Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1986 Apr 22 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 [96/166-70]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2574
Themes: Defence (general), Education, Higher & further education, Industry, Monetary policy, Trade, European Union (general), Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USA), Housing, Labour Party & socialism, Law & order, Media, Terrorism
[column 166]

PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Dykes

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 22 April.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. I was present at Windsor for the arrival of their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain. In addition to my duties in this House I shall be having further meetings later today. This evening I shall be attending a state banquet in honour of their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain.

Mr. Dykes

As we are approaching my right hon. Friend's visit to Israel, and bearing in mind that we take over the EEC presidency on 1 June, may I ask her to consider carefully the advantages of another EEC initiative on the middle eastern settlement? Does she agree with many hon. Members that it is not only a matter of specific and important anti-terrorist measures, but of trying to deal with the fundamental problem of the middle east, and the Americans do not seem to be making progress in that more important area?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is right to say that since the end of King Hussein 's initiative there have been no new formal proposals. When King Hussein came here recently I was able to discuss certain practical steps with him and I hope to take those forward when I visit Israel in several weeks' time, and to be in touch with the United States about them. We take over the presidency on 1 July. I shall consider what my hon. Friend has said, but I think it advisable that we obtain more agreement on the steps forward before we launch on an initiative.

Mr. Kinnock

Is the action taken against the 21 Libyan students the beginning of further steps by the right hon. Lady's Government to isolate Gaddafi, including the imposition of economic sanctions and the denial of credits and subsidised foodstuffs from the EEC?

The Prime Minister

As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, my right hon. Friend Douglas Hurdthe Home Secretary will later be answering a question about the deportation of Libyan students. It is an action which we felt was legitimate and desirable under all the circumstances. We are considering further matters about Libyan pilots in Britain and further action that we could take. He will be aware of the actions which the EEC decided to take and, of course, the meeting of Foreign Ministers continues.

Mr. Kinnock

In the light of that answer, may I ask the Prime Minister whether she has ruled out direct economic sanctions against Libya, as reported in the Daily Telegraph this morning? Does she accept that if that is true that would be cynical and inconsistent, given the support for the bombing of Libya last week?

The Prime Minister

The refusal to sell military equipment is, of course, a direct economic sanction of a specific kind which we took but which has not apparently been taken by all of the European Community. Sanctions as a whole will only work provided everybody operates them, but there are some that we take unilaterally, as the right hon. Gentleman is aware. Food matters have to be pursued through the EEC. We made our views known [column 167]strongly to the European Commission, when it cut out the management committee and decided on special export subsidies for the sale of butter to Libya.

Mr. Kinnock

In that case, will the Prime Minister make further representations and put all possible pressure on our European allies so that they excercise the power that they must have to impose economic sanctions that are more effective against Gaddafi while not being so lethal towards his people?

The Prime Minister

Yes, we are doing just that and we are particularly concerned about the Commission giving special subsidies for exports of food surpluses to Libya, and we make our views known very strongly indeed.

Mr. John Browne

Will my right hon. Friend accept that a single bombing raid in itself is unlikely to stop terrorism? None the less, it does lay down to the terrorist a serious cost. Will she agree to lay down, in face of terrorism, yet more costs, such as the introduction of the death penalty for terrorism, and even introduce counterterror activities, in our anti-terrorist operations?

The Prime Minister

As my hon. Friend is aware, the introduction of such a penalty would be a matter for this House. It has been debated on many occasions, but so far it has never got through. That would be the first thing that would have to take place.

Q2. Mr. Wallace

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 22 April.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Wallace

During her busy day, has the Prime Minister noticed early day motion 74, in the name of a number of her right hon. and hon. Friends, condemning the alleged lack of balance in BBC reports of the raid on Tripoli? Will she take this opportunity to dissociate herself from that motion? In particular, will she praise Miss Kate Adie, who, in difficult circumstances, maintained the best traditions of objective news reporting?

The Prime Minister

The Government do not control the BBC. Hon. Members are as free to say what they like about the BBC, as is any other citizen.

Sir Edward Gardner

Will my right hon. Friend do everything that she can to persuade the United States Government that no country dedicated to the defeat of terrorism can any longer afford to allow the extradition of terrorists from its jurisdiction to be impeded or frustrated by the absurd doctrine that murder perpetrated with the alleged motive of political interest is no longer murder, and so cannot be used as a ground for extradition?

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. and learned Friend. The point has been forcefully made and will continue to be made. This matter is being increasingly recognised.

Mr. Dalyell

At what point did the Americans tell the Prime Minister that they were going to use anti-personnel cluster bombs?

The Prime Minister

As I indicated in statements and speeches last week, we set down certain criteria for the permission. The Americans selected the targets within those criteria. It was for them to choose the weapons which—[Interruption.]

[column 168]

Mr. Speaker

Order.

The Prime Minister

—It was for them to choose the weapons to secure the defeat of those targets within the target permissions which we gave.

Q3. Mr. Gerald Bowden

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 22 April.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Bowden

Has my right hon. Friend seen the survey recently published by the National Council for Educational Standards, which shows that the examination results in ILEA schools are 30 per cent. below the national average, while at the same time ILEA spends over 40 per cent. more per pupil? Is this not a great indictment of a Socialist, dogma-ridden education authority? It is failing in its duty to the children it is there to serve.

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend. ILEA spends far more on the education of children than many other authorities, including those with similar problems. The results are not good. Indeed, they are worse than any other similar authority. Surely this shows that it is quiet wrong to tackle the education problem merely by pouring more money into it. Commitment and devotion are required on the part of the staff, with more choice on the part of parents.

Mr. Barnett

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Inner London education authority contains boroughs, some of which are among the most deprived in the country, that it is dealing with children coming from families speaking 145 different languages, that it has problems of quite a different nature from the problems of any other authority, and that the expenditure is entirely necessary? Speaking as a parent of children who go to ILEA schools, I am satisfied with the performance of their teachers.

The Prime Minister

I disagree with what the hon. Gentleman has said, particularly in the latter part of his question. He will be aware, for example, that ILEA will spend on each secondary school pupil in 1985-86 the sum of £1,933. Metropolitan districts, some of which have similar problems, will spend on average £1,113 on each pupil, and some of them get better results.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

In view of the failure of Foreign Ministers yesterday to agree on the banning of export rebates for Libya, is there nothing that the British Government can do to stop the use of taxpayers' funds directly to subsidise cheap food for Libya? Is not the management committee irrelevant, since on 15 March the Commission took it upon itself not to publish either the subsidy or the destination of cheap food?

The Prime Minister

As my hon. Friend is aware, my right hon. and learned Friend Sir Geoffrey Howethe Foreign Secretary raised that matter with the Commission when it circumvented the management committee and gave a particular export subsidy for exports of butter to Libya. I am afraid that unless the rest of our Community partners agree with us there is nothing we can do alone.

Mr. Steel

Is the Prime Minister aware that on Thursday new regulations come into effect in the United States which will give the United States authorities control over high-tech hardware, software and personnel in this country? In view of the Attorney-General's opinion that [column 169]such a claim is both illegal in international law and an infringement of our sovereignty, what protection will the Prime Minister give to British firms?

The Prime Minister

As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, there has already been a debate in the House on the subject, initiated by his colleague the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Meadowcroft). The position was stated in that debate and has been given a number of times since. In general we reject United States claims to extraterritorial jurisdiction in the United Kingdom. One of the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues is in touch with my right hon. Friend Paul Channonthe Secretary of State for Trade and Industry about a particular firm. That will be pursued.

Q4. Mrs. Beckett

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 22 April.

The Prime Minister

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

Mrs. Beckett

Does the more conciliatory tone that the Prime Minister has offered of late mean that she now accepts that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is not the best basis for foreign policy?

The Prime Minister

The best basis for foreign policy is what is in the British interest.

Mr. Latham

Is my right hon. Friend aware that millions of people up and down the country will welcome the fact that since the Budget, and, indeed, because of the Budget, there has been a sharp and continuing fall in the level of the mortgage rate?

The Prime Minister

Yes. That is very good news for all who are purchasing their houses. Last year the number of new mortgages reached 1 million for the first time. That is also good news for home ownership.

Q5. Mr. Gareth Wardell

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 22 April.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Wardell

Is the Prime Minister aware of any evidence that any of the 39 human beings, including women and children, who were killed in the American air raid in Libya had been involved in terrorist activities?

[column 170]

The Prime Minister

I indicated our view both in statements and in a speech. Terrorism thrives on appeasement, and Opposition Members are appeasers.

Q6. Mr. Andrew MacKay

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 22 April.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. MacKay

Is my right hon. Friend aware that after yesterday's meeting in Luxembourg many of us feel that our European partners' response to state-sponsored terrorism is woefully inadequate, particularly when, notwithstanding my right hon. and learned Friend's robust support, they could not be persuaded to close down the Libyan people's bureaux in various capitals, which are clearly being used as places from which terrorists act?

The Prime Minister

I rather agree with my hon. Friend. The European Community has gone further than it has been prepared to go before. It agreed to a severe cut in the size of people's bureaux throughout Europe. It agreed to confine members of those bureaux to the city where they are posted, to restrict the size of other official Libyan bodies to the minimum necessary and to apply a much stricter visa regime to Libyans. That is a good deal further than previously, but I agree with my hon. Friend that we should have liked a lot more to be done. We must consider how much further to go ourselves.

Mr. Buchan

Does the Prime Minister believe that her safeguarding of British interests includes allowing the Americans free choice in the nature of weapons to be used, as she said five minutes ago? Would this extend beyond the anti-personnel cluster bombs to nuclear bombs, for example? Do we get a clear answer on that?

The Prime Minister

It is a perfectly clear answer. We set down the criteria for targets which we believed were within legitimate self-defence. We were advised that the use of F111 aircraft was the best means of striking those targets. The precise methods that the United States uses is a matter for the United States within the criteria set down—[Interruption.] Of course it is a matter for the United States.

Mr. Buchan

In view of that inadequate reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise this matter on the Adjournment.