§ 47. Sir W. Smithers
asked the Prime Minister if the speech of the Minister of Fuel and Power on 7th May, advocating that the interests of trades unions members should be the only concern of the Govern. ment, represents the policy of His Majesty's Government.
§ 48. Viscount Hinchingbrooke
asked the Prime Minister whether the speech of the Minister of Fuel and Power to delegates of the Electrical Trades Union on 7th May, to the effect that the interests of sections of society other than the organised workers are of no concern to the Government, 2004 represents the policy of His Majesty's Government.
§ The Prime Minister
My right hon. Friend did not make the statement attributed to him in these two Questions, and such a statement, of course, does not represent the policy of the Government. My right hon. Friend informs me that the words he used were, "We know that you, the organised workers of the country, are our friends and, indeed, it could not be otherwise; as for the rest, they do not matter 'a tinker's cuss.'" This phrase was used by him in dealing with attacks made on the Government by certain financial interests in the electrical industry, and was intended to draw a distinction between the attitude of these interests and that of the organised workers in the industry. My right hon. Friend desires me to say that, if there is any impression that it was his intention to ignore the views and interests of other sections of the community, he expresses his regret that any such impression should have been given.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his interpretation of the speech cannot stand up against the Press Association's report, which was confirmed by that of the official reporter who was present, Mrs. Helen White? Do not all the conventions and precedents demand that the Minister of Fuel and Power should offer a personal apology for these repeated irresponsible utterances?
§ The Prime Minister
No, Sir. In a fairly long Parliamentary experience I have known of a great many statements made by Members on all sides, but I have never known an occasion of this kind to be the subject of a personal apology.
§ Mr. Yates
Would not my right hon. Friend agree that the economic recovery of this country will be utterly impossible without the support of organised workers? Has not the Minister of Fuel and Power, having obtained the co-operation of miners and organised workers, rendered a service to the nation?
§ Sir W. Smithers
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that persons who make such undignified statements are not fit to govern and that he cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear?
§ Mr. Gallacher
Is it riot the case that the Minister of Fuel and Power was discussing those who would, and those who would not, support the nationalisation programme? Would it not be an excellent and acceptable parallel if the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the mass of the people would support the National Savings campaign, and those who will not do not matter a tinker's curse?
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson
Will the Prime Minister tell me something which will interest me very much—what word a tinker uses that we do not know?