Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1988 Jun 16 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 [135/563-68]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2155
Themes: Executive, Parliament, Union of UK nations, Employment, Industry, Environment, Taxation, Health policy, Law & order, Northern Ireland, Terrorism
[column 563]

PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Archer

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 16 June.

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. Archer

Will the right hon. Lady spare a little time to hear about Sonia Reading, who is a young heart patient in my constituency.—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. This takes up time.

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Mr. Archer

She has dissuaded her parents from raising funds for a private operation because that would be unfair to the 100 other children who are currently awaiting operations at the Birmingham children's hospital. Will the Prime Minister contrast that with her own approach— “I spend my money to go on the day I choose, at the time I choose and to the doctor I choose.” ? Which of those two approaches does she think is more inspired by St. Francis, who willingly embraced poverty for himself but was always mindful of the rights of others?

The Prime Minister

I wonder which the right hon. and learned Gentleman thinks is better—to help to create more wealth so that there is more to spend on those in need and far more heart operations than there used to be? He knows as well as I do that when an operation is an emergency case, that operation will take priority. I understand that this was not an emergency case. I very recently visited Papworth hospital, which is absolutely superb in the heart operations that it does and is a great credit to the Health Service, as is this Government's record.

Sir Anthony Meyer

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the people of Wales are keenly looking forward to her visit tomorrow? She will find them in cheerful and buoyant mood following the package of measures announced by our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales for the regeneration of the Welsh valleys.

The Prime Minister

I thank my hon. Friend very much. I thought that my right hon. Friend Peter Walkerthe Secretary of State for Wales' statement was an excellent one. It was very welcome to Wales and my right hon. Friend Nigel Lawsonthe Chancellor of the Exchequer's handling of the economy has done excellent things for Wales, which has a very good standard of living.

Q2. Mr. Morgan

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 16 June.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Morgan

Will the Prime Minister tell the House whether her espousal of Victorian and, more lately, aldermanic, morality extends to the issuing of threats to Opposition parties who do not know-tow to the Government line, to the effect that they may lose their money for research purposes to combat the politicisation of the Civil Service? Does her assertion of moral leadership over the West adapt President Kennedy 's 1961 slogan to “Ich bin ein blackmailer” ?

The Prime Minister

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's allegations. With regard to what is called the Short money, the arrangements were announced to the House on 24 May 1988 and the Government will honour their commitments. With regard to President Kennedy, that is not a matter for which I am responsible in any way.

Mr. Marlow

Since the majority of active IRA terrorists are known to the authorities and since, given the special nature of terrorism, the courts find it difficult to deliver them to justice, is it not time that we considered taking the players, as they are macabrely known, temporarily out of circulation? Deprivation of the liberty of the unconvicted is regrettable, but is it not a lesser evil than the slaughter of the innocents and the mourning, grief and bereavement that come after it?

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The Prime Minister

I understand that my hon. Friend feels very strongly, as do all Members of the House, about the terrible atrocity in Lisburn, in Northern Ireland, yesterday, all the more since it was a charitable occasion in which families were taking part. It could have been even worse than it was. We would like to express sympathy, particularly with the bereaved families, and admiration for the armed services for the marvellous work they do, and also for the fact that they do go and help in these events in the community. My hon. Friend is asking really whether we would consider internment once again. This matter is kept under review, but I would be very, very reluctant to do so. It would be a very serious step to take. As he knows, we are constantly trying to improve all our defences against terrorism by trying to secure better co-operation from south of the border.

Mr. Kinnock

May I first agree with every single word that the Prime Minister used in that last reply?

Does the Prime Minister agree with the view of the Secretary of State for the Environment that people who believe that they should stop all development in their own areas are selfish? If she does take that view, what does she recommend as the cure for the “not in my back yard” attitude—the NIMBY syndrome—to which that same Secretary of State for the Environment now appears to have fallen victim? Does she think that the treatment should include putting him out to grass permanently?

The Prime Minister

With all the great issues in the world, the right hon. Gentleman never fails to surprise me with the smallness of some of his questions. [Interruption.] Of course one cannot stop development. The right hon. Gentleman is well aware of that. Development has continued and will continue. There are 1.5 million more dwelling houses now than there used to be. Yes, we do try to protect the green belt. Yes, we do try to protect some of the land in the countryside. But development, in both town and country, there has to be, for the future of this country, and the thing is to see that it is the right development and, where it is in difficult areas, that it is in keeping with the development and the architecture of the area.

Mr. Kinnock

That was a strange answer from the Prime Minister. I thought that ministerial rectitude was still in fashion. Or is it the case that the Secretary of State for the Environment, like so many other members of the Government, keeps one set of values for display and another for use?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend Nicholas Ridleythe Secretary of State for the Environment does his work excellently and in a very distinguished way. Neither in intellect nor in performance can the right hon. Gentleman hold a candle to him.

Mr. Kinnock

I hear what the Prime Minister says. Does she not think that, as a general matter of conduct, people in glass houses should not throw stones and that Ministers in Gloucestershire rectories should practise what they preach, or stop preaching, or stop practising?

The Prime Minister

Yes, I do believe that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman takes his own advice.

Mrs. Gorman

Does my right hon. Friend agree with me and with the citizens of Belfast, to whom I paid a visit at the weekend, that the IRA draws comfort and [column 566]encouragement for its dastardly acts, such as that perpetrated yesterday, from the fact that the citizens of Ulster may not vote red or blue but only green or orange, and that by fielding candidates from the main political parties we would signal to the IRA that that part of the United Kingdom is not up for grabs?

The Prime Minister

I understand what my hon. Friend is saying, but I do not think that that would be a solution to the very deep-seated problem. We have to do every single thing we can to defend all the people of Northern Ireland and to defeat the terrorism of the IRA, which shoots and bombs to kill.

Q3. Mr. Lewis

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 16 June.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Lewis

When will the right hon. Lady address her moral crusade to the pornographic telephone services? Is she aware that I have given evidence only this week to her right hon. Friend the Home Secretary of a young girl working for one of the private telephone companies having to listen to a pervert masturbating on the telephone? Is this the sort of thing that the Prime Minister wants to ignore in the telephone service, or is the problem that it is too near to the flagship of a previous Parliament?

The Prime Minister

Of course not. There are already laws which are designed to stop that very thing. As a number of hon. Members said immediately, why not put the telephone down very quickly?

Mr. Roger King

My right hon. Friend will know that today's unemployment figures show a dramatic drop once again, with the west midlands economy top of the league in creating new jobs. Is this not further evidence that her economic policies are creating wealth, prosperity and a caring community, with over £9 billion a year raised by people for charitable works?

The Prime Minister

Yes. The unemployment figures today show another large, welcome drop, with the fall in unemployment in the north, the north-west and the west midlands being the greatest. They also give the welcome news that the increase in jobs in the calendar year 1987 was the greatest for a generation. We have a substantial increase in jobs, falling unemployment, a very good training scheme and an excellent economy.

Q4. Mr. Salmond

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 16 June.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Salmond

Is the Prime Minister aware of the findings of last week's Glasgow Herald opinion poll, which showed that the political effect in Scotland of her visit to the Scottish cup final and her epistle to the Caledonians was to increase Scottish National party support to its highest level for 10 years? Will the Prime Minister demonstrate her extensive knowledge of Scottish affairs by reminding the House of the names of the Moderator of the General Assembly, which she addressed, and the captain of Celtic, to whom she presented the cup?

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The Prime Minister

I had a very good day in Scotland. Whatever the hon. Gentleman tries to say, Scotland's economy and people are benefiting enormously from the way in which the Government are handling them.

Q5. Mr. Butterfill

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 16 June.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Butterfill

In a week when the Budget tax cuts will first be seen in pay packets throughout the nation, will my right hon. Friend reaffirm the Government's commitment to cut taxation still further? Will she contrast that with the Opposition's action in voting against the tax cuts recently, and their determination to reverse them?

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The Prime Minister

It was an excellent Budget, the results of which will be felt in pay packets at the end of this week and this month. As my right hon. Friend Nigel Lawsonthe Chancellor said at the time, he has set a new target of a basic rate of 20p in the pound, when it is prudent to do that. It might be both prudent and wise to remind hon. Members that the Opposition voted against the cut in the basic rate from 27p to 25p and to remind people that, had the Labour regime's 33p in the pound basic rate still been in force, a man on average earnings would now be paying an extra £13 in tax every week. That is what Labour would have done—taken more out of the pockets of working people.