Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1986 May 13 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 [97/552-56]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2435
Themes: Executive, Union of UK nations, Conservatism, By-elections, Local elections, Monetary policy, Pay, Public spending & borrowing, Trade, Foreign policy (Asia), Foreign policy (development, aid, etc), Foreign policy (USA), Health policy, Northern Ireland, Social security & welfare, Terrorism, Voluntary sector & charity
[column 552]

PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. John Fraser

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 13 May.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

This morning I 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.

Mr. Fraser

In view of the shattering rejection that the Government's policies received at the polls last Thursday, not least in Lambeth and Finchley, what changes does the Prime Minister intend to make in policies or in Ministers, or does she contemplate leaving the job to someone else?

The Prime Minister

I thought it was a pretty shattering rejection of Labour policies.

Sir Hector Monro

In view of the importance of jobs in Scotland and exports from Britain, how did the discussions go with Korea and Japan on the Scotch whisky industry? Is there any further hope of additional exports to those countries?

The Prime Minister

The matter was raised with both countries, and I understood from the Japanese Prime Minister that it would be considered. I put our point robustly that they have promised to consider it before that and their promises have not so far come to very much.

Mr. Steel

Will the Prime Minister acknowledge that she will not be the most significant lady in the House this afternoon? Will she cease to listen to those of her colleagues, semi-detached or otherwise, who tell her that the Government's policies are not getting through? They are getting through—on unemployment, education and transport—and they are being wholly rejected.

The Prime Minister

I seem to remember that I had a similar question after the Crosby by-election. That was 18 months before our splendid win at the following general election.

Mrs. Peacock

Will my right hon. Friend take time today to congratulate the Conservatives in my constituency of Batley and Spen who won a Labour seat against all odds?

The Prime Minister

I congratulate those people on their wisdom in the local election and on their wisdom in choosing my hon. Friend as a Member for Parliament in the general election.

Q2. Mr. Maxton

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 13 May.

[column 553]

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Maxton

As the Prime Minister's party obtained only 16 per cent. of the vote in Scotland, as it no longer controls one regional council in Scotland, and as the Tory party will be lucky to retain five Conservative seats in Scotland at the next general election, does she really consider that there has been a shattering rejection of Labour party policies, or does she agree with the Secretary of State for Scotland, who said that the result reflected the Government's failure to do their job?

The Prime Minister

Opposition Members sometimes say that we have no mandate to govern Scotland, but the hon. Gentleman will recall that on that basis four out of the last five Labour Governments had no mandate to govern England.

Mr. Tim Smith

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the result of the local election in Wandsworth shows that people want a combination of low rates and efficient public services which offers value for money? Will my right hon. Friend continue to pursue policies at a national level that are designed to secure those objectives?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. As the months go by, many ratepayers will wish that they had followed Wandsworth's example.

Mr. Mark Hughes

To change the subject from electioneering, can the Prime Minister say what her Government's response will be to Christian Aid week, given their appalling record during the past seven years?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman will be well aware that our record has not been appalling. We led our European colleagues on granting and getting aid given to Ethiopia. We have an excellent record of aid to Ethiopia and other countries in Africa. However, I wish Christian Aid week well, and hope that people will give generously.

Q3. Mr. Dykes

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 13 May.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Dykes

As there has been a further fall in the rate of inflation, and as there is now a negligible Budget deficit, cannot we use those Government successes to build a policy of new investment in the public sector to stimulate the economy? Could not that take precedence over all other matters, including tax cuts?

The Prime Minister

We are certainly heading for the lowest inflation rate since the 1960s. My hon. Friend will be very much aware of the Government's excellent record on building roads, and, in particular, hospitals. It is excellent.

Mr. Kinnock

When NHS consultants in London and elsewhere record that Health Service cuts are seriously jeopardising standards of health care and the training of doctors, and are resulting in lengthening waiting lists and a loss of acute services, does the Prime Minister still say that the Health Service is safe in her hands?

The Prime Minister

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, far more resources have been put into the Health Service—from £7.5 billion in the first year that we took over from Labour to £17.5 billion now. There has been a [column 554]great increase in the number of those practising medicine, doctors and nurses, and a great increase in the number of those treated in the Health Service. I believe that they are treated better as medical services improve. The right hon. Gentleman knows the reason for the changes in London. Resources have been moved further north under policies started by a Labour Government. Does he now reject and renounce those policies?

Mr. Kinnock

Surely the Prime Minister must know, since everybody else does, that London's loss has not been anybody else's real gain. When she offers that litany—[Interruption.] Does the Prime Minister not even begin to understand the difference between statistics and people? Statistics do not feel pain; people do.

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman is wrong. Resources have been steadily moved further north for many years at the cost of we London Members—[Interruption.] I understand from the right hon. Gentleman that he is against that reallocation policy. I therefore assume that he is asking us to stop it.

Mr. Kinnock

Everybody knows that the RAWP policy was acceptable everywhere for as long as the NHS was expanding adequately. When it is being cut, that policy is a betrayal of the people, north, south, east and west.

The Prime Minister

There were two years under the Labour Government when the money spent on the Health Service was actually reduced. The fact is that expenditure was £7.5 billion in the last year of the Labour Government and £17.5 billion this year. Will the right hon. Gentleman learn a little arithmetic?

Q5. Mr. Pavitt

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 13 May.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Pavitt

Will the Prime Minister accept a little reality? On the question of the crisis in acute beds in London and the surrounding areas, is she aware that the protest by the 10 teaching hospitals, led by Mr. Richard Thompson of St.Thomas's, means that in the last fortnight nine of those hospitals have had to refuse the admission of emergency cases? Is she aware that because of the rationalisation of beds outside London the only place to which patients can come are the teaching hospitals in London? While congratulating the Minister for Health on giving our own Westminster hospital a two-year reprieve, may I ask whether the Prime Minister will do something about stopping the closure of the third major section, that is, the radiography and oncology departments, because we have already lost cardiac surgery and ophthalmology?

The Prime Minister

Provision for the Riverside health authority, which is what the hon. Gentleman is referring to, is affected by the reallocation procedure, partly because the population will fall by 10 per cent. in the next eight years. Despite that, there has been a steady increase in the number of patients treated and a small increase in the number of staff directly concerned with patient care. However, the RAWP procedure is being considered and the National Health Service management board will report by the end of the year. I take it that the Labour party wants the end of the reallocation procedure which it started. The midlands and the north have [column 555]benefited very greatly from the increase in Health Service expenditure, which has gone from £7.5 billion under Labour to £17.5 billion a year.

Mr. Higgins

Is it not completely wrong for the Leader of the Opposition to give the impression that there have been cuts in total resources for the Health Service, when in reality they have increased? Is he aware that constituencies like mine, which benefit from the reallocation of resources, welcome the change very much indeed?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. The Leader of the Opposition does not know that to go from £7.5 billion to £17.5 billion a year is an increase and not a cut.

Mr. Foot

Can the Prime Minister tell us whether any of the talk about a balanced team has reached her ears? Will she give us the assurance that her idea of a balanced team is the present incumbent of Conservative Central Office and Mr. Jeffrey Archer?

The Prime Minister

A balanced team won in 1979 and in 1983, and hopes to gain a third return ticket.

Mr. Alan Howarth

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it remains just as much the case today as it was before last Thursday that living standards and social provision have to be earned and paid for? Does she agree that there will always be politicians who offer free beer, but that there are large numbers of electors who are nursing painful memories of the last binge, and that when it comes to the general election the people will vote soberly and sensibly for her policies of realism?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Mr. Speaker, for policies which have brought an increased standard of living, increased production, increased wealth ownership throughout the country, better trade union reform and respect abroad. I believe the people will vote for us in a third election.

Q7. Mr. Tony Lloyd

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 13 May.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Lloyd

Has the Prime Minister seen reports that there are now 13 million people in Britain living in [column 556]poverty? Can she say whether this is a record of which she is proud, or is the real truth that her Government have pauperised millions of our fellow citizens?

The Prime Minister

The standard of living, both of those in work and of those on social security, is higher than it has ever been before.

Mr. Yeo

Does my right hon. Friend agree, in the light of the trust and support that we showed to the United States in its fight against terrorism recently, that there will be profound dismay throughout the whole of the United Kingdom if we do not have immediate approval of the extradition treaty?

The Prime Minister

Yes. Ronald ReaganThe President and Administration are doing their best to try to bring that about. My right hon. Friend Tom Kingthe Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has gone to the United States to say how strongly we feel about it. I hope that both will be successful in achieving the desired result.

Mr. Mason

Will the Prime Minister tell the House what punishment she intends to mete out to her right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, who now has publicly portrayed her as the lame duck Prime Minister?

The Prime Minister

John BiffenMy right hon. Friend has asked me to reply. He did in fact make many robust policy points on Sunday with which I wholly agree.

Mr. Skinner

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This is a point of order for you arising out of Prime Minister's questions. We all appreciate the difficulty that you have in trying to make sure that all groups within the House have a chance to speak, especially at Prime Minister's Question Time. Some of us have noticed that, since the interview that the Leader of the House gave on television last Sunday, there are two discernible groups in the Tory camp. What we are suggesting, Mr. Speaker, is that in future, so that you get the balanced ticket right in the House of Commons, instead of calling just anybody from the Conservative Benches, you should make sure you call the Biffen faction and the Thatcher faction, so that that balance can be continued.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member may like to know that I never watch television on Sunday.