Confidence in Her Majesty's Government

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:19 pm on 27th March 1991.

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Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley Sidcup 5:19 pm, 27th March 1991

If they like to go on voting Labour and paying those enormous rates—[HON. MEMBERS: "They do not"] They were paying much higher rates than anyone when they were paying rates, put it that way, and if local authorities like to do that, that is up to them. People who live in Westminster do not have the same problem.

I see the deputy Leader of the Opposition in his place. I am puzzled why the Opposition particularly asked that this vote of no confidence should be concerned only with the poll tax. I cannot recollect any other occasion in the House in the past 40 years when a vote of no confidence has been limited to one particular subject.

I can understand one reason, which is that on previous votes of no confidence the Leader of the Opposition has, sadly for him, failed in his attack. He roamed far and wide and got into great difficulties, and he lost his party's support. I suppose that, if one sticks to one thing., that reduces the chances of the Leader of the Opposition messing up yet another vote of no confidence.

That is one explanation. The other is that the Opposition are just not prepared, on an occasion when they are testing a whole Government, wanting to overthrow them, to discuss all the other issues today in modern affairs. Do the Opposition not realise that by doing that they are reducing the value of their own motion of no confidence? The country realises that clearly.

Why were they not prepared to give my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister all the credit for what he has done in restoring our situation in Europe? He has changed the whole position. Why were the Opposition not prepared to discuss the part that he played in the crisis in the Gulf? Why were the Opposition not prepared to discuss the dramatic step that he took in saying, within a month of taking office, that haemophiliacs will of course receive proper compensation for being infected with AIDS as a result of bad blood transfusions, something which had been argued about in a petty way for years? My right hon. Friend dealt immediately with all that, so why will not the Opposition give him credit for it?

I just do not understand, except that they are not prepared to acknowledge the good things that have been done in the past 100 days. I am, and I warmly congratulate my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and his colleagues on that.