Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1987 Jul 21 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 [120/201-204]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2272
Themes: Union of UK nations, Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Privatized & state industries, Environment, Foreign policy (Americas excluding USA), Foreign policy (development, aid, etc), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Community charge ("poll tax"), Religion & morality, Science & technology, Social security & welfare, Terrorism
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Prime Minister

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Atkinson

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 21 July.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House I shall be having further meetings later today.

Mr. Atkinson

With Iran exporting its terror on to the streets of London, Paris and Vienna once again, will my right hon. Friend consider new initiatives with our European allies to combat this form of international terrorism by the Ayatolla that will, for the first time, take into account the substantial and growing resistance to the Khomeni regime within Iran?

The Prime Minister

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that terrorism cannot be tolerated, whatever its source. He will know that my right hon. Friend Douglas Hurdthe Home Secretary has been very active, together with his opposite numbers throughout the European Economic Community, in trying to get maximum co-operation on intelligence and all other matters between countries in the Community to enable us the better to fight terrorism. Matters inside Iran are for the Iranian people to deal with.

Mr. Kinnock

I first of all support what the right hon. Lady has just said about the intensification of anti-terrorist measures. While it is clearly right that the Royal Navy Armilla patrol should act in self-defence if that is necessary, will the right hon. Lady confirm that she will not allow the British Ensign to be flown on any ships other than British ships?

The Prime Minister

It is the Royal Navy's duty, through the Armilla patrol, to protect ships going through the Straits of Hormuz, and it does. The ships that it protects are ships that fly the British flag.

Mr. Kinnock

I do not know whether the Prime Minister misheard me. Will she confirm that no ships other than British ships will be allowed to fly the British Flag?

The Prime Minister

If other ships apply to fly the British flag, that application is considered separately in each case.

Mr. Kinnock

If the Prime Minister is speaking of registration in Britain, that is one thing. If she is talking about a reflagging procedure, that is entirely another. Will she confirm that she will not follow the course of action followed by the United States Administration and permit the reflagging of ships that are not British ships, with the British Ensign?

The Prime Minister

For “flagging” , let me substitute the word “registration” . If other ships apply for British registration, the ordinary conditions apply, and we consider each of them separately.

Mr. Hill

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, although there is concern at the moment about the Iran-Iraq conflict, the campaign in Afghanistan seems to be completely forgotten? Is it not time to have another effort, in the United Nations in particular, to resolve the fighting in Afghanistan and to achieve the withdrawal of Russian troops?

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The Prime Minister

As my hon. Friend knows, Afghanistan is never forgotten by this country, nor, do I believe, by the whole of the Western free world. We are constantly saying to the Soviets that so long as they are in Afghanistan there will never be any fundamental trust and friendship between our country and theirs. We are also constantly saying that Soviet troops should withdraw and that we would accept a completely non-aligned Afghanistan.

Q2. Mr. Alton

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 21 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Alton

Is the Prime Minister aware that, whereas the Church of England enjoys exemptions that have enabled it to provide facilities for the homeless, the infirm and the dying, the community charge will cost the Church of England an estimated additional £4 million a year, and that some monasteries, churches and convents will have to find an additional £10,000 a year? In view of that, how can the Prime Minister justify such a crippling burden? Does she accept the charge made by many churches that it is a tax on prayer and care?

The Prime Minister

I have written—I am not quite certain whether to the hon. Gentleman or to other hon. Members—about the matter. The community charge will be a personal charge. The Church of England would not wish to avoid a charge that all other citizens would have to pay.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Government's initiative to stimulate scientific research and development will be widely welcomed? Do we not need the full support of the scientific community and industry's wholehearted commitment and investment in research and development, which are vital to their future and to our prosperity?

The Prime Minister

As my hon. Friend is aware, the Government's response to the Select Committee on Science and Technology in another place shows the importance that we attach to the subject. She will be aware that the proportion of our national income that we devote to civil research on the part of the taxpayer exceeds that which is devoted in either Japan or the United States. She will also be aware of the strenuous efforts that we have made to bring universities and private business more closely together. The new arrangement ensures that we shall have a committee within the Cabinet, to consider, together with the scientific community, the proper priorities for science and technology and to try to apply them in all the allocations of money to the several Departments.

Q3. Mr. Michael J. Martin

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 21 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Martin

Referring to the Prime Minister's earlier reply, is she inviting merchant marine vessels from other countries to sail under the British flag and seek British registration so that they can be protected by the British Navy?

The Prime Minister

No, nor can the hon. Gentleman interpret anything that I have said in that light.

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Q4. Mr. Lawrence

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 21 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Lawrence

Does my right hon. Friend agree that if Mr. Gorbachev wants to be seen in the West as a genuine peacemaker, he should show a bit more enthusiasm for the nuclear arms reductions discussions that are now going on and which are beginning to slow down?

The Prime Minister

It has been said that the Soviet Union was dragging its feet in relation to the arms talks in Geneva. It is important that we take time to get the verification measures absolutely right. They are complicated, particularly if the Soviet Union wishes to retain 100 SS20s further over on the eastern side of the Soviet Union. We would like a global zero of such weapons. That is difficult enough to verify, but the additional retention of 100 would make it more difficult. It is possible to get an agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States by the end of this year. They must all now get down thoroughly to the detailed negotiations.

Q5. Mr. Maxton

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 21 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Maxton

In view of the growing speculation that the poll tax in England will be phased in over a five-year period, will the right hon. Lady give an assurance that, first, there will be no reintroduction of phasing-in in Scotland, but that the full implementation of the poll tax in Scotland will be delayed until the full implementation of the poll tax in England and Wales? Secondly, will she give an assurance that the long title of the English and the Welsh Bill will allow for any amendment of the Scottish legislation that might take place?

The Prime Minister

The legislation as if affects Scotland has gone through all its stages and passed into law through all the proper procedures. It will be implemented in Scotland exactly as it was intended. It is a matter for the United Kingdom Parliament. I assume that the hon. Gentleman is not applying for separatism and is, therefore, prepared to submit to the United Kingdom Parliament.

Mr. Wells

What was the reason for, and the result of, my right hon. Friend's visit to Jamaica?

The Prime Minister

I went to Jamaica to discuss the situation there with Mr. Seaga. The country has considerable economic difficulties and a difficult restructuring programme. It is receiving help from the International Monetary Fund. We give it some aid. For example, among other things I visited the police academy there, which receives help and resources from our police. I looked at the way in which Jamaica is fighting the drug problem. We discussed aid for another project because Mr. Seaga is keen to raise the standard of education in schools. We also discussed investment in Jamaica and the prospects for the world economy, among other things.

Q6. Mr. Terry Lewis

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 21 July.

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The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Lewis

Now that the right hon. Lady has confirmed that those who care for their elderly at home will suffer under the poll tax, what is she proposing to help to keep those families together?

The Prime Minister

If those who care for their elderly at home receive only supplementary benefit, as the hon. Gentleman is aware the community charge will first be rebated to the extent of 20 per cent. After that, such people will receive a payment equal to the average community charge for the United Kingdom to enable them to meet the rest. That payment may be above the amount of the community charge, or it may be slightly less. I remind the hon. Gentleman that the principle of the community charge is that adults in all parts of the country will pay the same charge for the same level of services after taking account of the needs of different areas. Therefore, people who receive only supplementary benefit will have that remission.

Mrs. Gorman

Will my right hon. Friend comment on the litter situation in Jamaica and say whether we have anything—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. As we are approaching the summer holiday perhaps the hon. Lady will rephrase that question. I do not think that the Prime Minister is responsible for litter in Jamaica.

Mrs. Gorman

Did my right hon. Friend discuss the problem of litter in Jamaica? Will she inform the House whether we can learn any lessons from the way in which that problem is handled there?

The Prime Minister

The Government of Jamaica—[Interruption]——

Mr. Speaker

Order.

The Prime Minister

The Government of Jamaica pursue a vigorous policy of privatisation, as a result of which the streets are extremely clean. There is not a piece of litter to be seen. The amount that the local authorities had hitherto spent on street cleaning, under which the streets were not clean, was put out to privatisation as a result of which—I am glad that my hon. Friend asked me this question—for the same amount of money the streets are cleaned privately three times a day, and are clean.

Q7. Mr. Sean Hughes

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 21 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Hughes

In view of the widespread disquiet on all sides of the House about the morality of the poll tax, will the Prime Minister accept that she ought to follow the precedent that she established last year and allow it to be decided on a free vote of the House?

The Prime Minister

No. This was a foremost part of our manifesto. If people pay a high community charge it will be because they have grossly extravagant local authorities, which are frequently taking time to get expenditure down.