Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Her Majesty's Government (Opposition Motion)

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North 12:00 am, 9th June 1976

I say this to those who are so keen to knock Great Britain. Let us not forget that there are very many countries, inside and outside the EEC, that are still very grateful for the contribution that Britain is making to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. There are some of us, on both sides of the House, who believe that our contribution, though vital, is too much. I believe that we should reduce it. However, we want a fairer examination of the contribution that we are making to the defence of Western Europe. When we got into economic difficulties, those same people who had to be grateful for our contribution tried to rub our noses in our own difficulties. I was about to give way to the hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Forman), but I presume that he has now had an answer.

We have heard much talk about the record. The record reveals—I do not know whether we on the Socialist Benches ought to be proud of this—that we are much better administrators than the Tories. Let me back that up with some official figures. When a Labour Government took over after 13 years of Tory rule, there was a deficit in the United Kingdom balance of payments of £355 million. In 1966, after 18 months of so-called wicked Socialism, that deficit had been translated into a surplus of £100 million. Then we went through to 1970. They were difficult times. Nevertheless, there then came that magnificent democratic promise to all the housewives of Great Britain: "If you return a Tory Government, prices will be cut at a stroke." Of course, they all fell for it, so the Tories came back into office.

Then what happened to the public administration of our nation? When the Tories came back, they inherited a balance of payments surplus of £735 million. When they got booted out in 1974, they left us with a deficit of £3,668 million. These are the facts that organs such as the BBC, ITA and all the newspapers which want the truth and nothing but the truth ought to be pressing home a little more firmly instead of concentrating on every little strike that takes place.

The record of industrial relations achievements of the present Government has been extraordinarily good in very difficult circumstances. It is on that aspect that I cannot understand the attitude of the Scottish and Welsh Nationals. I would never have believed that any working-class Scottish or Welsh representative would be labelled—as they might be tonight—as not merely the friend of the lairds' party and the bosses' party but, what is worse, the lackey of the lairds' and the bosses' party. That is the danger they face tonight. It is our responsibility to see that that message goes home to the people who have been misled.