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Her Majesty's Government (Opposition Motion)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th June 1976.

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Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton 12:00 am, 9th June 1976

I agree with my hon. Friend that the right hon. Lady's argument is most illogical. We have not in this country a Socialist society with a system that equates with a Socialist system. We have a Labour Government. The Government are trying democratically, step by step, pushed by me and many others, to move in a Socialist direction. That is the reality of what is happening—nothing more and nothing less. Therefore, it is absolute rubbish to say that we have a Socialist State and a Socialist Government, and the right hon. Lady knows it. The way in which she put her argument can only scare the people of this country.

I must conclude, because I know that many other hon. Members wish to take part in this debate. In closing, I wish to emphasise that we must have a system of planned investment. Planned investment means the expansion and development of the NEB. It also means that we must in the long run control the ownership of the banks and financial institutions.

When one makes such a statement, Opposition Members and their friends in the country immediately scream blue murder. Why should this mean the end of democracy? After all, the wealth within those banking and financial institutions has been created by the people. If that is regarded as the end of democracy, it is a strange democracy indeed.

In these matters, power and privilege are at stake and that is the real issue. The Opposition are all for defending the power and privilege that go with that type of economic system, and the alternatives are sharply before us. On the one hand, we can have a Conservative Government that will even knock away the props that have shored up capitalism in the last 20 or 30 years. That is quite different from Macmillan's concept of the middle way. The Opposition would like to see the elimination of those props so that we may have a return to unfettered laissez-faire capitalism.

The alternative is to move from our semi-controlled capitalist system into a controlled Socialist society, planning our investment policies and our economic development, and at the same time ensuring that we retain our human freedoms. That is the answer to the problems faced by the nation.