Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1976 Jul 22 Th
Margaret Thatcher

House of Commons PQs

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [915/1999-2009]
Editorial comments: Around 1515-1542.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2325
[column 1999]


Q1. Mr. Adley

asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to Blyth.

[column 2000]

Q8. Mr. Tebbit

asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to Blyth.

The Prime Minister (Mr. James Callaghan)

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Adley

Now that the Salmon Report has been published, and in the light of the third point of Mrs. Ward-Jackson 's addendum at page 118, will the Prime Minister seek to initiate a public inquiry into the relevance of her remarks regarding the activities of local government in the North-East?

The Prime Minister

I have not studied the report in detail although I have read the conclusions. I shall look up what is said in page 118. As regards an independent inquiry, I understand that this has been considered many times. The view is taken that, as criminal proceedings arising from the various ramifications of the Poulson affair have not been concluded, it would not be right to consider setting up any other sort of inquiry at this moment. However, later in the year we shall be able to consider the matter again.

Mr. William Hamilton

Wherever my right hon. Friend pays an official visit in the near future, will he take the opportunity of attacking the cruelty and stupidity of the parliamentary tactics adopted by the Leader of the Opposition which result in dragging sick Members to the House, including Members with debilitating illnesses and infections such as mumps, in addition to preventing Ministers—[Interruption]—from attending conferences of major international importance?

The Prime Minister

I think that there has been a revulsion against the tactics of bringing certain Members to the House earlier this week. Anyone who saw some of those who were brought here, as some of us did, would believe that there must be a much better way of conducting our affairs. I understand that there may be some improved arrangements next week, but it is not for me to comment on that at the moment. As regards infectious diseases, I hope that my hon. Friend was not close enough to anybody to catch any.

[column 2001]

Mrs. Thatcher

Perhaps the best way of avoiding these things is not to have five guillotine measures in one day. Why could not the James CallaghanPrime Minister follow the example of the Opposition and refuse to bring in his most sick Members? We did not bring in all of ours.

The Prime Minister

That is not quite the information I had, or the impression that I think my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) was conveying about certain sick Opposition Members. Perhaps the best remedy, if we cannot put our own affairs in order, is to have a large Labour majority at the next General Election.

Mr. Tebbit

As the hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Ryman) did not feel able to take part in our debates on the Education Bill, would not Blyth be a suitable place for the Prime Minister to make a speech explaining whether he believes in freedom of choice in schooling for all children or only for the children of the rich and powerful?

The Prime Minister

I have every intention of making a speech on a number of educational matters at an appropriate moment in the autumn. As regards the education of any children, that is the right of the parents and no one else.


Q2. Mr. George Rodgers

asked the Prime Minister if he will make an official visit to Clayton-le-Woods.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Rodgers

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if he should have the opportunity to visit Clayton-le-Woods, which is within the boundary of the Central Lancashire New Town, he would find great concern that the public expenditure cuts may result in houses being provided without the amenities and educational facilities which should go with them? Can he assure us that there is no danger of cuts of this nature?

The Prime Minister

I must ask my hon. Friend to await the statement of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer later. Our plans will affect [column 2002]new towns, among other matters, but I cannot go into detail at the moment.

Mr. Tim Renton

As the Prime Minister is not going to Clayton-le-Woods will he find time on the way to his Sussex farm to meet teenagers in my constituency and explain why he has not declared redundant his grotesquely incompetent Secretary of State for Employment for his total failure to deal with the problems of jobs for school leavers?

The Prime Minister

A question phrased in that way seems to import more political prejudice than concern for the real problem. I imagine that that was the hon. Gentleman's intention. We are considering what additional measures may be brought in to facilitate the employment of more school leavers in the next few weeks and months.

Mr. Cryer

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the number of school leavers and other people who are unemployed is due to the crisis of capitalism, the system which Opposition Members support hook, line and sinker? Does he not also agree that swingeing public expenditure cuts would produce even more unemployment and would represent a yielding to international bankers? Is not the real task of the Labour Government to seek Socialist solutions against the support of capitalism by hon. Members opposite?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend seems to be making a point that is more consistent with a speech than with a visit to Clayton-le-Woods. There is no doubt that what happens on public expenditure is bound to have an impact on unemployment. We have to balance these matters, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer will show in a few minutes' time.

Mr. Gow

Regardless of whether the Prime Minister goes to Clayton-le-Woods, will he repeat to the House what he said a moment ago that decisions on the education of children should be taken by parents and not by the State?

The Prime Minister

That is certainly my view and it is the view of the great majority of people in this country, who now have a greater freedom of choice and a wider curricula than ever before.

[column 2003]


Q4. Mr. Dykes

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his official visit to Bonn.

The Prime Minister

My visit to Bonn on 30th June was in accordance with the informal understanding reached between my predecessor and Chancellor Schmidt that the Heads of Government of our two countries should aim to meet for bilateral talks about every six months. As has become customary at these meetings the talks were conducted in an informal manner and covered the questions of common concern which were uppermost in our minds. A particularly welcome feature this time was the inclusion in part of our discussions of members of the Bullock Committee on Industrial Democracy. They were already in the Federal Republic and, at Herr Schmidt 's invitation, joined the talks along with representatives of German management and trade unions.

Mr. Dykes

Was the Prime Minister able to reassure the German Chancellor that his commitment to introduce legislation for direct elections to the European Parliament in the next Session is firm, definite and unequivocal?

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to the many answers I have already given on this matter in the House. The position remains exactly the same as it was last time I answered these questions.

Mr. Hooley

Does not my right hon. Friend consider that these private tête-à-têtes between the President of France and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom or the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic are a very unsatisfactory way of conducting the affairs of the EEC and are provoking serious resentment among other members?

The Prime Minister

I am not sure that that is true. There has been a substantial tour of visits by Heads of Government. Some visits have been more useful than others. I have found my talks valuable in concerting our approach, not on Community questions alone but on much wider questions concerning our policies in other parts of the world.

[column 2004]

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Did the right hon. Gentleman make clear to the Federal German Chancellor what he has never made clear to the people of this country—namely, whether he believes that freedom of parental choice in education should be available in the public sector as well as in the private sector?

The Prime Minister

We did not discuss education.

Mr. John Evans

When my right hon. Friend next visits Europe, will he take up with EEC Heads of Government the question of economic aid to Italy? Can he tell us whether the statement of the West German Chancellor that there would be no economic aid from the Community if there were Communist participation in the Italian Government represents the policy of the British Government?

The Prime Minister

I followed the exchange between Herr Schmidt and the Press on these matters. There was an exchange of views in Puerto Rico on the general matter, but if there were a request from the Italian Government—and none has yet been received—Communist participation in that Government would be a complicating factor. That was the nature of the discussion, but no conclusions were reached.

Mr. Marten

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that German and Belgian politicians want to turn Europe into a federal State, as do many of the Christian Democrat parties? Will the right hon. Gentleman make clear, in conjunction with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, that neither of the main political parties in this country wants anything like that? Is it not only fair to make that clear?

The Prime Minister

I admire the pertinacity with which the hon. Gentleman pursues his case, but I do not believe that saying something 77 times makes it more valid than saying it once. The hon. Gentleman and the House know my views on this matter very well.

Mr. Greville Janner

When my right hon. Friend met representatives of the Bullock Committee, was he able to ascertain whether their report would be available on time so that legislation on worker participation can be introduced next Session?

[column 2005]

The Prime Minister

The exchange of views that we had on industrial democracy was extremely valuable to both sides. The British representatives, who included employers and trade unionists as well as independent members, felt that what had happened and was happening in Germany offered a great many lessons. In a private discussion with me Lord Bullock said that his committee was making rapid progress, but I cannot promise on his behalf when the report will be ready. As soon as it is received, we shall begin consultations with a view to introducing legislation, but I am naturally unable to say when that will be.


Q5. Mr. Cartwright

asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to Greenwich.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Cartwright

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if he were to visit Greenwich he could meet members of the Labour group on the local authority, who have already made substantial cuts in their aims and aspirations and in their services to the people and who are willing to co-operate with the Government in maintaining a genuine standstill on spending? Is he also aware, however, that they would make absolutely clear that they cannot accept further cuts which would have a major impact on families in real need?

The Prime Minister

I am aware of the situation in Greenwich and of the co-operation extended by the Labour group. What concerns me about local authority expenditure is that when it is necessary to economise many authorities choose to cut services in preference to staff. As the purpose of the staff is to provide the services, I hope that they will keep a proper balance in these matters.

Mr. Mayhew

Would not the Prime Minister, if he addressed the council in Greenwich, have an opportunity of explaining the direct link between the expenditure bonanza during the Government's first 18 months in office, which was the price for their two General Election victories, and the collapse of confidence which has led to the no doubt [column 2006]inadequate cuts which are about to be announced?

The Prime Minister

I should certainly explain that local authority expenditure which qualifies for rate support grant has gone up by about three times in the space of three years. That, alas, is not expenditure over which the Government have direct control. They pay 65 per cent. or some proportion or percentage of it. However, there is no direct control over current expenditure by local authorities. That is undoubtedly part of the source of our difficulties at present.