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dominated and often ignored her colleagues over a great many years. We have the testimony of the right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East on that point.

After the career of the right hon. Lady no one will ever be able to say again that a woman is not capable of holding the top job in politics. We all, whatever our views, owe her that debt. I hope to see another lady as Prime Minister, but a lady from the Opposition this time, and I hope that it will happen before my political career is over.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon) : Is the hon. Gentleman mounting a coup?

Mr. Radice : There may be a vacancy in the hon. Gentleman's party : there is none in ours.

Future historians will give the right hon. Lady credit for her personal success. I suspect, however, that they will be much less impressed by her achievements or by the enduring nature of her legacy. For all its political success in the 1980s, a success which owed as much to divisions among the Opposition as to the merits of the Thatcherite approach, the truth is that Thatcherism is a remarkably limited political approach.

Let us consider the record. On the economic front, it is true that North sea oil permitted a number of years of economic growth, but the massive current account deficit, the big trade imbalance in manufactured goods, high inflation, rising unemployment and the approach of recession all underline the fact that we have severe economic and industrial difficulties. What is more, after 11 years, the right hon. Lady and the Government do not begin to have convincing solutions to crucial problems for Britain's future, such as the weakness of our high-technology industries, our poor performance in civil research and development and, above all, our wholly inadequate system of education and training.

The Prime Minister's approach to welfare and public services is deeply flawed. It is one thing, and perfectly correct, to stress the need for value for money ; it is quite another to argue, as the right hon. Lady consistently has, for reducing public spending whatever the circumstances, to attack welfare benefits as encouraging dependency and to support market solutions, opting out and privatisation as a matter of principle. The rundown of our health and education services, the cuts in welfare benefits and the deterioriation in our public services all demonstrate the paucity of social Thatcherism. Perhaps the most glaring indictment of Thatcherite Conservatism is its failure to create one nation. Throughout her years in power, the right hon. Lady has shown little concern for bringing people together. In part, that is because of her temperament--she has little magnanimity in her make-up. To the Prime Minister, anyone who is not for her is against her. She barely recognises the right of the Opposition to oppose her, and she certainly does not recognise the right of anyone in her Cabinet or in Europe to a point of view different from her own.

It is not only a question of personal attributes, however. There is a more fundamental philosophical flaw in the Thatcherite approach. The competitive individualism that has been so characteristic of Thatcherism is so unbalanced that it hardly recognises one person's obligation to another, or the existence of society. So it is not surprising

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that it has nothing to say to the unemployed or the sick, to the inner cities or the ethnic minorities, or to the whole northern part of the British Isles.

Thatcherism has proved wholly incapable of uniting the country, yet strangely it is Thatcherism which all the candidates in the second round propose to carry on. Even the right hon. Member for Henley, who has tried skilfully to distance himself from many aspects of the Tory record, assures us--as he did on Sunday in the "On the Record" programme--that he is building on Thatcherism and carrying it on into the next decade.

This country needs not the continuation of Thatcherism but its demise. That is why we need a new, Labour Government who, inspired by a more generous, humane and creative approach, will start to address the agenda of the 1990s.

8.28 pm

Mr. Richard Alexander (Newark) : It is a privilege to take part in this historic debate. None of us who serve in Parliament, regardless of our party, will ever forget how we learned of today's announcement with shock. Tory Members learned of it with sadness because a distinguished parliamentarian has told us of her intention to give up her high office. It would be unfortunate, however, if we treated today's debate as though it were an obituary. Most hon. Members were in the House for my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's speech. They know that if she had not given up her intention to stay on she would probably have been successful in the next round. Even though my right hon. Friend has resigned, a great politician is still available to give great service to this country.

Some Opposition Members have given us a slanted view of history. Some have said that on Tuesday she was defeated by her own party, but those of us who saw the figures know that that is not so--she won the election by a handsome majority.

Mr. Skinner : Who did the hon. Gentleman vote for?

Mr. Alexander : I proudly voted for the Prime Minister. I am quite happy to answer oafish challenges by Opposition Members who are trying to upstage me by suggesting that I was disloyal.

I have referred to the Opposition's version of history. We heard a version of the history of the last 11 years in the speech of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), who presented a completely slanted view and then promptly left the House, leaving hon. Members to chew over his speech. There is another view of those 11 years, and that is why the motion should be rejected.

In the past 11 years Britain's economy has been transformed, as those of us who were adults in 1979 will appreciate. Even our strong critic in the CBI, the director-general, said recently that the 1970s was an era of relative economic decline and social disintegration and that we were entering the 1990s with the economy in incomparably better shape than at any time in our history.

Let us look at some of the Government's achievements. Almost 400, 000 new businesses have been created and every week more new businesses are created than those which fail. There are fewer strikes than at any time in our history, and many fewer than in the halcyon days of the

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Labour Government portrayed by some Opposition Members. There are more people in work than ever before and more investment by Japanese, American and German companies. They do not invest here because they can buy us up at knockdown prices. They cannot and are not doing that. They are investing not because of more Government handouts, such as those that were available under the Labour Government, but because over the past 11 years Britain has become wedded to free enterprise and now has sensible industrial relations. Britain has been transformed and people find it worth coming here, being part of Britain and investing in it.

When we start our new era, as we are bound to do, whichever leader of my party takes office, we shall have a firm look at the policy that has caused our constituents and the Opposition most distress--some aspects of the community charge. I voted for the community charge and I think that I would vote for it again because an element of personal responsibility for the services that one uses is important. The concept is right. However, over the past few months I have talked to constituents and have seen the results of the community charge. I have seen that for an older, perhaps retired couple with a small amount of capital and a small income, and for a young couple where the wife cannot go out to work because of the ages of the children, the charge is a burden. It is unfortunate that in their declining years people find that education is part of their community charge burden. I know that there is a down side to removing the cost of education from the community charge and transferring responsibility and direction from county hall to the Department of Education and Science, but it is the price that we shall have to pay if we are to make more sense, create more fairness and make the charge relate more to ability to pay.

The exaggerated comments of Opposition Members did not contribute much to our debate. The Leader of the Opposition said that my party was riddled with dissent. That is not so. We have disagreements about the speed of integration with Europe, but I cannot think of many major items of policy on which we are riddled with dissent. If that were so, we would have heard about it and we would be talking about it in the Lobby . We shall be united on the vote at the end of this debate.

The Opposition need a policy if they are to appear credible but they have not outlined one in the debate. We have heard whining and have been given a distorted view of history and nothing else. The motion is the Opposition's fox and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's announcement has been instrumental in shooting it. The motion is bogus and unwanted and I urge my hon. Friends to reject it.

8.37 pm

Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath) : My right hon. Friends the Members for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) and for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) made brilliant speeches and it is a privilege to speak in a debate in which they have participated. It was said of Charles I that nothing so became him in this life as the manner of his passing. If I am wrong on that, I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent will correct me. The same can certainly be said of the Prime Minister because she has also lost her head. Charles I lost his cause,

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which was the destruction of Parliament. After the Prime Minister has gone, we may perhaps re-establish the democratic virtues of Parliament.

Whoever wins the Conservative contest should make a move to end the corruption of public life from which Britain has suffered for the past 10 years. The most corrupt question in that time was, "Is he one of us?" That question has got rid of people on sports councils, water authorities, countryside commissions, nature conservancy boards and health authorities. I hope that we shall see principle re-established and that people who have a contribution to make to the great institutions of the nation will be allowed to do so, even if we do not agree with their views. That is one of my great hopes. I was appalled to hear the Prime Minister defending the Government's record on pensions, saying that everyone is better off and that she wanted the poor to be poorer. We should take a few minutes in this debate to discuss the morality and ethics of the Government. Any Government who take pleasure in impoverishing the worst off are a Government with no claim to decency or morality. I represent the centre of the city of Birmingham and I see acute poverty. After 10 years of Conservative government, my constituency has the highest infant mortality in Europe--23 deaths per 1,000 live births. That is a disgrace to us all, but especially to the Government who have presided over such a situation.

The official measurement of poverty is those on 100 per cent. of benefit levels. In the past 10 years, the number of people living at or below that level has increased by nearly 10 per cent.--from 22 to 30 per cent. Worst off of all are the pensioners. I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition mentioned a factor which I hope will become part of our general election campaign--that if we had signed the social contract and then observed it, every married pensioner couple would be £13.50 per week better off and every single pensioner £10 per week better off. Breaking the link between earnings and pensions was a dastardly thing to do, as these figures show. Figures such as those must be given in this debate. The poll tax is a great evil. It is a bureaucratic nightmare which costs an enormous amount to administer. Even if the poll tax itself decreases, that cost will remain. We all know that local authorities cannot get the software to administer the charge, and we know that collection charges have doubled. In Birmingham alone, the staff of 250 needed to collect the rates has increased to 550 for collecting the poll tax. Other aspects of the poll tax are equally nonsensical. People move, from Bradford to Birmingham or from Birmingham to other places, and we do not have the facilities to trace them and ensure that they meet their obligations. That it is both a lunatic and immoral tax is shown by the fact that pensioners, single parents and other poor people have to pay the same as those who are affluent. Another example of the Government's attitude is their treatment of the health service. Birmingham is almost completely united against plans to reorganise hospital provision in the city. Yet the 10 out of 12 Birmingham Members of Parliament, the entire city council, the 250,000 or more who have signed the petition against the closing of some of our hospitals, particularly the general hospital, have all been ignored. When I spoke to the new Secretary of State yesterday to ask whether he intended to confirm plans to close the general hospitals as such a move would be disgraceful and result in some of his colleagues

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losing their seats because the closure would be a major general election issue, he told me that he had either to approve it now or to postpone approval until after the general election. That is another example of corruption in Government. The case has not been decided on its merits.

In their attempts to rebuild the hospital on the Queen Elizabeth site, the Government have forgotten that the trustees for the site have given Birmingham city council the right of veto over any building on the site that would be left if the Queen Elizabeth hospital were knocked down. The leader of the council, Councillor Sir Richard Knowles, has authorised me to say that in no circumstances would a Labour council--nor, I trust, would a Conservative council--agree to any plans for buildings on that site. The Conservative party may not like it, but I predict that Birmingham Members will lose their seats on that issue.

There has been a downturn in the economy of the west midlands. I am fed up with hearing Ministers say that the Government will get inflation down because they have done it before. Who put it up? Who has presided over a high rate of inflation? Who put up gas, electricity and water charges? Who imposed the poll tax? Who is responsible for those policies, which have led to increased costs and inevitably to increased mortgage charges?

We are locked into a ridiculous situation which worries hon. Members representing midlands constituencies. We went into the ERM too late and, as the chamber of commerce and the Engineering Employers Federation have told me, at a rate which is far too high and will affect future orders. I will not bore the House, but I have all the statistics here about the future of export orders, about which we should all be concerned. They show a downturn in orders and deliveries, not just for the construction and manufacturing industries--we are used to that--but for a whole range of goods. In terms of morality and practicality, the day the Government go to the next election, which will be not a day to soon, they will be replaced by a Government with higher standards of ethics and business practice. That is what the nation needs.

8.48 pm

Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood) : As a former Member for the great city of Bradford, I congratulate the newly elected Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Rooney) on an excellent maiden speech. He is honoured to serve in the House for the Bradford, North constituency, and I am sure that Conservative Members will have taken the lessons that are to be learned from his election. I am sure that the hon. Member will recall the outstanding public service of his predecessors--Geoffrey Lawler and Sir William Taylor from the Conservative party, and my friend Ben Ford from the Labour party. We all mourn the recent passing of Pat Wall.

The Leader of the Opposition said that there were no innocents on the Government Benches. No one on these Benches who has endured the political agony of these past days would wish ever to go through them again. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has demonstrated for years an example of courage, indomitable endurance and rigorous intellectual self-discipline which few of us could even emulate, let alone match. All of us and our constituents owe my right hon. Friend a debt of gratitude. She has entrusted us, her right hon. and hon. Friends, with the challenge of how best we can build on her

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Government's manifold achievements of the 1980s. It will be a formidable task, but I believe that her party will be worthy of the torch which she has passed on.

To be worthy, we must not fight yesterday's battles or indulge in recriminations over the past. In recent years, the Government, with the support of the British people, have overcome the abuse of monopoly trade union power. I do not believe that any reasonable person would like to see the clock put back to closed shops and intimidatory mass picketing. Even the right to buy council houses is accepted now by the Labour party, albeit with some reluctance, perhaps, in some quarters. I suspect that most Opposition Members of the more pragmatic Labour party of today realise that the British people will not readily accept the reimposition of a clause 4 nationalisation programme. The Labour party's policy pronouncements, such as they are, seem to demonstrate that.

The Leader of the Opposition asked, "Who could ever trust the Tory party again?" If we could not adapt our policies to the issues which confront us now, we would not be worthy of public confidence. We all recognise in our hearts of hearts what they are--the despoiling of the environment, the continued and lamentable decay of our inner cities and the detested and often flouted system of local government finance, a political albatross if ever there was one. We all know to what I am referring--the dreaded poll tax.

There is a need to find a better and more efficient way of funding an increasingly centralised pattern of state education. Above all, there is the necessity to translate our vision of Europe, constructively and positively, into one which is understood and eventually shared by our Community partners. This will require give and take, effort and imagination and much political sensitivity on our part.

The process of making our continent more prosperous, secure and universally democratic and free is a many-faceted one. The breakdown of the inhumane, ideological and physical divisions of our continent has undoubtedly owed much to a strong western defence. I hope that we in the United Kingdom will imaginatively help to forge through the Western European Union a stronger European element in our Atlantic alliance as the arms control process and Gulf commitments will necessarily diminish the American military presence in Europe, upon which we have relied for so long.

We should not forget that the European Community has proved a powerful magnet for the democratising countries of central and eastern Europe, which badly need the prosperity which perhaps we have come to take for granted here and elsewhere in the EEC.

There are other aspects of European policy that are important. The Council of Europe is an invaluable bridge between east and west. I hope, now that Hungary has joined as a full member, the other countries of central and eastern Europe will follow suit, and that the successor to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will take the earliest opportunity to address the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe.

The European Community's economic and monetary union is an objective worth pursuing. If we wish the British means of securing it to carry conviction, however, we cannot always be the wet blanket, the little Johnnie

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permanently out of step. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer understands this, as does my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. I hope that they will continue their good work in their present positions as avoiding isolation must surely be a prime objective of British diplomacy. Continuity of purpose too will be essential if the Government are to carry credibility in future. I urge the House to reject the motion.

8.56 pm

Mr. Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough) : In the three minutes available to me, I wish to place on record a personal appreciation of the Prime Minister. At the height of the Cleveland child abuse crisis, the right hon. Lady agreed with the then Minister for Health that there should be a judicial inquiry. She was kind enough to raise with me the progress of that inquiry when she visited Middlesbrough in the autumn of 1987. She raised it again with me on another occasion when we met. Along with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister at all times took an interest in what was happening at the inquiry. She came to the House to support the then Minister for Health when he announced the findings of the inquiry. She was instrumental in ensuring that the Children Bill was part of the legislative programme for 1989, and that measure is now on the statute book.

We now have legislation that seeks to achieve the right balance between children under threat and families which may be involved in allegations. We have appropriate guidelines for doctors, social workers and police officers. We have multi-disciplinary proceedings and a more rapid family court procedure to ensure that the interests of children do not suffer as a result of legal proceedings. The Prime Minister's role should not go unsung and I place on record my appreciation, that of the parents who were caught up in the dispute and that of the children for her interest and role in these matters. We should not, however, allow to enter into the political folklore the sentiment that the Prime Minister was the greatest peacetime Prime Minister this century. That role falls to Clement Attlee in the years from 1945 to 1951. The Prime Minister was never a "One Nation" Tory ; she was a "Two Nations" Tory. She could never reconcile the variety of interests, pressures and demands of society.

In one of the asides for which she became famous--referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn)--she said in 1976, as Leader of the Opposition, that this country would be swamped by members of a foreign culture.

In 1979, the right hon. Lady discarded the policy that had guided all the western nations throughout the 1970s--that of trying to keep down inflation and unemployment--by making the attack on inflation the only attack. Consequently, unemployment rose beyond 2 million to 3 million. Although we got inflation down, the unemployed saw their prospects and those of their families sadly diminish. Inflation has not been defeated ; it is returning, because the Prime Minister did not follow the advice of her Chancellor and her Foreign Secretary when they asked her to enter the exchange rate mechanism. History will not be kind to the Prime Minister ; it will be more cruel than it looks now.

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I commend the motion to the House. As was said by the Evening Standard --a Conservative paper--there should be an immediate election on the basis of the Government's policies and their politics. 9 pm

Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook) : I begin by offering my sincere congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Rooney), who made a maiden speech of amazing confidence, admirable lucidity and enviable certainty. When I briefly worked for him in Bradford a month ago, I knew that he was good, although I must confess that I did not realise that he was that good. It is the habit of Front-Bench spokesmen to tell maiden speakers how much the House looks forward to hearing them in the future. I not only look forward to hearing my hon. Friend many times, but have no doubt that we will hear from him many times--and, as far as I am concerned, the more often the better.

I have disagreed with most of what the Prime Minister has done since I shadowed her when she was Secretary of State for Education and Science nearly 20 years ago. Notwithstanding that--and notwithstanding her absence from the wind-up tonight--I gladly acknowledge her extraordinary achievement, that of leading her party to victory in three consecutive general elections. Nothing that happens now, and nothing that has happened today, can tarnish that record.

Nothing, moreover, can tarnish the other element in the Prime Minister's conduct, which we saw when she first led her party, and have seen again today. The Prime Minister remained in character to the last. Indeed, she was so much in character when she spoke this afternoon that many hon. Members on both sides of the House will be forced to ask themselves what went wrong. After 11 years of such unqualified success, unique popularity and achievement piled on achievement, why did her own party remove her from leadership? One possible explanation is that some of her colleagues-- perhaps some Cabinet members as well as some Back Benchers--began to examine the Prime Minister's statistics and check up on the claims that she makes about her record, her achievements and the years of unmitigated success.

Today she said that, during her 11 years, the tax bill had fallen. That is wrong : it has risen from 34 to 37 per cent. of national income. Today she said that everyone was better off than in 1979 ; that too is wrong. The least well-paid 10 per cent. of the population are, in real terms, 5.7 per cent. worse off than they were when she came to power. Today she said that, during her eleven and a half years, Britain had moved up the European growth league. That is wrong. We have moved down. In 1978, in the last year of a Labour Government, we stood second, with 3.7 per cent. annual growth ; today after eleven and a half years of her Administration, we stand fourth with 0.9 per cent.

I could give other examples of how the right hon. Lady, during 11 years at the Dispatch Box, has been at best selective in her choice of figures, and at worst has simply given the House the wrong information. That is what happened today, and it is right that her valedictory address should contain all the flaws and blemishes that we have

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come to expect--too much certainty, not enough fact and a reckless disregard for the evidence that everyone knows to be the truth. The other characteristic that we saw again today, and which we constantly and regularly witnessed during the past 11 years, was the Prime Minister's propensity for blaming everybody except herself. I well remember that, when the economy was set back and turned back, the Prime Minister extraordinarily announced that it was the Chancellor who had made the errors of shadowing the deutschmark and of overestimating the disadvantages of the stock exchange collapse. The idea that the right hon. Lady had any part in that, that she had anything to do with it, that she had even known that it was happening, apparently never passed through her mind.

I do not complain tonight about the Prime Minister blaming everyone except herself, because I want to talk not about the Prime Minister, but about the Administration that she led and has now left. Tonight, we shall vote on a motion of no confidence in the Government as a whole. That motion carries with it our condemnation of those Back Benchers who have supported and sustained the Government for so long. I have absolutely no doubt that next week those same Back Benchers will be whispering that they never really supported the Prime Minister, that they never really agreed with her policies, and that they had never wanted her to stay for so long. The Prime Minister was popular with Members from marginal constituencies only for as long as they believed that she would help them to hold their seats. This week, we have witnessed a mass evacuation from a sinking ship with, appropriately enough, the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie) the first over the side and swimming for the shore. It is enormously important that we put into perspective the reason why the 1922 Committee originally and, we are told, the Cabinet this morning turned against the Prime Minister. She has not been rejected because of the record balance of trade deficit or the astronomical interest rates. She has not been removed from office for the freezing of child benefit or the failing to link increases in pension to national earnings. She was not told to go because of the young unemployed sleeping in shop doorways, or the damage that the Government have done to the national health service. She was not even destroyed by the poll tax--which was reasonable, because every Conservative Member believes in it. Even the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) voted for a poll tax in Scotland.

One of the things to which I look forward during the next week or so is the right hon. Gentleman, in one of his numerous--some would say endless-- television broadcasts, explaining exactly when he changed his mind and why. He will go down in history as the senior politician who changed his mind most often in one year. As he explains to his hon. Friends, as he will no doubt try to do, why there have been conceivable circumstances in which he would stand against the Prime Minister, he must also explain when the great conversion against the poll tax came about. My view is that it was at the time that the right hon. Gentleman decided that he had a real chance of a decent vote in the Conservative leadership stakes.

It is important to remember--and it is the object and the purpose of our no -confidence motion tonight--that Conservative Members still support the discredited policies on which the Prime Minister led them, and on which she would have had them fight the next general

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election. Of course Conservative Members will vote against our motion tonight, but by doing so they will demonstrate their continued affection for the poll tax, their agreement to the freezing of child benefit, and their belief that pensions should not be increased in line with national earnings. They will be voting for the policies that produced the highest interest rates and the worst balance of payments figures in our history.

What the Conservative party really wants is a new leader who can save its skin without changing the discredited policies, but that cannot happen. The wrapping may be changed but the contents of the package will be the same garbage as before. Whether it is tied up with Finchley barbed wire or tarnished Henley tinsel, or for that matter with an old Etonian tie, nobody will believe that it has changed. With one possible exception, Europe, to which I shall turn in a moment, the old discredited policies will remain.

Only one thing about the Tory party has radically changed during the past 11 years. When I first entered the House 25 years ago, the Conservative party did its dirty work in private. Now it is bleeding to death in public. It has been mortally wounded in a civil war fought not over great principles but over personalities and a greed for power.

We have been told time after time during this debate, and by Tories who commented on this debate before it began, that Conservative Members will all be in the same Lobby at 10 o'clock tonight. I am sure that they will.

Mr. Skinner : They will be in the same Lobby tonight, because, unlike on Tuesday when it was a private vote and they stabbed the Prime Minister in the back, tonight there will be a recorded vote. That is why they will turn back to the Prime Minister tonight.

Mr. Hattersley : My hon. Friend--I do not begrudge him it--takes the words out of my mouth. Conservative Members will be slapping each other on the back tonight and stabbing each other in the back tomorrow. I think, on reflection, that that is a rather better formulation of my hon. Friend's point.

Of course, if Conservatives do so, there will be the usual heavy helping of mass hypocrisy. At 10.33 am precisely, on London Broadcasting Company's radio, the Prime Minister was mourned with this comment :

"I am very sad to see such a distinguished career come to an end." Believe it or not, those were the words of the right hon. Member for Henley. The uninitiated listener would not know that he had been devoting his time and considerable fortune during the past four years to bringing that career to a dead stop at the first opportunity. Yet when it seemed expedient, the right hon. Member for Henley--I use the words again because it is difficult to imagine that he really said them, but I assure the House that he did-- said :

"I am very sad to see such a distinguished career come to an end." There is a man to trust. There is a man on whom the nation can rely. There is a man on whom I at least am not prepared to turn my back.

Many of the Prime Minister's supporters have been franker about their attitudes to her future. They have described her critics as "misanthropists and malcontents". They have described her opponents as "junk". They have

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described her opponents and critics as "sickeningly disloyal". Today, the hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) called the Tory party "Mad, quite mad." The Minister of State for Defence Procurement denounced the 150 people who turned out a Prime Minister elected by 3 million. The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) was "disgusted" and "horrified" and spoke of "political suicide". That was just on one programme.

In this debate, the right hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow), the chairman of the 1922 Committee, said that the anger will be very slow to fade. The right hon. Member for-- [Hon. Members : --"Cirencester and Tewkesbury."] The right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley)--

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Eltham) : It is the joined-up writing of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook, (Mr. Hattersley).

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John MacGregor) : Somebody else wrote his speech

Mr. Hattersley : If the Leader of the House would like a souvenir of this occasion, he may have a page of my notes with the greatest of pleasure.

The right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury spoke of "shameful betrayal", a backlash already being felt in the constituencies and wounds that will not wound easily. [ Hon. Members :-- "Heal". I can see that, between us, we are determined to make these words memorable.

A comment on that attitude was made by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury the day before yesterday :

"We won't deserve to win unless we have got ourselves together." That was before some of the comments on the Prime Minister's passing that I have just reported to the House. The Chief Secretary insists that the Tory party will not deserve to win until it gets itself together. He is right in every detail : it will not get its act together, it will not deserve to win and it will not win. It will not win because it is bound together only by hope of office and dislike of the Labour party. Great political parties must have something in which they want to believe, rather than the hope of their members hanging on to individual seats. [Interruption.] I notice that the main derision of that point is coming from an hon. Gentleman who was elected as a Labour Member of Parliament.

Mr. Douglas : Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that he was one of 69 Labour Members who voted for Britain's entry into the Common Market? Does he recall the unity of the Labour party then?

Mr. Hattersley : My ex-hon. Friend reminds me that I was one of the Labour Members who broke the Whip on our entry into the European Community. I was going to confess to that in a moment, but I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has established that my record on Europe and my enthusiasm for Community membership goes back a long time. Before dealing with that, I want to express, still in her absence, my regrets about the feelings that the Prime Minister must have had when she was sitting in the palace of Versailles on Monday night. No doubt she was thinking, "Apres moi le deluge," which when translated means, "One of my successors will almost certainly be a

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wet." She must have known, as Conservative Members know, that the Administration that she bequeaths, and which will be inherited by I do not know whom, will be torn apart by personal animosities and one real issue, which, for reasons that I do not pretend to understand, has destroyed and damaged party after party--Britain's place in Europe.

The battle within the Tory party will be between two types of extremists-- the little Englanders and those who have a fanatical enthusiasm for the drive towards European integration. In my view, that is an irrational and damaging enthusiasm that should be balanced against the practicalities of Britain's position in the Community. Meanwhile, the sensible, practical and moderate course will be followed by the Labour party.

Mr. Cash : Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the Labour party has changed its position on Europe six times in the past 10 years?

Mr. Hattersley : I would not agree for a moment, although the figure of six times is clearly being issued by Conservative central office, as it has been quoted by weaker-minded Conservative Members in this debate.

I have held a view on Europe not simply since the treaty of Rome but going back to the treaty of Messina : I believe that Britain should be one of the foundation members of the Community. I have held those views consistently, and I hold them still. I offer my opinions on where the Labour party should be, and is, in my capacity as a European of unshakeable conviction and unshakeable certainty. Mr. Peter Bottomley rose--

Mr. Hattersley : No, I am going to continue with my speech. I make our position absolutely clear--not my position, but that of the Labour party : we shall neither slavishly support every European initiative, nor oppose every proposed improvement merely because it comes from the Community. We shall consider our future in Europe without the ideological blinkers which have prejudiced every reaction by the Government. We shall pursue those policies that are beneficial to Britain. That is bound to mean that we shall seek co-operation, rather than conflict, with our partners.

I shall give an example. It is absurd that we have stood out against the social charter and its action programme, with the enormous benefits that they offer to all employees, especially to working women. It is equally absurd--I want to meet this argument head on, as best I can--to suggest that the test for Europe is whether a party or an individual is in favour of an immediate single currency and an immediate central bank--

Mr. Cash : The right hon. Gentleman is generating nothing but marshmallow.

Mr. Hattersley : The hon. Gentleman has been on the losing side so often this week that I should have thought he would have shown a little humility.

Mr. Cash rose--

Mr. Hattersley : I repeat that I have never wavered in my view that Britain's future ought to lie in the Community, and in co-operation with it. I also repeat that the idea that we should say yes to a single currency or to a central bank is preposterous. All those Conservative

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Members who want an instant answer to that question had better not vote for the right hon. Member for Henley next Tuesday--

Mr. Cartiss : We are not going to.

Mr. Hattersley : I hope, Mr. Speaker, that you will accept my assurance that I did not put the hon. Member up to that.

On television on Sunday, the right hon. Member for Henley said : "The major issues--like the creation of a powerful Central European bank, like the issue of a single currency--are not on the agenda today--"

Very sensible. It is preposterous that the argument should centre around that. What it centres around is whether we work with our partners and the other countries in Europe in Britain's best interests, or if, to pursue a cricketing metaphor--perhaps the last of this era--every time we are not allowed to be captain, opening bowler and wicket keeper, we take our bat away. That is no way to treat the Community.

Sir Russell Johnston (Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber) rose--

Mr. Hattersley : I want to repeat that, when we come to office--as we soon shall--we will take a pragmatic, practical and sensible view of the best interests of this country in Europe. I also want to make it clear that, when we come to office, we shall abolish the poll tax. We shall replace it with a property-based tax, which also takes account of a family's ability to pay.

On Tuesday, The Times supported the Prime Minister. It supported her yesterday, but was not quite so sure this morning--there was some doubt about who Mr. Murdoch will have to do business with in future, and therefore a little hedging of the bets, as deals were still on the table. The Times on Tuesday described the poll tax as "the single most stupid act of the present Government". It went on to say of the right hon. Member for Henley : "His weakness--and it is a core weakness--is that he has shown neither intellectual rigour nor political courage in showing his colleagues a way out."

The leader article continued :

"To its credit, the Labour party has done so".

Mrs. Margaret Ewing : Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hattersley : No, I shall not give way again. I have six minutes left and I propose to take every one.

At least we know that the right hon. Member for Henley is sort of thinking about the poll tax.

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