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Ministerial Broadcasts

Volume 886: debated on Thursday 13 February 1975

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asked the Prime Minister whether he will now make a ministerial broadcast.


asked the Prime Minister whether he will now make a ministerial broadcast.


asked the Prime Minister when he next intends to make a ministerial broadcast.

I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to do so.

While welcoming the Chancellor's blunt but belated warning the day before yesterday that wage awards in excess of the social contract would inevitably lead to mass unemployment, would it not be better for the Prime Minister to take over the necessary rôle of Cassandra-in-chief in order to leave the Chancellor of the Exchequer with the full-time task which has been assigned to him—namely, that of curbing the activities of the Secretary of State for Industry?

My right hon. Friends the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister have given purely objective views about the state of the economy and the danger of over-large wage claims. Therefore, there is no question of anybody dodging these issues.

Will my right hon. Friend ask the Prime Minister in any broadcast he makes to stress the savage and deleterious effect on British industry, particularly in the North London area, caused by the activities of notorious asset-strippers whose behaviour a few years ago caused much more damage to the British economy than is likely to result from any form of trade union activity?

My hon. Friend is quite right. There are many factors in our present difficult economic situation, and wage claims are only one of many. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has spoken of this more than once recently.

If the Prime Minister does make a broadcast, would it be a good idea if he explained how it is that, although during the election he grandly claimed that Britain was top of the inflation league, figures published yesterday by the OECD showed that Britain last month had the highest rate of inflation among the OECD countries and that in Britain, alone among these countries, inflation was accelerating? Surely the Leader of the House, as one of our chief economic thinkers, must have an explanation for this change.

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would pay tribute to the fact also that Britain is bottom of the unemployment league among the developed countries. [Interruption.] Indeed we are. The Government's task is to control inflation without causing unemployment.

Although the Prime Minister has no plans at present for a ministerial broadcast, will the Lord President confirm that he will presumably make such a broadcast when the Government have decided what recommendation to make to the people on the European referendum? If so, will the Prime Minister in that broadcast say what percentage of the population of Britain would be sufficient in the Government's view to commit the Government to taking us out of the Common Market?

I have already discussed the first point with the hon. Gentleman and many other right hon. and hon. Members. That would be a most appropriate subject for a ministerial broadcast; but this is for consideration. The White Paper which I hope to publish in about two weeks will deal with the hon. Member's second point.

Returning to the procedure for a ministerial broadcast, can my right hon. Friend ascertain from the broadcasting organisations whether broadcasts containing the statutory right of reply of the Leader of the Opposition can in future be recorded or transmitted in the Carlton Club?