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Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster): When we wrote it.

Mr. Clarke: When I assisted my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) to write the pamphlet, when she was a Member of the European Parliament and I was shadow spokesman, we were making unfavourable comparisons of every sort with the rest of the continent. But I was not using those figures as a prosperity league, as the hon. Member for Dunfermline, East (Mr. Brown) keeps calling it. Will he not admit that, throughout the 1980s, we led the French and the Germans on growth, and we beat everyone else on productivity? Living standards have increased by 40 per cent. and the hon. Gentleman would see that we continue to move up any sensible league table if only he would use one.

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Mr. Brown: I hope that the Chancellor will be more accurate when he delivers his Budget next Tuesday. His figures about growth comparisons with France and Germany are completely inaccurate. Our non-oil growth rate over the past 15 years is 1.6 per cent; even with oil, it is 1.8 per cent. That is way behind our more successful competitors, particularly Japan, which has a growth rate of more than 3 per cent.

As for the Chancellor's pamphlet on regional government, I know why he wants to disown it, as I am one of the few who has read it. He proposes indicative planning, a national plan, regional plans and regional economic plans. I am not sure that the No Turning Back group and the 92 group would look favourably on any of those proposals.

After four Chancellors, 11 Secretaries of State for Trade and Industry and 17 Queen's Speeches in 16 years, the Government now tell us that they have discovered the answer. They have found the key, as the questioner suggested, to the problems of the British economy. They ask us to look not at Britain--which the Conservatives have governed for the past 16 years--but at Hong Kong and Singapore, where they have not been in government. The Conservatives want us to judge them on their promises for the future and not on their record of the past. Their answer today is a return to their policy of 1979: cut public spending as a share of national income, instead of concentrating on the real task of raising the level of investment in the economy.

Why is current Government spending £80 billion higher in real terms than it was in 1979? Lady Thatcher confirmed that Government policy in 1979. Why is current public spending as a share of national income the same as it was in 1979 when we left office? The Government have not solved the problem of public spending, because they are paying the bills for unemployment, waste, decay and failure. In spite of £100 billion in North sea oil and £120 billion in privatisation proceeds, taxes have risen by the equivalent of 7p in the pound. Why have there been 21 tax increases in the past three years--nearly £1,000 per year for every family in the country?

Yesterday, the Prime Minister told us the reason for the tax rises. He did not admit his failure, but he said:

He should tell that to the pensioners and to the weakest and the frailest in the country who suffered the value added tax rises imposed by the Government. The Government did not help the most vulnerable: as is typical of the Conservative party, the tax rises were so unfair that they hurt the most vulnerable the most. It is on that unfairness and that betrayal that the Conservatives will be judged.

Mr. John Townend (Bridlington): The Government have a target to bring public expenditure below 40 per cent. What would be the hon. Gentleman's target if he were Chancellor? Would he bring it below 40 per cent., would he leave it where it is, or would public spending increase?

Mr. Brown: Public expenditure would be below 40 per cent. of gross domestic product if the Government had solved the problems of unemployment, waste and the other bills of economic failure. I will not be lectured by a

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Conservative party which promised to cut public spending as a share of national income in 1979, but which saw public expenditure in all but two of the past 16 years rise above 40 per cent.

I admire the honesty of the hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend). He said that there must be tax cuts in the Budget and he issued a statement announcing how many billions of pounds in cuts he wanted to see. However, he said that, even then, it would not return the Conservatives to their 1992 position. No tax cut that the Chancellor may introduce next Tuesday will undo the damage of income tax rises equivalent to 7p in the pound since 1992.

At the same time as the Government have caused us to fall behind our competitors, the country has slipped back as massive job insecurity has dragged down the economy. Job insecurity in the labour market is now dragging down the housing market. When survey after survey shows that that is the greatest anxiety of British people, what are we told by the President of the Board of Trade? He says that job insecurity is only a state of mind. He says that it is not real, but a figment of the imagination. He says that it is all in the mind.

Let the right hon. Gentleman look no further than his own Back Benches. Do Conservative Members have no worries about their jobs? Is there no fear of redundancy on Conservative Benches? We know that any worries they might have about their jobs are not real and that it is all in the mind, but if the President of the Board of Trade really believes that job insecurity and the fear of unemployment is only a state of mind, how can he explain the extraordinary zeal for travel discovered recently by Conservative Members, particularly those with majorities of less than 10,000, and their willingness to take the advice of Lord Tebbit and get on their bikes, in droves? Surely their worry is nothing more than a state of mind.

Job insecurity is only in the mind, except for the former Chancellor, the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Thames (Mr. Lamont), for whom it is in Kingston upon Thames. It is only in the mind, except for the standard bearer of Essex man, the hon. Member for Basildon (Mr. Amess), for whom it is to be found in Basildon.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman: He is not here.

Mr. Brown: He has gone. He has run away as a result of his failure to hold a seat that Labour will definitely take at the next election because of the policies that we are putting forward. Job insecurity is only in the minds of many Cabinet Ministers, when it is actually to be found in real life.

As people's response to the Queen's Speech shows, Conservative Members now have short-term contracts and, for the first time in 16 years, they are facing the same anxieties as the British people. They should not reject out of hand Labour's proposals for jobs to help the unemployed, as they may need them after the election.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman: Does the hon. Gentleman accept that many Members who are seeking new seats have simply had their boundaries changed, so their seats have disappeared? Whatever Labour Members may say, it is important to make it clear that Members are not running away from existing seats; they are simply moving because their seats no longer exist.

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Mr. Brown: It is strange that the chairman of the Conservative party, who has a substantial majority in a seat that remains, is moving to another seat. People may wonder why he is so worried about defending that majority as a result of pressure from the Labour party.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Brown: I would rather give way to the hon. Lady's co-author.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes): Order. It is clear that the hon. Gentleman is not giving way.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman: I am raising a point of order. I was not asking the hon. Gentleman to give way, as I knew that he would not. Is it in order for the hon. Gentleman to mislead the House by pretending that a Member is running away, when his constituency has been cut in two and he is simply taking half of it?

Madam Deputy Speaker: The Chair, perhaps mercifully, is not responsible for the accuracy of Members' remarks.

Mr. Brown: The hon. Gentleman protests too much about the position of the chairman. [Interruption.] I apologise to the hon. Lady.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman: That is sexism.

Mr. Brown: I have apologised to the hon. Lady, and I hope that she will accept my apology.

Is there anything more symbolic of the Conservative party's lurch to the right than the content of the Queen's Speech, which announced legislation to cut help for the homeless, used the full might of the Oxford English Dictionary to redefine exceptional hardship as uniquely severe suffering in order to deprive people of housing benefit, and picked out single parents for further onslaught?

Although the Government really wanted yet another social security cuts Bill for the withdrawal of benefit, they hesitated, not from compassion, but, as the Secretary of State for Social Security said in a leaked memo, because they had no parliamentary majority to get it through. The Government do all those things, while at the same time they do nothing about excesses in the privatised utilities, implementing the Greenbury report in full, reforming capital gains tax to avoid excesses and abuses or dealing with the scandal of National Grid. Instead, day in, day out, the Government pour scorn on the measures that we propose.

Nowhere is the abuse of power clearer and the Government's failure to act in relation to privatised utilities more obvious than in the sale of National Grid, which was announced today--a £5 billion asset from which consumers and taxpayers will get only £1 billion in refunds on their bills. That makes every day the case for imposing a windfall tax. What is to happen to the other £4 billion?

Four National Grid directors have been able in the past few months--since Greenbury--to award themselves huge share options, even before shares were available on

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the open market. The Government did nothing. Directors were able to buy and sell shares even before there was a market in shares, and nothing was done. Directors were able to cash in their share options before the share price was set, to the tune of £1.6 million. Again, the Government did nothing. The share price was set by auditors, but cannot be set by the market. Again, the Government have done nothing. Despite more handouts to the directors and special dividends that they voted for themselves, still nothing has been done. Nothing has been done even about the compensation built into the share options.

National Grid's chairman, Mr. David Jefferies, is to retire, but he is to come back three days a week and, with his pension, will earn in total £300,000 a year--as much as he used to earn for working five days a week. How can we believe that decisions are being made in the national or public interest, or even in the interest of the electricity industry, when such powerful people are able to set the terms on which they benefit from demergers and privatisations without recourse to the public?

The half-a-dozen directors of National Grid are answerable only to a dozen regional electricity chiefs-- who themselves have not only received a present of shares in National Grid but are reported to have had their tax bills paid, so that they get the full profit from the shares that they are receiving. That is the worst example of a privatisation or demerger. It is worse than the shocking abuses that arose from previous sales--so much so, there has in my view been a lurch to the right in the attitudes of the Conservative party more than that which is acceptable.

From National Grid's report, I have calculated today that the former chief of London Electricity, Mr. Roger Urwin, has done well 10 times over, bringing him an annual income of £1.5 million--and he moved from London Electricity to National Grid in the past few months. When such abuse is tolerated, there can be no doubt that matters have been allowed to get worse since the Greenbury report, not better.

What happened to the Greenbury proposals for legislation to disclose pensions, which I expected to see in the Queen's Speech? The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry said that the Greenbury proposals would be considered, and the Institute of Actuaries examined them and prepared a report. The proposal to legislate was accepted in principle by the Government, to be implemented after the measure was drawn up by the relevant bodies. The Government have not only failed to introduce the new Companies Act necessary, but have been persuading people that there is no need for action in that important area. Why has nothing been done?

The company report for British Gas reveals that the pension contribution for Cedric Brown is £19,000. In fact, his pension is worth £300,000 a year, and it will cost the pension fund an astonishing and budgeted £4 million. Because the Government do not want us, the shareholders or employees to know those facts, nothing is done to insist that the full figures are published. At National Grid, a figure of £8,000 a year is declared--but the pension is worth £160,000, and it could cost £2 million.

There is no evidence that the Government want those figures disclosed to the public, shareholders and employees. [Hon. Members: "Shameful."] As my hon.

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Friends say, it is shameful that consultation papers are prepared, promises made and legislation pledged--then the matter is sidelined, with no guarantee that the problem will ever be dealt with under this Government. A few powerful interests in the privatised boardrooms and elsewhere are blocking the full disclosure of pension information--and in yet another lurch to the right, the Conservative party is prepared to go along with it.

The Government want to do nothing and hope that the controversy will go away. Let us examine the Greenbury recommendations and what has happened to them. Two-year rolling contracts were to be outlawed in favour of one-year contracts. Nothing has been done. The utilities were to examine their remuneration and put their house in order, yet small shareholders have still been told nothing. The stock exchange listing changes have been delayed until the end of the year.

As for consultation on long-term incentives and share options, nothing has been done either. The promised review by the utilities to explain their remuneration packages, with a requirement for discussion at the first available annual general meeting, has not materialised. The report of a few days ago showed that only one of 24 utilities had taken steps to implement that recommendation.

What about the share option proposals? It was recommended that no share options should be awarded during the first six months after a privatisation. Nothing has been done about that. It was further recommended that share options should not be awarded at 85 per cent. of their value--nothing has been done. How can the Conservative party tolerate the Prime Minister and Cabinet promising in the summer to take action, but doing nothing by the autumn, even as the abuses continue? The Conservative party has become a faction promoting the interests of the powerful few.

What has happened to one-nation Toryism in Britain? The Conservative party stands by as the main recommendation to prevent exploitation and harassment is removed, in the Queen's Speech, from the housing and homelessness Act. At the same time, the party does nothing while abuses are identified. There was a time when one-nation Toryism controlled a majority in Cabinet. It was once even in control in 10 Downing street--it was even the dominant force among Conservative grassroots. But in the 1980s, one-nation politicians in the Conservative party were reduced to holding fringe meetings and attending the occasional lecture or well-fed dining club--

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