Official Visits

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th April 1974.

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Photo of Mr Jack Ashley Mr Jack Ashley , Stoke-on-Trent South 12:00 am, 30th April 1974

asked the Prime Minister how many official visits he made during the recess.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

Three, Sir. On 18th April I visited Northern Ireland, where I had talks with security chiefs, members of the Northern Ireland administration and trade unionists. I also visited Hayes on 27th April and Margate on 28th April, where I addressed the delegates to the Annual Conference of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers.

Photo of Mr Jack Ashley Mr Jack Ashley , Stoke-on-Trent South

While I realise that my right hon. Friend would find no time to visit many of the dependants of the victims of the DC10 which crashed at Ermenonville near Paris, may I ask whether he is aware that many of these dependants were disoriented by the shock and grief of the disaster, and had no idea to whom or where to turn? Does he agree that we urgently need a disaster organisation to be set up as speedily as possible to advise on the financial, medical and legal questions which arise in these circumstances? Does he now agree in principle to establishing such a special organisation, and will he consult his departmental Ministers with a view to getting on with the practical details of it?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

The whole House expressed its sense of shock and tragedy at this crash, which occurred, in fact, just after the General Election, before the new Government took over. I think that the shock referred to by my hon. Friend has been made all the more harrowing by the difficulties about agreement on the burial of the victims arising out of the problems of identification. Her Majesty's Government, as any other Government in this country would have done, have promised their full support to get justice in so far as this means anything, in terms of compensation for the relatives of those who, sadly, were killed in this crash.

Photo of Mr John Farr Mr John Farr , Harborough

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the sadness of many people in Leicestershire that he did not visit them during the recess? If he had done so he would have had a chance to ascertain their wrath at seeing their rates doubled in the past month while those of London ratepayers were halved? He could have had a chance to explain to them why they are incorrect in assuming that this action by the Government is related to Thursday's London local government elections.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

The question of the rates determination, which was made following the very unjust rates decision of the previous Government, was debated in the House, and the House came to a conclusion. I have no doubt that on that occasion the hon. Member tried to explain the feeling of his constituents, as did others. At least some Conservative Members joined their Front Bench in the Division Lobby. Not all did.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

Does the Prime Minister not regret that during the recess he failed to visit an agricultural area, so that he could appreciate for himself the nature and degree of the crisis in the livestock industry? Whereas I think the major blame for this crisis belongs to the Conservative Government, the leaders of power are now in the hands of his Gov- ernment. What does the right hon. Gentleman intend to do about it?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

The hon. and learned Gentleman is correct in saying that it is a very serious situation, which goes back further than the time of change of Government. I will not put it any higher than that. My right hon. Friends' concern with these problems has been made clear in debate and at Question Time, and they take a very serious attitude to the situation. They are doing everything in their power to help.

Photo of Mr Harry Ewing Mr Harry Ewing , Stirling Falkirk and Grangemouth

When my right hon. Friend spoke to the USDAW delegates at Margate, was any indication given that Sir Hugh Fraser is likely to pay the same wages in Glasgow as he pays at Harrods, in London?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I do not remember that question being raised there, but I had to leave the conference shortly after I had made my own speech. Perhaps it was raised in the later days of the conference.