hon. Gentleman in delegation after delegation. I do not remember the other Tory leaders telling him, "You must give a positive reply to these people." They never did.

The Tory Party will always have a social conscience when in opposition. My party has a social conscience when in office, so we shall have both main parties with a profoundly developed social conscience if we keep the party opposite in opposition for the rest of the century.