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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 Michael McNair-Wilson Mr Michael McNair-Wilson , Newbury 12:00 am, 9th June 1976

I shall not attempt to follow the speech of the hon. Member for Luton, West (Mr. Sedgemore), except to say that a whiff of the stench of the envy in his heart reached my nostrils, and I did not enjoy it.

I support the motion of no confidence in the Government for a number of reasons. What happened in the penultimate week before the Whitsun Recess represented a form of parliamentary gerrymandering. It was not the first attempt by a Labour Government.

Those of us who represented London constituencies will not forget the attempt to gerrymander the boundaries of London seats in 1969–70. We shall not forget the doubt that arose over the Committee of Selection and the number of hon. Members serving on Standing Committees. We shall not forget the vote at the end of the debate on the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill. When I heard my hon. Friend say that he believed that he had been paired with the Whip who fianlly voted, my doubts were revived and all my suspicions re-aroused. I hope that whoever winds up for the Government tonight will set at rest those doubts for, if he does not, the Government stand condemned.

I also condemn the Government because their economic policy is leading nowhere. Excuses may be offered for the stand by credit, but no one has yet borrowed his way out of the sort of difficulties in which we are, and I do not see the will on the Government's part to achieve that target.

The hon. Member for Luton, West may say what he likes about public expenditure, and whether or not it should be cut. I say that but we would not need to cut it if the Government did not spend in the wanton and profligate way in which they are doing. If they did not do that we should be able to live within our means and achieve those changes in our society that so many of us want.

The Government sit in the House on a minority vote, the smallest vote ever to uphold a Government in office. Sixty per cent. of the population did not want Socialism in October 1974 and do not want Socialism now. Yet the Government, who lecture the Rhodesians about unimpeded progress to majority rule, flout the will of the majority in the country as if it did not exist. As for the majority in Northern Ireland, they are not to be listened to. They must not even have the Government they want but must share power.

What do the Government mean by "democracy"? Do they mean simply the ability to do in this Parliament what they choose to do because the Labour Party has more Members of Parliament than has any other party, or do they feel somewhere deep in their conscience that they should recognise that only four out of every 10 people voted for them? And from that recognition they should so change their policies as at least to recognise that it was not Socialism that the majority of the people voted for. They wanted a Government who represented Britain without Socialism.

I recognise that with their majority the Government can do as they will, as we have already seen, I understand that the language of Socialism is social priorities. But have the Government and their supporters achieved social priorities of which they can be proud? Let us think of the programme that they sometimes like to tell us they are getting on the statute book, and then let us think what the country really needs. We all know about the needs of the widows and the pensioners. We have heard about the hoped for child benefit and we know about the problems of the disabled, the deaf and the blind. I also know that a small Bill of mine—it would have cost £10,000 and would have helped the deaf —could not find its way on to the statute book because the Home Office did not want it. However, this is the Government who pose as caring about people in distress.

I wonder to myself how the Government dare to pose as representing the under-privileged and those who have not had equality of chance when they can find time to enact four Bills to make the trade unions a special elite such as we have never had before in Industry. Even if we did not need proof that the trade unions had power, we now know that they have the majesty of the law to back their power.

And then what of society generally. We all know that crimes of violence are on the increase. We know that in 1975, for the first time in our history, there were over 2 million indictable crimes in England and Wales. We know that the police force in London is 400 below its 1921 strength, when crime in London was 5 per cent. of what it is now.