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Sir Geoffrey Howe : The Government's view is that those programmes are of sufficient importance to the quality of life as a whole that they deserve such support.

The key objectives of our legislative programme are therefore to increase the influence and power of consumers over services to which they are entitled, and the environment in which those services are provided. As my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, North-West (Mr. Grylls) said, that will serve to strengthen and increase the availability of resources. It will enable the required improvements to take place by encouraging increased private investment. Opposition Members, particularly the right hon. Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Williams), criticised industry's performance during the past decade. It is important to draw attention to one or two facts about that. I refer him, for example, to an industry that he may know well, to the steel industry in South Wales and to the Abbey works in my home town of Port Talbot. When we came to office it was employing 11,000 to 12,000 people, all of whose jobs were in jeopardy because the industry at that time was losing between £500,000 and £1 billion a year.

About 18 months ago I took to that works in my home town the then Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China, who was presented with a film showing the rebirth of British steel. Although there are now only half as many people employed in those works-- [Interruption.] --the output is profitable and expanded, their jobs are secure, the industry is making a profit and other jobs are burgeoning throughout South Wales. That is the reality of the changes that have taken place as a result of Conservative policies.

Mr. Merlyn Rees (Morley and Leeds, South) : The Leader of the House is referring back constantly to 1979. He will be aware of the crime figures for that year. In every year since then, the crime figures--under the stewardship of a party that believes in law and order--have escalated. It is said in the Gracious Speech :

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"My Government will vigorously pursue their policies for reducing crime".

What are they?

Sir Geoffrey Howe : I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will join us in applauding the fact that the recorded crime figures for the last 12 months are down, and that he will help us to sustain that downward trend.

My personal conviction is that the policies that we have been following for the last 10 years have set a new direction for political debate in this country, have set a remarkable change of direction for Socialism, here and abroad-- [Interruption.] --taking as its fundamental starting point the rejection of everything that Socialism has previously stood for.

All that goes a long way to explain the dismal, negative, wholly unconstructive performance of speakers from the Opposition Front Bench throughout the debate. There has been an absence of any kind of positive suggestions for reform-- [Interruption.] It has been a dismal political approach from a party which has in the last 12 months purportedly junked more outworn ideas, rubbished more wrong thinking and dumped more dogma than all the Warsaw pact Governments put together. No wonder the right hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) complains.

Yet Labour Members have still not come up with what any thinking man or woman would consider voting for. The Labour Front Bench, under the leadership of the right hon. Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock), are living proof of the maxim that only the mediocre are always at their best-- [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker : Order.

Sir Geoffrey Howe : The House has heard this week no fewer than 11 speeches from the Opposition Front Bench-- [Interruption.] --but despite that, every question about Labour party policy remains unanswered. We come to see that Labour's much-vaunted policy review has a gaping black hole at its heart. In this era of designer Socialism-- [Interruption.] --shiny new Labour spokesmen pop up on every front. The parliamentary Labour party now has in this House alone no fewer than 80 Front Bench spokespersons, of whom only 13 ever served in Government. Indeed, Labour has eight more departmental spokespersons in the Commons than we have Departmental Ministers in the Government as a whole. It is hardly surprising that Labour sounds less and less like a credible alternative Government-- [Interruption.] --and more and more like a political tower of Babel.

The Leader of the Opposition has added a new dimension to his concept of collective irresponsibility. The truth is-- [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker : Order.

Sir Geoffrey Howe : The truth is that meeting the cost of Socialism is the reason why any Labour Government should be, and indeed would be, unthinkable. Every Labour Government in British history has ended in economic disaster, and every one of those Governments were headed by so- called moderates. After every such failure-- [Interruption.] --the Conservative party was called in to put things right. The record of the Labour party has been one of their fudging the challenge and of our counting the cost. That should be the title of Labour's much-vaunted policy review.

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By contrast, the Conservative party and this Government stand for the political and economic revival of Britain. That is why we confidently present our programme to the House and to the people of Britain. That is why we are confident that we shall win.

Question put, That the amendment be made :--

The House divided : Ayes 229, Noes 328.

Division No. 3] [10 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane

Adams, Allen (Paisley N)

Allen, Graham

Alton, David

Anderson, Donald

Archer, Rt Hon Peter

Armstrong, Hilary

Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy

Ashley, Rt Hon Jack

Ashton, Joe

Banks, Tony (Newham NW)

Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)

Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)

Barron, Kevin

Battle, John

Beckett, Margaret

Beggs, Roy

Beith, A. J.

Bell, Stuart

Benn, Rt Hon Tony

Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)

Bermingham, Gerald

Bidwell, Sydney

Blunkett, David

Boateng, Paul

Bradley, Keith

Bray, Dr Jeremy

Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)

Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)

Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)

Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)

Buchan, Norman

Buckley, George J.

Caborn, Richard

Callaghan, Jim

Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)

Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)

Campbell-Savours, D. N.

Cartwright, John

Clark, Dr David (S Shields)

Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)

Clay, Bob

Clelland, David

Clwyd, Mrs Ann

Cohen, Harry

Coleman, Donald

Cook, Robin (Livingston)

Corbett, Robin

Corbyn, Jeremy

Cousins, Jim

Cox, Tom

Crowther, Stan

Cryer, Bob

Cummings, John

Cunliffe, Lawrence

Cunningham, Dr John

Darling, Alistair

Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)

Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)

Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)

Dewar, Donald

Dixon, Don

Dobson, Frank

Doran, Frank

Douglas, Dick

Duffy, A. E. P.

Dunnachie, Jimmy

Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth

Eadie, Alexander

Eastham, Ken

Evans, John (St Helens N)

Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)

Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)

Fatchett, Derek

Faulds, Andrew

Field, Frank (Birkenhead)

Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)

Flannery, Martin

Flynn, Paul

Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)

Foster, Derek

Foulkes, George

Fraser, John

Fyfe, Maria

Galloway, George

Garrett, John (Norwich South)

Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)

George, Bruce

Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John

Godman, Dr Norman A.

Gordon, Mildred

Gould, Bryan

Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)

Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)

Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)

Grocott, Bruce

Harman, Ms Harriet

Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy

Healey, Rt Hon Denis

Heffer, Eric S.

Henderson, Doug

Hinchliffe, David

Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)

Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)

Home Robertson, John

Hood, Jimmy

Howarth, George (Knowsley N)

Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)

Howells, Geraint

Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)

Hoyle, Doug

Hughes, John (Coventry NE)

Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)

Hughes, Roy (Newport E)

Hughes, Simon (Southwark)

Janner, Greville

Johnston, Sir Russell

Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)

Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Mo n)

Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)

Kennedy, Charles

Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil

Kirkwood, Archy

Lambie, David

Lamond, James

Leighton, Ron

Lestor, Joan (Eccles)

Lewis, Terry

Litherland, Robert

Livingstone, Ken

Livsey, Richard

Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)

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