Queen Elizabeth II – 1972 Queen’s Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by Queen Elizabeth II in the House of Lords on 31 October 1972.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

My Husband and I look forward to our visits to Canada and Australia.

My Government will play a full and constructive part in the enlarged European Communities. They look forward to the opportunities membership will bring, for developing the country’s full economic and industrial potential, for working out social and environmental policies on a European scale, and for increasing the influence of the enlarged Community for the benefit of the world at large.

My Ministers will seek to maintain and strengthen the North Atlantic Alliance. They will continue to sustain the Commonwealth association. My Government seek a positive improvement in East-West relations and are preparing in co-operation with their allies for a conference on security and co-operation in Europe. They will work for peace in the Middle East and in Indo-China. They seek to build upon the improved relations with China and hope for a peaceful and lasting settlement in the South Asian Sub-Continent.

My Government will work for co-operation within the United Nations; will support the United Nations law of the sea negotiations; and will continue to pursue agreed measures of arms control and disarmament. They will co-operate with other Governments in combating international terrorism. A Bill will be introduced to enable My Government to give effect to the Montreal Convention for the suppression of unlawful acts against the safety of civil aviation.

My Government are determined to protect the right of British fishermen to fish on the high seas off Iceland. They remain ready to reach an amicable interim agreement with the Government of Iceland.

My Government will continue their efforts to ensure that United Kingdom passport holders evened from Uganda have the widest possible choice of countries in which to settle. Help will be given to those who settle here and to local authorities that need to make special provision for them.

My Ministers will continue to search resolutely for peaceful and just solutions to the political, social and economic problems of Northern Ireland. They are resolved that terrorism and violence shall be brought to an end. The reform of local government will be completed. Legislation will be introduced to provide for a poll on the question of the Border; and to make available additional grant and loan finance to the Northern Ireland Exchequer.

Members of the House of Commons,

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

At home, My Government’s overriding concern, as Britain enters the European Communities, will be to promote the high and sustained rate of economic growth which is essential for the achievement of their policies of providing increased employment and rising living standards, as well as for the provision of better houses, schools, and social services. To that end, they will continue their efforts to establish effective means of enabling a faster growth of national output and real incomes to be maintained consistently with a reduction in the rate of inflation.

It is My Government’s intention to resume the maintenance of agreed margins round a fixed parity for sterling as soon as circumstances permit.

My Government will continue to pursue the reform of taxation, the burden of which they have already greatly reduced.

In developing their policies for economic growth My Government will pursue their measures to create confidence and stimulate employment in the assisted areas.

Legislation will be brought before you to establish an improved organisation for the Government’s manpower services including a reform of the system of industrial training.

Special help will continue to be given to those in need through the social security system and by means of rebates and allowances; and a Bill will be introduced to extend rent allowances to tenants of furnished accommodation.

Extra help will continue to be provided for areas of special social need.

Legislation will be introduced to promote fair trading and competition; and to improve the provisions of the law regarding insurance companies. Other measures to protect the consumer will be proposed.

A measure will be introduced to facilitate the building of a Third London Airport at Maplin.

My Government will continue to encourage, within the framework of the European Economic Community, a strong agricultural industry and the efficient production and marketing of food in this country.

My Government will take further positive action on the protection and improvement of the environment. A Bill will be laid before you to reorganise the management of water resources in England and Wales.

Legislation will be introduced to provide improved compensation for persons whose land is acquired by public authorities and for the injurious effects of public works schemes.

A Bill will be introduced to reform local government in Scotland. Legislation will be laid before you to reform certain aspects of local government finance in England and Wales; and to establish machinery for investigating complaints of maladministration in local government.

A Bill will be laid before you to reorganise the administration of the National Health Service in England and Wales and to establish a health service commissioner to deal with complaints.

Legislation will be introduced to reform the finances of the national insurance scheme and to encourage the more widespread development and improvement of occupational pension schemes.

My Ministers will carry out their announced annual review of retirement and public service pensions and related benefits.

My Ministers will present to Parliament proposals to extend the education service and to set new priorities.

My Government will vigorously pursue policies for the prevention of crime and the treatment of offenders. They are especially concerned at the continued growth in manifestations of violence. They will press forward plans for strengthening the police, prison and probation and aftercare services, developing the prison building programme and implementing the Criminal Justice Act.

Measures will be introduced to make further reforms in the law and improvements in the administration of justice.

Other measures will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

Edward Heath – 1972 Speech to Conservative Party Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Edward Heath, the then Prime Minister, in Blackpool in October 1972.

It is just 25 years, Dame Peggy, since I attended my first Party Conference, and I have been at every one since. There may well be some in this hall today with a longer record than that. But no one else, as I understand it at any rate, has been present for the last eight years as Leader of the Party, or for the last three as Conservative Prime Minister.

Every Conference has its own character stamped upon it; and so it has been with this one. This Conference has been a triumph for moderation, for decency and for good sense; and we all recognise how great a part the younger members of our Party have played in it. It has been a triumph not confined to this hall. It has been achieved with the whole world watching. The media, with their microphones and cameras – not forgetting their pencils and notebooks – have seen to it that the world outside this hall has watched a Party that knows its own mind is prepared to speak its own mind. What you have said has clearly matched the national mood.

You are here representing every part of the country and every aspect of our national life. In your debates and by your votes you have decisively shown that moderation, clearly expounded and firmly pursued, meets the need of the nation.

We have shown this week that we reject the equivocations so prevalent in this hall last week – the equivocations of those trying to make us believe that any problem can be solved just by facing both ways. Equally we reject those who react to one extreme by rushing to another, seeking to persuade us that in this way quick and easy answers can be found to hard and complicated problems.

We are not a nation of extremists. We are a nation that believes in firmness and fairness; and this week we in this hall have shown that this is where we as a party also stand.

The people of this country want a fair society. The Conservative Government is in process of creating just that. We are seeking to create it in the talks that we started with the employers and trade unions about curbing inflation – talks that will continue next Monday at Chequers. Throughout this Parliament we have been continuously engaged in the battle against inflation. Let no one say that we have not fought, and fought hard. When we have had setbacks, as we have, they have not been for the lack of will in trying to overcome them.

We have not always been helped by those who in the past year have constantly made our small majority in Parliament still smaller and led others outside to believe, wrongly, that we could be toppled. But I would like to express my gratitude to all my colleagues in the Cabinet and in the Government for the firm support which they have given in the fight against inflation. It is to all our regrets that Reggie Maudling should not be on this platform with us this morning.

At all times we have sought co-operation with those concerned in the country’s economic organisation. It was through no fault of ours that sometimes events led to confrontation. We were returned to office with a clear mandate from the electorate – a mandate to reform the law on industrial relations, to reform the system of housing finance, to reform the social services, to reform the tax system and to reduce taxation. That was a clear mandate to enable the weak to be protected, the poor to be helped and others to be encouraged to expand the wealth of the nation. All of this mandate has been carried out. Yes – and we were given a mandate to reduce inflation. That we knew had to include bringing down inflationary wage settlements throughout the economy to something much more in line with production. We have been given all too little credit for the success we achieved.

Over a wide area of the economy there was co-operation. But in parts there was also confrontation. And so it was that Government, management and unions first met to discuss conciliation. As a result new machinery has been created by the employers and the unions. But that is not enough. We have now, therefore, jointly embarked for the first time in Britain, on the path of working out together how to create and share the nation’s wealth for the benefit of all the people. It is an offer to em­ployers and unions to share fully with the Government the benefits and the obligations involved in running the national economy.

I have always emphasised my belief in more open Government. For the parties to these talks to be able to work together better, they must tell each other all the facts. It may well be that employers and unions will recognise the need for more skilled and experienced staffs to carry through their part of the opera­tion. For what we are involved in is not just another argy bargy. It is a real attempt, a rational attempt and a sensible attempt to create greater prosperity and to make it more secure. What is more, this should be a continuing process, flexible enough to adapt itself to economic circumstances as they change.

For the three parties cannot be expected to solve all the problems at once. But neither can the country wait until we have agreed on all the solutions before we act in order to contain inflation. We must act now and we ought to act together speedily, knowing that the machinery we have created at different levels can meet regularly and frequently to deal with the problems that remain, to deal with the new problems as they arise. Knowing that, we can look ahead year by year to consider the means of creating further expansion and look ahead to agree upon the priorities to which the nation wishes to devote its increasing wealth. This, then is our offer as a Government. No one should underestimate its importance. There are two reasons why I believe there is a better chance now of achieving our objectives.

First, everyone has learnt that the cost of confrontation is high for all concerned, whatever the settlement – in empty pay packets, in lost production, in damage, often permanent, to a firm to an industry. There is another reason why I believe responsible union leaders are now readier to join with the Government and the employers in a co-operative effort to fight inflation. It is that for the first time they are being asked to do so against a background of expansion.

For years under Labour the unions were being asked to make sacrifices as part of a policy of restriction and deflation. This time they are being asked to make their contribution to a rate of expansion that has not been achieved for more than a decade. As we sat around the table we soon came to realise that we had much more in common than the differences which divided us. In other words, we found a common desire to pursue economic policies for all people – not for one sectional interest, but for all. It is for the social partners, as I would call them, to acknowledge publicly and unequivocally that sometimes wider and common interests will conflict with their own sectional demands. It will be for them to have the courage to override their sectional interests. But in this the Government also has a part to play. It is for the Government to help them towards what we ought to recognise will be for them an act of imagination requiring very great courage.

All the evidence shows that this approach of the Government has the support of the vast majority of the people in Britain, and to have that it must have included the support of millions of rank-and-file trade unionists, who also see that the offer we have made is fair. They also realise that it contains for every one of them a safeguard for their standard of living if the expectations jointly expressed, of the Government, the employers and the unions, should not materialise.

On Monday at Chequers we can discuss and assess the statistics. No one partner can dictate to the others, nor insist that only their views can carry the day. But all will have a responsi­bility to ensure that agreements freely negoti­ated and entered into through the procedure we are adopting are fully supported and carried out.

But the British people now expect us jointly to move to a settlement which will honestly deal with inflation, which will provide them with that improvement in their real standard of living which we have shown to be possible in an expanding economy.

There will always be some who do not want to achieve a strong economy. There are those who do not want a strong Britain at all. There are those who cannot bear to see Britain strong under a Conservative Government.

But for the most part I believe that people in this country want to have a fair and reasonable prospect of beating inflation. They have enough in common to override the vested interests; they are sufficiently at one to turn their backs on false sectional loyalty. The people of Britain want to unite in a common purpose.

When I was given the Queen’s commission to form this Government two and a half years ago, I declared on the steps of 10 Downing Street: ‘Our purpose is not to divide but to unite, and where there are differences to bring about reconciliation.’ It is precisely because we are setting out to do this, precisely because your Government represents all the people, that we have arranged the talks and put forward our plan. We repre­sent all the people, but especially those who have no powerful organisation to speak for them, especially those who are most vulnerable to rising prices, especially those, the weakest in the community, who have most to gain from a strong economy. This is the purpose of the specific proposals which we have put. This, I am convinced, is what the nation needs. It is what the nation expects – nothing less.

It takes a united country to make a nation strong socially and economically. But to achieve this it is not enough to be united in our economic objectives. We need also to renew and strengthen the bonds within our society – the bonds which, over the years, have given this country a strength and stability that has been the envy of the world: the bonds of family, the bonds between employers and employees, between Parliament and people, between Government and governed.

We hear a good deal these days of how these bonds have become weakened. It is easy to exaggerate this and talk ourselves into a crisis of self-confidence. Young people insist on having a greater say in the decisions that affect their lives today and tomorrow – and so they should.

Employees insist on having a greater say in the decisions that affect their jobs and the prosperity of their families – and so they should. And the good employer will increasingly adapt himself to this desire and seek to carry his employees with him in taking management decisions.

People everywhere want to be more and more involved in the decisions that affect them, and one of our aims in carrying through the reform of local government is to make this participation more real and more meaningful. And yet I know what disturbs so many of you here, so many watching or listening in your own homes. It is the fear that freedom and democracy are being abused by those who seek only to suppress free speech and free action. It is wrong that employers should be tyrannised, wrong that fellow workers should be terrorised by industrial action that erupts into violence. You know it is our determination, and I believe the determination of responsible trade union leaders, to stamp out lawless picketing; and it is wrong that those who themselves claim to be in positions of authority should deliberately set out to defy the law of the land. Hence our decision to warn those local authorities – few in number – in England and Wales who are bent on refusing to imple­ment the fair rents law carried through by a democratically elected Parliament.

Robert Carr has told you how this Govern­ment will intensify the fight against law­breaking within the principles of law and free­dom of which this country is proud. But the fight against lawlessness is not one for the Government alone; it is one in which every single one of us has a role to play. And it is one where those who lead or aspire to lead must themselves be ready to give a lead. In the past year we have had too much breaking of the law in the name of the law, too many attempts to disrupt the democratic process in the name of democracy. I believe that the people of Britain are tired of this double-talk and fed up to the teeth with this humbug. For you cannot pick and choose which law you want to obey and which to defy. Let those who value the law stand up and repudiate those who defy the law. Let them repudiate those who refuse to accept the verdict of the courts. Let them repudiate the lawless pickets. Let those who value democracy repudiate the fair rent rebels. Let been repudiate those who want to tear down what Parliament has built up.

A strong Britain. Strong in its economic foundations. Strong in its social fabric. Strong in the bonds that bind us together as a nation and have over the centuries made us the most cohesive and most powerful national force in Europe, if not in the world.

A strong Britain is a confident Britain, confident in its ability to take on the duties and the obligations which are imposed by history on any nation with a claim to greatness. We have shown ourselves ready to face our responsibility in Northern Ireland, to defeat the forces of terror and violence, to give the people of Northern Ireland – all the people – a chance to choose a system of government that will secure the political and social rights of all the people, irrespective of their religion or their political alliance.

This is, in terms of human misery, the most terrible problem that we as a Government and as a country have to face. It haunts us every day. It requires patience, imagination and indeed humility to resolve. I promise you in this Conference that they will be forthcoming. How fortunate we are in having Willie Whitelaw as Secretary of State!

We have shown ourselves ready to face our responsibility over the plight of the Ugandan Asians, to accept this survival of our imperial heritage, to prove that the promise of a British Government is not to be broken, to show that it means what it says, to bring order out of chaos, to confront cruelty with sympathy and with humility.

In the immediate future we must be confident enough to look ahead. For our future is now about to take on a new dimension. Over years you as a party have always encouraged and supported us in our European policy. You have always by substantial majorities urged us whenever and wherever possible to move towards partnership with the other members of our Continent. We are no longer talking of possibilities; we are talking now of a great achievement. Within a few years how incredibly short-sighted will appear our opponents who urge us to throw our achievement away, particularly when they do so simply because the credit for that achievement belongs to your Conservative Government and not to them.

At the Summit Meeting next week my aim will be to join with our partners, the other Heads of Government, in settling the lines on which our new Europe will grow and work together in the next few years.

In this new partnership we have a chance as a great people, as a formidable nation, as a shaper and moulder of the modern world, to get back into action, to take up a part which I believe we have a unique capacity to fill. This contemporary world of ours is, after all, the world which Britain in the last four hundred years has profoundly influenced. When the cockleshell boats set off with a Drake or a Cabot their new commerce united the whole world. Their settlements sprang up in every continent. The new markets stimulated our science and technology to launch a whole new industrial way of life. The institutions we adopted – of enterprise and personal freedom and social responsibility – broke open the ancient world of absolute government.

For an offshore island of a few million people, it was and remains a staggering achievement. We did not secure it by staying at home. In fact, there is hardly a great movement of post-renaissance man, be it national statehood, scientific endeavour, economic expansion or worldwide discovery that has not been profoundly marked at every stage by British energy and endeavour and backed by the hard slogging dedication of the British people.

If we realise today how large is the part we have played in moulding the modern world, it is above all because that same world now cries out to us for even more drastic and constructive change. For every one of the colossal achievements of the last four centuries, there are now shadows of danger across us on an equal scale – the problem of keeping the peace and how to break down distrust between East and West without taking risks with our own defences. The economic problems – in Europe, how to transform the grim cities and impoverished countryside which years of uneven development have left behind; in the world, how to bring hope and betterment to the two-thirds of humanity who live in poverty.

The problems of the environment – and, here again, let us remember that these problems respect no frontiers. This week’s territorial waters in the Baltic are next week’s waters off Aberdeen. The pesticides carried up the Rhine can be washed off down the Thames. The sulphurs and particles in Britain’s air fall in dirty rain on the Continent of Europe.

This today is the contemporary world of economic imbalance, of environmental insecurity, of national rivalry, and yet at the same time global involvement. It is the world which we have helped to create and which we now inherit. We have all been, as it were, part of these problems. Now we can be part of the solution.

This is the context of our entry into Europe. This alone makes sense of what we have to do. For these problems do not respect frontiers, and neither should frontiers restrict our efforts to solve them.

I see in these immense problems, not a block to British action and ambition, but a deep and satisfying challenge to carry on the work of world building in which Britain in the past has played so great a part. As we reach the last quarter of the twentieth century, we are beginning to see so clearly where the paths of renewal lie. They lead us towards a new community with our European neighbours and, through this community, to a new epoch of British service and influence on the whole society of man.

It is to make a start upon that work that with your support and encouragement I go to Paris as your Prime Minister next week.

I have spoken of the challenge of change, because that is how we see it. And as with so many things in life it is a question of how you look at it. What some people seem to see as an intolerable burden seems to me an incredible opportunity, an opportunity for every one of us.

I suppose when you come down to it most things are a question of attitude. You are either on the side of doing things or you are on the side of believing that they just cannot be done. I think we are getting to a point where each of us in this country of ours has got to decide where he stands. I ask our fellow citizens – do you want to say ‘No’ all the time; ‘No, it cannot be done’; ‘No, we never did it this way before’; ‘No, leave it alone and it might just go away’; ‘No, we are scared’? Or are we going to have the courage to say ‘Yes’ – ‘Yes, this is how it should be; yes, this is what I believe in; yes, this is for the good of us all; yes, we are going to have a try’? It is a decision a lot of people still have to make. They are unsure, they are undecided.

So I say this to all of you as members of our Party. The balance of any future general election lies not with you but with those who are yet undecided. If we cannot give them a lead, then we shall have failed, and we shall have deserved to fail. So let us tell them where we stand, where this Government stands. We are going to build on the past, but we are not going to be strangled by it. We are going forward to take the place which history has reserved for us, and we are going to speak with a voice that has been silent for too long. We are out in the world again. It will take courage. There may be mistakes. But they will not stop is from doing the things that must be done, the things that are going to be done.

But most of all we are going to stand up and be counted. And when our voice is heard its message will be clear. We shall say ‘Yes’ – ‘Yes’ to decisions that may be hard – so long as they are fair; ‘Yes’ to this country of ours that is finally on the move again; ‘Yes’ to a future brighter than anything in the past. And if ‘Yes’ seems a harder word to say than ‘No,’ well, it could just be be­cause when we know that ‘Yes’ is the right word it is the only word worth saying.

Eldon Griffiths – 1972 Speech on Maplin Airport Project

Below is the text of the speech made by Eldon Griffiths, the then Under-Secretary of State at the Department of the Environment, in the House of Commons on 9 August 1972.

I will, with permission, make a statement about the Maplin project.
My right hon. Friend has already made clear that the nature of this project, its long time scale and the crucial issues of Government policy that it raises require substantial public sector involvement. The Government have therefore decided to seek powers to establish a Development Authority to undertake the task of land reclamation; secondly, to make land available to the British Airports Authority for the airport and to the Port of London Authority for any seaport development that may be approved; thirdly, to promote, in close co-operation with the private sector, such commercial and industrial development as is consistent with the Government’s regional policies; and, fourthly, to act as landlord for the entire complex.

Maplin will create a need for large-scale urban development in South-East Essex. My right hon. Friend intends that this shall be built to the highest environmental standards. The Government propose to designate a substantial area for development by a New Town Development Corporation, working in close collaboration with the local planning authorities. We expect to publish a draft designation order early next year.

On runways, our consultation document identified four possible sites—lettered A, B, C and D—from south-west to north-east. Broadly, the further north one goes the less the noise but the greater the cost. We have carefully considered all the representations made about siting. Many have favoured site D mainly on grounds that reduction of noise, however small, should override all other considerations. But site D is further offshore, in deeper water, and its extension into the Crouch estuary could complicate the hydraulic aspects of reclamation. It also creates major problems over removing the Shoeburyness military establishment, with serious risks of delay, and it would rule out any option for future access to the airport from the north.

Site A is strongly advocated by aviation interests on the grounds that it is the cheapest, quickest and easiest site to develop and causes least difficulty for the military withdrawal. Site A is also the choice of local authorities north of the Crouch.

Having carefully weighed all the evidence, the Government have decided that, within the limits of practicality, environmental considerations must be uppermost. This is why we chose to go to Maplin in the first place. So, notwithstanding the additional cost, the Government have decided to locate the runways at a northerly site—site C. This will have substantially the same environmental advantages as site D, but without its physical difficulties. I understand this location is acceptable to Essex County Council, and we consider that it will safeguard the interests of Kent. I should add that the overall noise impact of the airport should be much less than envisaged by the Roskill Commission because of the development of quieter aircraft—a development the Government will do their utmost to foster.

Detailed work will be put in hand to reclaim enough land for the first two of the four runways for any seaport development, plus land for industrial and commercial development. Further reclamation will be undertaken when needed.

Edward Heath – 1972 Speech on Inflation


Below is the text of the statement made in the House of Commons by the then Prime Minister, Edward Heath, on 6th November 1972 on the subject of inflation.

The Prime Minister : With permission, Mr. Speaker, I will make a statement on the breakdown of the discussions between the Government, the TUC and the CBI, and on the action which the Government now propose to take.

In my speech in the debate on the Address last Tuesday, I gave an account of the earlier stages of these discussions, and I explained the difficulties which at that time seemed to stand in the way of an agreement, particularly over the issue of a voluntary arrangement or the use of statutory powers.

The Government and the CBI both made clear their strong preference for completely voluntary arrangements over the whole field, pay as well as prices, though they were prepared, for the sake of reaching agreement, to accept that voluntary arrangements should be supported by backing-up legislation over their whole range. The TUC representatives, on the other hand, had made it a prior condition that there should be statutory control of prices but they were not able to accept the introduction of similar statutory controls on incomes.

I had therefore asked the TUC representatives whether the TUC was prepared to accept either completely voluntary arrangements, or voluntary arrangements backed up by statutory powers over the whole range of any agreement. This issue was so fundamental that it would clearly have been pointless to go on discussing other matters until the answer to this question was known. The TUC representatives said that they could answer that question only after reference to their General Council, and we adjourned on Monday evening to enable them to consult it.

The representatives of the TUC consulted the General Council on this question on Wednesday morning. At the beginning of the tripartite meeting on Wednesday afternoon, the TUC tabled a proposal requesting that the Government should give an unqualified guarantee that the retail price index in general, and food prices in particular, would not rise by more than 5 per cent. in the year ahead.

At the end of the meeting on Wednesday, the Government and the CBI made it clear that they would only accept arrangements which were either completely voluntary or were supported by backing-up legislation over their whole range. The representatives of the TUC said that they understood this position and would continue to negotiate on this basis.

At the opening of the meeting on Thursday, I explained why it was impossible for any Government to give a guarantee of the character sought by the TUC. However, I reminded the meeting of a number of features of the Government’s proposals which together would ensure a strict limitation of prices. Let me remind the House what those features were.

First, there was a CBI recommendation to its members to undertake not to increase prices of manufacturers over the next 12 months, except where unavoidable, and then only as little as possible. The intention was that the increase in the price of manufactured goods should not exceed 4 per cent. on average over the 12 months.

Then there was the Government’s request to the nationalised industries generally to limit their price increases to an average of 4 per cent.

Thirdly, there were the undertakings by the large majority of the British retail trade to reflect this restraint and to hold their gross percentage margins at no more than current levels. Further, the food distributors had offered to collaborate with the Government in a system of maximum retail prices for certain foodstuffs. Maximum prices for a number of manufactured foodstuffs were to be increased only if a tripartite monitoring body agreed In relation to goods other than food, the remainder of the retail trade agreed not to increase their cash margins on individual items by more than 5 per cent. without the approval of the monitoring body.

Fourthly, the Government agreed to consider taking action to limit prices where they had the ability to influence them.

The general intention thus was that the rise in retail prices attributable to the rise in domestic costs should not exceed 5 per cent. over the 12 months. We also envisaged the possibility of action to limit or offset price increases arising from other causes.

There were further proposals designed to provide and protect an improvement in the living standards of wage and salary earners, particularly those on low pay. The flat rate increase of £2 proposed by the Government would have allowed average earnings to rise by over 8 per cent. For those on or below £20 a week it would have allowed increases of 13 per cent. or more, and thus an appreciable improvement of living standards.

Threshold agreements were also proposed, to allow additional increases of pay if towards the end of the year, because of certain special factors, the rise in the retail price index exceeded 6 per cent. These would provide a safeguard for all wage earners.

I repeat that the effect of these proposals was, for anyone earning up to about £40 a week, not merely to protect but actually to improve living standards, while at the same time reducing the rise of inflation.

At the meeting on Thursday, I went on to make a number of further proposals designed to improve the position of those in low paid employment and pensioners. These included the following proposals. The needs allowance should be increased by 50 pence in order to limit the effect of rent increases in 1973 for tenants in receipt of rent rebates and housing allowances. The period for which family income supplement, free school meals and free welfare milk are awarded should be extended from six months to one year, so that entitlement to these benefits would continue throughout the year for those receiving them, irrespective of increases of pay or other changes in circumstances. When reaffirming the Government’s intention that, as a result of the review of pensions in the spring, at the next up-rating pensioners should have the benefit of a share in the nation’s increasing prosperity, I stated that, as an earnest of that intention, the Government would pay a special lump sum to those over national insurance retirement age in receipt of retirement pensions and supplementary pensions, as soon as the necessary arrangements for payment could be made.

In addition, I said that the Government were consulting the local authorities in order to moderate the rate of growth of local rates.

All these proposals, together with the very important arrangements made with the retail trade, were additional to those which the Government had made on 26th September. Moreover, in reaffirming its own intentions, the CBI had already stated its willingness for dividends to be controlled.

As the House will be aware, the representatives of the TUC stated that they did not regard the total package of proposals as a basis for negotiation. They said that, although they would take them back to the General Council, they would do so without being able to recommend their acceptance. The General Council met this morning. The statement which it has issued shows that there has been no change in the TUC’s position.

Although it has not been possible to reach agreement in this round of discussions, the Government are fully prepared to continue to take part in tripartite discussions with the CBI and the TUC on subjects of mutual concern to the three parties.

The responsibility for action now rests with the Government. We have come to the conclusion that we have no alternative but to bring in statutory measures to secure the agreed objectives of economic management in the light of the proposals discussed in the tripartite talks.

These measures will take time to work out in detail and to implement. In order that the fulfilment of the objectives should not be prejudiced in the meantime, the Government propose to introduce tomorrow an interim Bill to provide for a standstill on increases in pay, prices, rents and dividends, subject to a limited number of defined exceptions. The standstill will come into operation immediately, and will run for 90 days from the Royal Assent to the Bill, with provision for an extension of up to 60 days, by order subject to affirmative Resolution.

The arrangements for the standstill are set out in a White Paper, which will be available in the Vote Office at 4.30 p.m. The draft of the Bill is contained in a separate White Paper which will be available later this evening.

Although it has not proved possible to reach a tripartite agreement, the Government intend to implement their proposals for increasing the needs allowance; for extending from six to 12 months the period of entitlement to family income supplement, which carries with it exemption from National Health Service charges, and to free welfare milk and free school meals; and for paying a lump sum to pensioners. As regards the latter, the payment will be made as early as practicable in the new year, and will consist of £10 to each retirement and supplementary pensioner – that is, £20 for a married couple both of whom are over retirement age.

The CBI’s and the TUC’s acceptance of the Government’s invitation to join in discussions on the objectives and methods of economic management signalled a major change in the conduct of economic policy in this country—far in advance of anything even tried for by previous Governments. I know that I was not alone in thinking that it was one of the most hopeful things that had happened in Britain for many years. I deeply regret that last Thursday’s disagreement has forced us to take action which I regard as less satisfactory than a voluntary arrangement could have been.

I profoundly believe that the course upon which we had embarked was the right, rational and sensible course for Britain. I therefore hope that this setback will not be allowed to stand in the way of our resuming discussions between the three parties in due course on the objectives and problems of economic management.

In the meantime, the Government have a duty to the nation to carry through the proposals which I have now put before the House.

Let me remind the House again of the objectives: the maintenance of a high rate of growth and an improvement in real incomes; an improvement in the position of the low paid and the pensioners; and moderation in the rate of cost and price inflation.

All those round the table at Chequers and Downing Street were in full agreement on these objectives. But I would go much further than this. I believe that they command the support of the great majority of the people of this country. The opportunities now open to the country and to us all are immense, if we can, together, succeed in these objectives.

The Government’s proposals are designed to secure these objectives. I therefore commend them with confidence for the approval of the House, and for the support and co-operation of all those concerned, on both sides of industry, and of the whole nation.

Mr. Harold Wilson : The right hon. Gentleman will know that, as we said publicly on Friday, we share his disappointment at the breakdown of the discussions. I take it that his words mean that he wishes the talks to be resumed at an early date. In our view, if they were resumed, there would have to be a radically different approach on the Government’s part to certain fundamental issues affecting prices and the wider living costs of the average household. If there is to be any agreement emerging from future talks that will have to be the fundamentally changed approach of the Government.

This is not the time to remind the right hon. Gentleman of all the many strongly worded statements, since he became Leader of the Conservative Party, in every debate in this House, on every proposal of the Labour Government, and during the General Election—and of the fact that this represents the biggest reversal of positions he has taken on any subject since he broke his “at a stroke” promise on coming to office.

We have repeatedly warned the right hon. Gentleman that no agreement would be fair and just, or workable, which did not provide for guarantees on food prices, not only domestically created prices—the right hon. Gentleman again referred to domestic prices—and a limited range of other essentials—rents, both private and public, rising mortgage interest rates, VAT and school meal prices, which he is to increase next April, as well as the dividends referred to in his statement. The right hon. Gentleman has moved a little in his three months’ proposals, but he has not met the main requirements for a fair agreement as we put them to him.

Has the right hon. Gentleman recognised, in all these long-drawn-out talks, that those he has to meet are not so much employers or trade union leaders as trade union members and, above all, the wives of trade union members responsible for balancing their family budgets? Does he agree that a three-months freeze – for it is only three months; even if the further 60 days are added, it will take it only to early April – would mean on 1st April, or soon afterwards, increases in rents of up to 50p for many families, many private rent increases – he has not told us, or perhaps I did not hear him correctly, whether private rents are to be included in his controls, but I hope they are  increases in school meals, taxation of school and other children’s clothing and V.A.T., as well as three months of rising European food prices and rate increases, all next April? Does he recognise that, even at the end of this period, that will be the position, whether the freeze is renewed for 60 days or not?

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House his proposals for dealing with the wide range of prices that have been pushed up since the breakdown of the talks, on Friday, Saturday and again this morning? They are on record already in the Press – for example, pharmaceutical and other manufactured goods. How does the right hon. Gentleman propose to catch those in his Bill? Of course, as a public employer he has caught many wage discussions and held them back since 26th September while allowing rents to rise on 1st October and other prices to rise since last Thursday. What machinery has he in mind? Recalling that he scrapped the National Board for Prices and Incomes, in a mood of euphoria after the last election, will he now restore that Board and the Consumer Council?

The right hon. Gentleman referred to exceptions. What exceptions has he in mind? For example, do they cover increments in public and private employment? Do they cover pay increases for the police, atomic energy, local authority and electrical workers which have been agreed but not yet paid? Will he explain the answer to that question?

Finally, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, in our view, no proposals will be workable, or fair and just, which fail to deal with food prices, rents, both private and public, school meals, mortgage rates and taxation of children’s clothing, and that, because such proposals will be neither workable nor fair, we shall oppose them?

The Prime Minister : On the right hon. Gentleman’s first point, of course he is right. As I said in my statement, we are prepared at any time to carry on further talks with both the TUC and the CBI. They realise this and I hope that it will be possible.

I reiterate my belief, of which the right hon. Gentleman is well aware, that in a free society it ought to be possible to make these arrangements on an entirely free and voluntary basis. No Government have tried harder than we have tried during the past three months to achieve that result. Indeed, this has been widely recognised by both the CBI and the TUC. I regret that it has not been possible to do this. Therefore, we must look forward to the time when we can have an arrangement of a similar kind, which I hope can be negotiated voluntarily.

The right hon. Gentleman will find the answers to the detailed points he raised set out in the White Paper. However, I will deal with some of the major ones. He asked what machinery would be used. Government machinery – Government Departments – will be used. One of the first things I learned in the discussions was that the National Board for Prices and Incomes had been anathema as much to the TUC as to many other people. Therefore, there was no desire to recreate that body. [Interruption]. Let us discuss these matters frankly. This is what I was told.

Incremental payments will be excluded. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will agree that that is right. In the nature of their payment, they are not in fact wage increases.

Concerning the other matters mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, concentration is not only on domestic costs. As I pointed out in my statement—and it was said on Thursday to the TUC and the CBI – the Government have undertaken to use the means available to them for influencing and holding down costs outside domestic costs. We gave our full undertaking to do that.

Many of the other matters mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman—I must frankly say this to him—are political. They are not matters which directly affect the discussions which we have been having. Every Government has the right to carry through its policy. I told the CBI and the TUC that I was not prepared to repeal the Act taking us into the European Community, nor to repeal the Industrial Relations Act, nor to repeal the fair rents Act, but that the Government were prepared to take into account the results of that legislation. That is what we have told them all the way through. When we said this, we said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in framing his next Budget will, of course, take into account the consequences of membership of the European Community and of the other factors in the economy. This is the right position for Government and Parliament to take up, and then to discuss with those concerned how best we can deal with these items. That is what we have done.

Mr. Wilson : One of the first points the right hon. Gentleman made when he said that the Government had a policy for food price increases that arose from causes other than domestic causes, was – I think his statement was to this effect – that he envisaged the possibility of action to offset price increases. Was he able to tell the TUC, or can he tell the House today, whether there is a firm Government proposal for shielding the British consumer from the increase in food price rises that will result from entering the Market in January and from other increases arising from outside causes? Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to answer that question? Will the right hon. Gentleman, following what he has just told the House about the discussions on other prices, now give an undertaking that he has powers to deal with them? When he refers to political matters, is he not confirming that it is the right hon. Gentleman’s own political prejudices which stopped an agreement on rents and on other matters?

The Prime Minister : In no circumstances do I accept that. As to the food prices of the Community, they do not have an effect until the spring in any case. The Government have in mind certain items of food the prices of which they can influence. As my right hon. Friend the present Leader of the House pointed out on Friday, it is quite incorrect to say that the rise in food prices has been due to levies by the British Government – quite untrue. It is due to the impact of the rise in world food prices. We told the TUC and the CBI that in dealing with other factors we would take account of what was going on in this sphere.

Mr. Powell : Does my right hon. Friend not know that it is fatal for any Government or party or person to seek to govern in direct opposition to the principles on which they were entrusted with the right to govern? In introducing a compulsory control of wages and prices, in contravention of the deepest commitments of this party, has my right hon. Friend taken leave of his senses?

The Prime Minister : The present Government were returned to power to take action in the national interest when they were required to do so.

Mr. David Steel : Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we on these benches also share his regret at the breakdown of the talks? He said that no Government had tried harder in the past three months to seek agreement. Is he aware that his party has been in office for two years and three months and that we regret that this approach was not adopted when the Government came to power in June, 1970? Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the exceptions during the 90-day period will include exceptions for the lowest paid and whether the Government are moving towards a national minimum earnings rate?

The Prime Minister I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he said. I must emphasise that the present Government, when they came into power, asked the CBI and the TUC to consult and co-operate with them. It was through no fault of the Government that consultation was refused. I have no desire in any way to make it more difficult to achieve a resumption of these talks and I therefore do not wish to discuss that matter further. Whether the reluctance to consult was based on political motives is not for me to say. The Government have always been fully prepared to consult and co-operate with both the TUC and the CBI.

On the second point which the hon. Gentleman raised, he will see the exceptions set out in the White Paper. The one to which I would particularly draw his attention is that of wages councils’ awards. These are concerned with those who are the lowest paid in the country, and where the proposal has taken place before the standstill and it is more than a year after the last award it will be possible for it to be an exception.

Sir Harmar Nicholls : Is my right hon. Friend aware that although the method that he has announced is a change of direction for the Conservative Government, the nation as a whole will recognise and respect the great efforts that he has made to arrive at a voluntary agreement? Is he also aware that the one thing he could not do, under the circumstances that exist in this country at the moment, was, as the Leader of the Government, to do nothing, and that what he has done by underwriting the offer he made to the bodies when they were discussing the matter will help to restore the credit of this country when it is badly needed in a time of crisis?

The Prime Minister : This country now has expansion going at a rate of 5 per cent., faster than we ever had under the last Administration, with capacity for further expansion for at least another year, with capacity for investment to carry on that expansion over further years ahead. In addition, we are now providing more jobs and greater productivity. [HON. MEMBERS: “Where?”] We are not going to see this expansion and the future of the British people thrown away by excessive wage increases.

In reply to what the right hon. Gentleman said, the great mass of trade unionists and of their wives believe that the proposals which were put to them by the present Government were fair and gave them a better chance of a steady improvement in their standard of living than ever before.

Mr. Eadie : The right hon. Gentleman is very fond of using the expression “economic management”? Is he aware that if he applies the test of economic management to the Government which he is leading he will fail in that test and, therefore, that he should resign as a consequence of what he has said this afternoon or reconsider his position? Is he aware that a former Conservative Minister has said that the policy that he is presenting to this House this afternoon cannot succeed unless he has a long-term economic strategy? However hard the right hon. Gentleman may try to convince or influence this House, he cannot say that he has a long-term economic strategy.

The Prime Minister : I have constantly told the House that the economic objectives were agreed around the table. Those objectives are very clear, and I believe that they have the full support of the country.

Sir D. Walker-Smith : Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that thinking people, who tend to respect the constitutional principles of this country, will support efforts to resist any attempt by organisations or people, however respected and however powerful, to deny the function of government to the elected representatives of the nation?

The Prime Minister : Yes, Sir; I am sure that that is the view of the majority of the people of this country. It is time that all three parties in this House made it absolutely clear that when Parliament has passed its legislation the law should be observed by everyone, regardless of his position, wealth or power.

Mr. Sheldon : Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the whole argument about a prices and incomes policy is an argument about who gets what? What the Prime Minister and the Chancellor have ensured over the past two years is a redistribution in favour of the well-to-do. When the Prime Minister went to those tripartite talks, he did not go with clean hands. If he ever wants to get a voluntary agreement, he will have to reverse those policies which he has carried out already.

The Prime Minister : The hon. Gentleman’s first sentence touched on what obviously proved to be one of the major matters in the discussions—namely, whether the higher paid wage earners are prepared to see, in this stage, the lower paid getting proportionately larger increases. This is what was agreed around the table, but when the proposals were put forward at the end of the day they did not secure acceptance.

Mr. Edward Taylor : As steel is one of the basic costs of manufacturing industry, and a crucial one for Scotland, will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that any restraint on the prices of nationalised industries during or after the 90 days will apply to steel also? Will he obtain the agreement of the ECSC for this to be done?

The Prime Minister : As I said in my statement, the Government have requested all nationalised industries to comply with the voluntary policy. Now that we are moving into the standstill, obviously the nationalised industries themselves—all of them—are involved.

Mr. Palmer : Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that many of the wage and salary claims at present before negotiating machinery are for the rectification of unjust and unsatisfactory differentials? Will not this proposal simply freeze an artificial payments structure and mean that it will take a very long time for the country to recover from it?

The Prime Minister : I do not think that the hon. Gentleman’s last sentence is justifiable, in view of the fact that the intention of this proposal is for a 90-day standstill, in order then to get through the legislation which will enable the further stage to take place. But of course the hon. Gentleman is right that many of the problems of wage bargaining arise from differentials which some groups believe to be unjust. The real problem is how that can be dealt with without causing inflationary wage increases. What we were trying to do in the talks was to get agreement about a basic approach for this first year only and to establish priorities. The priority which was agreed was to help the lower-paid workers. Of course, this affects differentials right the way up, but it is a priority which was agreed. What one has to do in any attempt at a policy which will prevent inflation is to see how these can be adjusted fairly.

Dame Joan Vickers : In view of the fact that many proceedings are going on under arbitration, including those for Her Majesty’s Dockyards, when the arbitration court decides on the award, will the Government agree to accept that without any further delay?

The Prime Minister : I would ask my hon. Friend to await the White Paper. These matters are set out quite specifically, stating what will be done in the particular cases. It is much better that it should be seen in the whole context.

Several hon. Members rose—

Mr. Speaker : Order. I want the help of the House, if I may have it. There is to be a business statement next, the contents of which I know. There is an important debate on poverty today and there is a debate on the industrial situation tomorrow. I hope that it is the wish of the House that I should not continue these exchanges indefinitely.

Mr. Strang : Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his proposal to increase the rent rebate needs allowance by 50p will mean in practice that council tenants in Scotland who were facing increases of £1 a week will have it reduced by a derisory 8½p? Will the local authorities which have refused to implement the Housing Finance Act have present rent levels frozen, and will council tenants who have had increases imposed on them as a result of the Act have them withdrawn?

The Prime Minister : No, Sir, and those councils which have refused to carry out the law will not be exonerated by the Bill.

Mrs. Knight : Would my right hon. Friend be reluctant to prescribe either excessive medication or the surgeon’s knife except in a case in which the patient is quite incapable of recovering otherwise? In view of what he has recently said, will be assure us that the fears that some of us have entertained since hearing what the Post Office Corporation intends to do about putting up prices, will be allayed by his statement?

The Prime Minister : As I have said, this applies to all the nationalised industries. Therefore my hon. Friend’s fears can be allayed during this standstill period.

Mr. Roy Jenkins : May I ask the right hon. Gentleman one question on a matter on which I think the House is entitled to know the state of his current thinking? Has he now abandoned his constantly reiterated view that a statutory policy could only make inflation worse in the long run, or does he now regard the short-term situation that he has produced as so disastrous that he cannot afford any longer to think about the long run?

The Prime Minister : I have already told the House that I believe that, in a free society, it ought to be possible to manage the economy in co-operation with the TUC and CBI in a voluntary way. I have read with great interest a reprint of the speech which the right hon. Gentleman made, in which he himself said that these matters should be voluntary and that there should be as little legislation as possible. I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman nodding his head. Therefore, we are both in agreement on that matter.

What I am saying is that, in the situation when these talks have not led to agreement, it is essential to have this standstill for 90 days and then to move on to the next phase. But I believe that there is a difference between the situation in which we are doing this and that in which the right hon. Gentleman had to do it. He was doing it at a time of a stagnant economy, at a time when he was deflating continuously through heavy taxation and at a time when he was trying to reduce the real standard of living of the British people. We are doing it at a time of expansion. Our sole objective—I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman turns away—is to protect the expansion and the improvement in the real standard of living of the whole nation.

Hon. Members: Resign!


Edward Heath – 1972 Speech in Brussels


Below is the text of the speech of the then Prime Minister, Edward Heath, in Brussels on 22nd January 1972.

We mark today, with this ceremony, the conclusion of arduous negotiations over more than ten years which have resulted in another great step forward towards the removal of divisions in Western Europe.

This uniting of friendly States within the framework of a single community has been brought about by the sustained and dedicated work of many people. Their efforts were essential to the success which we are celebrating.

My tribute here is to all who have laboured in this great enterprise — not only to those who have negotiated, Ministers and officials, together with the members of the Commission who have contributed so much, but to all who, in their many different ways, have supported and advanced the idea of a united Europe.

Just as the achievement we celebrate today was not preordained, so there will be nothing inevitable about the next stages in the construction of Europe. They will require clear thinking and a strong effort of the imagination.

Clear thinking will be needed to recognise that each of us within the Community will remain proudly attached to our national identity and to the achievements of our national history and tradition. But, at the same time, as the enlargement of the Community makes clear beyond doubt, we have all come to recognize our common European heritage, our mutual interests and our European destiny.

Imagination will be required to develop institutions which respect the traditions and the individuality of the Member States, but at the same time have the strength to guide the future course of the enlarged Community.

The founders of the Community displayed great originality in devising the institutions of the Six. They have been proved in the remarkable achievements of the Community over the years. It is too early to say how far they will meet the needs of the enlarged Community.

For we are faced with an essentially new situation, though one which was always inherent in the foundation of the Community of the Six, which was visualized in the preamble to the Treaty of Rome and which has been created by its success.

Let us not be afraid to contemplate new measures to deal with the new situation.

There is another cause for satisfaction.

“Europe” is more than Western Europe alone. There lies also to the east another part of our continent: countries whose history has been closely linked with our own. Beyond those countries is the Soviet Union, a European as well as an Asian power.

We in Britain have every reason to wish for better relations with the states of Eastern Europe. And we do sincerely want them.

Our new partners on the continent have shown that their feelings are the same. Henceforth our efforts can be united. The European Communities, far from creating barriers, have served to extend east-west trade and other exchanges.

Britain has much to contribute to this process, and as Members of the Community we shall be better able to do so.

Britain, with her Commonwealth links, has also much to contribute to the universal nature of Europe’s responsibilities.

The collective history of the countries represented here encompasses a large part of the history of the world itself over the centuries.

I am not thinking today of the Age of Imperialism, now past: but of the lasting and creative effects of the spread of language and of culture, of commerce and of administration by people from Europe across land and sea to the other continents of the world.

These are the essential ties which today bind Europe in friendship with the rest of mankind.

What design should we seek for the New Europe?

It must be a Europe which is strong and confident within itself.

A Europe in which we shall be working for the progressive relaxation and elimination of east/west tensions.

A Europe conscious of the interests of its friends and partners.

A Europe alive to its great responsibilities in the common struggle of humanity for a better life.

Thus this ceremony marks an end and a beginning.

An end to divisions which have stricken Europe for centuries. A beginning of another stage in the construction of a new and greater Europe.

This is the task for our generation in Europe.