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Industry and Education

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:41 pm on 21st November 1994.

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Photo of Mr Neil Hamilton Mr Neil Hamilton , Tatton 6:41 pm, 21st November 1994

I was proud to be elected a Member of Parliament and proud to be a Minister in Her Majesty's Government, especially a Minister in the Department of Trade and Industry—a Department about which I knew something, which I know is normally regarded as a disqualification for office. I was also very pleased to have responsibility for what I regard as one of the most important aspects of Government policy: deregulation. I welcome my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Corporate Affairs, my successor, to the Front Bench. The deregulation orders, which I hope that he will be bringing forth in profusion in the coming year, should significantly reduce industry's cost. I hope that he will pursue that policy with great vigour. I pursued my own deregulation interests with vigour and I am sure that my hon. Friend will as well. I enjoyed piloting the Bill through the House last year. I enjoyed being a pilot on the bridge. Now that I am a stoker in the engine room of the ship, I intend to enjoy that role as well and I shall play my full part as a Back Bencher supporting the Government.

I have, of course, accepted that I had to relinquish office, but I cannot accept the suggestion that I abused my position as a Member of this House or betrayed the trust reposed in me by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I bitterly resent the suggestion that I was prepared to accept payment in cash or kind to ask parliamentary questions or change my opinions. As a Back Bencher and, indeed, as Minister for Corporate Affairs, I sought to uphold the standards of probity and integrity which this nation rightly expects of those holding high office in Government or in business.

The press and broadcasting are a major industry—some parts of it, of course, employ highly skilled manufacturers. They play an essential part in the education of a modern democracy. On both those grounds, the future of that industry is highly relevant to today's debate. The Gracious Speech could have included several measures which would strengthen the press by reinforcing the instinct for accuracy and fairness, which, if compromised, turns a tremendous force for good into a terrifying power to destroy.

Public confidence in Government and politicians has undoubtedly been seriously undermined by the way in which the story about alleged corruption in Government has been reported and presented. To—