Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1986 Feb 13 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 [91/1091-96]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2594
Themes: Executive (appointments), Conservatism, Defence (general), Education, Higher & further education, Employment, Industry, Privatized & state industries, Energy, Public spending & borrowing, Taxation, Trade, Health policy, Labour Party & socialism, Law & order, Local government finance, Leadership, Media, Social security & welfare, Terrorism, Trade union law reform
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PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Bellingham

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 13 February.

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. This evening I hope to have an audience of Her Majesty the Queen.

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Mr. Bellingham

Has my right hon. Friend had a chance to see today's reports, which say that the urban aid programme has been underspent by more than £100 million during the past three years? Is it any wonder that the prudent low-spending authorities feel aggrieved by the recent rate support grant settlement, which shifts money from them to the inner cities?

The Prime Minister

I have seen the report to which my hon. Friend refers. It is not true, because the Department of the Environment redirected the resources to other programmes, thus benefiting the inner cities. Some was directed to additional urban programme schemes, and some was directed to derelict land grant, which meant that most of the surplus was used up. However, I understand the feeling of the shire counties that they have to endure higher rates because money was deliberately shifted towards inner cities on the rate support grant.

Mr. Hattersley

What is the right hon. Lady's explanation of the Gallup survey, which shows that only 6 per cent. of the population think of her as a caring Prime Minister?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman is aware that I do not look at opinion polls. I do not explain them either. The polls that I am interested in are those done on election day, and we have not done too badly at them.

Mr. Hattersley

As the right hon. Lady is too reticent to offer an explanation of her own, might I suggest that the reason why the country thinks she does not care—[Hon. Members: “Question.” ] Will she consider the possibility of the country thinking that she does not care because she has presided over unemployment which has trebled, poverty which has doubled, increases in homelessness, cuts in overseas aid and £2.50 being stolen each week from the pensioner?

The Prime Minister

We have presided over a Health Service which is far better than anything that the right hon. Gentleman had, we have kept our pledges to pensioners, output is at an all-time record, our manufacturing industry is doing well and growth has been going on for six successive years. That is the outlook of a caring Government.

Mr. Hattersley

The Prime Minister heard five examples of her uncaring policies and uncaring style. Is she prepared to deny one of the facts that I offered her?

The Prime Minister

I will deal with the facts that the right hon. Gentleman offers, or at any rate with his interpretation of them. The right hon. Gentleman has absolutely no idea how to go about wealth creation or the creation of more jobs, whereas we have the highest and best record of job creation in the whole of Europe during the past two years.

Sir Anthony Kershaw

Bearing in mind the students' lobby of yesterday and the intense desire of institutes of higher education to expand and improve, will my right hon. Friend nevertheless remember that there are today 70,000 more students in higher education than there were in 1980—the highest number and the highest proportion of the relevant age group ever?

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The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Students have the best deal through student grants and the opportunities available to them exceed those available previously, as the figures show.

Q2. Mr. Gould

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 13 February.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Gould

In the interesting speeches made by her colleagues and would-be successors at Blackpool last weekend, did the Prime Minister notice the passage in the speech of her right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy in which he asserted that unemployment can be brought down provided appropriate policies are pursued? Is there such an alternative after all, and why does the Prime Minister not take it?

The Prime Minister

Unemployment can be brought down by the creation of more jobs. In the last two years 700,000 more jobs have been created. That is the way to tackle the problem. It is being tackled. The proportion of the population of working age in work in this country greatly exceeds that in France, Germany, and Italy.

Mr. Stokes

Has my right hon. Friend had time to read today's excellent leader in The Times setting out her achievements and pointing out what still remains to be done under her leadership? Does it not show that, in spite of what other newspapers and political commentators have said during the past two weeks, The Times still has a fair sense of political priorities?

The Prime Minister

I am delighted to confirm my hon. Friend's conclusion and I am grateful to The Times for an extremely sensible leader.

Mr. Steel

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry told the House yesterday that General Motors had not yet made formal proposals to purchase Leyland Trucks. In view of that, will the Prime Minister join me in recognising the tremendous and successful efforts made by the employees and the management to turn the Land Rover division into a profitable concern? Will she therefore send a message of support to the “Keep Land Rover British” campaign? Will she bat for Britain and back a profitable and successful British product?

The Prime Minister

Both the Government and the taxpayer have batted for the whole of British Leyland by putting in over £2 billion of taxpayers' money and on top of that guaranteeing the amount it takes out in loans under the Varley-Marshall assurances, which amount to some £1.6 billion. That is the faith that the British taxpayer has shown. We are anxious to have a prosperous car and truck industry and we shall take the steps that seem to us most appropriate to achieve it.

Mr. Kenneth Carlisle

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the recent fall in oil prices is an opportunity for this country, rather than a misfortune? Will it not lead to greater economic activity in growing markets? Is it not a challenge which our manufacturing industry welcomes?

The Prime Minister

Yes, it is an opportunity. It has other adverse effects on this country which it does not have on our competitors such as the United States, Japan and Germany. They will gain more from a fall in oil prices than we will. Undoubtedly it will be helpful to our [column 1094]manufacturing industry and will reduce its costs. In addition, it will keep down unit labour costs, without which the Germans and the Japanese will get a bigger proportion of overseas trade.

Q3. Dr. McDonald

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 13 February.

The Prime Minister

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

Dr. McDonald

Does the Prime Minister agree with one of her many former Cabinet colleagues, the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East (Mr. Pym), that in terms of curing unemployment her policy has not worked?

The Prime Minister

Had policies been put forward from the Opposition, and had they been carried into effect, unemployment would be infinitely worse than it is and there would be precious little prospect for growth or increased prosperity in the future.

Q4. Mr. Gerald Howarth

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 13 February.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Howarth

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the growing public anger and frustration at the escalation of violence and mindless crime? Is she further aware that at this time yesterday evening my home was attacked by three villians while my wife and young son were inside? Is it not time that we considered tougher measures to deal with the problem, and reintroduced the birch?

The Prime Minister

I am sure that the House will wish to express great sympathy with my hon. Friend over the personal crime which his family suffered. He will be aware that Douglas Hurdthe Home Secretary has just made an order available for the police, and that the Court of Appeal has made it clear that firm sentences should be imposed for crimes of violence. I do not believe that my hon. Friend's proposal would ever pass through the House.

Mr. Randall

Does the Prime Minister recall that I have written many letters to her about a constituent, Mr. Ian Lynch of Benedict road, Hull, who was one of the Army bandsmen severely injured in the Hyde park bombing incident? Is she aware that neither Mr. Lynch nor many of the other Army personnel have yet received full compensation for those terrible injuries received in 1982? Will she instigate an investigation by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to see whether those matters can be dealt with more expeditiously?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, we answered fully, and the doctors and authorities have looked carefully into that case. Unfortunately, they were not able to go further than they have already gone. We shall certainly look into speeding up matters.

Q5. Mr. Michael Brown

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 13 February.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Brown

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer has room for manoeuvre [column 1095]in the Budget, it would be better for people on average earnings, especially the heads of households, to reduce the rates of tax rather than to increase tax thresholds?

The Prime Minister

I am sure that we would like to have the choice. My hon. Friend will be aware that in view of the falls in oil prices we must, above all, have a prudent, cautions Budget. I am sure that my right hon. Friend Nigel Lawsonthe Chancellor of the Exchequer will take into account the choice of my hon. Friend when he draws up his Budget.

Mr. Freud

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 13 February.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Freud

Will the Prime Minister, having taken such egregious pleasure in seeing off two Labour Administrations and three Labour leaders, now consider seeing off her 18th Cabinet member, the Secretary of State for Education and Science, and replacing him with someone to whom the teachers can talk, who understands the problems of the children, and who will consider them with faith and understanding?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend Sir Keith Josephthe Secretary of State for Education and Science has done more than any other previous Minister to raise the standards of education. I deeply resent the hon. Gentleman's implications made against him.

Mr. Nicholls

Has my right hon. Friend had a chance to consider the Manpower Services Commission report yesterday, which shows that last year between 20,000 and 30,000 young people chose a place on the dole rather than a place on a youth training scheme? Does she agree that, while they are entitled to make that choice, they should not have been entitled to do so at the taxpayers' expense?

The Prime Minister

I can see my hon. Friend's point vividly. I hope that those young people will think again and accept a place on the YTS, especially since it has been extended to two years. It will give them a much better training than any that they would be likely to get in any other way, and a much better prospect of a job in future.

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Mr. Allan Roberts

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 13 February.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Roberts

Has the Prime Minister had time to read the Valentine card which was delivered to 10 Downing street this morning by the nurses? [Interruption.] The hooligans on the Back Benches do not want to listen to what the nurses are saying about the Health Service. That Valentine card asks the Prime Minister to put some heart back into the Health Service, and accuses her of turning hospitals into supermarkets. As 93 per cent. of the population believe that the Prime Minister will listen to reason, may I ask her to listen to the reason of the nurses, who know better than anybody else that the Health Service is not safe in her hands?

The Prime Minister

I did not think that it was Valentine's day today, but I think that the hon. Gentleman will agree that we have put a lot of resources into the Health Service—20 per cent. more in real terms than any other previous Government. This means more doctors, more nurses, more patients treated—in-patient and out-patient—and no previous Government can hold a candle to that record.

Q8. Mr. Roger King

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 13 February.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. King

During her very busy day, will my right hon. Friend have time to relax, perhaps make a cup of tea, and reflect, with a degree of satisfaction, on the fact that the TUC has at long last conceded that the democratic right of union workers is to have a postal ballot, and that it has also decided to accept financial assistance towards that ballot?

The Prime Minister

That is very good news. It was our intention to give the ordinary members of the trade union much more control over their bosses. I am delighted that that has now been recognised.