Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1984 Nov 27 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 [68/774-78]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2499
Themes: Conservatism, Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Employment, Privatized & state industries, Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (Asia), Foreign policy (Middle East), Health policy, Law & order, Liberal & Social Democratic Parties, Media, Social security & welfare, Terrorism, Strikes & other union action
[column 774]

PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Alan Howarth

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 27 November.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

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

Mr. Howarth

Is my right hon. Friend aware that miners in Yorkshire are returning to work because, in their own words, they are ashamed of intimidation and sickened by violence? Should not that unequivocal condemnation of violence be endorsed by every hon. Member? Is not the refusal by the president of the National Union of Mineworkers to call off the violence a sign of the unscrupulous means which the Left is willing to use to get its own way?

The Prime Minister

Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend, and it would be as well if violence were condemned by every member of the NUM and every member of the TUC, but the acid test——

Mr. Skinner

Acid test?

The Prime Minister

The acid test is whether the violence will be stopped. It could be stopped by the leadership of the NUM if it chose to do so. The other acid test is whether the TUC guidelines will be followed.

Mr. Hattersley

Has the Prime Minister had any discussion today about those Swiss and American bankers and brokers who are buying forward to obtain British Telecom shares, and offering 40 per cent. above the part issue price, even before the issue is closed? Can she give an estimate of how much will be lost to the Exchequer by this most recent example of the bungling of a flotation by her Government?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Exchequer will have its money by virtue of the underwriting. The right hon. Gentleman cannot stand the success of the British Telecom flotation.

[column 775]

Mr. Hattersley

The right hon. Lady either does not understand the law or is careless of its application. The practice that I have described is illegal, or would be illegal if it were operated by British speculators. Why does she condone, and even boast about, the practice, which would be illegal were it operated within the ambit of the British courts?

The Prime Minister

If a practice is illegal in the British courts it is dealt with totally and utterly impartially, as the right hon. Gentleman is aware. I return to what I said. The right hon. Gentleman does not want more extensive share ownership and therefore he condemns the privatisation of BT.

Q2. Mr. Nicholls

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 27 November.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Nicholls

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the fact that disarmament talks are to be resumed is a complete vindication of the defence policies of the West? Is she therefore surprised that CND, at its latest annual conference, responded by refusing even to criticise the USSR, and in that way was simply pursuing policies which bring aid and comfort to this country's potential enemies?

The Prime Minister

I believe that the Soviet Union has been brought back to the negotiating table by NATO's firmness in implementing its dual track decision. I welcome the agreement to go back to the negotiating table and I hope that it will be successful. It would not be successful had we all gone for unilateral disarmament. I well remember Mr. Andropov 's statement:

“Let no one expect unilateral disarmament from us. We are not a naive people.”

Dr. Owen

Does the Prime Minister recall the 1950 election manifesto on which she first fought? Does she remember the words:

“We regard the maintenance of full employment as the first aim of a Conservative Government.” ?

Does she still subscribe to those words? If she did, would she not be better placed to speak for the majority of the British people?

The Prime Minister

Governments should do everything that they possibly can to achieve the financial framework to maximise employment in Britain. At the same time, they must see that industries keep abreast of technological advance, as this Government are doing, and not extinguish the very enterprise from which jobs will come. I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would have the same policy. He usually tries to imitate Conservative Governments.

Q3. Mr. Allen McKay

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 27 November.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. McKay

Does the Prime Minister realise that her utterances and those of her right hon. and hon. Friends on the coal industry dispute, this most damaging of disputes, are, to say the least, less helpful than they could be? Does she not realise that instead of dividing and being divisive she should now use her power and influence to bring the people to the negotiating table? In addition, in the interests [column 776]of the mining communities, will she set in motion a public inquiry into events on the picket lines? In short, will she act like a Prime Minister and a leader, or does she just not care?

The Prime Minister

I think that I probably care more about the future of the coal industry than many of those in the leadership of the NUM. There are very good jobs available for miners if they wish to return to work. It is the leadership of the NUM which, without consulting the miners, is deliberately making them suffer privations, and making some of them suffer violence and intimidation, which has totally and utterly split the NUM. That is the fault of the leadership of the NUM.

Viscount Cranborne

During the course of her busy day, will my right hon. Friend take time to consider the proposition that to cut the overseas services of the BBC is as short-sighted as the threat to cut the Endurance before the Falklands war?

The Prime Minister

No, Mr. Speaker. I believe that all organisations, including the external services of the BBC, have a duty to get full value for money and to run their services efficiently. I believe that that is what my right hon. and learned Friend Sir Geoffrey Howethe Foreign Secretary has seen to it will happen.

Mr. Winnick

In view of the attack on the Government's economic policies last week by the Secretary of State for Energy, is it not surprising that he should wish to remain one of her Ministers? Or does the Prime Minister believe, as many hon. Members do, that the right hon. Gentleman likes office far too much to act on his supposed convictions over the misery of mass unemployment?

The Prime Minister

I have Peter Walkermy right hon. Friend's speech with me. Will the hon. Gentleman say precisely what he regards as an attack on the Government? I do not think that the hon. Gentleman can have read the speech.

Q4. Mr. Marlow

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 27 November.

The Prime Minister

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

4. Mr. Marlow

Will my right hon. Friend scotch the silly rumour which has appeared in today's press and elsewhere that the Government are intent on attacking Conservative families by in some way taxing or means-testing child benefit? Does she not agree that, though it may be well merited to give more money to the poorest families in society, the best source of those funds is not the remainder of the family sector?

The Prime Minister

There are many rumours about. I cannot say what will be the result of the four inquiries which my right hon. Friend Norman Fowlerthe Secretary of State for Social Services is conducting. There are many rumours about, directed at trying to stop the very things that those inquiries are trying to consider, to ensure justice both for the taxpayer and for those in receipt of social security benefit. We are determined to conduct those inquiries well and thoroughly, and the results will be brought before the House in due time.

Mr. Maginnis

In the light of the tragic death today of Deputy High Commissioner Norris in Bombay and the all-too-frequent acts of terrorism from which we all suffer, [column 777]would it not be intolerable if Yasser Arafat were allowed to visit the United Kingdom? Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that he will not be granted a visa to do so?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman knows, there will be a statement after Question Time on the assassination in Bombay. However, I am sure that all hon. Members will join me in expressing our deepest sympathy for the widow and family of Mr. Percy Norris, our deputy high commissioner, who dies as a result of this morning's tragedy.

As far as I am aware, no application for a visa for Mr. Arafat has yet been received, but if one is received it will be considered in the normal way.

Q5. Mr. Janner

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 27 November.

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. and learned Gentlemen to the reply that I gave some moments ago.

Mr. Janner

Will the Prime Minister please consider the anxiety and problems caused to local authorities by the transport of Chevaline and other nuclear missiles through their areas without prior warning having been given to the police or fire authorities? In view of the persistent refusal of Ministers to give the House any reassurances whatever, will she personally inquire into the matter, with particular regard to what would happen in the horrific event of an accident?

The Prime Minister

The hon. and learned Gentleman will be aware that the decision to go ahead with the Chevaline modernisation of Polaris was confirmed by the Labour Government, so he cannot be against the modernisation of Polaris. From his question, I understand that he is not against necessary movements, but only against them being made without warning having been given to the local police. I shall inquire about the matter that he has raised.

Q6. Mr. George Gardiner

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 27 November.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Gardiner

Will my right hon. Friend accept the congratulations of her colleagues on her perceptive analysis last night of the danger facing democracy in this country? When she is able to return to her theme of the Fascist Left, will she point out that the vicious intimidation of miners, their wives and children has seen no equal since Oswald Mosley 's blackshirts brought fear to the homes of Jews throughout the East End?

The Prime Minister

I agree that the intimidation and violence that we have seen is a blot on the face of Britain and has done our reputation abroad and our trade untold damage. I sometimes wonder whether that is the object of the Labour party, which supports the strike.

Q7. Mr. Ashton

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 27 November.

[column 778]

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Ashton

Will the Prime Minister find time today to tell us when she last visited Moscow and negotiated a nuclear arms reduction with the Russians?

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Gentleman to what Mr. Andropov said—I would not be so naive.

Portsoy

Q10. Mr. McQuarrie

asked the Prime Minister if she will pay an official visit to Portsoy.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. McQuarrie

I am sure that my right hon. Friend will join the rest of the House in agreeing that the communiqué issued this morning in Brussels with regard to the lifting of restrictions against the people of Gibraltar—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. I think that the hon. Gentleman has asked the wrong supplementary question, as his main question refers to Portsoy.

Engagements

Q15. Mr. Bill Walker

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 27 November.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Walker

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that it is naive indeed to imagine that because people say that their missiles are not targeted on a certain country they cannot then be retargeted at short notice? Consequently, is not an agreement on such lines meaningless and worthless?

The Prime Minister

I agree that such an agreement is totally worthless. I understand that a similar offer was made in 1978.

Mr. Frank Cook

In her recent statement at the Guildhall the Prime Minister said clearly that the good work, loyalty and allegiance of the miners would not be forgotten. Will she take the opportunity this afternoon to give a similar assurance about the good work, loyalty and allegiance displayed by those men and women who, 30 or 35 years ago, offered good work, loyalty and allegiance on Monte Bello, Maralinga, Christmas and Malden Islands? If she will give that assurance, will she tell us clearly in what way it will be manifested?

The Prime Minister

I hope that this Government never forget the good work of those who have served their country well and truly. I cannot be more specific than that.