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Government Policy (Press Coverage)

Volume 978: debated on Monday 11 February 1980

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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.