Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1986 Jul 15 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

House of Commons PQs

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [101/847-52]
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2643
Themes: Commonwealth (South Africa), Defence (arms control), Privatized & state industries, Trade, European Union (general), Foreign policy (Africa), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Labour Party & socialism, Media, Race, immigration, nationality, Sport
[column 847]

PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Miss Boothroyd

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 15 July.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and [column 848]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.

Miss Boothroyd

Is the right hon. Lady in favour of early majority rule in South Africa on the basis of oneperson one-vote, or is she not?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Lady is well aware that the question is not one-person, one-vote—[Interruption.] It might be as well to listen to the end of the sentence first. It is whether it is one-person state one-vote in a unitary state, or a federal state, so the question that she asks is not the correct one.

Mr. Baldry

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the real divide in this country is between those of us who believe that the state should always be the servant of the people and those Opposition Members who want the state should always to be the master of the people, and that no playing around with words such as transposing “social ownership” for “nationalisation” will hide that fact from the people of this country?

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend. Social ownership is nationalisation and control by Government under another name. We want to reduce the control by Government and increase the freedom on the part of the citizens of this country.

Mr. Kinnock

Against the background of last week and, indeed, last weekend why does the Prime Minister keep insisting that sanctions and negotiations are somehow mutually exclusive alternatives when it is obvious to everyone, including many members of her own party, that real negotiations will be secured only when there are strict sanctions against apartheid, and that persuasion without pressure is utterly hopeless?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman uses a new word when he refers to “strict” sanctions; he does not define it. As he will know, his party has rejected general economic sanctions, and every party in power has rejected general economic sanctions for the simple reason that they have never been known to work to bring about internal change. If they will not work to bring about internal change, why does he want to impose them?

Mr. Kinnock

Not for the first time the Prime Minister dodges any question that is really related to apartheid. Last week she said that she had done quite well by persuasion, particularly in the last 18 months. In that 18 months the horrific truth is that 2,000 people have been killed in South Africa, the South African regime has undertaken armed aggression against three Commonwealth countries, thousands of people have been put in detention without trial, there have been two states of emergency and two acts of unprecedented oppression. Is that what the right hon. Lady means by doing quite well in the last 18 months?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman is well aware of that. If sanctions will not work to bring about internal change, why in the world does he want to bring them in? He knows full well that they would cause starvation of children and that they would cause unemployment in South Africa on a wide scale and unemployment in this country. Why does he continue to want them under those circumstances?

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Mr. Kinnock

The Prime Minister's interest in morality in South Africa is very recent indeed. What has she been doing about the fact that half the children in the homelands die as babies? What has she ever done about the fact that there is one doctor to 44,000 black Africans? What has she ever done about the basic atrocity of apartheid? We should not take lectures, and certainly the people of South Africa will not take lectures, from the right hon. Lady about morality.

The Prime Minister

Nor do I take lectures from the right hon. Gentleman, whose party voted against sanctions when it was the Government. Perhaps he will listen to what Chief Buthelezi said in a letter to The Guardian recently:

“My forefathers fought British imperialism; today I am prepared to die for democracy, and I will not rest until apartheid is dead. But I am not prepared to lead my people into a battle where they will be decimated. South Africa cannot and will not be liberated with the blood of children.” [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Will hon. Gentlemen please not shout at each other across the Chamber.

Mr. David Howell

Will my hon. Friend try once more to explain to Opposition Members that by far the best way to raise the dignity, political status and prosperity of black South Africans is not to isolate the South African economy, but to follow the advice of Mrs. Helen Suzman, a fighter for black rights, by expanding investment in black South Africa and bringing new enterprise, managerial expertise and know-how to the black community? Will my right hon. Friend say what talks she has had with other industrial countries and Governments to further such positive enterprise instead of trying to ruin the South African economy, black and white?

The Prime Minister

I agree with my right hon. Friend. Mrs. Suzman also wrote an article in The Times a few days ago. Speaking about sanctions, she said:

“The likely effect in South Africa would be the imposition of a siege economy and more repression.” We adopt my right hon. Friend's view. As he knows, we have been in touch with the Economic Community. The communiqué issued recently was a communiqué of the Twelve, who are taking positive measures to bring more aid to black South Africans for their greater education. As he knows, my right hon. and learned Friend Sir Geoffrey Howethe Foreign Secretary will be going this week to Washington to discuss the matter with the Government of the United States.

Mr. Steel

Has the Prime Minister noted the speech made at lunchtime today by the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, in which he reminded us that some of the arguments used today against sanctions are the same as were used by the West Indian planters against the abolition of slavery in the last century? Will she also note that he believes that the decision of the Commonwealth Games Federation yesterday has created what he calls a “window of opportunity” for all nations to come to the Edinburgh games? That window must not be shut in London. Will the Prime Minister support his call?

The Prime Minister

As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, it was this House which had a great deal to do with the abolition of slavery. It had nothing to do with sanctions. We should be proud of the record of this House, before there was a Labour party, in getting rid of slavery.

With regard to what the right hon. Gentleman said about the Commonwealth games, I greatly regret the [column 850]unjustified action that has been taken about withdrawing. In regard to Zola Budd and Annette Cowley, it is not a matter for the Government but for the Commonwealth Games Federation to decide upon the eligibility of individual athletes within its own rules. It is for it to justify its decision and it is for the federation to administer its rules impartially. Those games have nothing to do with decisions of Her Majesty's Government.

Q2. Mr. Amess

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 15 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Amess

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on her recent visit to Vancouver, and on batting for British jobs and work. Will she please take every opportunity in her travels abroad and when she meets overseas visitors in London to point out to them that the new Rover car is a victory for joint design and technology?

The Prime Minister

I know that my hon. Friend never loses an opportunity to bat for interests in his constituency and that he never loses an opportunity to bat for that particular car, an opportunity that I share with him. The display in the British pavillion was absolutely first class and demonstrated all that is best in British industry and all of its successes. We are particularly good on several makes of cars and also on the railbus and the Leyland Bus. It was also very good that there was the first flypast of Concorde, which was very much welcomed by the people of Vancouver. It showed how good we are in aerospace matters.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

After arguing the case for sanctions against Libya, Afghanistan, Poland and other places, why has the Prime Minister suddenly taken such an extreme dislike to sanctions against South Africa? Surely she must realise that the British people and the British Commonwealth are crying out for moral leadership over sanctions, the type of moral leadership which, at long last, the Church of England has given?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that when it came to sanctions against Libya we argued that they do not work unless they are totally and utterly universal, and they never are. That is why they were not put on. Certainly we had good cause to turn out of London the Libyan People's Bureau, but that was not an economic sanction. Certainly we have good cause to refuse to supply defence equipment to Libya. Also, we have absolutely refused to supply defence equipment to South Africa. As for moral sense, I see nothing moral in trying to cause starvation and unemployment for people and children in South Africa.

Mr. Donald Stewart

When she quoted from last week's edition of The Guardian, why did the right hon. Lady not quote the editorial, which asked when she last took the lead in feeding the starving, when she had shown some sign of trying to find jobs for people without prospects and why, having read the Brandt report, she passed by on the other side? Is it not clear from that, that, while reading moral lectures to people who do not require them, her guiding principle is support for the South African regime?

The Prime Minister

As the right hon. Gentleman refers to The Guardian, may I say that I thought that there were one or two rather successful interviews in The Guardian [column 851]last week, which managed to get across a number of facts that needed to be stated. There were also letters, from one of which I have quoted. As the right hon. Gentleman invited me to go on, let me quote further from the letter from which I have already quoted. Chief Buthelezi said:

“Today, more than ever, negotiation and peaceful change is within our grasp. Whites, more than ever, are ready to negotiate. Nobody can say exactly when and how, but one thing I do know: senseless violence will not help our cause.”

Yes, The Guardian carries excellent letters.

Q3. Mr. Temple-Morris

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 15 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Temple-Morris

My right hon. Friend, who is to be congratulated on her forthcoming visit to Moscow, will recollect that Mr. Gorbachev told Lord Whitelaw 's recent IPU delegation that he wanted a summit, but Mr. Gorbachev understandably added that there was no point in having one unless it could agree about something. Will my right hon. Friend do her utmost to secure a summit? Will she also do her utmost to secure the prospects of an agreement on chemical weapons and, I dare say, on other matters as well?

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend. I think that most people hope that there will be a summit between President Reagan and Secretary General Gorbachev, and that there will be a summit this year. It will be fruitful if it succeeds in reaching some decisions on arms control, possibly as a prelude to a third summit next year. As my hon. Friend says, I believe that chemical weapons offer an area in which the Soviet Union could follow the lead given by Britain and the United States, in that she could substantially reduce her stockpile and agree not to engage in any more manufacturing of these weapons. Also, I believe that there is some hope of making further progress on intermediate nuclear weapons. There are very interesting proposals on the table now between the United States and the Soviet Union. I believe that they will be prosecuted with the utmost urgency and I hope that they will lead to a successful summit.

Q4. Mr. Terry Davis

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 15 July.

[column 852]

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Davis

What does the Prime Minister mean by her earlier reference to a choice between a unitary and a federal state in South Africa? Does she want to see more Bantustans?

The Prime Minister

With respect, I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would know what the difference is without needing a lesson on it.

Mr. Maclean

Will my right hon. Friend check with her right hon. and hon. Friends to find out how many letters they have received on the issue of sanctions against South Africa? I am sure she will find that there is no great pressure from our constituents to impose sanctions against South Africa. It is a whipped-up media campaign, and our constituents do not like the hypocrisy of other African nations which have dictatorships, and which could teach South Africa a thing or two.

The Prime Minister

We certainly have not received many letters compared with the amount that we receive on some other subjects. I think that people are very much aware that the Labour party's policy would mean lost jobs and a great deal of misery among those whom we seek to help in South Africa.

Q5. Ms. Richardson

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 15 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Ms. Richardson

Following the Prime Minister's visit to Canada, can she name a single Commonwealth Head who does not favour sanctions?

The Prime Minister

I think that there are other Commonwealth Heads—[Hon. Members: “Who?, Where?” ]—who do not favour sanctions. It is not for me to mention them here. There are many Commonwealth Heads who do not favour general economic sanctions, and most of them are talking about signals and gestures. That is totally different from the Labour party's policy, which is to create unemployment in South Africa in order to create unemployment here.