Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1976 Jun 15 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

House of Commons PQs

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [913/303-09]
Editorial comments: 1515-30.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2315
[column 303]

LEWISHAM

Q1. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Prime Minister whether he will pay an official visit to Lewisham.

The Prime Minister (Mr. James Callaghan)

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

Mr. Price

Is the Prime Minister aware that he is always welcome in the borough of Lewisham, of which he and his family were such distinguished residents for so long? Is he further aware that the borough of Lewisham has a good record of race relations, although there is now great fear that the difficulties in west and east London, involving the cancer of racialism, are spreading to other parts of London? Does he agree with the Archbishop of Canterbury's condemnation of racialism, and will he ensure that the Director of Public Prosecutions has sufficient resources to bring to trial very quickly indeed those people against whom there is a case of infringement, through speech, of the Race Relations Act?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his invitation. I have always found Lewisham a very happy place, particularly during my courting days many years ago in Labour Party committee rooms during General Elections. To turn to more serious matters—[Interruption.] There is always room for a little fun and games in between canvassing.

If I may turn to the serious part of the supplementary question, I am sure that the whole House welcomed the terms of the remarks made by the Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday, in which he condemned the deplorable events of recent days. I especially welcomed his call to the Christian community to beware falling into a trap.

As regards the other considerations, I can tell my hon. Friend that some of these matters are already in the hands of the Director of Public Prosecutions. I have no intimation that he does not have the necessary resources available. However, that is a matter for my right hon. and [column 304]learned Friend the Attorney-General. I shall draw my hon. Friend's remarks to his attention.

I wish to add that all of us who have experience of the Asian community feel that they are extremely industrious and hard-working citizens and therefore are entitled to live without fear, as are other citizens in this country. I know that the police will fully carry out the duty of protecting every citizen in this country. We shall bring the due processes of law to bear against those who abuse the rights of those citizens.

Mr. Lane

When the Prime Minister next visits Lewisham or any other inner city area, will he do something to correct the growing impression that the Government are failing to keep up the attack on urban deprivation, because these matters have become increasingly urgent, requiring more resources to be devoted to those areas?

The Prime Minister

I shall look into this matter. I hope that what the hon. Gentleman said is not true. The other day I had a meeting with a group of my colleagues who believe that one of the major priorities of government relates to urban deprivation in inner cities, where young people are growing up, sometimes without jobs. I shall examine the point made by my hon. Friend because it seems to me that this is one of the festering cankers that we shall have to remove. It is a question of priorities. The hon. Gentleman calls for more resources. I must tell him that if the Government are to spend more resources in this sphere they will have to spend less in others.

Mr. Cyril Smith

If the Prime Minister visits Lewisham and has any talks there about race relations, will he bear in mind that the problems of good race relations are not confined to London boroughs? Will he remember that there are many parts of the country, my own constituency being one of them, which have large numbers of immigrants living in them? If the Government are to have talks with any groups about the fostering of good race relations—and I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House subscribe to the view expressed by the Prime Minister in his last answer—will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that any such talks involve Members from more than one side of the House [column 305]and, indeed, from more than one part of the country?

The Prime Minister

That is a very constructive suggestion. Of course, the Government must take responsibility, and if leaders of the communities wish to see Ministers such as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department they must see them. But I am certain that the Home Secretary, through the Race Relations Board, the Community Relations Commission, or in any other way, will be anxious and ready to involve Members of all parties to try to present a united front on this issue.

PRIME MINISTER (SPEECH)

Q2. Mr. Mike Thomas

asked the Prime Minister whether he will place in the Library a copy of his public speech on counter-inflation policies to Post Office workers in Bournemouth on 23rd May.

The Prime Minister

I did so on 25th May, Sir.

Mr. Thomas

If he were to make that speech today, would my right hon. Friend feel able to agree with the right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) that the trade unions have acted with patriotism and responsibility in the matter of the present pay policy, and would he feel able to disagree with the right hon. Gentleman in his prognostication that the pay policy is likely to collapse and fail? Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is unpatriotic and irresponsible to make such statements? Does he also agree that it shows about the same level of political judgment as the Leader of the Opposition has shown in the past three weeks?

The Prime Minister

I do not agree that the pay policy of the TUC is likely to fail this year. In my view the right hon. Gentleman's judgment will prove to be wrong. That is because the policy has secured not the force of law but something that is more important, namely, the voluntary consent of free men freely voting through their own organisations. I believe that it will stand up.

The right hon. Gentleman's article, which I have before me, points out some [column 306]of the difficulties that will ensue. He is right in some of those matters, and he is doing no more than repeating some of the statements that have already been made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As I have pointed out, the longer a policy of this sort goes on the more the difficulties that follow, but that is no reason for indicating that a policy which, as I believe, will receive overwhelming support tomorrow is likely to fail in the period up to August 1977.

Mr. Adley

Is the Prime Minister aware that his decision to stay in my constituency when he made his speech was very much welcomed, and that he always will be welcome in my constituency? But as the Government's policies are leading to a continuing depreciation in sterling, which is itself having an effect on the Government's fight against inflation, is the right hon. Gentleman willing to maintain the point that he made in his speech about the Government's confidence in getting inflation down to a level of 6 per cent., 7 per cent. or 8 per cent. by the end of 1977?

The Prime Minister

Yes, I see no reason to depart from that forecast. The agreement that the trade unions are recommending to their members tomorrow will take effect from August and will run until August 1977. As many wage negotiations are not concluded until the spring, the impact will be felt right through until the spring of 1978. That, coupled with other fiscal and monetary policies of the Government, leads me to the conclusion that if we carry through our policies rigorously and in a determined way we shall be able to reduce inflation very substantially.

Mr. Sedgemore

Assuming that the rumours are true and that we are about to witness the love story of the century, through the reunion of the harlot and the sailor, will the Prime Minister care to ask each of them whether they intend to carry out their counter-inflation policy through monetarist measures, through neo-Keynesian economic measures or——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I think that is enough for the Prime Minister.

Mr. Gow

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Should not the hon. Member [column 307]for Luton, West (Mr. Sedgemore) withdraw that remark?

Mr. Speaker

Will the hon. Member wait until after Question Time? I shall deal with the matter then. There are only five minutes left for Prime Minister's Questions. I am afraid that I must tell the House—I am not trying to dodge the issue—that I heard only the phrase “the harlot and the sailor” . I do not think it was applied to anyone in particular. I am not trying to avoid the issue. I did not hear anything else.

The Prime Minister

I do not believe that we have yet had spelt out to us in any convincing way the policy that the Opposition would follow in relation to fiscal or monetary policies. Until that happens the Government's policy is the only one that stands in front of the nation.

Mrs. Thatcher

If I may ask the James CallaghanPrime Minister a serious question, now that the truth behind the latest loan is steadily filtering through, does he intend within the next six months to take any steps to reduce the Budget deficit—action that the Bank for International Settlements says is imperative if our economy is properly to recover?

The Prime Minister

I assume that the right hon. Lady used the word “loan” through inadvertence. It is not a loan; it is a standby credit, which may be used wholly, in part, or not at all by the end of three months or six months. As regards what the right hon. Lady had to say about Government expenditure for 1977–78, as she will know from her previous experience, that is a matter that is reviewed by Governments through the public expenditure survey exercise. That exercise will be carried out by the Chancellor in an orderly way during the coming months, and our proposals for next year's expenditure will be placed before the House in due course.

Mrs. Thatcher

Is it the position that the Prime Minister has not excluded that possibility, and that he may take the view that in addition to pay restraint some movement on Budget restraint is also necessary?

The Prime Minister

I have never ruled that out, any more than the Chancellor has done. As my right hon. Friend [column 308]has said—I think he was the first to say it—it rather depends on the rate at which private investment scoops into the available pool of savings. We do not want to create unemployment at this moment by cutting public expenditure, and that would be the impact of it. However, as private investment and manufacturing investment take up the strain, clearly the Chancellor will need to review the position. That will be done in an orderly way during the months that lie ahead.

UNITED NATIONS ORGANISATION

(GENERAL ASSEMBLY)

Q3. Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Prime Minister when he plans to visit the General Assembly of the United Nations Organisation.

The Prime Minister

I have no plans to do so at present. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will, as usual, take part in the general debate at the beginning of the UN General Assembly, which is scheduled to start on 21st September 1976.

Mr. Evans

Will my right hon. Friend consider visiting the United Nations at an early date? Will he seek to speak to the Assembly and reiterate that the United Nations is the cornerstone of the Government's foreign policy and express wholeheartedly the Government's support for its objectives? Will he take the opportunity of expressing appreciation to the member states of the United Nations for the support that they have given to the Government's policy on Rhodesia?

The Prime Minister

I shall consider that, but it is not normal for Heads of Government to address the United Nations. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will be able to convey those sentiments, as I did last year. It is part of the foreign policy of the Labour Government and the Labour Party that the United Nations, with all its weaknesses, should be one of the cornerstones of our foreign policy.

As regards the future of Rhodesia, I was very happy that some members of the United Nations took up the statement that I made to the House on 22nd March, and particularly that the United States [column 309]Secretary of State did so, he having such influence in these matters.

Mr. Rifkind

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that several thousand Cuban troops are still entrenched in Angola, and that according to recent reports both Cuban and Soviet personnel are exercising increasing control over day-to-day administration there? Will he take steps to have this matter raised in the United Nations Decolonisation Committee, as it appears to be a particularly relevant matter for that committee?

The Prime Minister

The Angolan Government, which is now a legitimate Government, would not accept the terms of the hon. Gentleman's question, in the sense that they invited the Cubans to be there. Therefore, a propaganda exercise in the United Nations would not be likely to yield much benefit.

I think that the sooner Cuban troops are pulled out of Angola, the better. But with the withdrawal of Portuguese technicians from Angola, it is to be expected that the other technicians—the Cuban technicians—who are there are preferable to some whom the hon. Gentleman might like even less.