Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1976 Nov 9 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

House of Commons PQs

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [919/207-12]
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1829
Themes: Economy (general discussions), By-elections, Monetary policy, Public spending & borrowing
[column 207]

PRIME MINISTER

(BROADCAST)

Q1. Mr. Wyn Roberts

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a transcript of his “Panorama” broadcast on economic policy on 25th October.

Q3. Mr. Neubert

asked the Prime Minister whether he will place in the Library a transcript of his “Panorama” broadcast on economic policy on 25th October.

The Prime Minister (Mr. James Callaghan)

I did so on 26th October.

Mr. Roberts

The Prime Minister said that he was in favour of sustainable growth. If it is clear—as it probably is and has been for some time to the Prime Minister—that we cannot get this growth without reducing public expenditure, is he not failing the country now by postponing the reduction in public expenditure to future years?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman says about the levels of public expenditure. We have to ensure that they do not clash with the requirements of private industry for investment. There are ample funds at present available in the banks for borrowing. The problem that we all have to deal with, as was recognised in the [column 208]Conservative Party's own document, is that of overcoming inflation. That will encourage investment more than anything else.

Mr. Robinson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if the Government adopt the same attitude of constructive and reasoned firmness in their dealings with the IMF as he showed in his “Panorama” broadcast, and that if he resists the imposition of any further devaluation or deflation, he will be assured of the widest support from the Government Benches?

The Prime Minister

Certainly I do not expect any support from the Opposition, who have been consistently and continually misrepresenting what I said on “Panorama” , both in its intent and in its meaning. It is about time that we had a little honesty from the Conservative Party.

Mr. Neubert

Does the Prime Minister recall that in that interview he said that he would fight on if he had half a chance, and that to have lost two out of three Labour seats last Thursday gives him rather less than half a chance? Would not it be a better response to the nation's needs to give the British people an early chance to choose an alternative Government?

The Prime Minister

The plain truth is that until the Tory Opposition spell out their policies their return would be an unmitigated disaster for the British people. The only ambition that the Opposition have is to rule and then to divide. The biggest monument that they have ever left on our Statute Book is the Industrial Relations Act.

Mr. Wrigglesworth

In view of some of the interpretations that have been put upon last week's by-elections, would my right hon. Friend care to comment on the fact that the Conservative proportion of the vote in Workington was about 35.8 per cent. of the total electorate and that in Walsall, North the Conservative proportion of the vote was about 22.3 per cent?

The Prime Minister

I did study the statistics rather carefully and came to the conclusion that—[Hon. Members: “You lost.” ] Well, we did keep one stump up out of three. The other conclusion I [column 209]came to was one in which I agree entirely with the Conservative Party—that

“the troubles of our economy are … long-standing and deep-seated. To make the structural changes that are necessary … will need a settled approach over a long, hard haul” ,

and that is just what we intend to do.

Mrs. Thatcher

Is James Callaghanthe Prime Minister aware that the Government's present lending rate, coupled with their spending rate, means that the whole economic strategy is in ruins? Now that they have been given the “thumbs down” by the electorate, will the Prime Minister allow Denis Healeythe Chancellor—who has never got an economic forecast right—to introduce yet another Budget to correct yet more mistakes?

The Prime Minister

I am aware that “forecasts are liable to turn out wildly wrong” — that is another quotation from “The Right Approach” . [Interruption.] I thought hon. Gentlemen knew that, and if they want to hear more from their own document—there is little sense in being too dogmatic now. I am aware that the right hon. Lady was being rather Goebbelistic in her misdescription on the radio last Friday, when she said that we always left a financial mess. Let us look at the record. In 1970 the Conservatives were left with a balance of payments surplus on current account. In 1973 they left us with a large deficit. In 1970 the Labour Government were repaying debts. In 1973 the Conservatives left us with a deficit of £4½ billion. In 1973—[Hon. Members: “Too long.” ] Yes it is too long for the hon. Gentleman; I know that. In 1973 Lord Barber left us with an increase in the money supply of 28 per cent. The increase in the money supply is now 12½ per cent. Will the right hon. Lady have the decency to withdraw what she said?

Mrs. Thatcher

Not to a—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Prime Minister was listened to. I hope that hon. Members will listen to the right hon. Lady.

Mrs. Thatcher

Not to a Prime Minister who has done what he has done to the British pound, or to a Government [column 210]who have done what this Government have done to the British pound overseas. Will the Prime Minister answer my question? As Prime Minister of a Government who have had record inflation and unemployment and have put record debt around the necks of future generations, does he intend to change the economic strategy that is bringing this country to disaster, or will he carry on with higher taxation at home and higher humiliation abroad?

The Prime Minister

I notice that the right hon. Lady does not have the decency to admit that she was totally misleading people on the radio last Friday morning. Even in the euphoria of victory she should have some respect for the truth. I demand that the right hon. Lady withdraw her remarks. [Interruption.] If she will not do so, now that the facts have been pointed out, we shall all know what value to place on her future utterances on these matters. As to the existing situation, the British people are

“sceptical of short-term instant solutions” —

[Interruption.] That is another quote from “The Right Approach” . I find that I cull most of my best answers from that document. The trouble is that Opposition Members do not seem to like the quotations when I give them. We intend to pursue with consistency our long-term aims. I hope that the right hon. Lady will now withdraw her remarks.

Mrs. Thatcher

With this kind of Prime Minister and that kind of reply I do not wonder that he has been rejected at the by-elections.

ECONOMIC POLICY

Q2. Mr. Canavan

asked the Prime Minister whether he is satisfied with the co-ordination between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretaries of State for Trade, Industry and Scotland in implementing the economic proposals in the Queen's Speech.

The Prime Minister

Yes.

Mr. Canavan

As one of the major obstacles to implementing the proposals in the Queen's Speech is the House of [column 211]Lords, will my right hon. Friend take steps to include in the next Queen's Speech proposals to abolish once and for all this motley collection of medieval barons, political has-beens, ex-Prime Ministers' lap-dogs and ex-Labour renegades who had the cheek to vote against the Third Reading of a Socialist Bill yesterday?

The Prime Minister

It is quite clear from what has been said and written that, time after time after time, there has been a conspiracy between the Conservative Front Bench in this House and the inbuilt Conservative majority in the House of Lords to defeat legislation that has passed through the House of Commons. We have seen this with legislation on education, which was considered for 160 hours; on tied cottages, which was considered for 64 hours; on health, which was considered for 88 hours; on dock work regulation, which was considered for 140 hours, and on aircraft and shipbuilding nationalisation which was considered for no less than 256 hours. Opposition Members are conspiring with the House of Lords to defeat this legislation, and I warn the House of Lords of the consequences.

Mr. Lawson

Does the Prime Minister realise that the constitutional support of the House of Lords is a great deal less dishonourable than the support of the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maguire)—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. [Interruption.] Order. Hon. Gentlemen must give me a chance. The hon. Gentleman will withdraw, I hope—[Interruption.] We are all hon. Members of this House and the hon. Gentleman will withdraw any suggestion that a Member is not an honourable man.

Mr. Lawson

If you wish me to withdraw anything, Mr. Speaker, I shall certainly do so.

The Prime Minister

I am not surprised that the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) withdrew his remarks. I thought that he would do so. It is our strong view that the House of Lords should recall that its rôle is not that of a wrecking chamber, but of a revising chamber. In recent weeks, it has been wrecking legislation passed by this House.

Mr. Cormack

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for the Prime [column 212]Minister to make accusations of conspiracy? When hon. Members in both Houses are honourably doing their duty, it is in order for the Prime Minister to impute dishonourable motives to them? Will you ask him to withdraw?

Mr. Ioan Evans

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Prime Minister has made accusations about the Opposition Front Bench and apparently they do not wish to deny them. If they wish to deny what my right hon. Friend said, they should get up and do so.

Mr. Speaker

It seems that all the excitement I expected yesterday has been postponed. From time to time, general political charges are hurled across the Chamber by both sides. There was nothing in what the Prime Minister said which I could ask him to withdrawn.