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 Daniel Awdry Mr Daniel Awdry , Chippenham 12:00 am, 19th December 1973

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman missed the point which I was making. I was saying that there are many trade unionists who feel that the correct line of approach is to have a united trade union movement in total opposition to the Government. I said earlier that there are some leaders of the National Union of Mineworkers who feel that by their action they can break the Government. Hon. Members may disagree, but it is a serious threat to Parliament.

Yesterday the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) said: I am amazed that when Conservative hon. Members come to Parliament to debate economic matters they always make speeches based upon their knowledge of the City or of industry, but never do they represent, in the House, what must be brought to their attention—as it is to our attention, week after week—namely, the problems of people who are confronted with these economic policies. Every speech by a Conservative Member is always a speech from a would-be Chancellor of the Exchequer."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th December 1973; Vol. 866, c. 1268.] I can assure the right hon. Gentleman with sincerity that I am in no way a would-be Chancellor of the Exchequer. I claim that I understand the people whom I represent. I understand the views and the problems of ordinary people. I represent 65,000 constituents. They are bewildered and worried by the prospect of a three-day week. Many are desperately anxious about their jobs, their savings and their families. None of us knows what the three-day week will involve but we all know that it will mean colossal hardship to the nation.

I have found a most wonderful response in my constituency to the present emergency situation. People who are members of all parties ring to tell me, for example, that the lights are on in a certain street, that they are using up electricity and that they should be turned off. Last night a man rang and told me that he had a lorry doing nothing. He asked if he could send it up to London to bring back some of the mail which is delayed because of the rail dispute. He told me that he wanted no money for this.

This is something of which we should take account. There is a feeling in the country that, whatever the hardship and the sacrifice, people do not want an elected Government to be broken by militant forces acting outside Parliament. These people are not only Conservatives; they are people who passionately believe in the importance of this place and in the importance of democracy.