Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1987 Jul 9 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 [119/509-514]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2615
Themes: Parliament, Union of UK nations, Education, Privatized & state industries, Law & order, Community charge ("poll tax"), Northern Ireland, Science & technology, Security services, Terrorism, Trade unions
[column 509]

Prime Minister

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Maxton

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 9 July.

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 the House I shall be having further meetings later today, including one with a delegation from the Arab League.

[column 510]

Mr. Maxton

As the Tory party made the introduction of a poll tax a major plank in its campaign in Scotland, and as it suffered such a crushing defeat in Scotland, what moral or democratic justification can the right hon. Lady have for continuing to impose this unfair, unjust and unworkable tax upon the people of Scotland? Will she now instruct her Secretary of State for Scotland to introduce legislation to repeal it?

The Prime Minister

No. The Act was passed during the last Parliament, and I take it that the hon. Gentleman is proud to be a Member of the United Kingdom Parliament.

Q2. Mr. Yeo

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 9 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Yeo

During her busy day, will my right hon. Friend find time to meet the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition to obtain agreement between the two Front Benches that attacks made the under cloak of parliamentary privilege upon individuals who cannot answer for themselves are particularly despicable? An outstanding example of that nasty practice that is deserving of condemnation came in the maiden speech of the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone).

The Prime Minister

I hope that most hon. Members will agree that it is utterly contemptible to use the privileges and platform of the House to smear the reputation of those who lost their lives in the service of their country. I know that many of us in the House have the deepest sympathy for the families who are now suffering such grief and distress—the family of Captain Nairac a courageous officer of whom Britain can be proud—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order.

The Prime Minister

—and the widow and family of Airey Neave, whose death we honour in this House, who was a deeply honourable, brave and gallant Member and who was murdered by Irish terrorists within the precincts of Parliament. I hope that Neil Kinnockthe Leader of the Opposition will repudiate the despicable comments of his hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone)——

Mr. Speaker

Before we have any more questions of that kind, may I say to the hon. Member for Suffolk, South (Mr. Yeo), who well knows the rules—and to the whole House—that—[Interruption.] I did not get the drift of the hon. Member's question while he was asking it. Questions must relate to the Prime Minister's responsibilities.

Mr. Kinnock

Notwithstanding the blatant effort to usurp your position in the House by the hon. Member for Suffolk, South (Mr. Yeo) and the Prime Minister, Mr. Speaker, it is clear that this place cannot be used as an excuse or an opportunity to smear anyone about anything and must not be put to that purpose. However, it is fair to reflect to the right hon. Lady, that, as grave allegations—probably unfair allegations—have been made by people outside the House against a former Member of the House who died in tragic circumstances, and an officer of Her Majesty's forces, who was murdered, it may be reasonable to reflect upon the Government's decision not to respond to them. [Interruption.]

Mr. Adley

Klaus Barbie 's defence lawyer.[column 511]

Mr. Speaker

Order.

Hon. Members

Name him.

Mr. Speaker

Will the hon. Member withdraw that nasty remark. [Interruption.] Order. I repeat: will the hon. Member withdraw that nasty remark made from a sedentary position.

Mr. Adley

If you consider that my remark was unparliamentary, Mr. Speaker, I shall certainly withdraw it.

Mr. Kinnock

Mr. Speaker, the whole nature of Prime Minister's Questions is being changed by the efforts to use them in a particular way—by the view expressed in the question of the hon. Member for Suffolk, South (Mr. Yeo)—[Interruption.]—by the answer that came from the Prime Minister, the use to which it was put, and the interjection of the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley). I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker that, in view of that, it is necessary for us to treat this last passage as points of order and then revert to questions, as I want to ask the right hon. Lady an important question. That possibility has now been discouraged by the blatant use of Prime Minister's Question Time and the reference to tragedies in Northern Ireland by Conservative Members for strictly partisan purposes.

Mr. Butterfill

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 9 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Butterfill

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the British mining industry now has the opportunity to become one of our most successful and prosperous industries? Does she share my hope that the British miners will demonstrate their innate common sense by voting in favour of flexible working and disregarding the Luddite, negative advice of Mr. Arthur Scargill?

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend that our Acts provide an opportunity for a secret ballot for the members of that trade union. I believe that miners should have the very latest technology and the best conditions. That will lead to a more efficient and prosperous industry, and I hope that they will not reject such a course of action.

Dr. Owen

In view of the appalling shooting in Woolwich today, and the further evidence of the widespread availability of pump-action shot guns, and so on, will the Prime Minister re-examine the whole question of the control of firearms? I have two suggestions in particular. First, will she look at the question of having to present a shotgun licence when buying ammunition—[Interruption.] This is a serious question. Many people are shocked and appalled by what happened in Woolwich and must be very grateful that no loss of police life took place.

Secondly, will the Prime Minister consider whether the time has come for another amnesty on all firearms, to encourage people with unlicensed firearms to make them available?

The Prime Minister

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, we are increasing the maximum penalties for those who carry firearms with intent to commit a crime to life imprisonment. That is in our Criminal Justice Bill, which I hope will be fully supported. We are also examining matters such as the carrying of knives, which is causing [column 512]considerable concern to the police. I shall consult my right hon. Friend Douglas Hurdthe Home Secretary in view of the right hon. Gentleman's question.

Dame Jill Knight

Has my right hon. Friend had the opportunity during her busy day to note the concern expressed by some leading churchmen about the continued experimentation on foetuses without any rules or regulations to stop it? Bearing in mind the great concern of a large number of people within and outside the House, will she consider whether the time has come for legislation on the Warnock committee proposals?

The Prime Minister

The legislation on the Warnock committee proposals will not be introduced this year. As my hon. Friend knows, it will take a good deal of time to prepare and gives rise to very contentious issues. I hope that we shall be in a position to introduce it next year, but I understand that it may be a possibility that the proposals which previously came before the House from a private Member will come before us again in a private Member's Bill this Session.

Q4. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 9 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Bennett

In the Government's plans for schools to charge for books, teaching material, visits, field trips and many other items, does the Prime Minister intend that those parents who have to survive on social security should be expected to meet those charges, or does she intend to change the social security regulations so that such people will have something with which to pay these new charges being imposed on them? The right hon. Lady will recall that about two and a quarter million children in this country live in households entirely dependent on benefits? Does she agree that it would be a great shame if their education was blighted because their parents cannot pay for those facilities in schools?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that these charges have been extant for some time in education authorities on both sides of the political divide. He knows that there has been a case about it, and he will be aware that my right hon. Friend Kenneth Bakerthe Secretary of State for Education and Science is putting out a consultation document on the subject. The hon. Gentleman must also be aware that when parents cannot pay, for the reasons that he gave, the parent-teacher association is usually able to find the necessary funds.

Mr. Cormack

Does my right hon. Friend accept that the courage, service and dedication of the Member commemorated above the door through which we all come in each day are likely to be remembered for far longer than most Members of this House?

The Prime Minister

Yes. I am grateful to Airey Neavemy hon. Friend. I remember the day when that crest was put up.

Mr. Livingstone

Does the Prime Minister accept that the allegations that I reported to the House in my maiden speech I repeated yesterday outside of parliamentary privilege and am prepared to do so again? As those allegations have been corroborated by sources available to RTE, and in some instances by forensic evidence, does the Prime Minister accept that the only way to clear the names [column 513]of Captain Nairac and Airey Neave is for her to stop obstructing an inquiry into the traitorous activities of the MI5 officers responsible?

The Prime Minister

No, I do not accept that it is a proper way to go about things by making smears and then calling for an inquiry. No inquiry is called for.

Mr. Gow

Will my right hon. Friend mark the contrast between the honour and courage of Mr. Airey Neave and Captain Robert Nairac, each of whom was decorated for gallantry, and both of whom were murdered by the IRA, and the turpitude of some of their critics?

The Prime Minister

Yes, we have a great deal for which to thank Captain Nairac and our former colleague Airey Neave in the defence of freedom.

Mr. Maginnis

Can the Prime Minister tell the House whether, during her most recent talks with the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic, she raised the subject of the Irish Republic's failure to implement the European convention on the suppression of terrorism? Did she convey to him the concern of the House about that matter, and did she receive any reassurance or any specific date on when the convention would be implemented?

The Prime Minister

No. That matter was not raised in the brief talk that I had with Charles Haugheythe Taoiseach.

Sir Anthony Grant

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the proper workings of the usual channels are essential to parliamentary democracy, particularly to deal with, among other things, cowardly attacks upon the dead? If that is the case, will she reflect on how this can operate if the Opposition Whips Office is apparently completely denuded by the resignation of many Whips?

Mr. Speaker

Order. That hardly falls within the Prime Minister's responsibilities.

Q5. Mr. Tom Clarke

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 9 July.[column 514]

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Clarke

Is the Prime Minister now convinced of the crucial importance to our manufacturing base of the Scottish steel industry? Will she therefore ensure that there is adequate investment in Ravenscraig to assure its future throughout this Parliament and beyond?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, Ravenscraig's future was assured to August 1988 and we have not yet received proposals for after that time. There is nothing further to report than that which we said during the recent election campaign. The hon. Gentleman knows that every effort has been made to get as much work as possible into Ravenscraig.

Mr. Faulds

On a point of order arising out of questions, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

I shall take points of order in the proper place, after the business statement.

Mr. Kinnock

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I put it to you that the point I raised when you made the original ruling that there would be——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I say to the right hon. Member that I must apply the same rules to the Front Benches as to the Back Benches. We must have business questions next, please.

Mr. Kinnock

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am afraid that I have to insist—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. I hope that the right hon. Member will not do that. This practice is of some standing and it has been discussed with him. We must stick to the rules. The same rules must apply to the Front Benches and the Back Benches. Business questions, please.

Mr. Kinnock

I am anxious to do that, Mr. Speaker. I shall just ask the Leader of the House to announce the business for next week.