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Privatisation (Costs)

Part of Prayers – in the House of Commons at 1:45 pm on 5th April 1995.

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Photo of George Young George Young The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 1:45 pm, 5th April 1995

The last sentence is about the only one with which I do agree.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Monklands, East (Mrs. Liddell) for choosing this important subject for debate. She focused on the costs of privatisation. I hope that she agrees that, if one is to have a balanced perspective, one must consider not just the costs but the benefits. I hope, in a short speech, to redress the imbalance in the hon. Lady's speech.

A great deal of preparatory work must be done if one is to enjoy the receipts and other benefits of the Government's privatisation programme. Industries must be restructured and streamlined. Contracts must be put in place where none existed before. Potential shareholders must be informed by a prospectus of what they would be buying, and the general public must be kept informed. All that costs money and fees, but such preparatory work has produced massive benefits.

I was slightly surprised at the hon. Lady's speech, because the Leader of the Opposition has spent months touring the country to reform clause IV and telling the public that the state no longer needs to own massive, formerly nationalised industries. In 15 minutes, the hon. Lady, in a revisionist speech, cast doubt on Labour party policy on privatisation and nationalisation.