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Government Policies

Volume 933: debated on Thursday 16 June 1977

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Q 1.

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the progress of the Government in the implementation of the policies contained in the Queen's Speech.

With regard to the progress of industrial strategy on the Finance Bill, is my right hon. Friend aware that the cost of Drax B power station will turn out to be as nothing as compared with the cost of the hon. Members for Coventry, South-West (Mrs. Wise) and Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker)? Is he further aware that the restructuring of the turbo-generating industry at any price is neither essential to the industry nor acceptable to this side of the House?

I am not sure whether it is acceptable to the industry, but I know that there is a strong expert view that restructuring of the industry is necessary. On the question whether it is acceptable to this side of the House, I am sure that my hon. Friend can speak for those hon. Members, even if I cannot.

The Prime Minister will be aware that in connection with a direct elections Bill there have been reports that the doctrine of collective Cabinet responsibility will be suspended. May I ask whether he stands by his reply given from the Dispatch Box in this House on 29th April last year, on the subject of collective responsibility? May I remind him that that reply was to the effect that collective responsibility includes all Ministers, who must be prepared to defend Government policy at all times? Does he still stand by that?

Yes, Sir, I certainly think that the doctrine should apply, except in cases where I announce that it does not.

Is the Prime Minister aware that he is making a farce of Cabinet Government, and that if he has lost control of his Cabinet he has likewise lost all authority to govern?

The right hon. Lady is expected to say that. I know that she believes that the doctrine of all Members of Parliament is to obey, as she announced at Ebbw Vale, but in quoting from Kipling I do not know why she should pay so much attention to the law of the jungle, which, as we all know, has always been the policy of the Conservative Party.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in view of the number of policies in the Queen's Speech which have not surfaced, and policies such as devolution which have had to be put down, we ought now to test public opinion in Scotland by ennobling one of his hon. Friends from a Scottish constituency so that the message could get through to the Government and the Conservative Front Bench?

I shall bear that proposal seriously in mind. If the right hon. Gentleman has any nominations to make, perhaps he will let me know.

How can my right hon. Friend convince some of our less enlightened brethren that we are committed, not only by our party manifesto and the Queen's Speech but also by the outcome of the referendum and by international treaty, to the introduction of direct elections to Europe, where we could play a part—and this is what some of our colleagues seem to have forgotten —in the furtherence of the introduction of international Socialism?