Alec Douglas-Home – 1973 Speech on Icelandic Fisheries

Below is the text of the speech made by Sir Alec Douglas-Home, the then Foreign Secretary, in the House of Commons on 21 May 1973.

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I wish to make a statement.

Since 5th September 1972 British trawlers fishing on the high seas have been systematically harassed by Icelandic coastguard vessels. During all that time, in order to assist negotiations British naval vessels have been kept outside the area.

Lately, despite repeated warnings and although negotiations were in progress, the Icelandic Government continued and intensified their harassment and it became clear that they were making a determined effort to drive British vessels from the area by force. A critical situation was reached on 14th May, when there was an unsuccessful attempt to board a trawler and live ammunition was used by a coastguard vessel.

After consultation with the industry the Government concluded that it was no longer possible for British vessels to fish in safety without protection. Naval vessels were therefore ordered into the area on 19th May. They will take only such defensive action as is necessary to protect British trawlers exercising their lawful rights to fish on the high seas.

British naval vessels are, of course, fully entitled in international law to operate freely in this area of the high seas. They will, however, be withdrawn at any time if the Government of Iceland will cease harassment of British trawlers.

It is still the Government’s desire to settle this dispute by negotiation. Pending such a settlement, we shall, however, authorise trawlers to catch up to the limit of 170,000 tons indicated by the International Court. We shall also pursue substantive proceedings before the court and shall continue to seek longer-term solutions in the Law of the Sea Conference.

Anthony Barber – 1973 Speech on Public Expenditure

Below is the text of the speech made by Anthony Barber, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the House of Commons on 21 May 1973.

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I wish to make a statement.

A primary objective of this Government has always been to set our nation on a course of faster economic growth. In the 1972 Budget our aim was a rate of 5 per cent. That we achieved.

Having lifted the economy on to this path of higher growth, the aim of this year’s Budget was to continue on that path over the next year or so. All the indicators confirm that the economy is continuing to expand at an annual rate of at least 5 per cent., as we intended. Production, industrial productivity and retail sales have all been rising well. Industrial investment is now beginning to forge ahead, and exports are growing strongly—indeed, more strongly than I expected. Unemployment has continued to fall. These are the welcome signs of success.

Despite some of the problems associated with that success—pressure on the construction industry in some areas and a shortage of skilled labour in certain sectors of industry—we will still have for some time ahead the spare resources necessary to continue that faster rate of growth which is a primary objective of our economic strategy. Furthermore, the nation is firmly behind the Government’s counter-inflation policy, which is a key part of the strategy for expansion.

But if we are to secure a lasting improvement in our economic performance, and so in our prosperity, we must at this stage look beyond the present financial year and take whatever action is necessary now to secure the opportunity for steady and sustained economic growth during the next financial year, 1974–75, and beyond.

This sustained growth will depend crucially on the continued strong expansion of industrial investment and exports which we can now expect. It is therefore essential that we now seize this opportunity to get industrial investment and exports on to a higher level and a faster growth path. At the same time, we must allow for a reasonable rate of increase in personal consumption. Looking ahead beyond this financial year, in order to make sure that we have sufficient resources for these three vital elements of demand—industrial investment, exports and personal consumption—it is necessary to moderate the growth of the remaining principal element of demand—public expenditure.

This was deliberately expanded at the end of 1971 as a temporary measure to reduce unemployment. Now, with unemployment falling at a good rate, and—what we have always wanted—with exports and industrial investment rising fast, is the time to look beyond this financial year. To permit the changes in the pattern of output required to meet these expanding demands, we must take decisions now to ensure that public expenditure, while continuing to grow to meet essential needs, does not pre-empt too much of the nation’s output and so jeopardise the continued expansion of the economy in 1974–75 and beyond.

In my Budget Statement I announced that certain work on public expenditure had been put in hand last year. That work is now complete and my colleagues and I have decided on certain changes in public expenditure next year, 1974–75.

We have throughout adopted a selective approach, and the result is that a net saving will be achieved without any reduction in the building programmes for hospitals; for schools, including nursery schools and the replacement of the older schools; without any reduction in the building programmes for colleges and universities; for old people’s homes, and other buildings for the local health and personal social services; and without any change in the rates of regional development grants.

Expenditure programmes on all these items as well as, of course, social security will continue as planned. The changes include no increases in charges.

Furthermore, because the changes are being announced well in advance, there should be no question of cancelling existing contracts.

In deciding upon the geographical spread of savings in individual programmes, the Ministers responsible will take account of the varying circumstances, including the load on the construction industries, the level of unemployment and the particular needs of the various parts of the country.

So that the specific changes can be strictly compared with the most recent Public Expenditure White Paper (Cmnd. 5178), they are expressed at 1972 survey prices.

The savings are as follows:


Deferments for the time being of new schemes and a reduction in maintenance affecting both central and local government. The roads necessary to support Scottish oil developments will not be affected. The saving will be £100 million.

Miscellaneous Local Services:

This will involve deferment of approvals. A substantial part of the saving will come in the non-key sector, where the selection will be made by the local authorities themselves. Here again the total saving will be £100 million.

Local Authorities’ Current Expenditure:

Out of a total estimated local authority current expenditure of nearly £5,000 million, there will be a saving of £80 million. The largest part of this—£50 million—is already included in the totals which I have mentioned, particularly road maintenance. The rate support grant negotiations this autumn will proceed on the basis that these economies are being made. It is important that the new local authorities as well as the existing ones should be given this early notice of the changes.

Various Public Building Projects or Improvements:

In this area also, the Government and the local authorities will both make contributions, amounting to £15 million in all.

I should add here that there could be no question of incurring any expenditure on the proposed new parliamentary building during either this or the next financial year.

The Civil Service:

Figures are being published today—they may even have been published for all I know—which show that the total number of civil servants is now less than when we took office. By continuing to contain the growth of Civil Service manpower there will be a saving of £20 million on previous plans.

Selective Government Assistance to Industries:

As a result of the expansion of the economy, and the increasing ability of industry to finance its own requirements, the amounts which were at one stage envisaged are not now expected to be required in full, and there will be a saving of £35 million.


We expect to maintain the defence budget in 1974–75 at broadly the same level as in the current financial year. A saving of £50 million will be found by economies and postponements of expenditure, including works projects. Our contribution to NATO will not be prejudiced.

The Nationalised Industries:

Those industries for which the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is responsible, a saving of £100 million; the Post Office, £30 million; the surface transport industries £10 million. Investment in the nationalised industries will still be on a rising trend and fully adequate to sustain a faster rate of national growth.


As our agriculture becomes more integrated with the common agricultural policy, the need for Exchequer aid will become less and so there will be a reduction of £25 million in expenditure in 1974–75 on current production grants.

Industrial Training:

It is important not only that the momentum of this programme should be maintained but that it should be increased. A further £6 million will therefore be added to the existing programme. The plans for meeting expenditure by the industrial training boards out of Government funds instead of out of levies will be deferred for eight months. The increased programme and this deferment will result in a net saving of £20 million.

I was asked particularly about housing. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has already announced a major switch of resources to housing. I can now inform the House that this priority for housing will involve additional expenditure in 1974–75 of £35 million—again, for convenience, expressed at 1972 prices. Taking this into account, and also the additional expenditure on industrial training to which I have referred, the total net saving in public expenditure for the next financial year, 1974–75, as a result of all these changes will be, at 1972 prices, some £500 million. These decisions will be reflected with estimating and other changes in the course of the year in the next annual White Paper.

As shown in the last White Paper on public expenditure, we start with the advantage that we had already deliberately planned for the rate of increase to begin to slow down during this financial year, by the end of which the special counter-cyclical expenditure which we put in hand in 1971 will have largely run its course.

I have explained why the various savings I have announced relate to the year 1974–75. I should also take this opportunity to give the House an assessment of how they will affect the present financial year, 1973–74.

The changes which I have announced for 1974–75 will build up gradually and will result in a saving in public expenditure in this year approaching £100 million. This saving will be in addition to the reduced provision which I foreshadowed in my Budget Statement and which, on present estimates, now amounts to a net reduction of about £225 million. Public expenditure this year is therefore likely to be over £300 million less than the figure in the last White Paper (Cmnd. 5178).

We have before us the greatest opportunity our country has had for very many years—an opportunity to achieve a faster and lasting improvement in our national prosperity. The changes which I have announced will ensure just that.

Queen Elizabeth II – 1973 Queen’s Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by HM Queen Elizabeth II in the House of Lords on 30 October 1973.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

My Husband and I look forward to our visits to New Zealand, Norfolk Island, the New Hebrides, the British Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Australia and Indonesia.

In co-operation with other Member States My Government will play their full part in the further development of the European Community in accordance with the programme established at the European Summit in October 1972. This programme includes progress towards economic and monetary union; measures for the establishment of a regional development fund; and co-operation in foreign policy between Member States. My Government’s objective throughout will be to promote the interests of the individual, whether as citizen or as consumer.

My Government will continue to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

My Government will continue their active role in Commonwealth Affairs. They will maintain their support for the North Atlantic Alliance.

My Government will continue to attach high importance to our relationship with the United States of America; will persist in the search for opportunities to develop our relationship with the Soviet Union; will work to promote the fullest co-operation with Japan; and will seek to consolidate good relations with China.

My Ministers will work for the success of the conference on security and co-operation in Europe and of the negotiations for force reductions in Central Europe.

Within the United Nations My Government will work for agreement on measures relating to arms control and disarmament; and will take an active part in the United Nations conference on the law of the sea. A measure will be introduced to enable the United Kingdom to ratify the United Nations convention on the prohibition of biological weapons.

My Ministers will continue to support the principle of peaceful change in Southern Africa; and in Rhodesia to encourage Africans and Europeans to reach agreement on a just and lasting solution to their differences.

My Government are continuing to seek an interim agreement on fisheries with the Government of Iceland.

My Ministers will continue to strive towards, the ending of violence in Northern Ireland and an equitable resolution of the political, social and economic problems there. Legislation will be introduced to ensure that in seeking and holding employment My subjects in Northern Ireland are not discriminated against because of their religious or political beliefs or affiliations.

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 continuing aim will be to secure a prosperous, fair and orderly society; to maintain their policies for promoting employment and for raising standards of living; and to improve the health, welfare, educational and other social services. They will have particular regard to the requirements of the old, the sick and the needy.

As a condition of securing these objectives one of My Government’s primary concerns will be to sustain the expansion of the economy while achieving the necessary improvement in the balance of payments. They will so contain public expenditure that the rise in productive investment and in exports is not put at risk. My Government will continue their efforts to counter inflation.

My Government will continue to play an active part in the development of a reformed international monetary system.

The reform of taxation will continue. Legislation will be brought forward to enable a lax credit scheme to be implemented in due course.

My Government will again review retirement and public service pensions and related benefits.

My Ministers will continue to give high priority to housing policies and in particular to improving living conditions in the worst housing areas, and to giving additional help to the voluntary housing movement.

My Government will lay before you measures providing for greater control over environmental pollution.

In pursuance of My Government’s concern to encourage high standards throughout industry and commerce, major reforms in company law will be laid before you.

A Green Paper will be published containing proposals for promoting a greater degree of employee participation in industry.

Legislation to make better provision for the safety and health of workers and the public will be brought before you.

For the further protection of consumers a Bill will be introduced to reform and extend the law relating to credit.

Legislation will be introduced to provide for the licensing of sports grounds in the interests of the safety of spectators.

A Bill will be laid before you to help to remove unfair discrimination on grounds of sex in employment and training and to widen the range of opportunities open to women.

My Government will seek to encourage increased opportunities for voluntary service and to support activities organised by and for young people.

Legislation will be introduced to promote road safety, to improve the control of traffic and to permit greater flexibility in the provision of rural road transport. Legislation will be brought forward on the financing, construction and operation of the channel tunnel.

Measures relating to the extraction of petroleum from the United Kingdom Continental Shelf will be laid before you.

Legislation will be introduced to reform certain aspects of local government finance in England and Wales and to establish machinery for investigating complaints of maladministration in local government.

Measures will be brought before you on the reform of crofting and parts of the general law relating to land tenure in Scotland.

A Bill will be introduced to strengthen the laws against indecent public advertisement and display; and to extend the controls over cinematograph exhibitions.

My Ministers will continue to take action to ensure an efficient and soundly based agricultural industry.

Priority will continue to be given to programmes in support of law and order and law reform, to the improvement of community relations and to the problem of those suffering special disadvantages from the conditions of life in urban areas.

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.