Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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1949 Apr 7 Th
Margaret Thatcher

Speech to Dartford Conservative Women

Document type: speeches
Document kind: Speech
Venue: Electricity House, Erith, Kent
Source: Erith Observer, 15 April 1949
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: Lunchtime
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 810
Themes: Agriculture, Executive, Conservatism, Economy (general discussions), Privatized & state industries, Public spending & borrowing, Taxation, Foreign policy (Africa), Labour Party & socialism

THERE MUST BE AN END TO AUSTERITY

Miss M. Roberts Criticises Budget

Chancellor Neglected Human Values

“The Budget once again is an austerity budget. For a long time past Conservatives have been advocating the need for a reduction in taxes, and it is no mere election stunt. This country has stood austerity for a long time and been very heroic about it, but heroism is an expendable asset and cannot go on for ever.”

So said Miss Margaret Roberts, B.A., B.Sc., prospective Conservative candidate, speaking at a luncheon arranged by Dartford Division Women Conservatives at Electricity House, Erith, on Thursday last week. She added that in the Budget the human factor had been forgotten.

Mrs. G. W. R. Fletcher was in the chair, and with her were Mrs. Morris Wheeler (president) and members of the association executive, also Messrs. J. W. Panton (vice-president), J. M. L. Miller (chairman) and Hugh Goff (vice-chairman) of the Divisional Association.

It was a great occasion for the women's organisation, said the chairman, as not only were they meeting their newly-adopted candidate ( “I am sure you all agree we have made a very wise choice” ), but also their newly-elected president.

Having congratulated the chairman and her helpers on the success of the luncheon, which was attended by representatives of the various branches in the Division, Miss Roberts expressed her determination of getting to know members individually and was certain they would meet her half-way.

Human factor behind facts and figures

Recalling the days of “V” bombs and rockets and the way in which people stood up to them, Miss Roberts said it was the same with austerity. It could not go on for ever, and Sir Stafford Cripps was just looking at the facts and figures; failing to take into account the human beings and human factors behind those facts and figures. Production was not only a matter of “man hours,” but of men and women being encouraged by words of praise when needed.

A few days ago a student said to her: “We look at things these days with too much superficial abstraction.” That was true. Looking at people, they viewed them as “youth,” or as “men” or “women” —as a word and not as human beings. That was precisely what was bound to happen under nationalised planning, with the “pigeonhole mind” in command, able to move men from one mine or one factory to another if production fell off, as if 100 men were just one mass.

Why not reduce expenditure?

Sir Stafford CrippsThe Chancellor had said he could not reduce the Budget under the present rate of expenditure. Maybe that was so, but why not reduce expenditure? The speaker instanced the size of administrative staffs.

“These staffs are paid by, you and me; paid to tell us what we are to do. We must be careful what orders we take from them.”

She then referred to various items which had involved the country in loss. Bulk buying could be cut, saving millions of pounds, and so reduce taxation, thus putting extra money into people's pockets, encouraging them to work harder and so produce more goods.

An instance of an administrative mistake was the sending of ships to Archangel to ship timber, but the ships were too large to enter the port and had to return under ballast. Private enterprise might make mistakes but if it did the cost was borne by the people making the mistake and not by the taxpayers as a whole.

In 1938 the Board of Trade received 45,000 letters a month, but now it was 1,250,000, a large proportion of which referred to permits and licences. It was true the Harold WilsonPresident of the Board had made an attempt to cut controls, but it was quite impossible for one man to do all the pruning.

Mr. Strachey bought potatoes when the country did not need them and that cost £10,000,000, which was half the subsidy, hence people now had to pay more for their butter and cheese as a result of that blunder.

Miss Roberts also referred to the ground nuts scheme in Central Africa, when-all the time ground nuts were going to waste in West Africa.

Having instanced other examples of waste, she said she was convinced the Government could cut down extravagant expenses if they had the will to do so.

Miss Roberts was thanked by Messrs. Panton and Miller, the former urging members to help Miss Roberts to become known in the Division; the latter saying it was not a question of whether Miss Roberts was worthy of them, but whether they were worthy of Miss Roberts.