Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1985 Nov 28 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 [87/1019-14]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2594
Themes: Conservatism, Defence (Falklands War, 1982), Education, Employment, Industry, By-elections, Monetary policy, Privatized & state industries, Trade, Foreign policy (Americas excluding USA), Foreign policy (International organizations), Labour Party & socialism, Law & order, Local government, Local government finance, Northern Ireland, Social security & welfare, Terrorism
[column 1009]

PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Favell

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

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 the House, I shall be having further meetings later today.

Mr. Favell

Does my right hon. Friend agree that far too little publicity is given to northern industrial towns, such as Stockport, where rates are kept down, free enterprise is encouraged and new industry, commerce and jobs are attracted, and that far too much publicity is given to northern citadels of Socialism, such as Liverpool, which do little else but stand around with arms outstretched for Government handouts?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. I warmly congratulate Stockport on its splendid efforts and the magnificent co-operation between the metropolitan borough council, the chamber of commerce and all the organisations concerned with getting more small and more new business into the area. They have been very successful.

Mr. Foulkes

Does the Prime Minister realise that our closest EEC partners and our friends in the Commonwealth supported a resolution at the United Nations calling for negotiations on the future of the Falklands? Does she accept that that was because Argentina made a major concession by dropping its insistence on discussions on sovereignty and instead substituted

“all aspects of the future of the Falklands” ?

Why does the right hon. Lady not respond to that and agree to restore diplomatic relations with Argentina and enter into discussions about the future of the islands?

The Prime Minister

Anyone who thinks that a motion that contains the phrase

“negotiations on all aspects of the future of the Falklands”

does not include sovereignty must be absolutely bonkers.

[column 1010]

Q2. Mr. Stanbrook

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 28 November 1985.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Stanbrook

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the Government will not seek, nor encourage anyone else, to set obstacles in the way of the Ulster Unionists who wish to resign their seats to provide an opportunity for the people of Northern Ireland to express their opinion on the Anglo-Irish Agreement?

The Prime Minister

I can reassure my hon. Friend that my right hon. Friend Nigel Lawsonthe Chancellor of the Exchequer will follow the habit and custom of his predecessors and accede to any relevant request that he may receive.

Dr. Owen

Is the Prime Minister aware that during the Falklands war——

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

The right hon. Gentleman has only just walked into the Chamber.

Dr. Owen

The Prime Minister has only just walked in, I might add—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. I call the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen).

Dr. Owen

Is the Prime Minister aware that during the war against the Argentines in the Falklands she used the United Nations charter as the reason why we resisted the aggression of the Argentines? Is she further aware that that same United Nations charter imposes an obligation on Britain, as on all other countries, to try to settle their disputes by the use of negotiations——

Mr. Churchill

Surrender!

Dr. Owen

Negotiation does not mean surrender. It is perfectly possible to enter into negotiations on all aspects while reserving our position on sovereignty.

It is high time that the Prime Minister and the Government recognised the democratic Government in Argentina and accepted that the democratically elected President of Argentina has criticised the junta which preceeded him.

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that we have tried to negotiate with the Argentines on other matters. Indeed, we have tried to restore normal commercial relations, but they have refused. Nevertheless, we have permitted imports into this country from Argentina. Thus, there is nothing about which to criticise this Government.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the UN charter. He will be aware that we tabled an amendment to the relevant motion before the General Assembly. That amendment was designed to uphold the right of self-determination of the people of the Falkland Islands. The UN turned down that amendment.

Q3. Mr. Gerald Bowden

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

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Bowden

Will my right hon. Friend find time today to reflect on the sense of despair and outrage that [column 1011]will be felt by the ratepayers of Southwark when they learn that Southwark council has allowed rent arrears to rise to a record £23 million?

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend that such high arrears are absolutely inexcusable, especially in view of the advice recently given by the Audit Commission. I hope that councils with such large arrears will soon take steps to diminish them.

Mr. Kinnock

The Gas Bill is published today—[Interruption.] Is it not now clear that the Prime Minister, having frittered away the bonus of North Sea oil, is about to do the same with a great national asset that has provided the British people with a steady income and excellent service for many years? Why is the Prime Minister still insisting on giving away the public good of all for the sake of the private profit of a few?

The Prime Minister

If the right hon. Gentleman has actually been able to read all of the Gas Bill today, I congratulate him. Privatisation is this Government's policy. The assets will be sold to those who wish to purchase them. In particular, the employees will have an excellent chance to purchase shares—a chance that they have never had under any previous Government.

Mr. Kinnock

The Prime Minister knows as well as I do that the sell-offs that she has undertaken and the one that she now proposes will not bring people's capitalism. Only institutions and rich individuals have made a substantial killing. If the right hon. Lady is so concerned about the general welfare, will she put the interests of 16 million gas users before the interests of a small number of shareholders, whatever their current status?

The Prime Minister

Most industries that have been denationalised have done far better under privatisation, and I believe that this one will do so. I believe in employees having a chance to have a stake in their business. I know that the right hon. Gentleman cannot stand it.

Q4. Sir Fergus Montgomery

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

The Prime Minister

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

Sir Fergus Montgomery

During her busy day, will my right hon. Friend have time to look at The Observer for last Sunday, and particularly at the reference to a secret report to the national executive of the Labour party which expressed deep gloom at Labour's prospects of winning the next general election? Is that not proof, if proof were needed, that the successes——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Prime Minister may be asked questions only on matters for which she has responsibility.

Sir Fergus Montgomery

I was coming to that, Mr. Speaker. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that shows, if it needed showing, that even in the Labour party there are people, such as their policy director, who know that the Conservatives will win the next general election?

The Prime Minister

I welcome any conversion to realism and any conversion to the knowledge that this Government's policies, which are keeping down inflation, creating jobs, standing up to strikes and to places such as Liverpool are producing the right results.

[column 1012]

Mr. McKelvey

Did the Prime Minister hear about the military style coup that took place in the House last night, when members of the Scottish Back-Bench committee were ousted—or at least the chairman, the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) was ousted—by those right hon. and hon. elements from south of the border who were brought in as Lobby fodder——

Mr. Speaker

Order. Again, that is not a matter for which the Prime Minister is responsible.

Mr. McKelvey

In that case, may I ask whether the Prime Minister is aware that such antics are regarded by Scottish voters as demonstrating a lack of democracy? Will the Government take steps to stop it?

The Prime Minister

I think that that is more a matter for John Biffenthe Leader of the House than for me.

Sir William Clark

Will my right hon. Friend remind the House that the institutional investor who has put money into British Telecom and who may invest in British Gas is using the savings of millions of small people who depend on that investment for their pensions?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend will be aware that we firmly believe in the privatisation programme. It brings benefits to employees and investors, and a good income to those who invest in such companies.

Mr. Foot

Will the Prime Minister answer the question that she failed to answer on Tuesday: when will the effective cut in the real value of child benefit be restored?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman knows the increases that have taken place over the whole social security system. He must wait until a White Paper is published to see what any future plans contain.

Sir John Biggs-Davison

If the hoped for improvement in cross-border security does not result in good time from the Hillsborough agreement, will the Government allow the agreement to lapse and pursue friendly and close relations with the Irish Republic through diplomatic channels and the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Council which my right hon. Friend did so much to set up?

The Prime Minister

We earnestly hope that there will be an improvement in cross-border co-operation which will lead to an improvement in security in Northern Ireland. My hon. Friend will understand why I say that this agreement must be given a chance to work.

Q5. Mrs. Clwyd

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

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Lady to the answer that I gave some minutes ago.

Mrs. Clwyd

Has the Prime Minister read the report in today's Daily Mail, which claims that the 4 million unemployed will be able to work on Sundays without loss of unemployment benefit if the Sunday trading laws are changed? Will she give an assurance that, if the laws are changed, she will not change the rules?

The Prime Minister

I have not read that report, but I do not accept that there are 4 million unemployed—[Interruption.] That figure is constantly being put about, but it is not correct. I hope that the Sunday trading Bill, which has yet to be debated by the other place and this House, will be passed. However, matters concerning any [column 1013]changes to the laws affecting unemployment benefit are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend Lord Young of Graffhamthe Secretary of State for Employment.

Mr. Gregory

Has my right hon. Friend had an opportunity to see the early-day motion on the import of dangerous toys? Will she consider the possibility of placing the onus on importers rather than retailers, so that there can be happiness rather than misery at Christmas?

The Prime Minister

Yes. Some time ago, warnings used to be issued about certain toys. They have not been issued recently because there was some criticism of them. As my hon. Friend knows, there are certain prohibition orders, but it is for both the importer and the person selling the toy to have regard for its safety.

Q6. Mr. Blair

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

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Blair

Why is it that many months after these affairs took place the case concerning Johnson Matthey Bankers is only now being referred to the DPP? Nothing has been done about insider trading with regard to BT, and nothing has been done about the scandal of the Lloyd's insurance markets. Why does the Prime Minister not realise that, to be effective, the rule of law that applies to the inner cities must apply with equal vigour to the City?

[column 1014]

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman is well aware that matters of fraud are for the police and that matters of prosecution are for the Director of Public Prosecutions. The day that politicians interfere with prosecutions, the rule of law will cease to be upheld.

Q7. Mr. Michael Brown

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

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Brown

Has my right hon. Friend read the speech made by our hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science on Monday, in which he suggested that there was still a lack of consumer choice in state education? Does she agree that the solution that he proposed—that the market has a role to play in assisting consumers of education to make their choice—was pointed to in “No Turning Back” ? Does my right hon. Friend also agree that that pamphlet contains some solutions, to which many Conservative Members look?

The Prime Minister

Earlier this week I was asked about the pamphlet, and I have read it. My hon. Friend is aware that the House is to consider an Education Bill, which will strengthen the voice of parents in running schools. I share his anxiety about parents not having a sufficient choice of schools. That is a matter to which we must pay earnest attention.