Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1985 Jul 4 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 [82/520-24]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2409
Themes: Agriculture, Employment, Industry, By-elections, Monetary policy, Privatized & state industries, Public spending & borrowing, Family, Foreign policy (Middle East), Health policy, Labour Party & socialism, Local government, Local government finance, Race, immigration, nationality, Terrorism, Transport, Trade unions
[column 520]

PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Hirst

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 4 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. In addition to my duties in this House I shall be having further meetings later today.

Mr. Hirst

Is my right hon. Friend aware that seven new production records have recently been established by the steel workers at Ravenscraig and that this plant has achieved a British Steel Corporation productivity record of 3.14 man hours per tonne? Will she join me in welcoming those achievements by a management and work force which, despite all the difficulties of the past 15 months, have steadfastly concentrated on improving the productivity of that plant?

The Prime Minister

I gladly join my hon. Friend in congratulating the workers of Ravenscraig on that magnificent record and on the way in which they kept going during the miners' strike.

Mr. Faulds

Will the Prime Minister take time today to consider a matter that has already been discussed at Question Time? That is the Prime Purpose rule. Does she accept that the prime purpose of marriage is procreation? That being so, does she agree that it is utterly iniquitous that men, who have produced babies by women entitled to live in this country, and have gone through the marital rites, are not allowed to join their wives and families in this country and become British citizens?

The Prime Minister

I think that the hon. Gentleman has a very limited idea of marriage.

Mr. Grylls

Does my right hon. Friend recognise that small, new and growing firms have played a significant role in the improved unemployment figures announced today, but that they still face many obstacles and burdens despite the Government's valiant efforts to remove them? Will she do all that she can to speed up the review of those burdens so that they can be removed?

The Prime Minister

Small firms have an excellent record, especially in creating new jobs. We are looking at the regulations which still obtain and I hope that the results of that scrutiny will be published before the summer recess.

Mr. Kinnock

I welcome the downturn in unemployment trends, small though it is, but does the Prime Minister recall saying five weeks ago that she was

“concerned, mystified and very disappointed”

that unemployment was still so high? In view of that feeling on her part, has she any new policies to announce today which will ensure that the small fall in unemployment is accelerated and greatly increased in the coming months?

The Prime Minister

I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman welcomes the small downturn. He will be [column 521]aware that a major new policy was announced in the Budget, and further details were given this week, of the extension of the youth training scheme to two years. It is a matter of great regret that the Opposition carped and criticised instead of welcoming that great help to our young people.

Mr. Kinnock

That does not change the fact that today's fall in the unemployment figures is rather small and shaky. We should not have to wait until the Budget takes full effect, as there is so much else that the Prime Minister could do. There is plenty of work to do and plenty of people who want to do it. Why does the right hon. Lady not do the sensible thing and bring them together? If she wants to start a real recovery, why does she not listen to the managers and business men, who are telling her to stop getting rid of the investment allowances, to sponsor new public investment and to get interest rates down?

The Prime Minister

What the right hon. Gentleman is recommending is reflation. On another occasion, he would be criticising the level of inflation. He really must make up his mind.

Mr. Ralph Howell

I join the whole-hearted welcome for the fall in unemployment. Is my right hon. Friend aware that only 499,000 of those currently unemployed have taken the trouble to register at a jobcentre? Will she take urgent steps to reform the unemployment accounting system and the statistics so that only those who are genuinely seeking work figure in the statistics?

The Prime Minister

These unemployment statistics are compiled on exactly the same basis as previous unemployment statistics. The last change in the way in which the statistics were compiled was made in 1981, for reasons which were given then. We are anxious to secure employment for those on the unemployment register who are genuinely seeking work.

Q2. Mr. Dobson

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 4 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Dobson

Is the Prime Minister proud or ashamed of the fact that at the end of the United Nations Decade for Women no fewer than 93,000 women in England and Wales are awaiting gynaecological operations in hospital and that more than 18,000 of them have been waiting for treatment for more than a year?

The Prime Minister

There has been a tremendous improvement in the National Health Service under this Government. I will gladly compare our record with that of the last Labour Government, who, when they were in financial difficulty, had to cut the NHS and cut capital expenditure on it.

Mr. Alexander

Has my right hon. Friend had time to read this month's Country Landowner, in which full details are given of a proposed ten-minute Bill to be introduced by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) which would nationalise four fifths of agricultural land? In view of the fact that, at Brecon and Radnor at the weekend the Leader of the Opposition said that there was no prospect of Labour nationalising agricultural land, is not the so-called unity of the Labour party about which we are told a sham and purely for the electors?

[column 522]

The Prime Minister

I must confess to my hon. Friend that I have not had time to read that journal. I join him in believing that the Labour party will never have a chance to put those policies into operation.

Mr. John Morris

Has the message reached the Prime Minister that the number of people who admire her in the constituency of Brecon and Radnor are of a somewhat endangered species? Is she now minded, at this late hour, to send a message of cheer to the hapless Conservative candidate by announcing her resignation?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. and learned Gentleman forgets that we often have Bills to protect endangered species.

Q3. Mr. Freeman

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 4 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Freeman

Has my right hon. Friend had time to study the statement from the National Coal Board confirming investment in new pits and the creation of 7,000 new jobs? Is that not the constructive way to proceed in the industry, rather than with the threats of a massive pay claim that are coming out of Sheffield?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. The Government's policy has been to build a profitable coal industry by making excellent investment in profitable pits. That is the way to provide security of jobs in a future profitable industry, and that way is firmly endorsed by the majority of our people.

Q4. Mr. Willie W. Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 4 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Hamilton

Has the Prime Minister's attention been drawn to the recent report from Companies House showing that more than 300,000 companies out of an active list of about 800,000 are disobeying the law by failing to return their annual accounts? Since the Prime Minister is so fond of preaching about the rule of law and its observance by us all, what is she doing about those companies?

The Prime Minister

That is not a matter for me. It is a matter for enforcement. I should point out to the hon. Gentleman that trade unions are not quick to return their accounts.

Mr. Ashby

Has my right hon. Friend seen the policy of the Leader of the Opposition for reducing unemployment, in which he said that he would keep children at school for much longer and retire people much earlier, without producing one extra new job? Does that not show that the Labour party's policies are an absolute farce?

The Prime Minister

The Labour party's policies consist of spending more money but not knowing where it will come from. I note that in the book “Inside the Treasury” , published after the election, Lord Barnett, then Joel Barnett, said:

“The Labour Government of 74–79 had a financial task rendered impossible by pledges foolishly made without any serious thought as to where the money would come from … You name it, we were pledged to increase it.”
[column 523]

Q5. Mr. Gould

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 4 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Gould

Does the Prime Minister recognise that each 1 per cent. reduction in the inflation rate since she came to office has been bought at the cost of 750,000 jobs destroyed? However unlikely her target of 3 per cent. inflation now appears to be, can she tell us how many more jobs she would be prepared to sacrifice to reach that target?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman must know that there is no such trade-off—[Hon. Members: “Oh!” ] There is no such trade-off in the longer run. If he is seeking to increase inflation to the Labour Government's record of 27 per cent., let him say so now.

Mr. Leigh

Will my right hon. Friend close the loophole in the Trade Union Act 1984, which allows Mr. Arthur Scargill to preserve his life presidency of the NUM by dint of depriving himself of his casting vote? Will she thus stop this petty dictator treating democracy with a contempt more reminiscent of ancient Rome than of modern Britain? Let there be a ballot now in the NUM. Let it be statutorily enforced and let it be conducted preferably by secret postal ballot, which the militants fear most of all.

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend makes his point very vigorously, and I have taken note of it. I hope that others will, too.

Q7. Mr. David Atkinson

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 4 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Atkinson

Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that there will be no independent action by British Airways to boycott Beirut airport without concerted action by the seven states meeting next week to discuss ways of preventing hijacking by terrorists?

The Prime Minister

British Airways does not fly into Beirut. We agree with the Bonn convention, which called [column 524]for a suspension of air services to countries which fail to take action against hijackers. We are now considering whether we should boycott Beirut airport completely by refusing to take aircraft that have come from Beirut. We shall seek to do so in the first place through the Bonn meeting next week.

Mr. Alton

Is the Prime Minister aware that, earlier today, a group of Liverpool parents protested outside the offices of Liverpool education authority about the cynical manipulation of their children? Is she aware that last night children as young as six years were given political propaganda to take home advocating defiance of the law? Does she agree that the misuse of children in that way——

Mr. Speaker

Order. Is this the Prime Minister's responsibility?

Mr. Alton

Yes, Mr. Speaker, because the breaking of the law in Liverpool and the making of an illegal rate in defiance of Government legislation must damage the interests of local people and Liverpool ratepayers.

The Prime Minister

I understand the hon. Gentleman's grave concern about the misuse of children. I understand that many complaints have been made. Such activity will come within the remit of the Widdecombe inquiry. I hope that the matter has been referred to it.

Mr. Heffer

Will the right hon. Lady ignore the utter rubbish and nonsense from the Liberal Benches in this connection?

What contribution does the right hon. Lady think she made when she went on Mexican TV, which was well reported in Liverpool and elsewhere following the Brussels tragedy, and said that the people of Liverpool were violent and that Liverpool was a violent city, and had been for a long time? How can denigrating our people attract industry to Merseyside?

The Prime Minister

I hope the hon. Gentleman can explain how the behaviour of the present local authority can attract industry to the area—[Interruption.] The urban development corporation is attracting help for Merseyside, but the difficult local authority is doing nothing to help the creation of jobs there.