Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1987 Nov 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 [122/911-16]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2740
Themes: Arts & entertainment, Judiciary, Union of UK nations, Conservatism, Defence (arms control), Economy (general discussions), Education, Employment, Privatized & state industries, Pay, Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Health policy, Private health care, Local government, Community charge ("poll tax"), Northern Ireland, Terrorism, Women
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PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Maxton

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 17 November.

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, including one with the Prime Minister of Barbados.

Mr. Maxton

Has the Prime Minister had an opportunity to read the Scotland Bill proposing devolution in Scotland. which was published today by Scottish Labour Members? In view of the overwhelming support for devolution, which is increasing among Conservative Members, led by the right hon. Member for Kincardine and Deeside (Mr. Buchanan-Smith), and in view of her repeated commitment to democracy, the right of people to choose and self-determination, will the Prime Minister give her wholehearted support to that Bill and ease its passage through the House?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir, and in view of what the present Leader of the Opposition said about devolution in a previous debate, he must have done a U-turn if he proposes to give it his support.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg

During her busy day, will my right hon. Friend ponder on the anomaly that, having complained about a lack of funding for housing, Camden borough council has lost £6 million in paying for accommodation that was never occupied?

The Prime Minister

That demonstrates just what a big, overspending council Camden is. The sooner the community charge is introduced, the better.

Mr. Kinnock

Last Friday the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science said that if the Government's plans for choice in schooling end up with a segregated system, so be it. Does the Prime Minister also say so be it to segregation?

The Prime Minister

I am interested in the best possible education for parents and for their children. I do not think that the present system is giving the best possible education to all children, so we are giving them that opportunity. The right hon. Gentleman is talking about segregation, I am talking about good education.

Mr. Kinnock

Any Prime Minister who cannot give a yes or no answer to a question about segregation condemns herself from her own mouth. Does the Prime Minister not realise that a segregated system would not provide a good education either for those put into the segregated part or those excluded from it? Does she not realise the difference between choice and segregation? Does she not realise that choice will lead to segregation, and that segregation will be the destruction of choice and much else in our community?

The Prime Minister

I am interested in good education for all children. There have always been different kinds of schools. Indeed, that was the fundamental basis of the settlement with the churches in the Education Act 1944 and the reason why we still have church schools as well as county schools.

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Mr. Kinnock

The Prime Minister disgraces the church schools if she puts them into any category that refers to segregation. We know that the Prime Minister is prepared to tolerate apartheid abroad. Now she is to encourage it at home.

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman should define segregation before he talks about it. I am interested in good education for all children. From the questions that he has asked today, I understand that he is not.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Ashton memorial, which dominates the skyline of Lancaster, has been most beautifully restored? Can she find time to visit it?

The Prime Minister

I have no plans to visit it, but I will bear it in mind. I am delighted that such a lovely memorial has been fully restored.

Mr. Steel

In her speech last night the Prime Minister referred optimistically to a 50 per cent. reduction in strategic nuclear weapons by this time next year. Does she intend that this country should make any negotiated contribution to that process?

The Prime Minister

No. If the right hon. Gentleman heard the speech, he will have noted that the 50 per cent. reduction applied to American and Soviet Union intercontinental ballistic missiles, and he will know that there is no question—[Interruption.] If he heard the speech, he will have heard that. There is no question of putting Britain's independent nuclear deterrent into that equation.

Mr. Couchman

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the reported comments of the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) will have given great offence to many hon. Members——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The question must relate to the Prime Minister's responsibility.

Mr. Couchman

Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that there will never be any negotiations of any sort with the IRA or its apologists in Sinn Fein?

The Prime Minister

I give the assurance that my hon. Friend seeks. I would have thought it important that no one has any dealings with parties that support violence as a solution to the Irish problem.

Q2. Mr. Ray Powell

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 17 November.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Powell

Will the Prime Minister consider the action of a Minister regarding the cut in overtime and special payments for senior staff in the nursing profession? Does she not realise that the cut could mean the end of some of these nurses in the National Health Service, the under-staffing of major hospitals and the closing of wards? Does she realise that nurses are queueing up to leave the National Health Service? If, as she predicted at the general election, the National Health Service is safe in her hands, why has one of her Ministers had to go to the private sector at £195 a night to have medical attention?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, the Government implemented the last nurses' review body recommendations in full from 1 April and nurses' pay has [column 913]increased by around 30 per cent. in real terms since 1979. Various proposals are being made which may go before the pay review body. They are not yet before that review body, and it will be for it to consider them. With regard to what the hon. Gentleman says about people choosing to go to a private service rather than the Health Service, may I point out that many people do it, including some trade unions? Of course, the trade union hospital, Manor house, is still open and available to trade unions.

Q3. Sir John Biggs-Davison

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 17 November.

The Prime Minister

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

Sir John Biggs-Davison

Leaving the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) to the Leader of the Opposition, has the Prime Minister reflected today that after every big terrorist atrocity in Northern Ireland hopes of effective cross-border action have been raised and dashed? Will she now urge the Taoiseach to back sympathy and denunciation with full police, Army and air co-ordination on both sides of the border?

The Prime Minister

As my hon. Friend is aware, my right hon. Friend Tom Kingthe Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is anxious at every meeting with Ministers from the Republic to ensure that security is stepped up to the very limit of the capability and capacity of the Republic. I agree with my hon. Friend that people look to us for the best security that we can possibly provide jointly. We greatly hope now that the Government of the Republic will add to their efforts by implementing the European convention.

Mr. Molyneaux

While fully supporting the Prime Minister's declaration that she will not give in to terrorists, may I ask her to assure the House that she will resist Republican demands for interference in the judicial system in any part of the United Kingdom?

The Prime Minister

I answer that question as I have answered questions on this subject on many occasions. The future of the courts of Northern Ireland is a matter for this Government. The decisions taken are a matter for this Government, and will continue to be so.

Mr. Ian Bruce

Will my right hon. Friend, during her busy day, find time to read early-day motion 275, which calls for the abolition of the dock labour scheme? Will she contemplate the fact that in 1970, when that scheme was brought in to preserve jobs, there were 45,500 dockers and that today there are only 10,000 registered dockers? This may be considered withering on the vine. In my constituency we had 92, and now we have 18. We would like to see the scheme repealed and the jobs come back to those docks.

The Prime Minister

I understand my hon. Friend's point that we need to keep low costs in our docks to get the maximum number of jobs in this country. I have nothing further to add to what my hon. Friends on the Front Bench said about this earlier during Employment Question Time.

Q4. Mr. Duffy

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 17 November.

The Prime Minister

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

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Mr. Duffy

Why was the Prime Minister so conveniently forgetful in her City speech last night? When commending Britain's economic example to the other G7 countries if they are to avoid recession and citing the threats to international economic stability she did not mention interest rates. Is this because Britain has the highest level of real interest rates of any major country apart from Italy?

The Prime Minister

But I did commend Britain's example to the other countries, as the hon. Gentleman will see if he does me the honour of reading the speech in full. I continue to commend the example of Britain to many other countries in Europe, because it has the highest growth rate and the fastest fall in unemployment. Of course, I indicated that, when the United States has decided precisely what action to take to reduce its deficit and we know what proposals are on the table, the G7 countries will meet and take what action is appropriate to their own particular circumstances.

Mr. Tim Smith

Will my right hon. Friend have another look at the Ministerial and Other Salaries Order 1987, which was approved by the House in July? In the light of the complete lack of discipline in the Labour party today, does she think that a salary of £40,798 payable to the Opposition Chief Whip can really be justified?

The Prime Minister

I appreciate the way in which my hon. Friend got his question most beautifully in order. I confess that that order is not at the top of my priorities for the time being.

Q5. Mr. Terry Fields

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 17 November.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Fields

After lecturing other nations and holding up the absolute crisis in this country as a shining example at the bash in the City last night, may I ask the Prime Minister to take time on Thursday to meet a delegation of youths who are lobbying Parliament and listen to their criticisms of her Government's policies, which give the youth of this country no future and no hope?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman is talking absolute nonsense about the youth of this country. There is a great future and great hope. My speech must have been a good one, because Opposition Members are taking the chance to attack it so vigorously.

Q6. Mr. Hanley

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 17 November.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Hanley

Many right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House will be gratified to have heard the announcement in another place by my right hon. and noble Friend the Minister of State, Department of the Environment, that Pembroke lodge in Richmond park—both the gardens and the main part of the house—is to remain in public hands. Is my right hon. Friend aware of this news, and does she share the joy and relief of the thousands of people who visit Richmond park every year?

The Prime Minister

I thank my hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend will certainly be consulting both the local authority and interested local groups on the future use of the lodge.

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Q7. Mr. Redmond

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 17 November.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Redmond

Will the Prime Minister put her money where her mouth is and ensure adequate funding for the NHS for cervical cancer testing?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend the Minister for Health has made provision for cervical cancer testing in the NHS, as the hon. Gentleman in aware, and we are doing as much as we can to increase that form of testing, because we are very much aware of its importance.

Mr. Jack

Will my right hon. Friend find time during her busy day to send a message of congratulations to the British delegation at the United Nations on its recent and robust contribution to the debate on Afghanistan, which resulted in a record number of countries condemning the Soviet invasion of that country?

The Prime Minister

It was important to try to achieve that result because, whatever the attempts at internal changes in the Soviet Union, there has as yet been no change whatever in its external policy—that is, on foreign affairs—including no change towards the occupation of Afghanistan, and we are anxious that the occupation of Afghanistan by Soviet troops should never be forgotten.

Q8. Mrs. Margaret Ewing

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 17 November 1987.

The Prime Minister

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

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Mrs. Ewing

Will the Prime Minister also give some time today to consider the future of the Scottish steel industry? Is she aware of the growing concern expressed by Scottish steelworkers about the future of Ravenscraig, following reports that the Department of Trade and Industry is determined to privatise the industry before the next election? Will she also comment on the future of Ravenscraig against a background of EEC proposals to reduce capacity?

The Prime Minister

I have given previously in the House the undertaking that Ravenscraig would stay open for the duration of this period of the British Steel Corporation's plans. As the hon. Lady knows, it will soon be presenting its future plans and we shall consider them then.