Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1979 May 22 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

House of Commons PQs

Document type: speeches
Document kind: House of Commons PQs
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [967/867-72]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-30.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2171
Themes: Monetary policy, Foreign policy (Africa), Social security & welfare, Trade unions, Trade union law reform, Women
[column 867]

PRIME MINISTER

(ENGAGEMENTS)

Q1. Mr. Clinton Davis

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 22 May.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

In addition to my duties in this House I shall be holding meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. This evening I hope to have an Audience of Her Majesty The Queen.

Mr. Davis

That is very interesting. Will the right hon. Lady take the opportunity today, or at least at an early stage, to explain to pensioners why her Government refuse to link the pension with earnings or prices, whichever is the higher? When will she say something about the electricity discount scheme? In replying to all questions will she please not be too strident?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman is already aware, we have undertaken to implement the November increases in full. He is already aware that in the previous year his Government had a shortfall on their calculations. That is being made up this November. We announced it and we shall honour it.

Mr. McCrindle

Will my right hon. Friend consider preparing a list of the trade union leaders who, since 3 May, have uttered dire threats of what will happen if the Government dare to carry out the policy endorsed by the electorate on 3 May?

The Prime Minister

The vast majority of trade union members, being believers in democracy, believe that policy is made by a Government and is implemented by the House. The vast majority of them—I hope all of them—will agree to implement that policy. Otherwise it is the end of democracy.

Mr. Charles R. Morris

Will the right hon. Lady take time during a busy day to allay the anxieties of those who question [column 868]merging responsibility for the disabled with ministerial responsibility for social security? Will she seek to relieve the anxiety of those who believe that that proposition will lead to a reduced provision for the disabled? Finally, will she bear in mind that the nation is perplexed—certainly her Back Benchers are perplexed—that she should appoint a politically disabled Minister to make provision for the physically disabled?

Mrs. Thatcher

The right hon. Gentleman is less than generous in his last strictures. I have appointed a Minister with special responsibility for the disabled in addition to his other responsibilities. I am happy that he will carry that out as well as the right hon. Gentleman's brother did.

RHODESIA

Q2. Mr. Michael Latham

asked the Prime Minister whether she will pay an official visit to Salisbury, Rhodesia.

The Prime Minister

I have no plans to do so.

Mr. Latham

Although clearly there must be full and proper consultation with our allies and partners on this matter, will the Prime Minister at least confirm that British diplomacy will no longer be tilted towards the Patriotic Front and that the final decision on the legality of Rhodesia's future Government rests with the British Parliament and no one else?

The Prime Minister

British policy on Rhodesia is to do our very best for the people of Rhodesia. We adhere, as we believe the Opposition adhere, to the six principles. There is only one final principle to be decided. The question is whether the fifth principle was decided by the results of the elections. If it was, the six principles will have been honoured. It will be our duty to bring Rhodesia back to legality.

We accept that the responsibility for Rhodesia rests with this House. We shall do our best to honour it.

Mr. David Steel

Is the Prime Minister aware that her Government are correct to proceed much more cautiously on this matter than did her party in the general election, and that it would be wrong to recognise a regime which came to power [column 869]after the banning of two of the main political parties in Rhodesia? Will she therefore give advice to the new Government in Rhodesia that they, internally, should seek reconciliation and a ceasefire agreement with those political parties which exist but which were barred from taking part in the election?

The Prime Minister

We shall try to bring other countries along with us in the policy that we adopt towards Rhodesia. However, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to remember that the regime in Rhodesia was made illegal on the basis of six principles and six principles only. If those principles are no longer relevant, it will be our duty to bring Rhodesia back to legality, as the six principles will have been honoured.

My noble Friend Lord Carringtonthe Foreign Secretary is sending an emissary to have discussions with the front-line Presidents and to consult with them on how best to proceed.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Is it not curious that some of the Governments most critical of the Rhodesian elections govern States in which there have been no elections at any time? When will it be possible for the report of the observers from the Conservative Party to be placed before the House?

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend that democracy is about what the people inside a country want. The elections in Rhodesia were held on the basis of one person, one vote, involving four different political parties.

The report of my noble Friend Lord Boyd will be published. We are not holding it up in any way. It will be available to the House as soon as it comes from the printers.

Mr. James Callaghan

We all welcome the intention to send an emissary to consult with the front-line Presidents. I am sure that they will have some valuable opinions to offer. I welcome the fact that an emissary from the Foreign Office has been to see Bishop Muzorewa. Is it the intention of the Government to send an emissary to see Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Nkomo, who are both essential elements to peacemaking in that part of the world?

The Prime Minister

I have no announcement or statement to make about that point.

[column 870]

TUC

Q3. Mr. Hal Miller

asked the Prime Minister when last she met the leaders of the Trades Union Congress.

The Prime Minister

I have not yet had an opportunity to meet the TUC since taking office but consultations between my colleagues and the trade union movement are already under way.

Mr. Miller

May I first congratulate my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on her personal triumph in the recent election?

When my right hon. Friend meets the leaders of the TUC, will she make it plain that the February concordat, which was cobbled together so hastily, provided inadequate protection for the individual in respect of the closed shop and secondary picketing? Will she make plain her determination to remedy those defects?

The Prime Minister

I most certainly will. I am not known for my objectives or purposes being unclear. I believe that my policies on this are known. They are agreed with and overwhelmingly supported by the vast majority of people in this country, who believe that a law must be introduced to deal with certain aspects of the closed shop, picketing and the postal ballot.

Mr. James Hamilton

Does the Prime Minister recognise that the trade unionists among us are responsible people, and that the majority of trade unionists are responsible? Based on her own experience in government from 1970 to 1974, does she recognise that confrontation with the trade unions is a disaster for the country? If she should work herself into a situation of confrontation, what will be the Government's reaction?

The Prime Minister

I am not confronting anyone. I hope that they are not confronting me, either.

Mr. Budgen

When my right hon. Friend next meets the leaders of the TUC, will she talk to them about the rate of inflation? Will she remind them that, as the previous Government allowed the money supply in the year ending April 1978 to rise by 16¼ per cent., as measured by M3, it is now inevitable that the rate of inflation will rise to about 16 per cent. per annum?

[column 871]

The Prime Minister

I regret to say that the rate of inflation is rising once again. It is our intention to keep a firm grip on the monetary supply—and, in fact, to have targets six months by six months.

Mr. McElhone

When the Prime Minister meets the Scottish TUC, will she give it a guarantee that free school milk, which was restored by the Labour Government to the children of Scotland, will not be at risk under her Administration? Before she answers that question, may I warn her that St. Francis of Assissi listened carefully to new converts, especially those who might repent previous sins?

The Prime Minister

I rather thought that the school milk was restored through the good offices of the EEC—and not until those grants were available.

Mr. Tim Renton

Doubtless my right hon. Friend will have a friendly reception when she meets the TUC leaders. Will she make it plain on that occasion that much damage will be done to the reputation of the trade union movement if NUPE and COHSE are allowed to think that they have an industrial veto over the decisions of Parliament?

The Prime Minister

If anyone thinks that, he does great damage to himself, his union and the whole of parliamentary democracy. I hope that all of us will condemn anyone who thinks that.

Mr. Healey

Will the right hon. Lady confirm the figures published by the Government last week, which show that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) was talking through his hat and that the money supply, M3, rose only 10½ per cent. in the past 12 months, which was barely one-third of the amount it rose in the final 12 months of the previous Conservative Government?

The Prime Minister

A Chancellor of the Exchequer frequently takes the year-by-year sum. There are considerable variations within the yearly sum. There was a sharp rise during the past six months.

PRIME MINISTER

(ENGAGEMENTS)

Q4. Mr. Brotherton

asked the Prime Minister, if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 22 May.

[column 872]

The Prime Minister

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Davis).

Mr. Brotherton

Following my right hon. Friend's excellent start with the Price Commission, will she find some time today to consider abolishing the Equal Opportunities Commission? Is not my right hon. Friend's presence at the Dispatch Box living proof that the commission is unnecessary? While my right hon. Friend is about it, will she abolish many other commissions which do nothing but waste taxpayers' money?

The Prime Minister

Not today, Sir—although I agree with my hon. Friend that I did not exactly need the commission. However, I shall have a look at other commissions, too.

Mr. Snape

At the risk of being offered a job, may I congratulate the right hon. Lady on the surge in price increases since the Government took office?

Will she explain to the British people that there are still another 200 companies in the pipeline which have yet to receive their pay-off for their contributions to Tory Party funds?

The Prime Minister

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. It is remarkable how many price increases are held up just before a general election.

Mr. Adley

Reverting to the question about COHSE and NUPE, does my right hon. Friend agree that what those unions said in the past few days is deeply offensive, not only to the House but to millions of people, especially after a general election? Is it not appropriate that she should seek a meeting with Mr. Len Murray at an early date to raise the matter with him so that the question may be fully and openly discussed and so that she may let him know what many people feel about what COHSE and NUPE are up to?

Mrs. Thatcher

I believe that it is not only deeply offensive but also constitutionally wrong, and I believe that the leaders of the trade union movement would say the same thing. I shall convey my hon. Friend's message and the feelings of the House on this matter.