Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1988 Mar 24 Th
Margaret Thatcher

House of Commons PQs

Document type: speeches
Document kind: House of Commons PQs
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [130/505-10]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2273
Themes: Defence (general), Industry, Law & order, Northern Ireland, Social security & welfare, Terrorism, Trade unions
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Q1. Mr. Ashley

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 24 March.

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.

Mr. Ashley

The Prime Minister's support for the armed services is well known, but is she aware that service personnel who have been seriously crippled and damaged by negligence before December 1986 can neither sue for negligence nor obtain any kind of ex gratia payment because of rigid and dogmatic Government policy? Will the Prime Minister recognise that any Government who are not prepared to fight for these neglected casualties are open to the charge of having no memory, no stomach, no spine and no guts?

The Prime Minister

I know the particular case to which the right hon. Gentleman refers. He is aware that it is not possible to make all new legislation retrospective, for reasons that he will understand. I believe that that is possibly why he has taken up the matter with my right hon. Friend George Youngerthe Secretary of State for Defence. This particular case came to my notice only within the past 24 hours and I am looking into it further.

Mr. Quentin Davies

Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is no more fundamental duty for any citizen than to contribute to the maintenance of law and order and to do everything possible to prevent crime, particularly violent crime and murder? It is, therefore, the duty of every citizen to co-operate with the police and to supply such evidence as he or she may have available that is relevant to investigations. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that duty is indivisible and that it affects every [column 506]human being, including cameramen, employees of broadcasting corporations and the management of those corporations? Does she agree that it is disgraceful that the broadcasting corporations have not seen fit to see matters in that light and that it is particularly—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is enough. It is unfair to ask several questions at one time.

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend that upholding the law cannot be left only to the police and the courts and that it is the duty of every citizen to give information and evidence and, if necessary, to bear witness, and they should not need to be prompted to do so. However, I am very pleased that the evidence now seems to have been provided.

Mr. Steel

In view of the fact that a meeting is to take place tonight at 10 o'clock our time at Ford's headquarters in the United States with trade union representatives from Britain, will the Prime Minister accept from me, as one who has been in touch with them during the week, that it is—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. We are making very slow progress.

Mr. Steel

—worth making a last-minute plea to Ford and the Transport and General Workers Union to secure 1,000 jobs for Scotland? Will she invite other party leaders to join in such a united plea?

The Prime Minister

As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, we want the jobs. We want the business. We would like to have both. It is a matter for great concern that the trade unions, over a period of five months, disagreed, and disagreed publicly, and that so far they do not seem to be unanimous on the course that they wish to take. They must sort out their own problems and then take their particular case to Ford and see whether they can win back the jobs that they have so severely jeopardised.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett

Does my right hon. Friend agree that Ford might be helped to change its decision not to locate its plant in Dundee if sponsored Members of the TGWU were to back the Government's call to help Ford? Would not the Labour party support that if it were not more concerned with the 1.2 million block vote in the coming leadership election?

The Prime Minister

It would be a great advance if the trade unions could speak with a single voice and if they all recognised that many companies now wanting to invest in Britain require a single union, and in many places—for example, Nissan at Sunderland, and places in Wales—a single union is normal. That appears to be the way of the future and I hope the trade unions will realise it so that we shall get business and jobs.

Q2. Mr. Win Griffiths

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 24 March.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Griffiths

Will the Prime Minister, in the middle of her busy day, share with me a sentence from a pensioner constituent of mine in which he said that this Budget was the most unjust, un-Christian, provocative Budget ever produced? He is a pensioner who has lost £9.20 a week because of the Government's changes. Moreover, a Bristol mother, Ms. Felicity Gorden, will lose £47.74 a week because of the changes introduced by the Government in [column 507]social security regulations. The Prime Minister thought that the most significant thing about the parable of the Good Samaritan—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Briefly, please.

Mr. Griffiths

—was that he had money in his pocket to help those in need. Will she now, in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, advocate that all those who have received money beyond their wildest dreams from the Chancellor in the Budget should give it back to help those people, or does she prefer the parable of Lazarus and the rich man?

The Prime Minister

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not notice that in the Budget the age allowance for pensioners reached the highest level since it was introduced, so that marginal relief is not phased out until they reach an income of some £10,000. I remind the hon. Gentleman that his policy would dry up the prosperity upon which increasing pensions depend.

Mr. Speaker

I appeal to the House for brief questions, please.

Q3. Mr. Andrew MacKay

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 24 March.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. MacKay

Was my right hon. Friend not appalled by the TGWU's negative, destructive response to the proposed agreement for a single union deal between the Amalgamated Engineering Union and Ford at Dundee? Does she agree that there is more than a little whiff of hypocrisy in the air when we find today that that same TGWU has negotiated two separate single union deals in Wales?

The Prime Minister

Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend. There are a number of factories and companies where it is quite normal to have a single union, and there are a number of companies which, if they are making an investment in Britain, make it a condition that there should be a single union. Those particular companies do very well indeed and I hope that their example and success will be more readily followed by the trade union movement and that we shall not see any more squabbles, such as the demarcation disputes that we have seen recently, so that we shall get more investment. That is the way to get more jobs and manufacturing exports.

Mr. Kinnock

While the Prime Minister is on the subject of American companies and jobs, I thought that she might refer, at least in passing, to the extraordinary relationship that she managed to establish very recently with Boeing.

Does the Prime Minister know that as a result of her social security cuts next week a single newly unemployed 24-year-old will get only £26.05 a week? Does she think that is enough for anyone to live on?

The Prime Minister

Our record on social security—[Interruption.] is excellent. The right hon. Gentleman is quite well aware—indeed, we fought the election on it—of the differing arrangements that we have made for those between the age of 16 and 18. I remind him that expenditure on social security as a whole is now £46 billion a year, while it was £16.5 billion during the lifetime of the Labour Government. It is going up by an extra £2 billion.

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Mr. Kinnock

That is all very well, but hundreds of thousands of people still get only £26 a week. Could the Prime Minister, in order to help this very large number of young people, place in the Library a copy of the budget that she would recommend for living on £26 a week?

The Prime Minister

The points that were made by the right hon. Gentleman in his reply to the Budget would have completely dried up—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Let us hear the answer.

The Prime Minister

The points that the right hon. Gentleman made in his reply to the Budget last week, and the way in which the Labour party voted, would have completely dried up the money that enables us to pay £46 billion to social security and £22 billion to the Health Service. Indeed, if we went back to government by the Labour party we would need a fantastic number of cuts in the Health Service and in pensions.

Mr. Kinnock

I will ask the Prime Minister to give an answer in terms that even she cannot slide out of. Will she tell these young people how they can live on £26 a week?

Hon. Members

Answer.

Mr. Speaker

Order. There is no point in hon. Members shouting “Answer” as the Prime Minister has not started.

The Prime Minister

I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that social security payments have gone up in real terms—[Interruption.]—and greatly exceed anything that happened to them in the lifetime of the Labour Government.

Mr. Michael Morris

May I say, “Thank you” to my right hon. Friend for being so supportive to the family of the late Corporal Howes, who was a constituent of mine. My right hon. Friend doubtless reflected on the security situation at that time at Northolt. Is she aware that it brought back for some of us memories of Malaya, Aden and Cyprus? Does the serious security situation that we undoubtedly have not call for stricter security measures now? Some of those may be intrusive on a personal basis and may include house-to-house searches; certainly they should include the end of processional funerals.

The Prime Minister

We are considering the security situation. I heard my right hon. Friend Tom Kingthe Secretary of State for Northern Ireland answer a question earlier about the decision of Sir John HermonChief Constable with regard to funerals, and policing them.

I agree with my hon. Friend in what he said about the relatives of the two soliders who were murdered in Northern Ireland. We all found it utterly repugnant and deeply moving, but their families will have to bear the burden year in and year out. We all give them our deepest sympathies and condolence.

Mr. Tony Banks

The right hon. Lady got some good publicity out of it.

Hon. Members

Withdraw!

Mr. Speaker

Order, I call Mr. Hume

Mr. Hume

In the light of the Prime Minister's statement of Tuesday, directed at constitutional parties in Northern Ireland and relating to the bringing to justice of people who commit crimes, may I tell her that the implications of her statement were deeply resented by [column 509]every member of my party, all of whom are in the front line of the battle against violence? I repeat for the nth time that when it comes to bringing to justice the people who commit crimes in Northern Ireland the police have our full and unequivocal support. I add only one qualification to that: that they behave impartially. That is not an unreasonable request in the light of experience in Northern Ireland. I ask the right hon. Lady to practise what she preaches by telling her right hon. Friends, particularly her right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, that no one is above the law in Northern Ireland.

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The Prime Minister

I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman. I am pleased with what he has said. I am sure he will agree that the RUC is impartial in everything that it does. I hope he will go on to encourage more Roman Catholics to join the Royal Ulster Constabulary, because that would make its task a great deal easier.

Mr. Bellingham

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

I shall take it after business questions.