Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1984 Jun 5 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

House of Commons PQs

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [61/151-56]
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2130
Themes: Commonwealth (general), Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Privatized & state industries, Energy, Taxation, European Union (general), European Union Budget, Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (Africa), Foreign policy (Central & Eastern Europe), Foreign policy (International organizations), Foreign policy (USA), Housing, Law & order, Local government finance, Media, Security services, Trade unions, Strikes & other union action
[column 151]

PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Simon Hughes

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 5 June.

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 be having further meetings later today. This evening I shall be meeting President Reagan for discussion and giving a working dinner for him and ministerial colleagues at No. 10 Downing Street.

Mr. Hughes

Will the Prime Minister confirm that at the moment there are armed troops of the United States on British soil, authorised to use their arms in London? Will she always agree to any request by President Reagan? What other countries will be allowed to bring their troops here and to use their arms? Would tonight not be an ideal opportunity to discuss dual control with President Reagan, for once?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman's question was somewhat confused from beginning to end. He raised two points. First, we are, of course, ultimately responsible for the security of statesmen visiting London. We do not discuss security matters. Decisions are taken after full consultation and in the light of all the circumstances. I am advised that in this case no precedent was broken. With regard to cruise missiles, I have already frequently answered questions on dual key control and made the position perfectly clear. President Reagan made a statement and we have both looked at the control mechanisms and the control agreements for cruise missiles. The fact, as he has said, is that no missile could be fired from this soil without the agreement of the British Prime Minister.

Mr. Hal Miller

Will my right hon. Friend take this opportunity of repeating in the House her characterisation of the smear that her Government would be forced by the EEC to impose VAT on food as absolute poppycock? Will she extend that characterisation to embrace the suggestion that her Government might remove interest relief from mortgages?

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The Prime Minister

Yes, gladly. We get this smear and scare about VAT on food at every election because the Opposition like to take attention away from any discussion of their own policies. With regard to mortgage interest relief, I gladly respond to my hon. Friend's invitation. Any suggestion that we would remove mortgage interest relief is absolute poppycock.

Q2. Mr. Loyden

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 5 June.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Loyden

In view of the Prime Minister's scathing remarks about the miners and the events that are taking place with the picketing of mines, does she agree that the reasons for this lie at the door of the Government? Will she bring to the attention of her right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary and the Cabinet, the fact that they are responsible for stopping 4 million people from going to work?

The Prime Minister

Any remarks that I have made are of total condemnation of violence and intimidation. I understand that that condemnation is echoed on the Labour Benches, at least in certain parts. With regard to the merit of the dispute, I remind the hon. Gentleman that the miners have been offered pay increases higher than those the power, gas and water workers have accepted and which are 25 per cent. above the average industrial wage. This Government have poured £2 million a day in investment into the mines so that the miners may have safer and more productive pits in which to work, there have been no compulsory redundancies, and the money supplied for voluntary redundancies is the best ever. This Government have also seen to it that those industries which would like to convert from oil to coal are subsidised to do so, and they were responding well until the strike came along. The truth is that by striking the miners are losing jobs, not protecting them.

Mr. Fallon

Is my right hon. Friend aware that Tyne and Wear county council is giving £100,000 to striking miners and their families and that my county council of Durham is giving a further £25,000? Is it not outrageous that my constituents, who are already subsidising miners in high-cost pits through taxes, should now have to support through the rates miners who are idle of their own accord?

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend. It is not that the councils have any money to give away, because they have only the money that they take from taxpayers. As my hon. Friend said, the National Coal Board is subsidising the National Union of Mineworkers and all who work in the mining industry to the extent of £130 per person per week.

Q3. Mr. Dubs

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 5 June.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Dubs

Is the Prime Minister aware of the increasing concern that American ships carrying sea-based cruise missiles will shortly be using British ports? Is she aware that this concern is based partly on the fact that such weapons are beyond verification and therefore represent a major escalation in the arms race? What assurances can [column 153]she give the House that the House and the country will be given their chance to say whether ships carrying such weapons should be allowed to call at British ports?

The Prime Minister

We belong to the Western Alliance, and there is nothing unusual in ships carrying nuclear weapons calling at British ports—vessels carrying Polaris do it regularly.

Mr. Churchill

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Normandy landings, will my right hon. Friend pay tribute not only to those British, American and Canadian service men who lost their lives in the liberation of Europe but to those Czechs, Hungarians and Poles who fought at our side but who did not see their countries liberated?

The Prime Minister

I pay tribute to all who led the attack on the second front in Europe to free Europe. I am sure that those countries in Europe will never forget what they owe to the people whom my hon. Friend mentioned and to the whole of the British Commonwealth, all of whom made strenuous efforts to restore freedom and justice to Europe.

Mr. Kinnock

I warmly endorse the right hon. Lady's last remarks on the occasion of this commemoration of the marvellous victory for liberty in Europe. Does the right hon. Lady recall that at yesterday's Euro-election press conference she showed that she now depends entirely on the presidency of Chancellor Kohl to be able to obtain the £457 million due to Britain and, if that is the case, does it mean that she expects no settlement at the summit at Fontainebleau?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. Chancellor Kohl was the chairman of the Stuttgart conference under which the rebate was agreed in the Community. I did not depend wholly upon him and I regard this as an agreement reached by all Heads of Government, which should be honoured before the end of the year.

Mr. Kinnock

I am sorry. Either the Prime Minister does not understand the questions repeatedly put by myself and many others about this £457 million rebate, or she is deliberately trying to evade them. Does she not recall that it is now four and a half years since she said at the Dublin summit that she was no longer prepared to play Sister Bountiful to the European Community, that it was our money, and that a permanent and just settlement must be secured? Does she not think that it is a bit feeble to be extending the deadline yet again, for the third time in a year, relying entirely on German faith and German honour—both of which I fully respect—and is this what she means by a strong voice in Europe?

The Prime Minister

A strong voice in Europe has already obtained refunds to this country of £2,000 million.

Mr. Kinnock

The right hon. Lady is still evading the fact that she has paid net contributions of £5,000 million. By comparison with that, the rebates are starting to look a little slim.

The Prime Minister

Then why did the right hon. Gentleman's Government not renegotiate and make provision? They did not. What the right hon. Gentleman cannot get over is that we obtained £2,000 million for this country. What the right hon. Gentleman wants to do is to withdraw from Europe, and lose £2,000 million.

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Mr. Fairbairn

Has my right hon. Friend noted the disgraceful announcement by the Government of Zimbabwe that in future journalists are to be imprisoned if they criticise the regime, unless they are able to prove the truth of their criticisms, and does she not think that Opposition Members who have not condemned that statement would spend most of their life in gaol if that were the rule here?

The Prime Minister

As my hon. and learned Friend will know, I do not comment on statements before I have seen them in full. I have not seen this in full, and therefore I shall be very careful before commenting.

Mr. Litherland

Does the Prime Minister not agree that her meeting with Mr. Botha gave succour to a hated regime and credibility to every racist, and does she not now feel tainted?

The Prime Minister

No. I believe that it is right to talk to Heads of Government, although one fundamentally disagrees with their policies. I believe that that view has widespread support in the country.

Q4. Mr. Wareing

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 5 June.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Wareing

Does the right hon. Lady agree with me that it would be gross hypocrisy if she were to continue to hector people to obey the rule of law if the Government at the same time refuse to acknowledge the International Labour Organisation's decision that this Government are in contravention of international law in banning trade unionism among people who are staffing GCHQ, the only country in the EEC to do such a thing, which puts us in league with Chile, Turkey and other dictatorships of which she is obviously fond?

The Prime Minister

That is not what the ILO said. I do not believe that we are in contravention of the ILO convention. What the ILO said in our view flouted convention 151, which has also been ratified by us, although not by everyone.

Mr. Rathbone

Will my right hon. Friend spare a moment today to think about the horrible increase in the problems of drug misuse and abuse, and particularly to consider whether it is now growing to such proportions that it is necessary to identify a specific Minister responsible for the many departmental responsibilities to tackle the problem?

The Prime Minister

I share my hon. Friend's horror at any increase in the use or abuse of drugs. They are one of the scourges of our society. I believe that police responsibilities must stay with the Home Office. Health matters are adequately catered for by Health Service Ministers.

Q5. Mr. Winnick

asked the Prime Minister what are her official engagements for 5 June.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Winnick

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the whole country will wish to honour the memory of those who took part in the D-day landings and thus helped to liberate Europe from Nazi slavery? Would it not be [column 155]appropriate if all the countries that took part in the wartime alliance against Nazism started getting together again to stop the suicidal nuclear arms race?

[column 156]

The Prime Minister

We are trying to have more dialogue with countries across the European divide. The Western countries did not walk out of the nuclear disarmament talks—the Soviet Union did.