Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1988 Mar 22 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 [130/192-96]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2315
Themes: Conservatism, Economy (general discussions), Industry, Energy, Environment, Health policy, Media, Northern Ireland, Terrorism, Trade unions, Voluntary sector & charity
[column 192]

PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Flannery

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 22 March.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others, and I also attended the launch of the Tidy Britain Group's litter initiative. In addition to my duties in the House I shall be having further meetings later today, including one with the Prime Minister of Kuwait. This evening I hope to have an audience of Her Majesty The Queen.

Mr. Flannery

Has the Prime Minister read the report in The Daily Telegraph today which states that St. Thomas hospital, just across the river, is to close another 200 beds, and that that is in addition to the 137 beds closed less than five months ago? How much longer is this appalling attack on the Health Service to go on? Will the Prime Minister give me a straight answer and not read out that long list of statistics.

[column 193]

The Prime Minister

I notice that the hon. Gentleman does not want the long list of statistics which prove how very much more is being spent on the Health Service and how very many more nurses and doctors there are now. Like other hospitals, St. Thomas has to live within a budget. Many hospitals live within a budget, but some do not. We are entitled to ask why some do and others do not. With regard to provision in Greater London as a whole, in spite of the increased allocations of money to other regions in preference to London, London has received an increase in real terms.

Q2. Mr. Allan Stewart

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 22 March.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Stewart

Will my right hon. Friend find time in her busy programme today to commend the immense efforts by the AEU—the Amalgamated Engineering Union—to try to gain agreement to attract Ford to Dundee? Does she agree that the vote taken earlier today in the STUC was, sadly, too little, too divided and too late? Will she make it absolutely clear that ordinary trade unionists in Scotland are appalled by what has happened, in marked contrast to the deathly silence and total inactivity by the best-known TGWU-sponsored Member of Parliament in the House?

The Prime Minister

I share the view of my hon. Friend and agree with what he said about the great efforts of the engineering union to come into the 20th century and to take the requisite action, which would have persuaded Ford to give these much-needed jobs to Dundee. I condemn, with my hon. Friend, the attitudes of other unions which are more interested in their own sectional interests and in demarcation than in winning the jobs for Dundee, and one condemns the attitude of the Labour party which, over five months, did little to bring the other unions into the 20th century.

Mr. McAllion

The Prime Minister knows that only yesterday an all-party delegation from Dundee successfully lobbied the TUC to support a deal which might yet bring Ford to Dundee. Dundee still has a fighting chance, particularly as Mr. John Emmert, the spokesman for Ford, has said that no decision has yet been taken on the location of the plant. In those circumstances, may I call upon the Prime Minister, and those on the Benches behind her, to stop trying to score petty party political points—[Interruption]—and to stop playing politics with Dundee's jobs?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman should address his remarks to the unions, which, after five months, have been unable to come to a reasonable agreement, and even now are split. I commend to the hon. Gentleman the words of Gavin Laird, set out in The Sunday Times: “After five months” the patience of Ford “has run out. Dundee has lost 1,000 jobs but the trade union movement has lost much, much more. Once again, we”

—the trade unions— “appear to be a destructive force in British society, ignorant, disunited and living in the past.”

Sir John Biggs-Davison

Will my right hon. Friend, or her right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, draw the attention of the broadcasting authorities to [column 194]section 11 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1974, under which it is an offence to withhold information of material assistance in bringing terrorists to justice—or are they above the law?

The Prime Minister

I believe that everyone, the media included, has a bounden duty to do everything that he can to see that those who perpetrated the terrible crimes that we saw on television and that disgusted the whole world are brought to justice. Either one is on the side of justice in these matters, or one is on the side of terrorism.

Q3. Mrs. Rosie Barnes

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 22 March.

The Prime Minister

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

Mrs. Barnes

Does the Prime Minister agree that the most crucial change that is needed in the National Health Service is to acknowledge patients' rights to treatment within a given period of time? If that means that they may have to go to an alternative health authority, they should be entitled to do so and their own health authority should have to pay for the necessary treatment.

The Prime Minister

I agree with the kind of formula that the hon. Lady enunciated in her question. We must make it easier for patients to go from one health authority to another. At the moment the requisite money is a long time in coming and the amount that has to be calculated is not altogether clear. We are trying to move in the direction where the money moves with the patient to the hospital that carries out the operation. The hon. Lady will know that we have just allocated an extra £30 million, which it is hoped will enable about 100,000 additional operations to be carried out, thereby reducing the waiting lists.

Mr. Beaumont Dark

Does my right hon. Friend agree that over the weekend a crime took place that was almost unique in its evil and wickedness? Is it not a fact that we have the right to control the number of demonstrators who go to funerals? These funerals have become, not a day of mourning, but a day of death. Is it not right that we should limit the number of people who go to a funeral to 50 without the Secretary of State's specific permission? The killing of people is no part of mourning or of death.

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend Tom Kingthe Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, together with Sir John Hermonthe Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, will consider these matters, but there is another factor. There was a terrible crime, there were many, many witnesses, and expressions of revulsion and condemnation are not enough. The acid test is whether all those who expressed them—all constitutional parties and those members of the Church who have expressed revulsion—will go to the Republican areas in Northern Ireland and urge those who know who perpetrated these crimes, or who know where to find them, to co-operate with the police in every single matter. Mere expressions of sympathy and condemnation are not enough. It is what people do which tells us whether they are really determined to root out terrorism.

Mr. Kinnock

rose[Interruption]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Mr. Kinnock.

[column 195]

Mr. Kinnock

May I first welcome the approach that the Secretary of State and the Chief Constable are taking, and the reappraisal which the Government are prepared to make of the approach that they are taking in Northern Ireland? I am sure that the right hon. Lady will carry full support for that aspect of her policy.

In the public debate taking place in the Government, does the Prime Minister take Lord Young 's view that we long ago found that the pound seems to rise and fall to its own level, or does she agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that greater exchange rate stability has an explicit role?

The Prime Minister

I take the view that the economy is being superlatively handled by the entire Government, that it has led to growth far greater than that in any other European country without the emergence of inflation, and I am not prepared to take lectures from anyone who was in a Government who saw devaluation, inflation and economic decline.

Mr. Kinnock

Is it not the case that while under this Government we have lost 20 per cent. of our world trade share, under the last Labour Government we gained 13 per cent. in world trade share? On the subject of inflation and the Prime Minister's refusal to answer the previous question, may I ask whether she is saying that the pound should be allowed to go higher, in the hope that it will bring inflation lower?

The Prime Minister

I am suggesting that the economy be continued under the excellent management of the Government, which has had such marvellous results and which, if the trade unions would come into the 20th century, would have even better results.

Mr. Kinnock

That is still no reply to the question about the Chancellor and Lord Young—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Mr. Kinnock.

Mr. Kinnock

We still have not had a reply to the question about the difference between the Chancellor and Lord Young, which is rather fundamental. If the Prime Minister agrees with Lord Young and is now against intervention, why did the Government allow $21 billion to be spent in the period before 4 March to try to stabilise the pound?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman goes on and on because he has not got a single thing to say: no criticism of the economy, and he votes to increase taxation, knowing full well that it is the reduction in taxation that has led to the growth that has led to the higher standard of living and the higher standard of social services. He is against the whole lot.

Mr. John Browne

Does my right hon. Friend agree that while terrorists abuse the law, they always expect the full protection of that law? Will she at least consider amending [column 196]the law to resuscitate the status of outlaw and therefore remove the full protection of the law from certain specific terrorist organisations and their members?

The Prime Minister

As my hon. Friend is aware, there is a Prevention of Terrorism Act, which we on the Government side vote for and support. It gives the police certain powers against terrorism, which has helped them very much in apprehending terrorists, sometimes before they have committed a crime, and sometimes in enabling others to be excluded. Douglas HurdMy right hon. Friend will be considering whether anything further needs to be done.

Q4. Mr. Alex Carlile

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 22 March.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Carlile

Does the right hon. Lady accept the words of her noble Friend the Earl of Caithness, that in recent European power station negotiations nothing was further from his mind than privatisation? Or is it not rather the case that the Dutch Minister, Mr. Nijpels, was right when he accused the British of diktat and of obstructing the cleaning up of the air over Europe?

The Prime Minister

No, that is not correct, as the hon. and learned Gentleman knows. We have a large programme for the large power stations, where most coal is burnt, and we were protesting against having to spend a great deal of money on smaller power stations, which are responsible for only 2 per cent. of the sulphur emissions, which would have been very expensive. I advise those who criticised us to realise that we have the second biggest programme in the whole of Europe for reducing sulphur emissions from power stations.

Q5. Dr. Goodson-Wickes

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 22 March.

The Prime Minister

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

Dr. Goodson-Wickes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, following the so-called Moonie case, there is widespread concern over the definition of what may or may not be a bona fide charity? In view of the major contribution of charities to the benefit of others, is it not time to consider a statutory definition of charities?

The Prime Minister

As my hon. Friend is aware, there is a review of charities and of the definition. As he is also aware, it is easier to analyse the problem than it is to find a satisfactory redefinition of charities, but we shall nevertheless try to do that.