Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1976 Dec 7 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

House of Commons PQs

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [922/228-35]
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2589
[column 228]


Q1. Mr. Lawrence

asked the Prime Minister whether he will visit Hayes and Harlington.

Q6. Mr. Ridley

asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to Hayes and Harlington.

The Prime Minister (Mr. James Callaghan)

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Lawrence

Will the Prime Minister say quite simply whose side he is on?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir—mine.

Mr. Ridley

Now that the Reds have come out of their beds and are getting into Labour beds, will the Prime Minister say why he has shelved the Underhill Report? Is it a correct impression that the right hon. Gentleman is no longer in control of his own party?

The Prime Minister

Mr. Underhill is a very good friend of mine, but I have no ministerial responsibility for anything he does or says—and I do not think that the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) has any particular responsibility in that direction either. If we are talking about infiltration, let me [column 229]make clear that I am horrified at the degree of hard-faced extremists who are infiltrating the Tory Front Bench.

Mr. Bidwell

If my right hon. Friend cannot make the long journey to Hayes and Harlington, will he take a shorter journey to my constituency of Ealing, Southall, where he will soon be able to take part in the rejoicing among the Sikh community, which has triumphed over Labour and Tory bureaucrats on the subject of the wearing of crash helmets on motor cycles?

The Prime Minister

I should be pleased to consider an invitation to my hon. Friend's constituency. Ever since I took part in the Immigration Bill debates in Committee in 1971, when the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) was an ornament of the then Government, I have been aware that my hon. Friend takes the side of the Sikhs in these matters. I congratulate him on his victory.

Mr. Anthony Grant

Will the Prime Minister accept from me, as one who fought the Hayes and Harlington constituency, that the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Sandelson) is a worthy successor to the late Arthur Skeffington but that he is guilty of only one offence, which is the serious offence of being a strong supporter of the Labour Government?

The Prime Minister

I am sure that the electors of Hayes and Harlington will in future, as in the past, always produce the correct result.

Mr. Ashley

Disregarding the incipient authoritarianism that is inherent in Conservatism, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend is aware that nobody in the Labour Party would ever stand for a witch hunt of any kind? Does he not agree that if these matters are manipulated in any way they will damage not only the right wing and the moderates but also the left wing, because all those wings of the Labour Party are democratic? The issue is not between Left and Right in the party. It is between what is democratic and what is anti-democratic. If there are anti-democratic forces at work, they should be strongly resisted by all wings of the Labour Party.

[column 230]

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend expresses the matter admirably, but I do not think that the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) or the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) was approaching these considerations with the same degree of dedication as was my hon. Friend.

Mr. Aitken

Why have the Government decided in principle that they are willing to spend taxpayers' money on placing Government advertising in the Communist-owned Morning Star? Whose side is the Prime Minister really on?

The Prime Minister

That question has already been answered, and the hon. Gentleman should know that the answer has appeared in Hansard. The Morning Star, as every other newspaper, is judged on whether it produces audited evidence of its circulation. It has done so, and that qualifies it in these circumstances. The fact that Government advertising appears in that newspaper does not mean to say that I have to agree with its opinions, any more than that I have to agree with the opinions of the Daily Telegraph on the same grounds.

Mr. Sandelson

If my right hon. Friend should change his mind and decide to visit my constituency—where he is assured of a warm welcome—will he bear in mind the need to regenerate industry in the Greater London area as part of the Government's programme for the country as a whole? I am sure that my right hon. Friend is aware that this is a matter of the deepest concern to the people I represent.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. My hon. Friend is quite correct in his concern about the decline in manufacturing industry in Greater London. The investigations that have taken place into this show that it has a variety of causes, into which I certainly cannot go this afternoon—like transport difficulties, traffic congestions and high rents—but the Government are reviewing the policy for urban areas and I believe that those areas will be helped by the industrial strategy generally. But certainly Hayes and Harlington needs the continuous attention, and will get the continuous attention, of my hon. Friend.

[column 231]


Q2. Mr. George Gardiner

asked the Prime Minister, if he will relieve the Chancellor of the Exchequer of his duties.

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) on 29th November.

Mr. Gardiner

Has the Prime Minister sufficient remaining confidence in his Chancellor of the Exchequer to endorse his statement to the House last week that no proposals for a wealth tax will be brought before this Parliament, or is this again a case of the Government's saying one thing to Parliament and another thing to the TUC?

The Prime Minister

If there is any change in policy it will be announced to the House. In the meantime, I suggest that the hon. Member keeps his comments to himself.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Will my right hon. Friend reject punitive terms from the IMF and tell it instead that as a first act we shall withdraw the British Army of the Rhine and thereby save £600 million a year? Will he explain to the IMF that British working people cannot tolerate further cuts in housing, health, education and social services which would further add to unemployment and actually increase the deficit on public spending?

The Prime Minister

I recognise that the House has a genuine interest in the discussions that are taking place. The Government will reach their own conclusions on these matters and will place them before the House in due course. In the meantime, I give no undertakings on any of the points raised by my hon. Friend.

Mrs. Thatcher

Does James Callaghanthe Prime Minister recollect that in October 1974, after six months of Labour government, Denis Healeythe Chancellor of the Exchequer claimed that the rate of inflation was 8.4 per cent.? Since, on the same basis it is now 19.7 per cent., is it not time that he changed either the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the strategy?

Mr. Nicholas Winterton


[column 232]

Mr. John Ellis


The Prime Minister

Order, order. In that statement the Chancellor of the Exchequer made it clear that he was referring to the position over the previous quarter. Since then the position has changed. It got worse and then became better. It is now at the stage where, having been brought down from a high level, it is on a plateau—too high a plateau—despite unprecedented restraints by trade unions in their attitude to wage settlements and despite the fact that even this year trade unionists are accepting wholly the agreement entered into by the TUC. I hope that the Opposition will recognise, when considering these matters, that in getting inflation down a national effort is needed. There is not much party advantage in a high rate of inflation.

Mr. Rathbone

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it correct parliamentary practice to——

Mr. Speaker

Order. Will the hon. Member please raise that point of order at the end of Question Time?

Mr. Rathbone

On a point of order——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member is only taking up time from Prime Minister's Questions. I shall deal with his point of order at the end of Question Time.


Mr. Rathbone

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to ask for your guidance whether it was in order for the Prime Minister to deceive the House when referring to inflation by describing a steep incline of 1 in 4 as a “plateau” .

Mr. Speaker

Perhaps I may tell the hon. Gentleman and the House again that the word “deceive” when applied to any right hon. or hon. Member is an unparliamentary expression, because it implies a deliberate act of deceit. The hon. Gentleman will know that the English language is rich enough for him to be able to express himself equally colourfully and yet to be in order.

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Does the hon. Member wish to catch my eye?

[column 233]

Mr. Rathbone

I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that the Prime Minister wished only to mislead.

Hon. Members



Q3. Mr. Madden

asked the Prime Minister when he next intends to make a ministerial broadcast.

The Prime Minister

I will do so at an appropriate time.

Mr. Madden

When my right hon. Friend next broadcasts will he confirm that all Labour Members of Parliament were elected on a promise to secure a fundamental and irreversible shift in the balance of wealth and power in favour of working people and their families? Will he further tell his audience, which will doubtless include millions of people on or below the poverty line, that that promise is incompatible with savagely deflationary economic policies?

The Prime Minister

There is no prospect of savage deflationary economic policies. The definition of the word “savage” is important, and that is what will count in the end. I shall tell the country, as I have before, that there is no soft option and that I do not promise any real easement in standards of living for some time to come. I said that within hours of being elected, and I stand by it.

Mr. David Steel

When he next makes a broadcast will the Prime Minister clarify whether it is Government policy to try to unite the nation or to stir up envy, greed and class conflict in the manner of the previous Labour Government?

The Prime Minister

I did not see the last party political broadcast, but I read the script and I was not overimpressed by it.

Mr. Kinnock

I hope that this does not sound too unctuous, but is my right hon. Friend aware that we are all against greed, envy and conflict and that there is no monopoly, even in the Liberal Party, of such virtue? Is my right hon. Friend aware that, while we on this side of the House agree that there are no soft options, there are certainly some Socialist options available including raising pro[column 234]duction and returning to proper collective bargaining rather than cutting the social wage of the worker. Such a policy would ensure the economic prosperity that we need, not on the terms of the people who dictate but on the terms of those who produce.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Go back to the valleys.

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is right to emphasise the importance of the industrial strategy and of continuing a policy to ensure that there is a higher rate of investment and a concentration on exports. In the short run I am not sure that we can link together all the alternatives that my hon. Friend put forward. Until the country is living more nearly within its own means and not borrowing so much, I am not sure that we can always preserve the standards that we want to see.

Mr. Baker

Before he makes his next broadcast, will the Prime Minister look at the Houghton proposals on Cabinet secrecy which recommend that members of the Cabinet should be more discreet and not talk about Cabinet discussions outside the Cabinet? How does he think that the world will be able to recognise the moment when those proposals are implemented?

The Prime Minister

A statement will be made from the Dispatch Box.

Mr. Ford

In his next broadcast will my right hon. Friend explain what aid the Government have given to the textile industry and in measures announced by the Secretary of State for Industry in connection with aid for the clothing industry?

The Prime Minister

I should be glad to do that. My hon. Friend has pinpointed an important matter—selective assistance to industry. The Government have given assistance to the ferrous foundry, machine tool, paper and board, printing machinery, wool textile, and clothing industries. There is no doubt that our industrial strategy is working well in those directions. It is important that we should continue to stick at it. We shall win through.

Mr. Rost

Will the Prime Minister explain to the nation why he intends to lumber the British people with still more foreign debt so that he can continue his Socialist extravagance?

[column 235]

The Prime Minister

That is a total misrepresentation of the position. When I recall how we have controlled the money supply by comparison with spendthrifts on the Opposition Front Bench——

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

That is not true.

The Prime Minister

—and the fact that we have cut back—I regret to say it—the local authorities' rate support grant, I believe that there is no doubt that public expenditure, as is openly acknowledged, and was acknowledged by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) in his speech last week, is under more severe and complete control than it has been for many years. That is what we intend to continue.