Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1983 Jul 26 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

House of Commons PQs

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [46/1044-48]
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2307
Themes: Arts & entertainment, Civil liberties, Conservative Party (history), Industry, Privatized & state industries, Trade, Foreign policy (Americas excluding USA), Foreign policy (Central & Eastern Europe), Foreign policy (development, aid, etc), Foreign policy (International organizations), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USA), Health policy, Labour Party & socialism, Trade union law reform
[column 1044]

PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Freud

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 July.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others, including one with President Kyprianou of Cyprus. I also attended a service to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of William Wilberforce. In addition to my duties in the House I shall be having further meetings later today, including one with Sir Joshua Hassan, Chief Minister of Gibraltar. This evening I hope to have an audience of Her Majesty the Queen.

Mr. Freud

Is the Prime Minister aware that her Minister with responsibility for the arts said on 7 March in the House that building work on the Theatre museum in Covent Garden was planned to start in May? Will she tell the House why it is that ministerial promises made at the Dispatch Box are broken?

The Prime Minister

Because we all have to live within available resources, even the hon. Gentleman. My noble Friend Earl of Gowriethe Minister for the Arts is examining what might be done to achieve a start before the end of the current financial year, but he can make no promises at this stage. The Government remain committed to the project. There is no change of policy.

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

In discussions with the IMF, did my right hon. Friend get the United States Government to realise which the grant to the International Development Association which they are supposed to make will be cut by $4 billion? Does my right hon. Friend agree that if this trend continues the United States Government will be heaping poverty upon tragedy for the poorest countries in the world?

The Prime Minister

As my hon. Friend knows, we have supported increased resources for the IMF, believing it to be in the interests of those countries in need of help [column 1045]that apply to the IMF and to the rest of the world, that such countries follow a disciplined regime that is likely to get their finances back on track. For that purpose, the IMF must have sufficient resources. We shall continue to support the demand for the increased resources that have been required.

Mr. Foot

Will the Prime Minister tell the House what information she has sought and received from the President of the United States about the serious actions being taken by the United States Government in Central America? What messages has the Prime Minister sent to President Reagan in return?

The Prime Minister

We would not normally expect to be informed of military exercises, which I understand are to take place within the next six months. We firmly support the President of the United States in the speech that he made to Congress towards the end of April, which set out his fundamental policy and pointed out that out of the aid that the United States gives to Central America and the Caribbean basin, three quarters goes to food, fertilisers, and other things that are necessary for economic development. Only 25 per cent. of the funds go to military aid.

Mr. Foot

Does the right hon. Lady not think that the series of events over the last few days in respect of this matter are very serious—the sending of thousands more troops to Honduras, the blockade of Nicaragua, the trebling of United States advisers in El Salvador and the extension of CIA action over a wide area? Does she not agree that these are serious developments? Has she taken the trouble to read what the New York Times has to say on the subject—that the United States is drifting to war? Should not the British Government be informed about events, especially when the Secretary of State for Defence is in the United States making speeches on the subject? Were his speeches intended to lend support to the American Government's actions? Will she support what she signed at Stuttgart a few days ago, declaring that action should be taken by peaceful as opposed to military means?

The Prime Minister

Yes. We also support the statement of the Contadora group. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will say that he supports the four basic goals in Central America which President Reagan enunciated in his address to the joint session of Congress on 27 April 1983. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will recognise that the immense amount of non-military aid that the United States is putting into the area is constructive. Moreover, I hope he will recognise that Cuba has 10 times the number of military advisers in Central America as the United States.

Mr. Foot

Is the right hon. Lady really saying that she supports the latest military action of the United States? If so, she most certainly does not have the support of the country.

The Prime Minister

The United States is free, as is this country, to make its own dispositions on military exercises. That is what it has done. I remind the right hon. Gentleman of what I said. Cuba has 10 times the number of military advisers in central America as the United States.

Mr. Rogers

Speak for Britain.

Q2. Mr. Hal Miller

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 July.

[column 1046]

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Miller

Has my right hon. Friend yet received a copy of the report of Friday's debate on regional industrial development, and the debate on the west midlands, which took place last night? Is she aware that those debates showed a remarkable unanimity of opinion across the country and the Chamber that regional industrial development grants are defective in that they do not promote employment in black spots but discriminate against companies that are already established and trying to stand on their own feet? Will she therefore ensure that when the Department is ready with its proposals a White Paper is published so that we might all take part in a serious and necessary debate on the subject?

The Prime Minister

I am aware of the feeling, when we try to secure inward investment in those regional areas, that some firms receive heavy subsidies and compete with firms just outside the designated areas that have hitherto stood on their own feet. We are examining regional policy with a view to making it more effective in the creation of jobs. At the moment, some rulings mean that there are often capital reliefs in the regional areas which displace, rather than create, jobs. We shall publish the results of our review of regional policy when we are ready to do so. I know that my hon. Friend has a special interest in the west midlands. I remind him of what we have done to support British Leyland, which is fundamental to the life of the west midlands. I also remind him of the small firms engineering grant, which we increased at the previous Budget with the west midlands strongly in mind.

Mr. Beith

When the Prime Minister took part in this morning's Wilberforce anniversary service, did she reflect on the fact that he overturned British economic and political support for a form of oppression, and that it has always been an objective of British Governments to end oppression no matter what part of the world it occurs in? Did she also reflect on the fact that there are times in a nation's history when people in the churches must speak out against prevailing wisdom rather than say what the Government would like it to say?

The Prime Minister

Indeed.

Mr. Skinner

I reckon that is a leadership bid.

The Prime Minister

I therefore take it that the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) strongly supports President Reagan's statement to Congress on the vital goals in Central America

“In response to decades of inequity and indifference, we will support democracy, reform and human freedom” .

Mr. James Hamilton

While the Prime Minister is talking about Wilberforce will she bear in mind the Strathclyde region report pointing out that one in five of its population are at or below the poverty level? Will she seriously consider those circumstances and change her policies, as it is only by a change of policy that Strathclyde region will avert problems on a massive scale?

The Prime Minister

Yes, but to create new jobs it is not enough to make speeches about the subject, as the hon. Gentleman knows. We must create genuine businesses that sell genuine goods to people who are prepared to purchase goods or services. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the retail trade is operating at a record level. That means that many goods are being sold to meet demand, but too [column 1047]few of the goods are being produced here. There is an opportunity there and we must find ways in which to take advantage of it.

Q3. Mr. Andrew MacKay

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. MacKay

During her busy day will my right hon. Friend take time to welcome the decision of the TUC to meet the Secretary of State for Employment to discuss the operation of union political funds and the political levy? Does she agree that, as only 39 per cent. of trade union members voted for the Labour party at the general election, it is high time the trade unions considered severing their links with the Labour party, as the secretary of the Civil and Public Services Association suggested recently?

The Prime Minister

What my hon. Friend has said about the TUC is welcome to many people, including many trade unionists, who believe that the trade unions have an important role to perform but that that role would be performed better if they were not linked with a specific party. I also welcome the TUC's agreement to consult my right hon. Friend Norman Tebbitthe Secretary of State for Employment, who was a secretary of a trade union.

Mr. Hoyle

Will the Prime Minister take time off from her engagements to reflect on the proposed cuts in the National Health Service in the light of her statement in Edinburgh that the Health Service was safe with her? As she said that there would be an increase in spending of £700 million this year, £800 million next year and £700 million the year after, has she not deceived the public? Is that not a matter calling for her resignation?

The Prime Minister

No. I stand by what I said then.

Q4. Mr. Simon Hughes

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Hughes

In view of the Prime Minister's participation earlier today in the thanksgiving service for the life of William Wilberforce and with it the passage[column 1048]—by a Liberal Government—of the Abolition of Slavery Act 1833, will the Prime Minister reaffirm Britain's support for the rights and freedom of oppressed people and ensure that British banks do not guarantee credit to the Polish Government until the rights and freedoms of the citizens of Poland are guaranteed after the ending of martial law?

The Prime Minister

We shall continue to support the search for human rights where they do not exist. We shall continue to do everything that we can to help the people of Poland. It is doubtful whether the new Government proposals in Poland are substantially different from those of military government. We shall continue to examine events closely.

Mr. Tapsell

Might it not be worth recalling that William Wilberforce was a High Tory?

The Prime Minister

And his movement to abolish slavery was in keeping with High Toryism.

Mr. James Lamond

Before the Prime Minister gets carried away—[Interruption.]—reading us lessons about freedom, democracy, President Reagan and her support for his policies, will she let us know what she will say today to President Kyprianou when he asks her to help him to get rid of the troops of the Turkish Government, a pillar of NATO, that have occupied Cyprus since 1974, despite the guarantees that we gave? They have occupied the territory of a member of the Commonwealth, a signatory to the Helsinki final act and a country that has asked for the world's help for the past nine years.

The Prime Minister

I have already seen President Kyprianou of Cyprus and we had a long talk about the problems of Cyprus. Obviously we do not want that country to be partitioned. It has, in effect, been partitioned for some years. But we have made our view clear to Turkey and to the Turkish Cypriots that we are against the separation of the northern part of Cyprus and wish Cyprus to continue in a state of unity, as it did nine years ago, before it was rudely upset. The President of Cyprus and the British Government believe that the best way to pursue the objectives is as they are being pursued now—through the good offices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations.