Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

House of Commons PQs

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [7/131-35]
Editorial comments: 1515-30.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2143
Themes: Parliament, Conservative Party (organization), Defence (general), Employment, Industry, Public spending & borrowing, Law & order, Northern Ireland, Religion & morality, Social security & welfare, Terrorism, Trade union law reform, Voluntary sector & charity
[column 131]


Voluntary Organisations

Q1. Mr. Freud

asked the Prime Minister if she will list the voluntary organisations of which she is patron or holds office in her official capacity.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

I hold no such positions in my official capacity, although in my personal capacity I have links with a number of voluntary organisations.

Mr. Freud

That is a position from which one can only advance. Does the Prime Minister accept that, with a little help, a substantial number of handicapped people in institutions could play their full part in the community? Is she aware that what is needed is not so much finance as a redeployment of funds?

The Prime Minister

The Government have given assistance to voluntary organisations of about £124 million in 1980–81, a considerable amount of which goes to voluntary organisations that help such people as the disabled. We are great believers in voluntary organisations. They provide a unique service, and we do everything that we can to help them to carry on their excellent work.

Sir Anthony Kershaw

Will my right hon. Friend have time today to devote her attention to the worrying problem of crime in South London——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I do not know whether that is voluntary. The question relates to voluntary organisations. It is not an open question.

Mr. Adley

As one of the voluntary organisations with which my right hon. Friend is, happily, closely associated is the Conservative Party, is she aware that the current paid-up membership of the Christchurch and Lymington Conservative Association stands at 11,700, which is more than last year, and that those 11,700 people are very satisfied with her relationship with the Conservative Party?

The Prime Minister

I congratulate my hon. Friend and hope that others will emulate his example.

Mr. Christopher Price

Is the Prime Minister aware that the law relating to voluntary organisations and charities in this country is in a complete mess, as instanced by the recent legal case in which the Moonies were involved? Is she aware that a Select Committee of the [column 132]House produced an all-party agreed report on this issue as long ago as 1975, only to receive a perfunctory reply from the Government? Will the Government carry out a full review, followed by legislation, to sort out the position of charities in this country?

The Prime Minister

As I said in reply to another question, a certain amount of action is being taken over the registration as charities in Britain of the organisations that are connected with the Moonies. The report did not meet with unanimity, and we have no plans to introduce legislation at present.


Q2. Mr. Butcher

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 23 June.

The Prime Minister

This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others, including one with the Iraqi Minister of Trade. In addition to my duties in the House I shall be having further meetings later today. This evening I hope to have an audience of Her Majesty the Queen.

Mr. Butcher

Will my right hon. Friend point out that, with the exception of Denmark, Britain has the highest proportion of its population in work—[Interruption]—compared with all the other countries within the EEC? Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the British form of work-sharing—albeit trade union-induced over the last 15 years—has resulted in low wages and low productivity? Does she agree further that the reversal of those trends is a pre-condition for greater wealth creation and reducing the numbers of long-term unemployed?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is correct in saying that, with the exception of Denmark, Britain has the highest proportion of its population in work of those countries within the EEC. I should have thought that the opposition would welcome such news just as much as have Conservative Members. We must get rid of overmanning if industry is to be competitive. The irony is that that gives rise to unemployment in the early stages. Nevertheless, it must be done if we are to have any hope of expanding business in the long-term.

Mr. Foot

In the context of the terrible fresh bout of unemployment figures that have been published today, does the right hon. Lady agree with the statement made at lunch-time on the radio by the Secretary of State for Employment to the effect that the figure of 3 million is likely to be reached at the beginning of next year, or even this year? Was that figure before the Cabinet last week, when its members decided to continue with the policies that have helped to cause it?

The Prime Minister

As I have told the right hon. Gentleman before, we are entering a period when many school leavers register as unemployed. It is inevitable that when the structure of the population is such that there are far more people leaving school than retiring, there will be an increase in the number of those in the labour force who need jobs. Inevitably, unemployment will rise during the coming months. I cannot say to what figure. Although a deplorable rise in unemployment was announced today, the underlying increase is much less than it was. On average, the underlying increase—seasonally adjusted—in the past three months was 57,000. In the [column 133]previous three months the underlying increase was 81,000, and in the three months preceding that the average figure per month was 115,000.

Mr. Foot

Given that the number of young unemployed is rising so drastically, why have the Government not come forward with more far-reaching plans to deal with the situation? Is the right hon. Lady confirming what the Secretary of State for Employment said about the possibility of 3 million unemployed?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I am confirming what I said. The right hon. Gentleman is well aware that I emulate him in one way; it is not my habit to forecast the unemployment figures. He did not do so, and I do not. For the reasons that I have given, there will inevitably be an increase in unemployment. There is an extensive programme to help school leavers. At present, we are finding about 440,000 places for young people who cannot get jobs. I hope that the number of places will be enough, but if it is not we shall increase the number in order to guarantee school leavers some work experience by Christmas. That is a lot earlier than the right hon. Gentleman guaranteed during his period of office.

Viscount Cranborne

Given the success of the American space shuttle, will my right hon. Friend take time today to consider how long it will be before the United States of America can put a new ABM system into orbit? Will she consider how soon that is likely to take place and its likely effect on the obsolescence, or otherwise, of the Trident system?

The Prime Minister

I saw Captain John Young the other day. Indeed, I saw him and went over the shuttle with him some years ago, during the early preparations. We do not need to expect an effective anti-ballistic missile system for some time. Indeed, some say that we shall never have an effective one that can put out the nuclear warhead while in flight.

Mr. Wellbeloved

Will the Prime Minister find time to meet the wives, sweethearts and mothers of the soldiers who have been murdered by the IRA in Northern Ireland, to assure them that it remains the majority decision of the House to minimise the possibility of those murderers being elected to the House?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman knows, this matter was discussed yesterday. We extend every sympathy to the relatives of those who have been murdered or injured while on duty in Northern Ireland. We are very grateful that we have forces that carry out their duties with such commendable restraint and devotion to duty as those in Northern Ireland. In the meantime, I have nothing to add the what my right hon. Friend William Whitelawthe Home Secretary said yesterday about the Bill.

Q3. Mr. Alan Clark

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 23 June.

The Prime Minister

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave some moments ago.

Mr. Clark

Has my right hon. Friend yet had time to read the interesting speech made over the weekend by the deputy secretary general of the Transport and General Workers Union, Mr. Alex Kitson, in which he added his voice to the growing number of those who regard the idea [column 134]of the closed shop as an intolerable intrusion into individual liberty? When will legislation be brought before the House to outlaw it?

The Prime Minister

If Mr. Kitson is wholly against the closed shop and its compulsory nature, I shall be delighted to have a new recruit. Legislation next Session, which will include something on the closed shop, is well on the cards.

Mr. Soley

Given that the Prime Minister does not seem able to control public expenditure to the extent that she would like, is not the enforcement of tough financial limits on local authorities a classic case of “Do not do as we do; do as we tell you” ?

The Prime Minister

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is not aware that if we had had the level of public expenditure that the Labour Government planned it would be nearly £11 billion more than it is now. If that were the case, the levels of taxation and of interest rates would be intolerable and appalling.

Sir Anthony Kershaw

Will my right hon. Friend still have time today to consider the level of violence—including muggings, robberies with violence and racist attacks—in South London? Does that not mean that there should be more police, rather than fewer as Labour councils in that part of the world advocate?

The Prime Minister

If my hon. Friend is referring to the terrible wanton hooliganism that occurred the other day in Peckham, I can only say that it was totally deplorable. The Metropolitan Police force is not quite up to establishment, and naturally we wish to get it up to strength. I agree that we need more police, not less. They carry out their duties magnificently.

Q4. Mr. Allan Roberts

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 23 June.

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave some moments ago.

Mr. Roberts

Will the Prime Minister today consider the obscene level of unemployment in Merseyside? The national average is high enough, but unemployment in Merseyside is nearly double that. Given that some of my constituents are of Irish descent, and that both Protestants and Catholics live in harmony together, will she give the industries of that area the same amount of help as the Government have given to Harland and Wolff?

The Prime Minister

The problem of Merseyside is acutely difficult. The Government have set up almost every organisation possible in order to help the area. Those organisations include the urban development corporation, a partnership arrangement, an enterprise zone and the help given through being a special development area. Per annum, about £300 million of Government aid goes into Merseyside. I begin to wonder whether we get the best value for it and whether it is properly applied in the interests of those who work on Merseyside. There would seem to be a certain lack of decision about what to do in relation to such things as the ring road, and it would seem to go through the whole organisation. It is time that a decision was reached on how to proceed with the problems of Merseyside.

Mr. Murphy

Will my right hon. Friend find time today to congratulate those firms in my constituency which [column 135]have courageously invested during the recent recession and which already are seeing an improvement in their trading?

The Prime Minister

I am delighted to congratulate firms that have continued to invest. The clue to investment is whether a company can be certain of getting a reasonable return. When they can, we are prepared to make the investment and finance abundantly forthcoming.