Switzerland

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th December 1976.

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Photo of Peter Viggers Peter Viggers , Gosport 12:00 am, 14th December 1976

asked the Prime Minister whether he has any current plans to visit Switzerland.

Photo of Peter Viggers Peter Viggers , Gosport

Is the Prime Minister aware that if he were to visit Switzerland he would find financial prudence and frugality which are much more in key with the majority of British people than the attitude of the present Government? Does he accept that if he followed these virtues it would not be necessary for the Chancellor to make a statement tomorrow rectifying the damage done by the Government over the last two and a half years?

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan The Prime Minister, Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The Government have introduced a great many controls on public expenditure. The programmes that were planned have been reduced for the next three years; cash limits were introduced and are being adhered to rigidly for the first time in the history of post-war days; and the local authority rate support grant has been reduced. As the hon. Member knows, there will be a further statement tomorrow. Against that background, it seems the height of impudence that anyone on the Tory Benches should talk about financial prudence and frugality.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

If the Prime Minister cannot manage to go to Switzerland, perhaps he will come to Merseyside instead, and look at unemployment there, particularly among construction workers. Will he indicate whether tomorrow's announcement will mean further unemployment in the construction industry, or will he give a categorical assurance that this will not happen?

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan The Prime Minister, Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I recommend that my hon. Friend wait until tomorrow. I cannot promise that the statement will please him or many other people. It is not a statement which, in present circumstances, can be made to please people. But we must live through this period and see the country to the other side, and this is what we intend to do.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

Will the Prime Minister return to a policy of sound money—and in replying will he not refer to the mistakes of the last two years of the last Conservative Government?

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan The Prime Minister, Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I am delighted to hear that confession from a sinner come to repentance. Even that belated admission that mistakes were made by the last Conservative Government is welcome. Let me assure the hon. Member that since his profligate Government left office the increase in money supply has been reduced drastically and has continued in that direction. I hope that, with the support of Opposition Members, we shall continue to do that in future.