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Economic Situation (Information)

Volume 441: debated on Tuesday 29 July 1947

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asked the Prime Minister if he will give an assurance that figures relating to the country's economic position will not be divulged to outside bodies, such as the National Council of Labour and the T.U.C., by any member of the Cabinet before they are made available to Parliament.

It is the policy of His Majesty's Government to keep Parliament and both sides of industry fully informed about the country's economic position. But I certainly cannot give an assurance about bodies outside Parliament of such a restricting nature as the hon. Member proposes.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that "The Times" last Wednesday, said that the Chancellor gave detailed information to the National Council of Labour that had not been published to this House, and does he not think it derogatory to the standing of this ancient and honourable House that it should be turned by the Chancellor into a sub-committee of the Socialist Party?

If the hon. Member has any question to put to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he had better put it to him. I am not prepared to rely on statements in newspapers. I see many startling matters of information about myself which are totally inaccurate.

Does not my right hon. Friend recall that in 1943 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) gave us a tremendous amount of information, when the expenses of delegates from the mining world were paid to come to the Central Hall. Westminster, and get all the figures they wanted in the effort to get more coal? What does it matter if my right hon. Friend gives figures about coal, exports, or textiles so long as we get the stuff?

Hon. Members must make up their minds what they want. If they want a Government that carries on by a strictly bureaucratic method, and has no intercourse with outside bodies, they can take it that way; but if they want a Government which, as is our practice, consults outside bodies and employers and employees, it is ridiculous to think that every time Ministers open their mouths they must see whether or not a statement has been made in the House.

The right hon. Gentleman does not deny that the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave that information last Wednesday?

I gave no information. If the hon. Gentleman wants to challenge the Chancellor of the Exchequer, let him challenge him.