Recession and Unemployment

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 7:34 pm on 19th February 1992.

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Photo of Mr Anthony Nelson Mr Anthony Nelson , Chichester 7:34 pm, 19th February 1992

It is always an honour to follow the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), but he sang the same tune, although with different words, tonight. He spoke about redistribution, which has been his clarion call all the time that I have been in the House, and all the time that he was a Minister.

In the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and in the speech of the hon. Member for Newport, East (Mr. Hughes) we heard the authentic voice of socialism. We heard the real call for a return to the discredited policies of the past—[Interruption.] I hear those policies being vocally supported by Labour Members.

The hon. Member for Newport, East said, "Be bold, go further, spend more." That is what the Labour party means. The right hon. Member for Chesterfield talked about redistribution, about cutting our defences and destroying our strategic nuclear deterrent—which, incidentally, has provided employment, industry and investment in Barrow-in-Furness and the rest of the country.

The real pressure on the Labour Front-Bench spokesmen comes from their Back-Bench colleagues, who want more spending, and a greater burden of taxation on the people of this country. The Labour party has moved away from what was previously its clarion call—central planning as a means of restoring economic activity and growth. The discredited policies of the 1970s, which brought into existence the reviled National Enterprise Board and brought our economy into penury, have been replaced by a neo-socialism, which talks about redistribution.

In that policy there is as fallacious a hoax as there ever was in the calls for central planning. The call for redistribution assumes essentially that somebody will be better able to decide how money should be spent than those in whose hands it is at present. It relies on Peter robbing Paul to pay for public expenditure, hoping thereby that that money—