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Volume 931: debated on Tuesday 3 May 1977

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I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett) on 3rd February.

In view of the abysmal and worsening trend of rising prices, will the Prime Minister say why the TUC and the housewives of Great Britain should believe him for one moment when he said in Tunbridge Wells last Saturday that the battle against inflation was being won?

There is every reason to believe it, as I have explained to the House on many occasions. I can give the hon. Gentleman the facts but I cannot give him the understanding. As is well known, now that the money supply is under control and sterling is stabilised, interest rates are going down fast. There is every reason to anticipate that prices will start to turn down in the third quarter of this year. I know of no one, including the occupants of the Opposition Front Bench, who denies that that is the position.

When my right hon. Friend next meets the TUC, will he admit to it that it was right in the stand that it took over Britain and the Common Market? Does he appreciate that the ordinary people of Britain, especially those of Grimsby, realise that they were conned in the referendum campaign? This is what leads to cynicism in politics.

The people of this country decided the issue and there is not much point in continually fighting old battles. We must ensure that the European Community fits Britain's interests as well as it fits the interests of other countries. I speak in particular about the common agricultural policy, which was designed before we joined the Community. In my view, it does not best serve the interests of the British people. Therefore, we must continue our endeavours to improve and amend it. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food made a very good start this year.

Will the Prime Minister explain to the TUC as soon as possible that the proposed strike action of the National Union of Journalists at the end of this week seems to many as if it is designed to prevent people reading the results of the local elections in their local papers? As this would do great harm to the democratic process, will the right hon. Gentleman ask the NUJ to refrain from such action this week?

I understand that it is difficult at this stage to predict what action is to be taken on Thursday and what its effect will be. The members of the National Union of Journalists at the Press Association will be deciding tomorrow whether they will take industrial action. Of course, it would be easy to take sides in this dispute. For myself, if there are any more results like the one at Grimsby, I hope that they will not be censored in any way. [Interruption.] That was the point of the question. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about Ashfield?"] I was picking out the one I liked best. The right hon. Lady need not get too disturbed. [An HON. MEMBER: "You do not disturb her, Jim."] That makes two of us, then. I should not want the National Union of Journalists or anyone else to suppress election results or anything else on Thursday. If the action were designed for that purpose, I should deplore it very much.