Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1975 Jul 1 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

House of Commons PQs

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [894/1182-88]
Editorial comments: 1515-30.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2369
[column 1182]

Chancellor of the Exchequer (Broadcast)

Q1. Mr. Tebbit

asked the Prime Minister if the broadcast made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Radio Leeds on the economy on 14th June represents Government policy.

Q4. Mr. Norman Lamont

asked the Prime Minister whether the broadcast of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the economy on Radio Leeds on 14th June represents Government policy.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Tebbit

Will the Prime Minister tell us whether we can expect the bold words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in that broadcast to be followed by bold [column 1183]action this afternoon, or will the Government continue their cringing abdication of duty of Jack Jones and wait for him to dictate the policy of the present Government when the country is in deep trouble?

The Prime Minister

Although I do not accept at all any of the words used by the hon. Gentleman, I recommend him to await the statement by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the end of Questions.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the sudden interest of the Leader of the Opposition in the state of the economy coincides with the broadcasting of these proceedings and that, if nothing else, radio has at least flushed her out from her shy retirement? When these proceedings stop being broadcast, she will no doubt go back to her top priority of the Jimmy Young Show.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir, I do not accept at all what my hon. Friend said, and I did not entirely like one of his phrases about the right hon. Lady. But I think that the problem here is not any lack of interest in these matters. It is a total inability to produce any Opposition policy on them.

Mr. David Price

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Prime Minister referred to a statement being made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There is no notice put up in the Members' Lobby to the effect that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is making a statement.

Mr. Speaker

That is not really a point of order arising out of Questions.

Middlesbrough

Q2. Mr. Wrigglesworth

asked the Prime Minister if he will make an official visit to Middlesbrough.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so, Sir.

Mr. Wrigglesworth

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if he had visited Middlesbrough he would have found amongst my constituents considerable confusion about the Opposition's economic policy? Will he therefore consider appointing a Select Committee to investigate which alternatives they propose, and will he consider including on that Com[column 1184]mittee the right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker) and the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph)?

The Prime Minister

Since the confusion referred to by my hon. Friend is not confined to Middlesbrough, I do not see why I should make special arrangements to visit Middlesbrough to hear about it.

Mr. Brittan

Will the Prime Minister accept that if he travelled only eight miles from Middlesbrough he would find a wide understanding of the Opposition's policy—the recognition that what is needed is firm action to cut public expenditure and to deal with inflation and, above all, an understanding that the present Government have failed the nation totally?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I am not sure whether he was proposing that the eight miles should be in a landward or a seaward direction. Whichever it is, if he or anyone within eight miles of Middlesbrough has this valuable information he owes it to the nation and to the Leader of the Opposition to make clear to the nation what the Opposition's policy is.

Mr. Arthur Bottomley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the people of Middlesbrough recall with affection his last visit and would like to see him again? Does he not think that the time is opportune for him to come to Middlesbrough and the North-East to see what is being done in that area to help the North Sea development, which will do so much to help our economy?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. I well remember the visit, which, I hope, played a small part in the winning of a seat for Labour in Middlesbrough at that time. Certainly my right hon. Friend is right to draw my attention and that of the House to the work that is being done in relation to the North Sea. Apparently 400 companies in the Northern Region, including Middlesbrough, are doing, or intend to do, North Sea oil work. Twelve of them are currently engaged on large-value North Sea contracts Northern industry has between 15 per cent. and 20 per cent. of the British share of the North Sea hardware market, and the estimated value of work so far undertaken is £200 million, [column 1185]which represents 5,000 jobs. [Interruption.] This is important to the people of Middlesbrough. The number of jobs directly attributable to North Sea offshore work in the region is about 5,000, with a further 3,000 estimated over the next two years.

Prime Minister

(Official Engagements)

Q3. Mr. Golding

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 1st July.

The Prime Minister

I chaired a meeting of the Cabinet this morning and I shall be having further meetings with my colleagues and others this afternoon. Later today I hope to have an audience of Her Majesty the Queen. This evening, I expect to be in my place in this House and if, as I expect, I am convinced by the arguments, I shall be casting my vote, or votes, in the proceedings on the Industry Bill.

Mr. Golding

Is the Prime Minister aware that many of us will wish him well? In view of the many matters of common concern between the two countries, will he tell us whether he has any intention of having further discussions with the Prime Minister of Belgium while that gentleman is in Britain?

The Prime Minister

I spent several hours with the Prime Minister of Belgium last night. We discussed bilateral matters and the situation in the European Economic Community following the outcome of the referendum. As the House knows, Mr. Tindemans has been charged by various Heads of Government to visit all the areas of the Community and to meet not only Governments and political parties but other interested persons and groups to discuss the future development of the Community. We spent some time discussing these matters last night. He is welcome and he will now visit Scotland and Wales. The success of his visit is assured.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Will the Prime Minister now do his public duty at his audience of Her Majesty by advising her that he does not have the confidence of the country, of the House or of anyone abroad? That is public knowledge.

[column 1186]

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I am never guilty of misinforming the Queen about the true facts.

Mr. Thorpe

Did the Prime Minister assure Mr. Tindemans of the enthusiasm of this country for direct elections to the European Parliament? Was the Prime Minister successful in explaining to Mr. Tindemans the mysteries of our existing electoral system, which I find difficult?

The Prime Minister

Mr. Tindemans did not express any interest in our electoral system in any shape or form. I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman will see Mr. Tindemans for discussions on these matters and will express views on this subject to him if he thinks them of interest. We did not express any view on the question of direct elections. As the right hon. Gentleman and the House know, the Parliamentary Labour Party has decided to nominate Members, with the agreement of the House, to go to the Assembly. No doubt those Members will have their eyes and ears open and consider these matters. [Interruption.] As I made clear a week ago, the matter of Lord George-Brown is not one for the Prime Minister of the leader of the party. The procedure has already been settled and will be carried out by the Parliamentary Labour Party, the Chief Whip and the chairman of the liaison committee. In no way did anyone interfere with the selection or other wise of Lord George-Brown.

TUC And CBI (Meeting)

Q5. Mr. Molloy

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his most recent discussions with the TUC and the CBI.

The Prime Minister

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) on 24th June.

Mr. Molloy

Will the Prime Minister take careful note of the TUC's six points? Will he reject the monetary solution proffered by some parts of the Conservative Party though not by others, and consider the position of the Leader of the Opposition, who does not know whether she wants it or not?

[column 1187]

The Prime Minister

Last week I expressed a welcome in the House, which I am sure is shared by all hon. Members, for the six points put forward by the TUC. It is a very constructive approach to these matters. I have no doubt that after my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made his statement, some of these matters will be taken up. I do not think that either the views of the official Opposition or of the “provisionals” below the Gangway are of any interest whatever to the House.

Mr. Lawson

In view of the Prime Minister's constant crowing about our export performance, why is the pound doing so badly? Is there some problem about confidence in the Government?

The Prime Minister

There is no doubt that over the first five months of this year we have reduced the balance of payments deficit to one-quarter of what it was—a 75 per cent. reduction. I have no doubt that some people are daft enough to listen to the hon. Gentleman and to people who talk like him.

Mr. David Steel

In view of the experience of the previous Labour Government in 1966 when there was a concordat called the Declaration of Intent, which involved the TUC and the CBI, will the Prime Minister take note of the TUC's views with interest but remain in charge of the Government of this country?

The Prime Minister

Yes, I fully accept that. Indeed, I have made clear, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will—I said this yesterday, when I opened the Royal Show, and on several previous occasions—that the Government will not hesitate to discharge their responsibility. They have the right and the duty to do so in all these matters affecting inflation. The fact that we receive no advice whatever from Opposition parties will not stand in the way of the Government discharging their duty in these matters. We are trying to proceed by consent, which was one of the high failures of the previous Conservative Government.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

At the conclusion of the right hon. Gentleman's present discussions with the TUC and the CBI, will he initiate discussions with the STUC and the Scottish Council (Development and [column 1188]Industry) about their wishes to have economic powers for the Scottish Assembly?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that earlier this year, with a number of my right hon. Friends—it was the first time that this had ever been done by any Prime Minister—I had very long and serious discussions with the STUC. [Interruption.] If anyone wants to claim that he did, he may do so. During those meetings, for the second time this year I also had meetings with representatives of the Scottish Council. Matters relating to the Scottish Development Agency were fully debated in the House last week and the House took a decision on them.

Mr. Ron Thomas

I should like to refer to the matter of exports and sterling. Will my right hon. Friend be good enough to comment on the reports which indicate that the lack of intervention by the Bank of England, or the limited extent of that intervention, and the fall in the value of sterling are part of the Government's overall strategy?

The Prime Minister

These are very technical matters on which hon. Members may have sharply differing views. I do not want in any way to anticipate the statement of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mrs. Thatcher

Harold WilsonThe Prime Minister said again this afternoon that one reason for his delay in taking action was that he wished to proceed by way of consent. Has he now obtained the consent of the TUC and the CBI?

The Prime Minister

I have made clear—and when the right hon. Lady hears my right hon. Friend's statement she will hear—that we are in continuing discussion with the TUC and the CBI. A great deal of progress has been made, but in our view that progress has not yet gone far enough. We believe that it is right for my right hon. Friend to set out the position this afternoon. I am certainly not going to be told by the right hon. Lady, who is not notable for consulting the TUC, or by anybody else at what point we seek to consult and at what point we are supposed to go in for the policies of confrontation which she advocated when she was in government.