AMAZING CROWD SCENES AT THE CHANCELLOR'S MEETING
Early queues, packed hall—150 turned away
Unprecedented crowd scenes marked the public meeting at Christ's College Hall on Friday evening, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Reginald Maudling, MP, spoke. Nearly 700 people—by far and away a record for a political meeting in this district—tried to get into the meeting. There were early queues for places, but long before the meeting was due to start the hall was packed and there were still about 150 people left outside.
Mr. Maudling, who represents Barnet in the House of Commons, and who was born in Finchley, told his audience that it was extremely important that they should work together from the start, with enthusiasm and determination, to achieve results in the new Borough.
Referring to the two by-elections at Luton and Kinross, the Chancellor said they were “mixed results one against the other.”
“The proper interpretation of the results is that, first of all we have a lot to do as a party and that we have the ability to do it. We have fallen behind. We lost Luton, we shouldn't have lost Luton. It's the sort of seat we should hold” .
On the other hand, said Mr. Maudling, the Prime Minister's majority showed clearly what could be done with the drive, clarity of thought and purpose that he possessed.
“It is our determination to advance from this point to another victory at the next general election.”
Mr. Maudling said that the elector looks for competence and fairness in a Government.
“You want a Government that has a proper respect for the liberty of the individual” and, he added, “in the long run we look for a vision, for a sense of purpose. For a Government that can see the developments of the future and can see the possibilities.”
He said that the Conservative Government had been efficient and had produced results. There had been a very substantial improvement in the economic position. Exports had been doing well, particularly in Europe, despite the breakdown of the Brussels negotiations.
The employment situation was much better and was now more of a regional problem and there were fairly stable prices combined with a strong pound.
The country was at the beginning of a period of expansion, and the objectives set out in the budget had been achieved.
“Over these years of Conservative Government there has been a really remarkable advance in our whole economy,” said Mr. Maudling.
Expenditure on education had grown rapidly and a large number of houses had been built in the years of Conservative government, indeed, there were more houses under construction than at any time since the war.
Advances were also being made in connection with the health service. A new hospital or a reconstructed hospital was being started every nineteen days.
Mr. Maudling referred to the nuclear bomb and commented, “I feel very strongly myself that in these awful issues the heart must never be allowed to rule the head.
I remember 30's
“To plunge into some half baked scheme of disarmament without proper control, would not be to increase the chances of peace, but to increase the dangers of war.”
“I remember so well the years of the thirties. A country is not attacked because it is thought to be strong, but because it is thought to be weak. If you want peace, you have to be strong in the defence of peace.
“I never quite understand the activities of people who want us to ban our nuclear weapons and thereby hand over the entire policy of our nuclear defence to the United States. They are wonderful allies, but I still believe and I think history justifies this, that we are right to retain in the last resort our right to defend ourselves.”
After his speech, Mr. Maudling answered questions from members of the audience. He said that the Government had in mind the fact that it would be foolish to provide better higher education unless provision was made in the lower spheres.
Questioning his figures about the number of houses built under the Conservative Government, one person put the amount at 807 houses a day. “That's a great deal more than was built before we came into power,” replied Mr. Maudling.
One person asked why the public should be surprised if, after Britain's attempts to enter the Common Market, Commonwealth countries should place orders with other countries.
“I don't think the public should be surprised,” replied Mr. Maudling. “Commonwealth countries, like anyone else, will of course buy the best product. We can't expect and shouldn't expect that Australia and Canada will always buy British when, in fact, they are offered a contract that suits them better.”
He refused to answer in public whether, should there be a decrease in our reserves, he would alter the bank rate. But, Mr. Maudling added. “We should not allow international movements to interfere with the expansion of our own economy.”
“When are the Government going to take a stand with morality and vote against apartheid in the United Nations?” asked somebody.
“We have taken a very clear stand on that,” replied Mr. Maudling. But, he said, Britain had not always been asked to vote on that point alone. “It is one thing to say we are against apartheid and another when you suppor everything proposed by the opposers of apartheid in the United Nations.”
Warmly thanking Mr. Maudling for his talk, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher the local Member of Parliament said, “It is nearly five years since we in Finchley had a Cabinet Minister. We look forward to being in Borough Thirty. We shall be very happy to see more of Barnet in this constituency.”
During the evening over £84 was collected. The chair was taken by Mr. D. Webster, Divisional Chairman.