Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1987 Feb 17 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 [110/763-68]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2397
Themes: Agriculture, Conservative Party (organization), Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Employment, Industry, Trade, European Union (general), Foreign policy (USA), Labour Party & socialism, Law & order, Terrorism
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PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Wareing

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 17 February.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others, including one with the President of the Congo. I attended a service of thanks giving for the life and work of Sir Edward Youde, former Governor of Hong Kong. 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. Wareing

Does the right hon. Lady agree with her Attorney-General that it would be “an unwarranted encroachment” into British sovereignty to allow American trade inspectors to inspect the books of British firms partaking of American technology? Does she agree with her Secretary of State for Defence that there would not be any unacceptable extra-territorial claims? Is it not about time that we told the United States Government what to do with their re-export controls, or is the Prime Minister content merely to fill the role of President Reagan 's—[Hon. Members: “Poodle” .]—poodle?

The Prime Minister

We have made abundantly clear our views on extra-territorial jurisdiction. I think that the hon. Gentleman might be referring to some reports that have been published in the press about extra-territoriality, AWACS and United States export controls. It is not correct to say that the documents under discussion with the United States authorities have conceded that the United States has jurisdiction over United Kingdom companies, either in the case of the purchase of AWACS or United States-United Kingdom trade in general. In fact the reverse is true, with the proposed memorandum of understanding making it clear that for the defence articles of services forming the AWACS system—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister

The proposed memorandum of understanding makes it clear that, for the defence articles of services forming the AWACS system, the control of exports from the United Kingdom will be enforced exclusively by the United Kingdom Government.

Mr. Bellingham

Will my right hon. Friend find time today during her busy schedule to consider the recent [column 764]excellent manufacturing output figures, the best for seven years? Is it any wonder that even David Blunkett is predicting a third Tory term?

The Prime Minister

The latest figures on manufacturing output are excellent and show the increasing success of manufacturing industry, especially in export volume. I am glad to get extra support, from whatever source.

Mr. Kinnock

Yesterday the Secretary of State for Defence made a welcome statement to the effect that he does not believe that the case is made for any deployment of star wars and that the narrow interpretation of the ABM treaty is the wise one to stick to. Is that also the Prime Minister's own precise view, and does she believe that the narrow interpretation of the treaty forbids testing, development and deployment of star wars technology?

The Prime Minister

The actual interpretation of the ABM treaty is for the two signatories to that treaty, because only they have full notes of the negotiating record, which, of course, will say what the words were intended to mean. We do not have them. We are anxious for the United States to consult Europe if it is going to any accepted change within the treaty, because that will have side effects for the arms control negotiations, in which we have, of course, a considerable interest.

Mr. Kinnock

That is a rather different impression from the one given by the right hon. Lady's Secretary of State for Defence yesterday. While we naturally would welcome consultations on this vital issue, what trust can be put by the Prime Minister or anybody else in such consultations when last Wednesday the head of the United States arms control agency, Mr. Adelman, said that European allies had no business giving advice on interpretation because, to use his words, they have “no qualifications” to do so. Are those the words of someone who wants to consult, or of someone who does not mind insulting?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman cannot have listened to or understood my first reply. The fact is that there are only two signatories to this treaty, the Soviet Union and the United States. Only those two signatories have the negotiating record. Only they, therefore, can do the precise interpretation, as it was intended when they signed that treaty. If they change what has hitherto been understood to be the interpretation, yes, we do ask for consultation, because that has a considerable effect upon the arms control negotiations that are taking place in Geneva; arms control negotiations which, I might remind the right hon. Gentleman, deal with Soviet Union superiority in intercontinental ballistic missiles, Soviet Union superiority in medium-range missiles, Soviet Union superiority in short-range missiles, Soviet Union superiority in conventional weapons and Soviet Union superiority in chemical weapons. Therefore, it is absolutely right that President Reagan considers SDI. Thank goodness people considered nuclear research before the last world war.

Mr. Kinnock

In that case, and as it is so vital, will the Prime Minister tell us whether the Secretary of State for Defence or she will have sight of that negotiating record before they tender further advice, which we all hope will be influential on the United States' attitude towards the deployment of star wars technology?

The Prime Minister

No, Mr. Speaker. The point of asking for consultation is to know the effect upon arms [column 765]control negotiations. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to look at the face of the treaty he will discover that where there are new ABM systems “based on other physical principles” —[Interruption.] I am actually reading from the treaty. What the treaty says is:

“In order to insure fulfilment of the obligation not to deploy ABM systems and their components except as provided in Article III of the Treaty, the Parties agree that in the event ABM systems based on other physical principles” were to be developed, that should be dealt with by a certain process. If it comes to deployment, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred earlier, that is a matter for negotiation. At the moment we are not talking about deployment. President Reagan and I agreed that deployment would be a matter for consultation under the treaty.

Mr. Peter Griffiths

Will my right hon. Friend take the opportunity to congratulate the security services and the police on preventing a convicted IRA terrorist from entering this country through the port of Liverpool last week? At the same time, will she condemn the official Opposition, who in the same week voted against the extension of the prevention of terrorism legislation, under which that self-same protection was afforded to citizens of this country?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984 helps the police to apprehend terrorists and therefore to protect the people of the United Kingdom. [Interruption.] Last week the Opposition voted against the Prevention of Terrorism Act. On the same day they voted against clause 29 of the Criminal Justice Bill, which would enable appeals to made against sentences, so as to have tougher sentences, and also against clause 30, which will increase to life imprisonment the maximum penalty for possession of a firearm with criminal intent. It was a bad day for law and order when the official Opposition voted against three measures like that.

Q2. Mr. Cartwright

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 17 February.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Cartwright

Why does the Prime Minister appear to be reneging on the position taken by herself and her Government in favour of the original narrow interpretation of the ABM treaty? Will she assure the House that in her discussions with the American Administration this Administration will be urging the President not to imperil nuclear disarmament prospects by pressing ahead with the Disneyland delusions of star wars?

The Prime Minister

If it comes to deployment, that was covered by the four points that I agreed with President Reagan at Camp David some time ago. But we are not talking about deployment at the moment. We are talking about how far the research can go under the terms of the treaty. For that there are two interpretations. I must make it absolutely clear that in terms of common sense there is no point in talking about possible deployment until it is known whether something is feasible.

Q4. Mr. Livsey

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 17 February.

The Prime Minister

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

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Mr. Livsey

Will the Prime Minister comment on the fate of construction workers in south Wales, who are now daily travelling up the M4 to get work in construction in London, where there is a shortage of labour, for which they are being paid £70 a week, and then returning to south Wales, where there are 20,000 unemployed construction workers? Does she not think that this is an indication of her Government's failure to have an effective regional employment policy?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, there has been an excellent regional policy for Wales. He will also be aware that unemployment in Wales is falling. I hope that he will endorse and welcome that.

Mr. Amery

Will my right hon. Friend make it clear that on the question of the interpretation of the ABM treaty she will not be advised by such supporters of unilateral nuclear disarmament as the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Mr. Speaker. We will not be advised by those who support unilateral nuclear disarmament in any event.

Q5. Mr. Mikardo

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 17 February.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Mikardo

I am most grateful to the right hon. Lady for that reply. May I ask her whether, in the course of her very busy day, she can find a few minutes to have a look at the problem of Fascist entryism into the Conservative party, as illustrated by the National Fronter, who is the chairman of a constituency Conservative association not far from here, and the Tory students at Aberystwyth, who held a celebration on the anniversary of the coming to power, not of the right hon. Lady, but of a certain Adolf Hitler?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman must be hard put to it to find a question about politics for which I am responsible. With regard to his particular question, my right hon. Friend Norman Tebbitthe Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster deals with these things in his own inimitable style.

Mr. Peter Bruinvels

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the average sentence for rape at this time is three and a half years and the average time served in rape cases is 20 months? As the leader of the party of law and order, will my right hon. Friend confirm that we are fighting for minimum sentences and for the right to appeal against any absurdly lenient sentence? Does she appreciate that clause 29 does not go far enough, in that it does not make it possible to appeal in a specific case to protect the woman raped, who is stained for life?

The Prime Minister

As my hon. Friend knows, it is our task to see that sufficiently severe maximum sentences are available to the judges, which they are. At present Lord Lanethe Lord Chief Justice has given guidelines which say that there have to be heavy custodial sentences for all crimes of violence. Under clause 29 of the Criminal Justice Bill we are trying to ensure that there is a further way to appeal, not against that particular sentence, but against that kind of sentence by going to the Court of Appeal so that it can pronounce upon it in open court. That in itself is a considerable step forward.

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Q6. Miss Maynard

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 17 February.

The Prime Minister

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

Miss Maynard

Does the Prime Minister agree that the problems facing British agriculture are caused by our membership of the Common Market, and particularly the common agricultural policy? Further, does the right hon. Lady agree that the surpluses in western Europe are not created by our agriculture? Why should our farm workers [column 768]and farmers therefore be made redundant? Is it not high time that we moved as quickly as possible to low-input agriculture that is more labour-intensive, more environmentally sound, under our control and not under the control of Brussels?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Lady is aware, our farmers contribute considerably to the surpluses. Enormous amounts are in intervention. I entirely accept that we must pursue a policy throughout Europe that brings supply and demand more into balance.