Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1982 Feb 23 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

House of Commons PQs

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: House of Commons PQs
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [18/743-48]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2129
Themes: Executive, Economy (general discussions), Education, Employment, Privatized & state industries, Pay, Taxation, Trade, Foreign policy (Central & Eastern Europe), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Housing, Labour Party & socialism, Law & order, Local government, Northern Ireland, Social security & welfare, Terrorism, Transport, Strikes & other union action
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PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Alton

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

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall have further meetings later today. This evening I hope to have an audience of Her Majesty the Queen. Later I shall attend a dinner given by the Engineering Employers Federation.

Mr. Alton

In the light of the trail of destruction left in a Liverpool school over the last few days, will the Prime Minister tell the House whether she has yet had a chance to read the reports in The Guardian this morning and in The Times last Friday about the politically motivated Left-wing groups that are involved in the indoctrination of young people? Would the right hon. Lady care to comment on the £½ million reduction in the policing budget on Merseyside and to consider the possibility of reinstating that money and putting 1,000 extra community police on the beat? Would she agree with me—[Hon. Members: “Too long.” ]—that parents must exert greater [column 744]responsibility in dealing with their children and in encouraging greater discipline among the children in this area?

The Prime Minister

We do not believe that there should be any reduction in the amount spent in these difficult days on the numbers of the police or the provision of equipment. We should fight strenuously against any reduction in the numbers of or expenditure on police services.

With regard to the matters in Liverpool, we understand that the community policing will have a beneficial effect and I hope that it will strengthen relations between the police and the community.

With regard to the school, all of us saw photographs on television and read reports in the newspapers and we are concerned about the events that took place in a comparatively new school with a good teacher-pupil ratio. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that parents, and all citizens, have a duty both to teach the principle of law and order and to see that it is upheld.

In some of those areas, some of the children suffer from what are called “non-accidental injuries” and sometimes children are abandoned. This is something that occurs in such areas and the social services and all voluntary agencies do everything that they can to diminish it.

Mr. Heddle

Will my right hon. Friend find time today to congratulate the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) on employing as a political agent someone who has had the good sense to buy his council house? Would my right hon. Friend agree that this is red-hot evidence that thousands of members of the Labour Party prefer the common sense, security and independence that home ownership offers to mongrel political dogma.

The Prime Minister

It seems to me a good example of the old political adage that one should look at what they do and not at what they say.

Mr. Skinner

rose——

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Michael Foot.

Mr. Foot

rose——

Hon. Members

Give way.

Mr. Foot

Can I—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. May I say we are only at the beginning of Prime Minister's Question Time. There is plenty of time yet.

Mr. Skinner

It is not true what the hon. Gentleman says. I do not have an agent.

Mr. Foot

I am sure that my hon. Friend will be able to look after himself. The right hon. Lady says that people should be judged by what they do. The figure of over 3 million unemployed is published today for the last time before the forthcoming Budget. Will the right hon. Lady give the House and the country an assurance that the coming Budget, unlike all previous Budgets introduced by her Administration, will not add drastically to the unemployment total? Can she give a further assurance that she will take steps in the Budget to restore to the unemployed the benefits that have been cut by her Government?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman will know that I can say virtually nothing about the Budget. I [column 745]can, however, promise him that it is unlikely, in contrast to Budgets introduced by the Labour Government, to take us to the IMF.

Mr. Foot

If the right hon. Lady cannot, or will not, answer the question about the likely increase in unemployment as a result of the Budget, will she answer the question about the unemployed? Is she not aware that under her Government there has been a severe cut of something like £10 a week, particularly for the long-term unemployed? Is she not aware that the number of long-term unemployed has risen to about 1 million? These are appalling figures. Will she take steps in the Budget to help those whom she is making unemployed?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman is correct in saying that those who have been unemployed for about a year number between 900,000 and 1 million. That is, indeed, very serious. Any national insurance changes are usually announced in the Budget. The right hon. Gentleman must await them. He will have already seen an additional Supplementary Estimate, which is largely accounted for by the increasing number of unemployed applying for social security benefits.

Mr. Robert Atkins

Will my right hon. Friend find time today to urge her appropriate colleagues to study the Granada TV “World in Action” programme in which an IRA arms dealer indicated that Noraid had raised $5 million in the United States and that practically all this amount had been spent on weapons? Will she take urgent steps to ensure that our representatives in the United States make the American public fully aware of where this money is going?

The Prime Minister

We have tried to do just that. We shall continue our efforts. The President and the United States Government have been very forthright in pointing out that money given to Noraid finds its way towards helping terrorists in the IRA. They have condemned it.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Prime Minister aware that I do not have an agent and that the person referred to on a previous occasion by one of her Ministers is no longer on the executive of the Bolsover constituency Labour Party?

Mr. Robert Atkins

Serves him right.

Mr. Skinner

Is the right hon. Lady aware that he was not pushed out, but resigned?

Will she also confirm that she agrees with the Minister of State, Treasury—on an entirely different matter—[Interruption.] Oh yes, I am using this opportunity. The Minister referred to the fact that low paid civil servants could not expect a pay increase because 10 people were running after every job. Will the right hon. Lady make that criterion apply to the Army, to the police and to Members of Parliament?

The Prime Minister

The gentleman, whether or not he is the hon. Gentleman's agent, seems wise when dealing with housing matters. It is perhaps because he is wise that he is not the hon. Gentleman's agent.

On the issue of the Civil Service, a pay offer has been made. It takes into account the fact, as the hon. Gentleman has pointed out, that there are a large number of applicants for positions in the lower and younger ranks of the Civil Service. We rely very much on the experience of those in the upper ranks. We also need to pay more to a small number of people such as those in the Nuclear Installations [column 746]Inspectorate. The offer takes into account all these factors. I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would welcome it, but——

Mr. Skinner

The right hon. Lady ought to be ashamed of herself.

The Prime Minister

—it is wise, so perhaps he will not do so.

Q1. Mr. Sheerman

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

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Sheerman

During the course of her day will the Prime Minister try to explain to ordinary men and women across the length and breadth of the country how a Government who supposedly believe in equity can hand out massive State benefits to people who invest in Amersham International, while at the same time the unemployed and poorly paid are severely punished by the Government day after day and week after week? Can the right hon. Lady explain the disparity between giving State cash to certain well-off people and taking it away from the poor?

The Prime Minister

It is, of course, very easy to judge a price in retrospect. It is not so easy to judge it in prospect.

Mr. David Atkinson

In view of the deteriorating situation in Poland and the state of siege in Gdansk, will my right hon. Friend initiate new European sanctions against those responsible in the Kremlin? Does she accept that West Germany, France and the Benelux countries, in agreeing to the Siberian gas pipeline deal, in effect, sold their souls to the devil?

The Prime Minister

Under the NATO umbrella, we have announced the measures that we have taken against the military Government in Poland and also a certain number of measures that are signals to the Soviet Union that we are well aware of the collusion between the Soviet Union and Poland over the imposition of military Government. With regard to the gas pipeline to West Germany and France from Siberia, I believe that this is a matter on which it would be better not to comment. I would point out to my hon. Friend that one contract has come to this country that is very valuable to a particular development area.

Mr. Straw

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Treasury is refusing to give information on the total cost of her tax handouts to the rich in the last three Budgets? Is the reason her acute embarrassment that the tax burden on the rich has gone down while that on everyone else has gone up? As this information is available in the Treasury and has nothing to do with this year's Budget, will she arrange for this concealment of information to be ended forthwith?

The Prime Minister

Tax reductions, by definition, go in greater proportion to those who pay the greater proportion. That is obvious. If people do not pay very much tax, they cannot get very much tax back by way of tax reductions. I would, however, point out to the hon. Gentleman that the top 40 per cent. of incomes start at about £7,500 a year, an amount that would perhaps not enable those earning it to be classed as rich under his definition.

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Q3. Mr. Neil Thorne

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

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Thorne

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the enormous resentment felt by the public over the manner in which some rail staff appear to be taking them for a ride in more ways than one? Will she take time to discuss the matter with the Secretary of State for Transport and to impress upon him that no additional subsidies will be paid on top of the £2 million a day already paid at the expense of the taxpayer to finance British Rail unless the organisation adopts twentieth century productivity methods?

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The Prime Minister

I believe that my hon. Friend is probably referring to the additional strikes after the ending of the ASLEF strike, which obviously caused great distress to a number of commuters who regularly rely on British Rail to provide a service. I sympathise with him, because many of his commuters must have been very adversely affected. I must point out that the vast majority of those employed by British Rail have agreed to flexible rostering and that other people really cannot base their services to the public on the methods adopted in 1919 if we are to have a modern railway system with a good future. The matter is now under negotiation with British Rail and, of course, we shall have to consider what happens when we know the results of that negotiation.