Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th March 1973.

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Photo of Mr Cecil Parkinson Mr Cecil Parkinson , Enfield West 12:00 am, 12th March 1973

I hope to come to that question later. Again, it makes no difference to what I have just said about the order position in these two industries. When the order position is low that is regarded as significant, but when it is high it is regarded as not very important.

There is no mention of the fact that unemployment is falling or that 14 businessmen are expecting to export more for every one businessman who is expecting to export less, and that 37 are expecting to do more business for every one expecting to do less. There is no mention of the fact that investment intentions in industry are beginning to build up. I agree that we start from a low base. But the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford and many of his hon. Friends, notable by their absence from the Opposition Front Bench nowadays, share a large proportion of the blame for the low rate of investment in British industry, and a large share of the blame for the high rate of under-utilisation of capacity in recent years.

There is no mention of the expectation that if the J curve works as it usually does, then by this autumn our export position should start to get the benefit of last June's devaluation. There is no mention of the doubling of the rate of increase in improvement in the standard of living.

In conclusion, I believe that there is no point in pretending that there are not injustices and unfairnesses in our society. Listening to the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East I sometimes feel that one of his problems is that when he was young he read about them, and that to him they are something which he has heard about but nothing that he has experienced. That is why so often there seems to be a sort of novelty about them.

When I return to the town in which I was brought up, in north Lancashire, which was never by any stretch of the imagination a wealthy town, I see people enjoying a standard of living which they simply would not have believed possible at one time. I see old people better looked after. I see better housing in the town. We do no one a service if we pretend that our problems are solved, but, equally, we do a great disservice by harping on the divisions and inequalities in our society and pretending that only one side has any concern for them.

In conclusion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I would say that as a nation, we are dealing with many of our problems. Life is getting better for many, and for the most deserving. The continuance of this process will have nothing to do with the extension of the principle of nationalisation, and nothing to do with phoney agreements with the TUC. I remember that right hon. and hon. Members opposite and their party campaigned in 1964 on the slogan, "Let Labour speak with labour"—and a fat lot of good it did them when they came to power and started trying to behave like a Government instead of an extension of the trade union movement.

In going in for growth, my right hon. Friend is doing the right thing. He is taking a chance but it is a chance worth taking, for on growth depends the answer to so many of our nation's problems.