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Paymaster General

Volume 978: debated on Monday 11 February 1980

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Government Policy (Press Coverage)


asked the Paymaster General whether he is satisfied with press coverage of Government policy.

I think that press coverage of Government policy has been reasonably adequate. Comment is another matter, and I do not suppose that any Minister in any Government has ever been wholly satisfied with that.

In view of press reports of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's weekend speech demanding Draconian powers to clobber the trade unions, will the Paymaster General tell us who is responsible for stating Government policy on industrial relations? Is it the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Secretary of State for Employment? Or will they both be overruled by a diktat from Attila the Hen?

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's description of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech, but any questions about that must be addressed to my right hon. and learned Friend himself.

Does my right hon. Friend recognise that when Government policy is spelt out regularly and frequently the people understand and accept it, and will support the Government accordingly?

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with the amount of publicity given to Government policy in my constituency, where public expenditure cuts are leading to the pumping of raw sewage into the River Tweed, in order to have a few coppers on running a pump?

:That is a question which should more properly be put to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Ministerial Broadcast


asked the Paymaster General if he intends to make a ministerial broadcast.

Since the Government are so keen to save public expenditure, will the right hon. Gentleman consider making a ministerial broadcast to explainwhy he, as public relations adviser to the Government, is paid out of public funds and not by Conservative Central Office?

I am not a public relations adviser to the Government. My job—which previous Governments have also recognised is a necessary task—is to see that the Government information services do not operate merely in the interests of getting the facts of Government policy over to the public, but that they provide an adequate service of information to the press and the media.

Has my right hon. Friend any information on whether the public would prefer to have Labour Party political broadcasts on all three channels at the same time or whether they would rather have a choice?

If the right hon. Gentleman is not a public relations adviser to the Government, what the heck does he do? In particular, where is his job specification different from that of Lord Wigg in the Labour Government between 1964 and 1967?

I understand that the noble Lord had a job specification which the Government of the day were careful not to reveal to the public.

Government Policy (Press Coverage)


asked the Paymaster General whether he remains satisfied with presentation in the media of Government policy.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply that I have just given to the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan).

Does my right hon. Friend think that the press is aware of the co-ordinated campaign being run by the Labour Opposition to support every strike on which they can lay their hands, with a view to fomenting bad industrial relations and denigrating the police and security services at every attempt?

Whether or not the press is aware of that—I think that it is—it is becoming increasingly aware that rank and file trade unionists and members of the public generally are well aware of it and that they look to this Government for a remedy.