Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1982 Mar 18 Th
Margaret Thatcher

House of Commons PQs

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: House of Commons PQs
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [20/476-80]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2065
Themes: Defence (arms control), Employment, Foreign policy (International organizations), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Law & order, Northern Ireland, Society, Social security & welfare, Terrorism
[column 476]

PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Ray Powell

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 18 March.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall have further meetings later today, including one with a delegation from the Afghanistan support committee. This evening I shall attend a State banquet given by His Majesty the Sultan of Oman.

Mr. Powell

Will the Prime Minister, in the course of her busy day, reflect on the compassion shown to her by thousands of people when her son was feared lost in the desert? Will she now respond by showing similar compassion to the millions of sons and daughters who are out of work and lost in the jungle of her economic policy? Will she respond? Will she stop these crocodile tears and the hypocrisy of pretending to care for the unemployed while pushing another 300,000 people out of work? [Interruption.] Will she say to her son Mark——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman has asked his question.

Mr. Powell

rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. We try to deal with ourselves in this place and leave our families out of it.

Mr. Powell

rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman has asked his question. He is taking up time. He cannot put a whole string of questions.

The Prime Minister

I am not certain what the question was. I think that the hon. Gentleman was asking that there should be more work for those who are seeking work. It requires a good deal more than sympathy to provide the requisite jobs. It requires people who have some idea, not only of how to speak about it, but of how to set up a business that will produce things that people will buy. We could do with far more of those people. We do not find enough of them among Opposition Members.

Mr. Kilfedder

In view of the threat made to the Ulster people by the new Eire Prime Minister—whose words will encourage the IRA to commit further atrocities, such as the vile slaughter of an 11-year-old schoolboy this week—will the Prime Minister make it clear to Mr. Haughey that Northern Ireland is, and will remain, an integral part of the United Kingdom, that there will be no more secret talks at any level and that there will be no parliamentary tier? Will the Prime Minister take tougher measures against the Provisional IRA, which receives considerable sums of money from the United States, where Noraid was yesterday organising a parade for St. Patrick's Day to “get the Brits out” ? Yet St. Patrick——

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is enough to be going on with.

The Prime Minister

First, Northern Ireland is, of course, part of the United Kingdom and the guarantee remains absolutely clear. Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom. That can be changed only through this House, and not by any other means whatsoever.

Secondly, so far as I am concerned, there have never been any secret talks of any kind with the Taoiseach. On the last two occasions we have issued communiqués on precisely what happened. Thirdly, President Reagan has been very helpful, particularly in his clear condemnation of terrorism and his renewed call on Americans to ensure that they do no contribute to violence.

Mr. Foot

I revert to an answer given by the right hon. Lady a day or two ago on the important question of her attendance at the special session of the United Nations meeting on disarmament in June. In view of the rapidly intensefying nuclear arms race, we are eager that that special session should be a success. We are glad that the right hon. Lady is responding to our invitation to go to the meeting. When will she present to the House and the country the disarmament proposals that she intends to take to that conference? Did President Reagan consult her before he turned down, without any consideration, the proposals made by President Brezhnev? Is it not a good idea to consider such proposals before they are rejected?

The Prime Minister

I cannot give the right hon. Gentleman the precise date on which I shall be going to the United Nations. The opening session takes some days, [column 478]and it is during the opening session that the statements are made. I hope to be there during that time. I remind the right hon. Gentleman that before President Brezhnev made his statement, which froze substantial Soviet superiority on all the SS20s, there was a very important statement by President Reagan, which included the zero option.

Mr. Foot

We welcomed President Reagan's statement when it was made. We believe that if that proposal were translated into a full-scale zero option, we might make some progress. Does not the right hon. Lady recall that the first occasion on which President Brezhnev proposed a holding-up of the establishment of the SS20s was, according to her Government, back in the autumn of 1979? On reflection, would it not have been much better had proper negotiations taken place then, before many of those SS20s were established?

The Prime Minister

President Reagan's suggestion was the zero option. President Brezhnev's response was to keep all the SS20s but not to increase them. It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman should address his advice to President Brezhev, because it takes two to agree to a zero option.

Mr. Foot

Why did the right hon. Lady and her Government refuse to negotiate on these matters before many of those SS20s were established?

The Prime Minister

I take it that the right hon. Gentleman approves a zero option and will urge—[Hon. Members: “Answer the question.” ] How can this country negotiate on the SS20s? The SALT negotiations were between the United States and the Soviet Union. I am interested in whether the right hon. Gentleman is really interested in a zero option, in which case he will put his pressures on President Brezhnev.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Is the Prime Minister aware that this morning, during the Committee proceedings of the Local Government and Planning (Scotland) Bill, not one member of the Opposition Front Bench put in an appearance——

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is not customary to refer to a Committee before it has reported.

Mr. John Carlisle

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the remarks made yesterday by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), when he linked the rise in crime to the rise in unemployment—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear” ?]—were typically unhelpful and misleading? Is she aware that figures released yesterday show that crime in Bedfordshire has risen by 30 per cent. and is committed mainly by children under 16? Is it not, therefore, about time that this House reintroduced corporal punishment?

The Prime Minister

As far as I am aware, the crime statistics in no way show a simple correlation between unemployment and crime. I must tell my hon. Friend that I do not think that corporal punishment will return to this country.

Q2. Mr. Alton

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 18 March.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Alton

Will the Prime Minister find time today to consider what additional assistance should be given to the [column 479]victims of violent crime, in particular by the provision of telephones and intruder alarm systems for people of pensionable age? Does she accept that in a constituency such as my own, where there is 45 per cent. unemployment, and when in January there was a 50 per cent. increase in burglary, this is clearly a case of the devil finding mischief for idle hands?

The Prime Minister

I made that self-same point on Tuesday during Question Time. As to telephones for the victims of violent crime, if the people are elderly and on supplementary benefit, special provisions could possibly be made. I am not aware of any wider telephone aid to those people, but if the hon. Gentleman has any special proposals, perhaps he will put them forward.

Mr. Stanbrook

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, despite the valiant efforts of the Home Secretary, to which I and my hon. Friends pay tribute——

Mr. Cryer

Take your knife out of his back.

Mr. Stanbrook

—the causes of crime are deep-seated and various and include subjects such as the family, the School, the Church, television and many others? Will my right hon. Friend consider whether we need to take action on these fronts as well as on the criminal law?

The Prime Minister

I entirely agree that the causes of crime are very deep. If self-discipline breaks down in part of society or throughout society, it is extremely difficult to deal with some of the problems that we are now seeing. It is also vital for all citizens to stand staunchly behind the police in carrying out their duty of upholding the law.

Q3. Mr. Dubs

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her public engagements for 18 March.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Dubs

Will the right hon. Lady explain why for each year since she has become Prime Minister the number of serious crimes in England and Wales has increased, whereas when my right hon. Friend the Member for [column 480]Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) was Prime Minister the number of serious crimes declined in 1977, 1978 and into 1979?

The Prime Minister

I think—[Interruption.]—that the hon. Gentleman will find that the annual number of murders was at its greatest during the time of the last Government. I was trying to find the appropriate table, but am unable to do so.

Mr. James Callaghan

As a matter of simple statistical fact, is it not the case that serious offences recorded by the police—violence against the person, burglary, robbery, theft, handling stolen goods and criminal damage—declined each year during the time that I was Prime Minister, and has gone up each year since? Is it not further the case that, despite what the right hon. Lady said in her election speeches, neither she nor I have any influence at all on those statistics?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his last comment, which is obviously correct. [Interruption.] No, I have not got the number of murders. May I just make this one point? [Interruption.] No, I am sorry, I cannot reinforce what I said about the number of murders. I was thinking, in fact, about something else. [Interruption.] I will, therefore, give the House the relevant statistic of which I was thinking. Although it was not all murders, it was the number of police deaths while on duty, which is an extremely important statistic, and which, equally, I do not think has anything to do with the Government.

Mr. Skinner

Why quote it?

The Prime Minister

Because I am having other statistics quoted at me.

Mr. Speaker

Hon. Members do not have a right to shout a person down if they do not like what they are hearing. All this is ruining Prime Minister's Question Time. Does the Prime Minister wish to continue?

The Prime Minister

I had made the point sufficiently. What has happened has made a triviality of something that is extremely serious.