Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1985 Mar 28 Th
Margaret Thatcher

House of Commons PQs

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [76/650-54]
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2373
Themes: Union of UK nations, Defence (arms control), Economy (general discussions), Education, Employment, Industry, Monetary policy, Foreign policy (USA), Law & order, Northern Ireland, Social security & welfare, Trade unions, Strikes & other union action
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PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Malone

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 28 March.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

This morning I presided a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today.

Mr. Malone

During the course of her day, will my right hon. Friend consider some of the industrial success stories that are coming out of Scotland? Does she accept that the order for £40 million shipping for Govan shipbuilders, the £50 million order placed at UEI and the continuing expansion of the electronics industry in Scotland are examples of the fact that the Government's policy is working, that Scottish industry is becoming more competitive and that the dismal Jimmies on the Opposition Benches should be ignored?

The Prime Minister

Yes, I agree with what my hon. Friend says. Despite the coal strike, industrial production in Scotland was up 3 per cent. on a year ago and the Locate in Scotland office has now had £1 billion worth of inward investment. I add that to my hon. Friend's good news.

Mr. James Lamond

If the Government have so many success stories to pick from, why was it necessary for them to select for the Saatchi and Saatchi Conservative party broadcast last night the firm of Ferranti in my constituency, which, far from benefiting from the Government's work, relied entirely on a £15 million cash injection by the Labour Government in 1975 to save it? The only contribution that this Government have made to Ferranti is to make it necessary for that firm to have widespread redundancies because of Government cutbacks in orders and a refusal to allow the firm, at the first request, to expand its high-tech training school by 20 places.

The Prime Minister

Ferranti runs a very successful operation. It is extremely efficient and has done well in getting defence orders here and overseas. It is to be congratulated on its performance under this Government.

Sir John Farr

May I ask whether my right hon. Friend noticed the press speculation over the weekend following the visit of my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to Dublin? In view of the speculation, can my right hon. Friend assure the House and the country that we have no intention of doing anything other than [column 651]strengthening the bonds that bind the United Kingdom together and, moreover, that in no circumstances will this Government contemplate another Sunningdale?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments. The position is exactly as set out in the communiqué after the Chequers meeting of Dr. Garrett Fitzgeraldthe Taoiseach and myself. There will be no constitutional change whatsoever in Northern Ireland unless it has the full consent of the people of Northern Ireland, who are part of the United Kingdom.

Dr. Owen

Does the Prime Minister accept the advice in the report of the Social Security Advisory Committee that any overall reduction in social security expenditure would cause grave problems? Does it not strongly recommend that if there are to be any reductions in one part of the budget they should be channelled to areas of high priority need? Is not any simplification a costly move? Will the Prime Minister assure all those who are worried that there will be no overall cuts?

The Prime Minister

I understand that the report was only published today. I have not read it in its entirety—but I understand, of course, that the right hon. Gentleman may have done so. I have read a summary, and I am not prepared to give any undertakings before the full report of my right hon. Friend Norman Fowlerthe Secretary of State for Social Services on his review is available. Any attempt to make us do so would be to deny both open government and a full discussion of matters which should be discussed.

Q2. Mr. Frank Cook

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 28 March.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Cook

Can the Prime Minister spare a moment this afternoon to give this Chamber the benefit of her opinion on the disparaging comments made by her soul mate President Reagan in response to a considered statement by the Foreign Secretary on the star wars concept despite the fact that he admitted that he had not read it? Does she condone the abuse of the Geneva peace talks as a means of brow beating the President's opposition in the House of Representatives into authorising a budget allocation for just another means of delivering death to those who disagree with the United States?

The Prime Minister

The policy on the SDI is as I set it out after my meeting with President Reagan at Camp David, and as he set it out once again at a press conference when I was present. It has not changed in any way. Congress was right to reaffirm what President Reagan wanted for the MX missiles. It is right that the talks in Geneva are proceeding because of the strength and the will of the West, and not because of its weakness.

As the hon. Gentleman has criticised President Reagan, I must tell him that I thought that the United States acted with enormous restraint over the murder of one of its soldiers in Eastern Germany.

Sir Fergus Montgomery

Will my right hon. Friend find time today to reflect on the recent ballot of the National Union of Mineworkers? Is she aware that ever since Arthur Scargill became president every issue that has been put to the ballot has been lost? Is that not a wonderful example of how out of touch that man is with those whom he is supposed to represent?

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The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend. During the present leadership of the NUM, every one of four ballots has been lost. The leadership has also deprived its members of one year's salary, which is utterly disgraceful.

Mr. Kinnock

May I commend the launch of the Britain means Business campaign, which is intended to secure a transfusion of foreign capital into this country? Is the right hon. Lady aware that it would be sensible for her to help Britain more by changing the policies which have led to a £12,000 million a year haemorrhage of investment capital from this country since the day that she became Prime Minister?

The Prime Minister

There was record investment in this country last year of £55 billion.

Mr. Kinnock

Is the right hon. Lady telling us that because there is an inflow we can do without the £50,000 million that has gone out of the country? Would it not be sensible to reintroduce policies—[Interruption.] I know that Conservative Members do not care about the betrayal of this country by people sending money out of it. Would it not be sensible to retain those funds so that we could generate much-needed investment and even more desperately needed jobs?

The Prime Minister

We had record investment in this country last year of £55 billion. We agree with the policy of putting some investments overseas—we need the income from them to repay the interest and dividends that have to go from this country because of the immense amounts of inward investment. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman believes in inward investment, because it creates many jobs. However, I do not think that he understands anything about it.

Mr. Kinnock

What I do understand, and what the British people understand, is that while the Prime Minister has let those precious funds leave the country, unemployment has gone up to over 3 million. When will she change policies to bring it down?

The Prime Minister

How does the right hon. Gentleman propose to pay for the interest that goes out?

Mr. Kinnock

By growth.

The Prime Minister

How does the right hon. Gentleman propose to pay for the dividends and interest that go out on investment that comes in here? It is not paid for by growth but has to be paid across the exchanges in cash. The right hon. Gentleman proves that he has not a clue.

Mr. Rob Hayward

Is my right hon. Friend aware that on 15 January the Leader of the Opposition asked my right hon. Friend the Chancellor to resign when the pound fell by 1.5 cents? As the pound rose 4.5 cents yesterday, does my right hon. Friend expect the Leader of the Opposition to ask my right hon. Friend to be reinstated three times over?

The Prime Minister

The world exchange markets are taking a different view of the dollar and are realising that the underlying strength of the British economy is very good for investment. They have noted record output, record investment and a record standard of living. That augurs well for the future.

Q3. Mr. Freud

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 28 March.

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The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Freud

In the light of the new agreement and partnership between Government and education announced by the Secretary of State for Education and Science on Tuesday, will the Prime Minister say what she intends to do in her role as a partner in the case of the teachers' dispute?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, the teachers have been offered arbitration, but they have chosen not to accept it.

Q4. Mr. Evennett

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 28 March.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Evennett

Does my right hon. Friend share the anxiety of many of my constituents about the rising crime rate in London? Although I accept that the Government have done a great deal to fight crime, will she consider introducing additional measures to deal with the problem in London?

The Prime Minister

As my hon. Friend knows, the number of police has been increased considerably, equipment has been increased and the deployment of the police force has been improved. There are more bobbies back on the beat. Tackling crime is a task for the whole community—nobody can opt out. Everything that the Government can do is being done, and will continue to be done.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

After her somewhat traumatic meeting with 25 young unemployed people from my constituency on Tuesday, does the Prime Minister accept that her suggestion that they move elsewhere and go into lodgings shows an amazing lack of knowledge of the level of unemployment in areas such as London and, if carried out, would be destructive of family life, which they value, and which the Prime Minister is supposed to support? In any event, are all of the 10,500 unemployed people in my constituency supposed to become industrial gipsies?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman is aware that these young people were told that in their area there [column 654]would be 800 more community programme jobs. They also had an opportunity, which is afforded to few, to meet a manager in Vauxhall Motors Ltd., who told them that he was recruiting, a manager in I. J. Dewhirst, the clothing firm, who told them that he was recruiting, and a manager in Trusthouse Forte plc, who told them that he was recruiting. They also heard of a request that had come in while they were sitting there from another hotel group in Liverpool, which was recruiting, and they had the opportunity to meet the chairman and the area manager of the Manpower Services Commission. If they cannot take the opportunity provided by those interviews, it is very sad and a pity.

Sir John Biggs-Davison

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some of us were surprised to be told in the Irish media that Tory Members interested in Northern Ireland had been “squared” in connection with a forthcoming initiative? Is she further aware that we are glad to know that the speculation in The Mail on Sunday is entirely unfounded?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments. He will recall that George Youngerthe Secretary of State for Scotland was so worried about that report that he published a statement, which my hon. Friend no doubt read. The position is as I described it earlier.

Q5. Mr. Simon Hughes

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 28 March.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Hughes

Does the Prime Minister accept that since her intemperate remarks against Church leaders last Saturday there has been mounting criticism of the personal attack that they imply? Is she now seeking to change the constitution so that bishops whom she appointed cannot speak out, or will she change her mind and for once listen to them, as they have a moral and spiritual duty to put her Government back on a sounder course?

The Prime Minister

In reply to the previous question, I should have said Douglas Hurdthe Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. I thought that the hon. Gentleman had a little sense of humour, but I now discover that I was wrong. Clearly, spring has not yet arrived in Southwark.