Monday, 24 October 2011

Yes sir - The First Prime Minister's Answer

On this day 50 years ago the experiment that had been anounced in the July before recess that the Prime Minister would answer questions in the House at 3:15 on Tuesday's and Thursdays would continue. It is still continuing today although Tony Blair made it one half hour session on Wednesday rather than two 15 minute ones on the days originally set aside for it.

Here is the full exchange and supplementaries of that first question, to then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

Q1. Mr. Shinwell asked the Prime Minister whether the statement by the Minister of Transport during his visit to the Scandinavian countries, about Government policy concerning subsidies to help the shipbuilding industry and shipping, represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan) Yes, Sir. 
Mr. Shinwell If the Prime Minister agrees with his right hon. Friend, who said while he was in Scandinavia that the Government's policy was opposed to subsidy, why did they concede a subsidy to the Cunard Line? Now that that matter is in abeyance, if not finally settled, do we understand from the Prime Minister that it is the intention of the Government to consider the possibility of financial assistance to the shipbuilding and shipping industries? 
The Prime Minister What my right hon. Friend said was that he felt that competition between Governments in subsidies would not be in the long-term interests of this country. It is perfectly true that the Atlantic passenger trade is in a rather special position, because there are only two competing ships, both of them built by subsidy and operated by subsidy. Broadly speaking, I think we all agree that it would be better for all companies if subsidy was not in general used. 
Mr. Shinwell Will the Prime Minister reply to the final part of my supplementary question? Will the Government consider, in lieu of the Cunard arrange- 742 ment to assist the shipbuilding and shipping industries? 
The Prime Minister There is always the question of credit facilities which we have done our best to improve, and we will certainly do our best to see if any further improvement can be made.

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