Duchy Visit

Oral Answers to Questions — Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th July 1991.

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Photo of Mr Robert Hayward Mr Robert Hayward , Kingswood 12:00 am, 15th July 1991

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he next intends to visit the county palatine.

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I have no plans to visit the county palatine in the near future.

Photo of Mr Robert Hayward Mr Robert Hayward , Kingswood

When my right hon. Friend next goes to the county palatine, will he visit Blackburn? When he does so, will he go via Newham and Marlow, where the Conservatives recently took seats off the Labour party, Clwyd where last week the Labour party was denied control of the county council, and so arrive at Blackburn, where the Conservatives also recently took a seat off the Labour party? Are not those results a clear sign that the public at large are seeing through Labour party proposals, particularly on issues such as defence—today, the Government announced an invitation to tender for a fourth Trident nuclear submarine.

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

I am sure that one reason that we have done so well in recent local government by-elections is because the public do not trust the Labour party on either the economy or defence. I am equally sure that people in Barrow will have been delighted by today's announcement that we are going ahead with building the fourth Trident which is essential to the credibility of our deterrent. The public will know that the Labour party is opposed to the building of that Trident vessel and will be interested to know what Labour's overall defence policy is. I am sure that the public can look forward to an intensely interesting discussion at the Labour party conference.

Photo of Mr Bruce Grocott Mr Bruce Grocott , The Wrekin

Can the Minister confirm that, in view of his disastrous record since taking up his present job, he must be pretty nervous about visiting the north-west or anywhere else, when part of the reason for his visit is to manage a Tory party by-election campaign? May I ask him the following question termed in his own colourful language: which of the two results in the north-west left him feeling the most gobsmacked—the Tory party's performance in Ribble Valley, where it lost a safe Tory seat, or its performance in the Walton division of Liverpool, where its candidate lost his deposit?

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

I think that the television coverage of events in Liverpool reminded people throughout the country that, as the Labour party could not run Liverpool, it certainly would not be able to run Britain. The result in Walton reminded us that extremism in the Labour party, which we were told years ago had been wiped out, is still rife. I look forward to securing the same 10·9 per cent. swing in our favour as we achieved in Blackburn the other day.

Photo of Mr Simon Coombs Mr Simon Coombs , Swindon

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he next intends to visit the Duchy on official business.

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer that I gave some moments ago.

Photo of Mr Simon Coombs Mr Simon Coombs , Swindon

May I urge my right hon. Friend to consider an early visit to the Duchy to tell his tenants about the disastrous consequences of a national minimum wage policy? Is it not extraordinary that there was no mention whatever of that policy by the Leader of the Opposition on his recent visit to Blackpool to the Transport and General Workers Union conference?

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

As I understand it, before the Leader of the Opposition went to Blackpool his office was telling people that in his speech he would make strong references to a national minimum wage because he was so proud of Labour's policy on that. In the event he kept mum, and one can only draw one's own conclusions.