Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1988 Jun 7 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 [134/712-16]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2386
Themes: Executive, Civil liberties, Conservatism, Defence (arms control), Defence (Falklands War, 1982), Secondary education, Monetary policy, Environment, Foreign policy (Americas excluding USA), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Housing, Labour Party & socialism, Law & order, Media
[column 712]

PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Gerald Bowden

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 7 June.

The Prime Minister

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. This evening I hope to have an audience of Her Majesty the Queen.

Mr. Bowden

I hope that my right hon. Friend will find time today to send the congratulations of the House to Mr. Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev on their successful summit meeting in Moscow. Will she acknowledge the tributes that have been paid to the part that she, as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has played in bringing about this historic meeting of understanding and warm friendship, which augurs so well for disarmament and world peace?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I have already congratulated President Reagan at the Guildhall, which was a very successful occasion with a quite brilliant speech by the President, and I have of course already sent a message of congratulation to Secretary-General Gorbachev. I believe that the outlook for East-West relations is better than it has been for many a long year, and that that is so because we are strong in two directions in the West, first in defence and secondly in freedom under the law and human relations. I believe that this country's voice is heard because we have been strong in both defence and freedom under the law.

Mr. Kinnock

While we are on the subject of human relations and freedom, has the Prime Minister seen the report on the young homeless called “No Way Home” ? Does she not agree that the problems of the growing number of homeless young people on the streets of London, living in destitution and in moral and physical danger, require urgent action by the Government? Will she therefore change the new social security regulations to ensure that such young people can receive money in advance to obtain lodgings?

The Prime Minister

It is true that a number of young people are leaving home who would not have done so in previous circumstances. We are having to provide more housing units than we should otherwise have done—and having to provide them when those young people already have a home to live in, belonging to their parents. The Government are indeed doing a great deal to tackle homelessness. The total support for housing is very much larger. We made £5 million available last year through the estates action initiative. Our mixed funding housing association initiative, with grants ranging from 50 per cent. to 75 per cent. of scheme costs, will help as well. We also [column 713]have a hostels initiative, with over 14,700 places approved since April 1981 to benefit young single homeless and others.

Mr. Kinnock

That answer can only mean that the Prime Minister is willing to see huge numbers of young people at risk from crime, prostitution and even hunger. Does not she realise that in London alone there are 50,000 young, homeless people without secure accommodation, that the hostels are packed, and that there are 1 million fewer places to rent than there were at the beginning of the decade? Is she willing to see a new generation of street people increasing, or will she answer the first question I asked and change the regulations to revert to the original position so that these young people can get money, lodgings, jobs and look after themselves?

The Prime Minister

No, Mr. Speaker. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman can have listened to what I said. There is a hostels initiative to have places approved for these young people and to benefit the young single homeless and others. We made it much easier for council tenants to sub-let, which they used not to be able to do, and to introduce shorthold tenancies. We have increased this year the programme of grants to voluntary bodies concerned with homelessness. Those are three positive steps. There is a number of young people who choose voluntarily to leave home; I do not think that we can be expected, no matter how many there are, to provide units for them.

Mr. Kinnock

The charities in this area, as in many others, are marvellous but it is neither fair nor realistic to ask them to do the job the Government should be doing. Will the Prime Minister answer the fundamental question? Will she revert to the original arrangements, which enabled young people to get money for lodgings? Does not she realise that if they have no home they have no job, and that if they have no job they have no home and they have no money? Is she willing to see those numbers increasing?

The Prime Minister

I have answered twice in the negative to the right hon. Gentleman's fundamental question. I point out to him that there are now 1.6 million more housing units than there were eight years ago.

Mr. Janman

Will my right hon. Friend agree that the Opposition's policies on defence are clearly divided——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must ask a question for which the Prime Minister has responsibility.

Mr. Janman

In her busy day will my right hon. Friend consider that the Opposition's policies on defence——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I cannot allow the hon. Gentleman to continue along that line.

Mr. Steel

Is the Prime Minister at all concerned about the huge explosion in domestic credit that has taken place in recent months? If so, what will she do about it?

The Prime Minister

I think that an increase in personal credit is all right provided it is balanced on the other side by an increase in financial assets willingly held. That is the case. It has been so balanced.

Mr. Curry

Is my right hon. Friend aware that thousands of schoolchildren are this week sitting their [column 714]written examinations for GCSE? Will she make sure that the A-level examination remains a genuine test of learning skills, discipline at work, and intellectual ability?

The Prime Minister

The GCSE examinations are in their early years. Doubtless we shall learn a good deal from the way in which they are working. It is vital that children have the chance to get this qualification. It is a true test of what they do, both in their general work and with external moderation. With regard to A-levels, there is a report out which I believe my right hon. Friend Kenneth Bakerthe Secretary of State will deal with in reply to a written question today. It is absolutely vital that we continue to regard the deep study of some single subject as important during the years from 16 to 18, particularly for people going to university.

Q2. Mr. Hoyle

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 7 June.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Hoyle

Will the Prime Minister take time off from her duties to tell us why she asked for a private valuation of Richmond yard? Does she think that she received value for money at 26 times what it would have cost the Property Services Agency to carry out this valuation?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member has asked my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment about this. He has replied to the hon. Gentleman. A copy of the letter has been placed in the Library. He has pointed out that this is the first of the office blocks to be built in Whitehall. It was absolutely vital that we get an accurate estimate, by a commercial enterprise, of the amount of rent that it would fetch in the open market. I think that was done.

Mr. John Greenway

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the widespread public concern felt throughout the country about recent attacks on police officers by affluent young people who have had far too much to drink? Does she not agree that this House should give every support to the police and that one of the best ways of giving that support is to ensure that we go on increasing police manpower throughout every force? Does she also agree that that should be the target of the Government throughout this Parliament?

The Prime Minister

As my hon. Friend is aware, we have substantially increased police manpower and pay. They also have very good equipment. I agree with my hon. Friend that the police are entitled to look to the ordinary citizenry for help on all occasions. They are entitled to look to schools and families to teach discipline and they are entitled to expect all of us to point out to those young people that they are responsible for their own activities, and no one else.

Q3. Mr. Haynes

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 7 June.

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply that I gave some moments ago, knowing that I shall have no difficulty in hearing his supplementary question.

Mr. Haynes

Is the Prime Minister aware that Mr. Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev have met on numerous [column 715]occasions and have agreed one important principle—the total elimination of nuclear weapons? Does she agree with them?

The Prime Minister

They have not agreed on the total elimination of nuclear weapons. As the hon. Gentleman is aware, there might one day come a time when that is possible. I must say that I doubt it, for reasons that he knows full well. What they have done—and I hope it will meet with acclaim—is to sign the first agreement to reduce nuclear weapons. However, I think they have done more than that. They have by their meetings—also supported by the West—brought about new hope in East-West relations and new hope for the future.

Q4. Mr. Forth

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 7 June.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Forth

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the INF agreement and the resultant reduction in nuclear arms would probably not have occurred if one side had entered into the negotiations committed to the one-sided abolition of nuclear weapons? Does my right hon. Friend not agree that the apparent statement made by the Leader of the Opposition on Sunday bears a remarkable resemblance to the unilateral policy of the Labour party in the past?

The Prime Minister

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. There would have been no agreement on reductions in nuclear weapons if one side had already said that they were going to give them up totally and utterly unilaterally. In those circumstances we should not have made the progress that we have made now.

With regard to the latter part of the question, I am just not at all sure what the policies of the Labour party are.

Mr. Heffer

rose[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Such interruptions mean that other hon. Members cannot be called.

Mr. Heffer

Is the right hon. Lady aware that while all the people of this country are absolutely delighted at the atmosphere that developed at the summit meeting and at [column 716]the possibilities of future reductions in nuclear arms, some of us are somewhat nauseated by the sycophantic attitude that she adopts towards President Reagan and the United States? When she considers human rights, does she also take into consideration the human rights of the people of Nicaragua, or of other states in south America and elsewhere? Will she stop having double standards in relation to human rights?

The Prime Minister

With regard to the first part of what the hon. Gentleman said, yes, I did say thank you on behalf of the United Kingdom for everything that the United States does to uphold our basic freedoms. It is a great pity that the hon. Gentleman cannot do the same.

Secondly, yes, I did congratulate the President on the first treaty to reduce nuclear weapons and on his wisdom in knowing that the next step, beyond the START agreement, is to reduce conventional forces but that our defences must be strong.

Thirdly, yes, I did congratulate President Reagan on the way in which he raised the issue of human rights, right in the heart of Moscow. He did not flinch from that at all.

Fourthly, I note that the Sandinistas in Nicaragua do not have the sort of democratic government of which the hon. Gentleman takes advantage day after day.

Q5. Mr. Shersby

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 7 June.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Shersby

Does my right hon. Friend agree that Britain's victory in the Falkland Islands represented a tremendous achievement by our armed forces? Will she take the time today to consider why British television companies spend millions of pounds—[Interruption.]—putting the heroism of our troops in a bad light and mixing fact with fiction?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend makes his own point extremely well. Whatever the policy of the broadcasting authorities, I believe that the whole country was behind that campaign, applauded its military brilliance and is totally indebted to all the people who took part in it and all who supported it.