HC Deb 22 July 1975 vol 896 cc288-9
Q1. Mr. Whitehead

asked the Prime Minister what recent consultations he has had with the TUC and CBI.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

I refer my hon. Friend to the statement which I made to the House on 11th July, Sir.

Mr. Whitehead

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of us who will support him wholeheartedly in the Lobby tonight welcome the support he has received from trade unions at the Durham Miners' Gala and elsewhere? However, is he also aware that we do not believe that support will continue to be forthcoming if there are further massive cuts in public expenditure? Is he aware that there is probably only a short time in which to work out a satisfactory voluntary incomes policy that avoids re-entry into either the thickets of a statutory policy which would be unworkable or the morass of so-called free collective bargaining?

The Prime Minister

I thank my hon. Friend. My right hon. Friends and I who attended the Durham Gala were gratified by the wholehearted reaction of that great mining community to the Government's proposals. With regard to public expenditure, that was dealt with very fully by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his speech yesterday afternoon. I agree with my hon. Friend—and this was a point made by the Leader of the Opposition on 11th July—that we must use this year to work out some satisfactory plan for the period that follows. We must avoid the re-entry problems that almost invariably follow a period of this kind.

Mr. Baker

Can the Prime Minister say whether it is likely, in his view, that by the winter of 1976–77 unemployment will be at 2 million?

The Prime Minister

That is not, in our view, likely. It is a fact that we are facing a very serious rise in unemployment in common with every other advanced country in the world. The fact that it has not risen as much in this country up to the present time and that exports have been maintained and industrial production has fallen less is no cause for satisfaction for anyone. The Western world—this came out clearly at the Heads of Government conference last week—is deeply concerned about the virulence and depth of the world depression which, as many of us forecast, is now as bad as the 1930s in many respects.

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