Orders of the Day — Economic and Energy Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th December 1973.

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Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border 12:00 am, 19th December 1973

With regard to reconciliation, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said yesterday in the last 18 months he and my right hon. Friends concerned have had the most intensive and detailed discussions with the CBI and the TUC that any Government have ever had. That is a basis on which we should stand. Many of the policies put forward have been pursued, and can be seen to have been pursued, as my right hon. Friend pointed out yesterday.

Nor can anyone deny that the measures taken by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer are designed in the same way. There has been action against property speculators. It is considerable action. There has been action through the 10 per cent. surcharge to ensure that the richest in our society bear their share of the burden at a time of national crisis. [Interruption.] The Opposition shout and bellow and make a lot of noise because they do not like these facts, because they know they are true.

There has been no imposition of indirect taxation which would put up prices. There has been no increase in direct taxation on the lower and middle-income groups.

In the last fortnight many of these policies have been urged on me by various trade union leaders, and I can point to the fact that many of the points have been met. Of course, it will be said "Oh yes, but others have not". Such is life. The Opposition will say that the measures do not go far enough. They do not want to see us have reconciliation. They want—[Interruption.] The longer I seek to show that a policy of reconciliation is right, and the more the Opposition shout and laugh, the more I know that it is what they do not want.