The Economy

Part of Orders of the Day — Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 6:09 pm on 14th November 1990.

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Photo of Mr Norman Tebbit Mr Norman Tebbit , Chingford 6:09 pm, 14th November 1990

I hope that my hon. Friend will excuse me from allowing him to intervene. Many other hon. Members wish to speak, and I do not intend to detain the House for much longer.

The right hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne also made a significant point about the relationship between the Gennan federal authorities and the Bundesbank. He said that, at the end of the day, on big issues, the politicians will have their way over the bank as they did in the reunification issue. That is fine, and I agree with him. That would be so. In that case, when are we going to discuss the democratic institutions that would control the politicians who would have control over the bankers when vital issues are at stake? We need to ask ourselves that question. I do not think that we should allow ourselves too much ambiguity, even in the cause of unity, when we are debating these matters.

I recall that the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East said that the question of a single currency divides my party. I have to admit that there is a good deal of truth in that. It does not divide the Social and Liberal Democratic party. It has only one view and that establishes it for the non-party it is. To have a single view on such an issue can be accomplished only by a party with no more than half a dozen Members. When I asked the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East whether he would be willing to accept a single currency, which by common consent means the end of independent budgetary policy, he took refuge in the unity of ambiguity. I do not know why, because he had even made my point that such a decision would be irrevocable. That is an important step forward. At least the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows the magnitude of the decision that the Leader of the Opposition would take so lightly.

It is long overdue that we should remove the ambiguities that surround these issues, even if it might bring about accord across the Floor of the House between those who take different views within their own parties. There is nothing wrong at times with agreement across the Floor of the House, and there is nothing wrong with an honest acceptance of the fact that, when issues as great as these arise, there can be differences within parties.

I will fight for the whole of my political life to avoid a socialist economic policy being imposed upon the people of this country. The right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East will struggle against it as best he can, but if he were elected to office, his colleagues would make him eat his words and he would have to impose one. I shall also struggle for the whole of my political life for the right of the British people to have a socialist policy if they want one. I shall fight for them to have a free market, Liberal policy or even a salad policy or a green policy if they so wish.

However, those decisions should be taken in this country by British people. We should not find ourselves in the position where our rates of tax and our budgetary policies are beyond the control of the people of this country. That is the great issue, on which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and the right hon. Members for Devonport and for Bethnal Green and Stepney are right.