Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1988 May 12 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 [133/463-68]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Key
Word count: 2655
Themes: Executive, Executive (appointments), Conservatism, Conservative Party (organization), Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Economy (general discussions), Industry, Local elections, Monetary policy, Trade, Foreign policy (Americas excluding USA), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Health policy, Labour Party & socialism, Local government, Media, Northern Ireland, Social security & welfare, Terrorism, Famous statements by MT
[column 463]

PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Roy Hughes

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 12 May.

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. Hughes

In the course of her busy schedule, will the Prime Minister pause to consider the desperately long hospital waiting lists in Gwent, which, combined with the recent Scrooge-like cuts in social security benefits, would seem to illustrate her complete lack of concern for the plight of ordinary people? May I point out to her—or perhaps she needs an astrologer, after all—that it was factors of this sort that led to the virtual extermination of the Conservative party in Newport in the local elections last week?

The Prime Minister

With regard to the Health Service, first, there have been two specific programmes directly related to cutting down waiting lists that have been very successful. Secondly, there have not been cuts in the Health Service. Indeed, nearly £2 billion more is allocated to the Health Service this year than last. Thirdly, there have also been increases in social security. Again, another £2 billion has been allocated to social security over and above previous years. None of this could have been done unless my right hon. Friend Nigel Lawsonthe Chancellor had run the economy in such a way as to ensure a higher standard of living and of social services.

Sir Marcus Fox

Will my right hon. Friend take time today to consider the implications of the gains made by the Conservative party last week on the Bradford metropolitan district council, plus the defection this week of a Labour councillor who has joined us, thus making us the largest group on the council? Is this not a sign that people in the inner cities are looking to us to ensure for them a better future by controlling Government locally and nationally?

The Prime Minister

Yes. I join my hon. Friend in congratulating the people of Bradford on their wisdom. The results give Bradford new hope and a new chance. Prosperity is spreading widely all over the country, including the Bradford area.

Q2. Mr. William Ross

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 12 May.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Ross

Does the Prime Minister recall that a few days ago she told the House that she would seek reassurances from the Government of the Irish Republic that they would not back out of their responsibilities under the Anglo-Irish Agreement with regard to terrorism? Does she recall, further, that she told the House that the people of Northern Ireland would have their rights maintained under the Anglo-Irish Agreement and that the Government of the Irish Republic had accepted that? Did [column 464]her right hon. Friend the Secretary of State bring back such assurances after his private meeting with Mr. Haughey last week?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member has quoted correctly what I said. The Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed by both Governments and registered with the United Nations, and must continue to be upheld. That, I believe, is now understood on both sides of the border.

Mr. Heseltine

Will my right hon. Friend reflect on the fact that it is 40 years to this very day since a Labour Minister announced that Britain would have its own independent atomic deterrent? Will she further reflect upon the remarkable contrast between what now must be seen as the giants of the postwar Labour Government and the political and parliamentary pygmies who have replaced them?

The Prime Minister

Yes. In those days there was virtually no difference between the two sides of the House on the importance of defence and the nuclear deterrent. What a pity there is such a difference now.

Mr. Blunkett

In view of the Government's unwillingness to use the Industry Act 1975 or other powers to intervene to protect Rowntree from the proposed takeover by Nestlé, will the right hon. Lady confirm that she is not willing to intervene to protect any industry, service or national asset from international predators and that it is the Opposition, not the Conservative Government, who would protect workers and the people of Britain?

The Prime Minister

I confirm what my Sir Patrick Mayhewright hon. and learned Friend pointed out on Tuesday, that when we receive a bid it has to be dealt with in accordance with the law passed by the House, after debate. That law is that the opinion of the Office of Fair Trading must be obtained and that the Secretary of State must wait to receive that opinion before making up his mind on whether such a bid should be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. After that has been received, he will decide. If he decides to refer it, the matter can be dealt with under competition rules or under public interest. I hope that the hon. Member is not suggesting that we can disobey the law of the land.

Rev. William McCrea

Will the Prime Minister take it from me that the vast majority of the people throughout the United Kingdom deplore the unwarranted attacks on the members of the SAS who carried out an effective action in Gibraltar in defence of the innocent? Does the Prime Minister agree that it is disgusting that some people inside and outside the House are more concerned about terrorists than about the welfare of our security forces?

The Prime Minister

I join the hon. Gentleman in saying how thankful we are for the excellent services of all members of the security forces in protecting us from terrorism.

Q3. Mr. Wareing

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 12 May.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Wareing

Following the disclosure yesterday in the National Security Archive in Washington of Colonel Oliver North's memoranda, can the Prime Minister give [column 465]the House a categorical assurance that her Government have never, either directly or indirectly, perhaps through the CIA or her friend Colonel Pinochet in Chile, facilitated the supply of arms to the Contra terrorists in Nicaragua?

The Prime Minister

I have given the answer so many times. I will repeat it again. I can say categorically that we have not agreed to supply Blowpipe, and we have not supplied Blowpipe, to the Contras.

Mr. Forth

Has my right hon. Friend yet sent congratulations to the President of France on his re-election? Has she noticed that the leaders of the Governments in two of the great democracies in the world, France and the United States, will reach the end of their elected terms of office in their late seventies? Is she determined not to be outdone in this matter?

The Prime Minister

I have sent a message of congratulations to François Mitterrandthe President of France, and I have spoken to him. We hope to arrange a meeting, probably before the Toronto summit, to discuss important matters. I have also noted the point to which my hon. Friend referred. I assure him that at all times I shall take a balanced view of these matters.

Mr. Kinnock

The pound has risen again against the deutschmark. Is the Prime Minister content to see it going on rising?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman will complain when the pound goes up and when the pound goes down. Nigel LawsonThe Chancellor will run the economy in such a way that he will combine low inflation with good economic growth. He has been extremely successful in that objective. It is an objective and an achievement which completely eluded the Opposition.

Mr. Kinnock

It is a pity that the Prime Minister could not answer that question. Can she answer this one? Does the right hon. Lady recall the Chancellor of the Exchequer saying two weeks ago, when the pound was lower than it is now,

“I do not want to see the exchange rate appreciate further. It would be unsustainable and … damages business and industry.”

Does the right hon. Lady agree with the point that the Chancellor made?

The Prime Minister

I agree that Nigel Lawsonthe Chancellor runs the economy extremely well, with low inflation—which Opposition Members were never able to do—and with excellent growth, giving all people in this country a much higher standard of living.

Mr. Kinnock

That is all very interesting. Can the right hon. Lady give us a straight answer? Does the Prime Minister agree with her Chancellor of the Exchequer?

The Prime Minister

We shall continue to run the economy, with low inflation, and excellent growth, which gives a high standard of living and a high standard of social services. It is that total picture that counts. What a pity that the right hon. Gentleman cannot understand the answers or the economics.

Mr. Holt

May I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to the position today in Langbaurgh and Redcar, where the Labour party is in total disarray?

[column 466]

Mr. Speaker

The Prime Minister is not responsible for that.

Mr. Holt

Will my right hon. Friend today send a message of support to the new Conservative mayor of the borough of Langbaurgh and Redcar, where the Labour administration has fallen apart and two Labour Members are now voting with the Conservatives?

The Prime Minister

I will join my hon. Friend in doing just that, and join him in congratulating the mayor.

Mr. Bernard Ingham

Q4. Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Prime Minister on approximately how many occasions since January 1986 Mr. Bernard Ingham has given briefings to the press on the unauthorised disclosure of letters between Ministers; and if she will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman knows, it is not the practice to comment on Lobby briefings.

Mr. Dalyell

Why is it that in the course of many, many speeches, many, many broadcasts and many, many press statements, not once has the truthfulness of the Prime Minister and of Mr. Ingham about the events of January 1986 been endorsed either by the right hon. and learned Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Brittan) or the giant from Henley (Mr. Heseltine)?

The Prime Minister

The details have been given many, many time in the House. I have nothing further to add to them.

Mr. Cash

Will my right hon. Friend note today that the——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman has not looked at the Order Paper. This is a definitive question.

Q5. Mr. Winnick

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 12 May.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Winnick

Is the reason why no replacement was made when Lord Whitelaw resigned as Deputy Prime Minister that the right hon. Lady already has a Deputy Prime Minister, her chief press secretary, Mr. Ingham? Although the right hon. Lady clearly has many difficulties in getting on with her Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer, is it desirable that a chief press secretary should have more influence in policy matters than any of her Cabinet colleagues?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member must be hard put to it for a question to ask that one. I note that he cannot find a single thing to criticise about the economy or about the way in which the country is run. How very revealing.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

If my right hon. Friend today, as First Lord of the Treasury, receives a request that the Bank of England Export Credits Guarantee Department should underwrite any deposits required by aspirants for the job of leader of the Social and Liberal Democrats, will she please resist it as firmly as she can?

The Prime Minister

I take note of my hon. Friend's sentiments.

[column 467]

Q6. Mr. A. J. Beith

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 12 May.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Beith

How long will it be before the pensioners who are now paying increased rents but hope to benefit from the Government's about-turn on the social security changes know for certain that they will benefit, and how long will it be before they receive the money?

The Prime Minister

I think that the hon. Gentleman, who I hope has an interesting week ahead, will already have received a letter from the Department of Health and Social Security giving details of a freepost and freephone service, where any inquiries can be made. He will know that a special unit has been set up in Glasgow to deal with each of those matters, and he will also know the place to which people can apply if they have any queries.

Mr. Squire

Following my right hon. Friend's visit to Docklands this week, will she underline from the Dispatch [column 468]Box the outstanding achievements in terms of jobs, housing and transport systems that the combination of private and public funding has achieved?

The Prime Minister

Yes. I went to Docklands yesterday. The result of the work of the London Docklands Development Corporation is quite outstanding. It is outstanding in the amount of investment that has been made there. About £4 billion of private sector investments have been secured. It is outstanding in the number of jobs that the area is providing. There are now 36,000 jobs in Docklands and the number unemployed has fallen by 15 per cent. It is outstanding in community support. About £17 million has been spent on that. It is outstanding in increased road and rail improvements. It is outstanding in housing in the private sector, and one notes that a quarter of purchasers of new homes on LDDC sites were former local council tenants. It is an outstanding achievement in every way for private enterprise, the imagination of the Government and the way in which the whole scheme has been administered by the first two chairman and their deputies.