Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Leisure

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28 April 1970.

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Photo of Mr Stanley Henig Mr Stanley Henig , Lancaster 12:00, 28 April 1970

asked the Prime Minister if he will introduce legislation to create a Ministry of Leisure.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I have no plans to do so at present, Sir, but the machinery of Government is kept under constant review.

Photo of Mr Stanley Henig Mr Stanley Henig , Lancaster

I wonder if my right hon. Friend would continue to keep this matter under close review in view of the fact that fortunately the bulk of the population has an increasing amount of leisure time? Would it not be appropriate for a Government concerned with the good life to make sure that such leisure facilities as theatres and sports stadia are available to all people in all parts of the country?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

My hon. Friend will be aware of what the Government have done, first in the arts where we have not only substantially increased the financial provision, but have also done far more in the regions than our predecessors, including for the first time capital assistance in those projects. He will also be aware of how much more we have done in relation to sports grounds and sports facilities for those who did not have the advantage of them at school, and furthermore with what we have done about access to the countryside in relation to the Countryside Commission both in England and Wales and in Scotland.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

Is not the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity entitled to this title in view of the fact that she has created a great deal of unwanted leisure with the highest level of sustained unemployment since the war?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

That was the one predictable supplementary question I knew was coming when I saw this Question on the Order Paper, though I thought it would have come from the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton), not from the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter). The House will be aware that I have dealt with this question on many occasions at Question Time.

Hon. Members:


Photo of Mr Alf Morris Mr Alf Morris , Manchester Wythenshawe

Now that more and more people are coming over here from the Common Market to spend part of their leisure time at weekends shopping in Britain, free from the rigours of the value-added tax and levies on food imports, could we have a Minister for Leisure to help with the incoming tourists?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I also have read the fascinating accounts in our national newspapers yesterday morning about the armada or invasion at Folkestone at the weekend, and I endorse what my hon. Friend said. But if he is suggesting that the Opposition would put up the cost of living through their value-added tax and their food levies, that is not our policy as it is the policy of the Conservative Party. We would be prepared to accept these things only as part of a favourable Common Market agreement. The Conservative Party propose to do it without joining the Common Market. Further to my hon. Friend's question, of course equally its declared policy would mean far more unemployment than we have in Britain at the moment.

Photo of Mr Peter Hordern Mr Peter Hordern , Horsham

If the Prime Minister appoints a Minister for Leisure, will he treat him better than he has treated his Minister for Sport over the South African test team? Since he has been so busy promoting demonstrations, will he accept responsibility for any violence that may occur during these cricket matches?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Sport has made the position of the Government clear in identical terms to my own on this matter. But since the hon. Gentleman has raised this question, in view of the very high distortion coefficient of my remarks one always gets from the Conservative Party, I will answer him by repeating what I said and the House can judge.

Hon. Members:

Have you got it there?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

Yes. I knew somebody would be daft enough to ask it. What I said in the House on 16th April was this: …all of us can demonstrate our detestation of apartheid in peaceful ways in a peaceful country. There is no justification whatever for breaking the law or indeed, for interfering with sport, however ill-judged the decision to invite the tour."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th April, 1970; Vol. 799, c. 1568.] That is what I said in the House. On television I said: I say that they should be allowed to play their matches. I do not believe they should be disrupted by digging up pitches or violence. I believe that everyone should be free to demonstrate against apartheid. I hope people will feel free to do that. But not by violent methods. If the three right hon. Gentlemen opposite who were orchestrated into distorting these remarks in their speeches last weekend are saying that it is Tory policy to introduce a law to ban free demonstrations in this country, perhaps their leader will say so.