Question and Answer Session:——
MARGARET THATCHER CLEARS THE AIR
Asked her views on the amalgamation of the boroughs Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, M.P. for Finchley and Friern Barnet, said she was very relieved that Finchley and Friern Barnet were together. “I hope I never have to represent 318,000 people” , she added.
Mrs. Thatcher was answering questions from the members of the Finchley and Friern Barnet Conservative Association on Friday, at the Conservative Hall, North Finchley.
“We will have slightly more control in the new Borough than we have in the present system of two tier local government and there will be a larger educational unit.”
One of the questions posed said “Did Mrs. Thatcher believe that a man should be able to stand up and say what he liked?”
“No-one is allowed to say exactly what they like,” answered Mrs. Thatcher, “You cannot publicly defame a person or utter obscenities or treason. Apart from that you have right to hold a public meeting providing it does not cause an obstruction.”
Stressing there was no power for the government to ban a meeting in advance. She said the police could only issue a notice saying they believed the intended meeting would cause breach of the peace. After a meeting was under way the police could stop it.
So far the Minister of Works in letting Trafalgar Square for meetings, has not acted as a public censor.
“Since 1959 Moseley has held eight meetings in Trafalgar Square which have all gone off like damp squibs. It is only since the Communists started a campaign that there has been trouble. If Moseley's meetings are banned it means any meeting which the Communists do not like could be banned.”
One questioner said that one of the attractions of Britain joining the Common Market was to be able to take part in the economic growth of Europe. Last year this went down. If we are going to join the Common Market we shall not achieve the desired affect. What are the real benefits of joining?”
Jointly with this question Mrs. Thatcher was asked to say whether the political position of the Conservative Party in Britain at present was strengthening the hand of “the Six” .
“What we are going to achieve is something we could not achieve in any other way.” said Mrs. Thatcher. “A market without tariff barriers with 170 million people. “We are desperately in need of a larger market which we can reach without tariff barriers.” Mrs. Thatcher said the attitude of some Commonwealth countries was to put tariffs on our own goods but at the same time want free entry into this country for theirs.
“The main benefit we get from this is a larger market and a higher standard of living. The old Commonwealth is not an alternative to the Common Market. We cannot go on as we are now, we must have expanding markets.”
Not end of world
Answering the second part of the question Mrs. Thatcher replied she did not think the political position of the party strengthened the hand of “the Six” .
“The Labour party are sitting on the fence but they have a powerful pro-common Market group and also an anti-Common Market group.”
“The end of the world has not come if we don't go into it, but it would be far better if we did.”
“We can always say we will retreat into political isolation but once we do this we will leave the ascendancy to Germany. We must accept the role of being a powerful partner in European affairs.”
Other questions included one on the pay pause and asked what would happen if the National Incomes Commission suggested a four per cent rise and the Trade Unions want an eight per cent rise.
“At the moment everyone is blaming the government for the pay pause but soon the wrath of those who suffer because of the claims will turn on those who make them” .
Asked if she agreed with putting a fine on Trade Unions for unofficial strikes, Mrs. Thatcher said this depended on whether there was a closed shop, as there is in America where Unions are fined. “We are approaching a time when Trade Union laws ought to be revised.”
The Member was asked for her comments on Mr. Selwyn Lloyd 's dismissal. She answered that any economic policy was the policy of the cabinet as a whole and becomes the policy of the government. “I was quite surprised to see his dismissal because I did not think the Harold MacmillanPrime Minister would part company with Selwyn Lloydhim because it takes a tremendous lot to part company with someone you have been with for a long time. I think it was a crisis for the Prime Minister because he knew that if we were to get our policy across we would have to have new personnel” .
A strong team
Pointing out that if only people who felt sorry for Selwyn Lloyd now, had supported him during his office, Mrs. Thatcher said that the new team was the strongest for 11 years and the most forward looking.
Other questions included one on taxation, which asked why a woman who did an office job was taxed, while another who did cleaning was not.
Mrs. Thatcher pointed out that the National Insurance scheme was to insure against an interruption of earnings and the whole essence of the scheme was to insure against the time when you could not earn.
“With a woman who does a professional job her earnings are not interrupted and the contingency that she insured against has not come about. The dividing line is chosen with a widowed mother. If she earns over £5 her personal pension is reduced accordingly. She still gets a family allowance and the £5 is calculated on net earning not gross.”
“There is no difference between the char lady or the professional woman in the earnings rule.”