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Prime Minister (Engagements)

Volume 958: debated on Tuesday 14 November 1978

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Q4.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 14th November.

Irefer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Mr. Walker).

Is the Prime Minister aware that during this year mortgage repayments have risen by a record 37 per cent.? Will he confirm to hard-pressed housebuyers and owners that this is almost entirely due to his Government's incompetent handling of the economy?

I do not think that the country takes that view because, as the hon. Gentleman may know from his own personal experience, more building society loans are being made today than ever before. They are at a record level. That seems to show that many people are still in the field for buying houses.

When my right hon. Friend meets the President of Portugal today, will he inform him that those of us who warned about the Common Market have been proved right, both by the general experience of our people and now by the figures—and I am including among us my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay)? On the analogy of a previous Government, who appointed a Minister for disarmament who later ended up selling armaments, may I recommend to my right hon. Friend that he appoint a Minister for Europe who might end up by getting us out of Europe?

I do not accept what my hon. Friend has said on this matter. The necessity for Europe is a closer combination and not to split up. It would undoubtedly create a tremendous furore among the European nations if a major member were possibly to consider leaving. I do not believe that we should do that. We have had a referendum on the subject with a positive result, and some of my right hon. and hon. Friends would be helping more if they would apply some constructive criticism towards getting a proper balance between payments that are made and the receipts that are given to each individual member country.