Orders of the Day — Debate on the Address

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th October 1974.

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Mr. Callaghan:

Of course we are. And we are the Government precisely because we put forth a policy of this sort.

What different answers from those of last February have the Opposition to offer in a situation in which their combined policies of non-intervention in industry together with statutory limits on wages led to the disaster of last winter.

If the Conservative Party has different answers, let us hear them. We did not hear them during the election and it was for that reason that the Conservative Party lost the election. It was not the fault of the Leader of the Opposition. A Leader of the Opposition can be only as good as his policies, and between February and October the right hon. Gentleman had no opportunity and no chance of thinking out why failure had taken place in February and what he intended to put in place of those policies. That is what the Conservative Party should be addressing itself to, not to the right hon. Gentleman. He is only the man standing in the middle, ready to receive all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune". I spring to the right hon. Gentleman's defence. I hope he will stay.

It was not so appealing to the country, and they thought about it and returned a verdict, when the right hon. Gentleman asked for a vote on the basis that he would bring into Government unknown men who would follow unspecified policies to remedy undefined evils. Some of them, like the Arabs, have folded their tents and silently stolen away.

Hon. Gentlemen opposite who realise that we are facing a grave national crisis, not just in our perorations but as a matter of reality, have two alternatives if they are real patriots. They have either to tell us what the alternative is to these policies—not a return to last February—or they ought to put their full weight behind the social contract. They have a responsibility for making it work, and that is what I mean by national unity. [Interruption.] If hon. Members have something different to say let us hear it, but it has to be a policy as a whole.