Ahead with confidence
When I last wrote to “Viewpoint” readers, our Conservative policies were all bearing fruit, but we lacked the right person to put them across. In Sir Alec Douglas-Home we now have that person. For over two years I have been privileged to work with him as a member of the same Government team. I have always been impressed by his many excellent qualities.
First,—he does'nt mince matters; he says exactly what he thinks in terms that we can all understand. Secondly, he can always sift the important issues from the details; some people can't see the wood for the trees; he can. Thirdly, he knows exactly what he wants to do in any given set of of circumstances. Fourthly, he can translate his policies into action. Fifthly, he inspires great personal loyalty and admiration in those who serve him. Sixthly, he has nothing to gain out of politics; he is in politics to serve his country and seventhly, and most important, he is interested in the long term fate of Britain both at home and in the world. Abroad, he is universally respected and liked, and this is an important factor for those of us who believe that British influence is vital for peace and for the future of freedom. There is a mood of new optimism in the Government, in Conservative M.P.'s, in party workers and in supporters in the country. A knowledge of achievement in the past is linked with a determination for the future.
The Government's Achievements
We do well to remind ourselves, however, that the success of specific policies which we are now enjoying, did not just happen by accident. We are witnessing the effect of plans set in train some time ago. In the General Election Campaign of 1959, we promised a new Parliamentary Bill to deal with areas of unemployment. This became the Local Employment Act of 1960. It has now provided £85 million in aid to new projects creating some 90,000 new jobs. In 1960, Sir Ivan Stedeford became Chairman of an Advisory Group on British Transport and as a corollary of that group's work, radical reforms on the railways have now become possible. Early in 1961 Lord Robbins and a strong committee began work which culminated in the recently published report. The National Economic Development Council was created in 1961, and the National Incomes Commission in 1962. Success in negotiating a test ban treaty was due, in President Kennedy 's words in a letter to Harold Macmillan “to your never flagging interest. … ” as a result of which “we were ready with our views when the Soviet decided they were ready to negotiate.” Successive budgets have given us tax allowances for investments which are the best in the world. We have a scientific research and development programme bigger than that of a free country except the United States.
The Government's Programme
Much of course has yet to be done. Under Sir Keith Joseph, we shall stimulate building by housing societies—building without profit but without subsidy, for co-ownership. To help to this end we have decided to establish a Housing Corporation endowed with £100 million to supplement the lending of the building societies. A new housing measure will be placed before Parliament this session. In the Health Services, a 10-year plan, massive in its scope is already under way; on average every 19 days one new hospital—new or completely rebuilt—is started, and 60 such hospitals are under construction in England and Wales at present. The Government has accepted the targets for expansion in higher education set out by the Robbins committee and a programme is to be put in hand at once. This is in addition to the colossal investment which has already been made in education. These and many other plans are in the pipeline now.
We have the right politics for Britain, we have able men to carry them out, we have an inspiring leader. We shall go ahead with confidence.