Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1988 Dec 6 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

HC Stmnt: [Rhodes European Council]

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: House of Commons Statement
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [143/173-86]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1530-1600.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 7621
Themes: Agriculture, British Constitution (general discussions), Executive, Judiciary, Industry, Monetary policy, Environment, Taxation, Trade, European Union (general), Economic, monetary & political union, European Union Single Market, Foreign policy (International organizations), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Law & order, Leadership, Northern Ireland, Race, immigration, nationality, Science & technology, Society, Terrorism
[column 173]

European Council (Rhodes)

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I shall make a statement about the European Council in Rhodes on 2–3 December, which I attended with my right hon. and learned Friend Sir Geoffrey Howethe Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary.

The Council's detailed conclusions and the separate statements which it issued have been placed in the Library of the House.

First, the Council took note of the Commission's progress report on the single market, which is due to be completed by 1992. Approximately half of the measures required are now agreed. The priorities for the next stage will include banking and financial services and public procurement, which are of particular interest to the United Kingdom.

I made clear that we do not regard Community decisions on tax rates as necessary to complete the single market. There is, I think, a growing recognition of the bureaucratic and other difficulties which the Commission's proposals on indirect taxation raise.

As regards what is called the social dimension, it is also widely recognised that the best way to meet social needs and to advance the living standards of all the people is through the extra economic growth which the single market will generate.

The second main subject was the environment. The Council issued a declaration which draws attention in particular to the need for international action to deal with damage to the ozone layer and with the greenhouse effect. The United Kingdom is of course convening a conference in London in March on the depletion of the ozone layer.

Thirdly, we discussed the Community's role in the world. The declaration that we issued helpfully underlines that the Community will not close in on itself after 1992 but will keep open its markets and encourage others to do likewise. That is a good message for the mid-term meeting of the GATT Uruguay round which is taking place in Montreal.

In political co-operation we discussed the middle east and confirmed the cautious welcome which Foreign Ministers had given in their statements of 21 and 30 November to the outcome of the Palestine National Council meeting in Algiers. It would not be right to go further than that until the PLO has unequivocally recognised Israel's right to a secure existence and renounced violence.

I also used the opportunity of bilateral meetings with the Prime Ministers of Belgium and the Republic of Ireland to make clear the extent to which people in Britain felt let down by the Belgian Government's treatment of our recent extradition request and the delay by the Irish authorities in backing our warrants.

In its conclusions, the European Council recognised the need for co-operation between Governments to combat terrorism, and we are thankful for the co-operation that we receive from most of them.

I am grateful to the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. Papandreou, for chairing the Council despite his ill-health. I am sure that the House will wish him a full recovery.

The Council was an occasion for Heads of Government to take stock of European Community and wider world issues. Its principal result was to give fresh impetus to [column 174]completion of the single market by 1992. That remains Britain's current priority in the Community. We can therefore be well satisfied with the outcome.

Mr. Neil Kinnock (Islwyn)

I am grateful to the Prime Minister for her statement. It is obvious to everyone that the formal proceedings of the European Council in Rhodes made it something of a “wait and see” summit. However, will the Prime Minister confirm that there will not be any concessions on the VAT zero rating of food and other essentials, or on British border controls to combat terrorism and crime? Will the right hon. Lady resist any proposals that would put British producers at a disadvantage in securing public procurement orders?

In anticipation of the recommendations of the Delors committee on economic and monetary union—which will report to the next summit, the Madrid summit—what measures will the Prime Minister propose to inhibit destabilising short-term capital movements in the single market? On that subject, will she be taking the advice of her right hon. Friend the Chancellor or that of Sir Alan Walters?

For reasons that will be obvious to the House, the European Council summit last weekend will be remembered not so much as the Rhodes summit but as the Ryan summit. It appears clear to many of us that the Belgian Cabinet should have accepted the counsel of Belgian judges and should have allowed the extradition of Mr. Ryan to Britain. However, it is also clear that, if the confusion began with the political evasion by the Belgian Cabinet, it was turned into chaos last week by the prejudicial tantrums of the British Prime Minister.

To ensure that there is no hiding place for suspected terrorists in these isles, will the Prime Minister take what opportunities still exist for bringing the suspect, Patrick Ryan, to face charges? Will the Government use the proven instrument of the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act to take action on the allegations of handling explosives and unauthorised possession of explosives? Will the right hon. Lady, as reported in column 575 of Hansard for 29 November, now takes her own advice, and back up her speeches and statements with “appropriate deeds” instead of indulging in damaging histrionics?

The Prime Minister

A value added tax or any other tax measure which the Community may attempt to impose cannot be adopted except by unanimous vote of all the members. We have made our position clear both on that and on zero rating on several occasions, and I confirm what has been said previously.

We have made it clear that, until there are other effective ways of stopping terrorists, of apprehending criminals, of dealing with those carrying drugs and of dealing with immigrants, some border controls simply must remain. Quite a number of countries are anxious to get rid of them, which one understands. They would like people to be able to travel from one side of Europe to another. However, it is vital that we have effective measures for those groups of people whom I have identified. So far there is no effective alternative. In some countries, people must carry identity cards and produce them when asked on any occasion. That is not the case throughout the Community, and it would give offence to a number of people if it were.

Public procurement orders are very much at the top of the agenda, because we feel that we do not get a fair whack [column 175]of business when applying for procurement in other countries, which is why we are anxious to have the appropriate directives.

I shall wait until the Delors committee reports, but, on the question of what the right hon. Gentleman calls destabilising short-term capital movements, I point out that there is already freedom of capital movement between countries such as the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany, Holland, Denmark and Luxembourg, and that has not proved to be destabilising for any of us, as we are always telling those who, in fact, want to introduce equal tax on capital movements. That is the view which we shall continue to take.

The facts about Belgium spoke for themselves. That was the trouble, the facts did speak for themselves. When we made those facts perfectly clear, I believe that most people who really believe in fighting terrorism were on our side.

We were asking the Republic of Ireland to back the warrants which were sent over so that Ryan was taken into custody while the application for extradition—which takes much longer—was fully and properly considered.

With regard to the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act, which enables people to have extra-territorial jurisdiction, I am advised that only two of the four charges against Ryan could be heard under that Act. Therefore, it does not seem very relevant.

Sir Ian Gilmour (Chesham and Amersham)

During her visit to Washington, my right hon. Friend was reported to have urged the American Government to build on the Palestine National Council's statement. Her remarks this afternoon seem, instead, to suggest that she wants further action from Mr. Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Will my right hon. Friend clarify the Government's attitude?

The Prime Minister

While in Washington I said, having looked carefully at the communiqué but not having done all the detailed work that I have since carried out, that it seemed to me that what the PLO had said about United Nations resolutions 242 and 338 was a distinct move forward and that we should encourage such moves forward. My right hon. Friend knows that many other parts of the communiqué are very much less welcome and which we could not possibly accept.

As for dealing with the PLO in this country, we have always made it clear that we believe that three conditions should be satisfied before senior Ministers discuss matters with that organisation. One concerns United Nations resolutions 242 and 338, the second is that the PLO should recognise Israel's right to exist, and the third is that it should renounce violence. Those conditions were laid down some years ago, and we have not departed from them.

Mr. David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale)

There will be some concern at the Prime Minister's choice of phrase in her statement about

“what is called the social dimension”

although we are not surprised at that coming from somebody who does not believe that there is any such thing as society. Does she agree that the European Community accepts that the social dimension of the Community is important and that not all the member states share her belief in the total beneficence of market forces? Will she accept that people outside the south-east [column 176]of England will be looking to her to bat for Britain, especially in Scotland, and to see that we get a reasonable share of the regional and social funds of the Community?

The Prime Minister

I did refer to

“what is called the social dimension” ,

but it is called by many, many strange names, including social space.

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

What does the Prime Minister call it?

The Prime Minister

Social affairs, which is what we would normally call it in this country. Under the heading come such things as employment and training and measures to help with unemployment. Unemployment is rapidly going down in this country, particularly among the long-term unemployed. Some come under the heading of worker participation. We say that the best worker participation is wider share ownership.

Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that this has been an extremely successful summit—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is asking a question of the Prime Minister, not of others below the Gangway.

Mr. Dykes

The summit has been a success, notwithstanding that, unfortunately, it had to deal with extraneous matters. How confident is my right hon. Friend about the 285 Commission measures for the single market? How many will be agreed at the end of the Spanish presidency in a year's time, and how many by 1992?

The Prime Minister

As I have said, we have got on well with them so far, but there is not the slightest shadow of doubt that as we come closer to 1992 the more difficult ones will come. They are difficult because there are genuine disagreements and some of the measures will undoubtedly not be passed. That is exactly what we would wish. We do not accept that, for example, the Commission needs to impose tax measures on people merely to complete the single market. The single market can be completed without that.

Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney)

The House will welcome what the Prime Minister said about not harmonising indirect taxes and also what she had to say about maintaining border controls against terrorists, drug smugglers and the like. If that is the British Government's attitude, and if it was properly communicated at Rhodes, as I am sure it was, why is it that the Rhodes communiqué, the presidential communiqué, speaks of irreversible progress towards a single European internal market without frontiers by 1992?

The Prime Minister

I think that the progress that we have achieved makes the single market irreversible—[Interruption.] It is not a phrase that I like, but it was used in the Single European Act that passed through this House.

We need border controls. It is not a Community without borders, and nor can it possibly be. We need to reduce the number of controls on the borders for travellers and for those delivering goods, but there must still be controls. Our international border—apart from the Republic of Ireland—is the same as our internal border.

[column 177]

Mr. Nicholas Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)

After my right hon. Friend's justified anger and indignation about the Ryan case, did she calmly reflect that it was not an isolated case, but one that reflected the fundamental differences of view and approach between the people of the United Kindom and the people of the Republic of Ireland on the issue of Northern Ireland? Did she not calmly go on to reflect that no useful purpose would be achieved by the continuation of the Anglo-Irish Agreement?

The Prime Minister

It is clear that the present arrangements for extradition between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland are not working well and that attention must be given to that. In the case in question, we were well aware that, all of a sudden, the Republic of Ireland had Mr. Ryan returned to it without warning. We were asking not for immediate extradition, but for a warrant for his arrest to be put into effect so that a due and proper decision could be taken on extradition in the usual way.

The Anglo-Irish Agreement is in place and we are currently reviewing the way in which it works. We shall consider the extradition aspect and consult with the relevant parties. I believe that the agreement should continue.

Mr. James Molyneaux (Lagan Valley)

Can the right hon. Lady confirm that during the discussions she adhered to her attitude to the Europe of the future as set out in her Bruges speech, which had widespread support throughout the United Kingdom?

The Prime Minister

I confirm my support for the attitudes and approaches set out in the Bruges speech, which are supported by many other people, including many on the mainland of Europe.

Mr. David Curry (Skipton and Ripon)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the declaration renouncing protectionism is extremely important and that it comes at an opportune moment given the current GATT talks in Montreal? Did my right hon. Friend take the opportunity at Rhodes to point out that the Community has an excellent chance during those talks to translate its fine words into positive action?

The Prime Minister

Yes. In view of the apprehension of many countries outside the Community about the effect of 1992, we thought it vital to make it clear that, although we were taking away some of the internal controls on movement and trade, we were not putting up barriers around the Community. The original purpose of the treaty of Rome was to take away some of the internal barriers to trade as an example to others to do the same. I agree that the GATT talks present a great opportunity, and I hope that they will make progress. However, we must still tackle the fundamental agricultural problems.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

Are there not two interpretations of the single internal market? The first, which the Prime Minister favours, is little more than a Customs union and the second, which is favoured by others, is political and economic union and the construction of detailed legislation to give flat-field competition throughout the EEC whenever there is any commercial activity. Is it not true that the prerogative for such legislation lies entirely with the Commission, not with [column 178]Ministers? Is it not also true that any decision on whether it is permissible under the treaty of Rome and, if so, whether it is subject to majority decision will be made by the European Court?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman will be the first to know that there are certain measures, of which taxation is one and immigration another, on which unanimous decisions are required. So we are particularly protective about those. Others are done by majority decision, and that is in the interests of this country, because some of the things that we want to do would otherwise be blocked by a few other members in the Community.

We have two interests: we need unanimity in some matters; in others, we want majority voting. The Commission does not always make it clear that the measures that come before the national Parliaments must be scrutinised by those Parliaments. We should make that abundantly clear to all our industries that have a particular interest in any directive that may come forward.

Sir Peter Hordern (Horsham)

With regard to co-operation between the police and the security forces of different European Community countries on terrorism, drugs and fraud, would it not be a good idea if there were a European Community bureau of investigation within which all the efforts to combat terrorism and other offences could be closely co-ordinated? Has that been considered? Might it be considered in future?

The Prime Minister

As my hon. Friend knows, the Home Office Ministers meet regularly, and I think they are steadily working towards much closer co-operation between police forces—and between Ministers. I am not quite certain that what my hon. Friend wants would necessarily be the right solution, but I am certain that there is increasing co-operation. In the Belgian case, there was excellent co-operation between the police and security forces of both countries. There was no difficulty at that level.

Mr. John Hume (Foyle)

Following the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition and the events of the past week, particularly the Prime Minister's conversations with the Prime Ministers of Belgium and Ireland, has the right hon. Lady given any further consideration to the question I asked her on 30 June? If she wants to achieve her objective of ensuring that there is no hiding place anywhere in these islands for people who commit horrific crimes—an objective shared by all parties in this House and in the Irish Parliament—that might be better achieved by making greater use of the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act, an Act which is much less emotive and much more efficient and which was brought in by the Government of which the right hon. Lady is a member on the recommendation of an eminent commission of lawyers from both countries. That would also speedily build up the mutual trust that is necessary between both Governments to deal with problems of this nature.

The Prime Minister

Sometimes that Act can be used. It is no substitute for effective proceedings on extradition. In the case that we are now considering, I am advised that only two of the four charges would be applicable under the Act.

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Mr. James Kilfedder (North Down)

Is the Prime Minister aware that she spoke eloquently on behalf of the majority of the people of the United Kingdom when she made her statement at the summit about terrorism and extradition? Do not the Ryan case and other incidents reveal the need for the Government to establish an information unit that could convey to the Common Market countries and other countries the truth about the IRA, which is that its members are out to murder innocent people throughout the United Kingdom?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman has a point. Too few people realise that all the people in Northern Ireland can vote in a similar way to send hon. Members to this House, and that they all have the same civil liberties. In so far as there is any remaining discrimination, we are attempting to put that right in legislation going through the House this Session. So the people of Northern Ireland have all the apparatus of democracy and it is those who dislike the result of the ballot box who turn to bombing and maiming to achieve what they want. We must get the message across that they must never succeed.

Mr. Chris Mullin (Sunderland, South)

Instead of lecturing the Prime Ministers of Belgium and Ireland, would not the Prime Minister be better employed in devising a way for the Government to persuade the judges to own up to the serious mistakes made in the cases of Guildford, Woolwich and Birmingham and, in so doing, restore international confidence in British justice?

The Prime Minister

In no way do I accept what the hon. Gentleman has said, nor, I think, would most Conservative Members. I believe in fighting terrorism in every way, including supporting the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984.

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham)

While welcoming the progress that my right hon. Friend has encouraged in Europe towards an open and competitive market in industrial goods, we still have an agricultural system that results in dear food for the housewife and high tax bills for the taxpayer. Does my right hon. Friend think that the European member states might soon be ready to make a better response to American offers of mutual subsidy reduction in agricultural areas?

The Prime Minister

As my hon. Friend will remember, that problem was discussed at the Toronto economic summit. Some of us who were there were anxious to agree with America that we should do more to reduce the subsidy to agriculture. Although the European Community has done a good deal to put its agricultural house in order, it still has more to do. That is still our view, and it is shared by some of the other members of the Community but not by all. The steps that we took recently are working. Surplus stocks are going down fast. In 1987 there were 1 million tonnes of surplus butter and there are now only 158,000 tonnes. There were 700,000 tonnes of skimmed milk powder and there are now only 11,000 tonnes. The surpluses in beef, wheat and barley are also down. The policies are beginning to work.

Dr. Dafydd Elis Thomas (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy)

With reference to the social dimension, does the Prime Minister understand that it is called a social dimension and social space because it is about the inequalities created spatially by a free market system? Will she commit herself [column 180]anew to an increased regional policy so that the inequalities that will be created by the single market in 1992 will not disproportionately affect regions in the Community?

The Prime Minister

By a decision last February we increased the structural funds enormously to 52 billion ecu. As I said at Rhodes, over the next three years the amount will be greater in real terms than the whole of the Marshall plan for Europe after the end of the war. My right hon. Friend and I also said at Rhodes that under what is called the social dimension we do not believe in there being two sides to industry; we believe in every earner and owner pulling together for the prosperity of all.

Mr. Michael Grylls (Surrey, North-West)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that only three weeks ago Mr. Jacques Delors wrote to the economic and social committee in Brussels asking it to give its views and, I think, to support social measures in industry? He also talked about “a people's Europe” . Will my right hon. Friend assure industry, at least in Britain, that she will have none of that sort of thing and that we have been down that path before? If that were ever allowed to happen in industry in the EEC, we would cease to create the new jobs that we want and would see employment reducing.

The Prime Minister

The phrase “people's Europe” has been about for quite a long time and it is intended to mean freer travel and easier access across borders. Although it may not be popular in all parts of the House, that is why we have gone to a common-form passport, although passports are still issued in the name of each country. Passports are in a common form to enable people to go through border controls much more easily. I think that it was meant to make Europe more accessible to all citizens of all countries. That is why the phrase developed.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

When the hon. Lady discussed the middle east, did she explain why the Government failed to support Mr. Arafat being allowed to enter the United States of America? Is it not clear that if there is to be any settlement in the middle east the PLO must be fully involved in any discussions? It is vital that the world should know what Mr. Arafat and the PLO are saying. Why did the Government refuse to support the entry of Arafat to the United States?

The Prime Minister

That is not correct, as our Sir Crispin Tickellambassador to the United Nations and the communiqué by all the Foreign Ministers of Europe made perfectly clear. We felt that Mr. Arafat should have been permitted to address the United Nations. We protested vigorously about the language of the motion, and if we had been able to amend it in accordance with our own motion we would have supported it. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the communiqué that the Foreign Ministers produced immediately after the United Nations communiqué, he will see that it is couched in moderate language. We all agreed on that communiqué.

Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch)

Nevertheless, it is today reported that my right hon. Friend has intervened to prevent a meeting taking place between the Minister of State, Foreign Office and a representative of the PLO. Can she explain this to the House? If it is the Government's policy to insist that the PLO put up an illuminated sign to ensure that the Israelis have the right to exist behind secure [column 181]borders and that they renounce violence, why do we not expect the Israelis to put up an illuminated sign giving the Palestinians the right to a secure existence behind secure borders and the right to live without their children being mown down by Israeli bullets?

The Prime Minister

As I think I explained the last time I answered questions, and again this time, we set down three conditions for senior Ministers to meet anyone from the PLO. First, if whoever was coming from the PLO accepted United Nations resolutions 242 and 338, secondly, if they recognised Israel's right to exist and, thirdly, if they renounced violence the conditions would be fulfilled and we would meet them to talk. Two representatives who came previously could not meet those conditions, so we did not see them at ministerial level. The same has happened this time.

If my hon. Friend reads the Palestinian communiqué all the way through, he will find some extremely good parts and some parts that hit out hard. For example, in parts Israel is called Fascist and racist. In other parts, the people involved in the uprising in the territories are urged to use every means possible to increase that uprising. My hon. Friend will find grounds for the view that we have taken.

Nevertheless, when I was in Washington I thought it right to say that the attitude taken at the Palestine National Council conference towards the United Nations resolutions was a step forward that we should welcome, which I did.

Ms. Marjorie Mowlam (Redcar)

Will the Prime Minister clarify her response to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume) when she said that the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act 1975 could not be used in relation to two of the four charges against Patrick Ryan? Why is it impossible to use the Act in relation to the other two charges, especially as six of the seven cases in which the Act has been used in the Republic have resulted in convictions?

The Prime Minister

Because those two charges are outside the scope of the extraterritorial jurisdiction. They are outside the scope of that Act, which granted extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Mr. Richard Alexander (Newark)

Was my right hon. Friend able to advise the Taoiseach that those in Britain who wish for closer relations with the Republic, and even wish the Anglo-Irish Agreement well, would find it extremely difficult if he was seen to be attempting to find technical grounds on which to decline to return alleged terrorists to this country to answer for crimes alleged to have been committed in this country?

The Prime Minister

I accept what my hon. Friend says. Although there is limited extraterritorial jurisdiction, that is no substitute for effective extradition and no substitute for the warrants sent by one country being backed willingly by those in another.

Mr. Merlyn Rees (Morley and Leeds, South)

Will the Prime Minister reconsider her reply in relation to the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act, which was passed by the Labour Government following the Sunningdale agreement the previous February? Her explanation about the [column 182]two sets of two charges was not clear enough. Why cannot the other two charges be dealt with in Dublin? It is most important that we get the matter clear. If extradition, which is the best way to deal with it, is not possible, would it not be possible to go to Dublin?

I have just been casting my eye over the report on the Prevention of Terrorism Act which the Home Secretary presented to the House in December last year. It is clear from the report that the law of conspiracy is complicated, that proving the offence is difficult and that the law is in a state of uncertainty. That may make it extremely difficult to obtain extradition in the normal sense of the term. It is vital to deal with terrorism. Why do we not consider using the 1975 Act?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman would be the first to understand that I asked about this and that the legal advice which I received led me to give that answer. If the right hon. Gentleman challenges the legal advice—[Interruption.] I am not being difficult. If the right hon. Gentleman challenges the legal advice, he must ask my right hon. and learned Friend Sir Patrick Mayhewthe Attorney-General about it.

Mr. Ian Gow (Eastbourne)

Does my right hon. Friend recall the dismal conclusion of the Attorney-General in the House on Thursday that the refusal of the Belgian Government to agree to the extradition of Mr. Ryan was based not on legal but on political grounds? My right hon. Friend and the Foreign Secretary are both lawyers. Is there any legal reason, of which either is aware, why the Irish Government should not now agree to the extradition of Mr. Ryan?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that I should pronounce on legal grounds. I would only point out that the application for extradition went before the court of first instance in Belgium and the extradition was granted. It went to the court of appeal in Belgium, which confirmed the decision of the court of first instance. We understand that advice was given to the Minister of Justice. It would seem that that advice was similar to the view that the courts had taken. Nevertheless, the Cabinet in Belgium can say yea or nay to a matter of extradition, and it said nay.

Mr. Jeff Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr)

When the Prime Minister is batting for Britain with our European partners, does she ever mention the fact that the only Head of State of a European Community member who has never addressed the European Parliament is the Head of State of our country?

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

She is not the Head of State. She may like to be, but she is not.

Mr. Rooker

May I ask the Prime Minister——

Mr. Speaker

No. The hon. Gentleman has asked the question.

The Prime Minister

The formal meeting of the European Parliament is in Strasbourg. I should have thought it obvious that the Head of Government does the political work here. Having an executive president is very different from having a monarch.

Mr. Spencer Batiste (Elmet)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the greatest long-term difficulties in the development of the European Community is that its [column 183]political developments may outpace the economic and social realities that underpin it? In that context, does she agree that the proposal to abolish frontier controls when there are no satisfactory alternatives and the proposal to have worker participation on company boards are two examples from many of that process at work today?

The Prime Minister

Yes. If there is to be a European company statute, we must have the minimum required for such a statute and not try to include matters that may be all right for one country but not for another. Germany would have worker participation. We would have much more share ownership. We want a minimum European company statute. I very much agree with what my hon. Friend said about border controls.

Mr. Doug Hoyle (Warrington, North)

On banking and financial services, will there be a directive for a free market in life assurance? If not, will the Prime Minister press for one? That would give Britain a direct advantage, since life insurance in this country costs only a third of what it costs in Italy and France.

The Prime Minister

We will press for a free market in that. That is why we have made financial services one of the priorities for the next round of directives.

Mr. James Couchman (Gillingham)

Further to my right hon. Friend's answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow), does she agree that the independence of the judiciary is precious to civilised countries and that the overruling of the Belgian judiciary by the Belgian Cabinet was very sad? In that context, will she ignore the weasel words of the leader of the Labour party, many of whose members are likely to oppose the Second Reading of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill tonight?

The Prime Minister

I hope as many people as possible will support the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill being made permanent and support its Second Reading. I can think of nothing more important to show that people are determined in the fight against terrorism.

Several Hon. Members

rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. Having regard to the fact that there is to be another statement after this and the business before the House, I will allow questions to continue for another five minutes before I call the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby)

No doubt the Prime Minister realises that working people in this country have far fewer rights at their place of work than most of their counterparts in the Community. Does she not find the term “social Europe” offensive because she is opposed to industrial democracy and wants the present autocratic system in British industry to continue? That was the real reason why she made her silly speech at Bruges. She simply wants an internal market to exploit her free market excesses. She does not want to extend that right to working people.

The Prime Minister

No; that is absolute nonsense. Health and safety comes under the social dimension. We have no fears about the health and safety regulations which Europe will introduce. We are well ahead in our arrangements. [column 184]

With regard to workers' rights and citizens' rights, which everyone has, as the hon. Gentleman knows, the ordinary trade union member has far more rights now than previously. The ordinary citizen now has a greater chance to become a capitalist than ever before. We should like to extend that to other countries, as would many other member states.

Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury)

In seeking assistance from our friends and allies in Europe, did my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister reflect on how much easier that task must have been 10 years ago for her predecessor when he could fully rely on her, the Leader of the Opposition at the time, to maintain a fully united front against terrorism? Will she further reflect on the fact that, whatever may take place in this House, the British people are right behind her right across the political spectrum?

The Prime Minister

Judging from the post-bag after the Bruges speech and from the many signs that we have had after returning from Rhodes, I accept what my hon. Friend says.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

The Prime Minister said earlier that she had been fighting terrorism in every way. When she met Mr. Haughey, did she refer to k and r—kidnap and ransom—insurance? Is there not a huge hole in the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill in so far as it does not ban that practice which is a major source of funds for the paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland?

The Prime Minister

That matter has come up on several previous occasions. We have considered it and, at the moment, as the hon. Gentleman is aware, even if we refuse to have it in this country, some of it would go elsewhere. We must have agreement across countries that that is not acceptable. If we could achieve that, that would be very effective. I agree with the hon. Gentleman and am wholly against the taking out of any such insurance.

Mr. Ian Bruce (Dorset, South)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that we have no mandate for bringing forward a united states of Europe, for the equalisation of taxes, or for social tinkering? When the British people voted in the referendum many years ago, they supported a free market in Europe. They still support that. The British people support my right hon. Friend as the leader within Europe of that free market principle.

The Prime Minister

I accept that we signed up to a European Economic Community.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

Like my hon. Friends, I am no less opposed to terrorism in Northern Ireland than the Prime Minister. However, on reflection, will the right hon. Lady consider that the manner in which she raised the Ryan case in this House and at the meeting with Mr. Haughey clearly caused the maximum of embarrassment and difficulty to our friends in the Irish Republic and gave a good deal of satisfaction to the IRA and its allies throughout Europe and the United States? Why did the Prime Minister act in a manner more characteristic of her junior Health Minister?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman is aware that I put the facts and will continue to do that. Bearing in mind that, under the extradition law of the Republic, the provisional warrant which the Irish Attorney-General can [column 185]issue is for three days, it is perfectly clear that the Republic considers that the provisional warrant is for three days and that that is sufficient for it to take a decision whether the warrant should be backed or not.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Is the Prime Minister aware that the main reason why she has difficulty in speaking about the problems of the common pound, the common bank and common frontiers is that she made a rod for her own back when she urged her right hon. and hon. Friends to vote on a three-line Whip to carry through the legislation on the single European market? She does not kid Opposition Members when she goes across to those booze-ups like the one in Rhodes and conducts a private brawl to give the impression to the British people that she is really against the Common Market. She does not fool us about that. If she wants to resolve the problem of the common frontiers and all the rest, she should bring forward legislation to repeal the Single European Act and we will give her a chuck on.

The Prime Minister

As is customary from the hon. Gentleman, that was a very confused question. However, if he wants to have a brawl with anyone, he must choose someone who is used to brawling. He had better choose someone his own size.

Mr. Eddie McGrady (South Down)

I welcome the new-found conversion to a green policy and the decision to have a conference in the spring on the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect. Will the Prime Minister explain the apparent contradiction between that new-found concern and the fact that the Government have just announced a considerable reduction in the budget for the institute for research into the environment with the ensuing sacking or redundancy of 300 environmental scientists?

The Prime Minister

The amount for research on the environment, as the hon. Gentleman is aware, is determined by the advisory board which divides it between the scientific research councils, the Medical Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council and the Agriculture and Food Research Council. The hon. Gentleman is aware that the amount available in real terms for basic research has increased and was increased further as a result of the Autumn Statement. If we had not had an effective amount for research, the British Antarctic survey would never have discovered the gap in the ozone layer.

Mr. Foulkes

What did they discover?

The Prime Minister

The ozone layer was discovered. I am surprised that the hon. Member did not know that.

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Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

As most Heads of Government favour the abolition of border controls, would it be legally possible for this country to insist on maintaining border controls if other European countries abolish them?

What was the Prime Minister's opinion about a European federal police force?

The Prime Minister

Yes, it would because, apart from the border with the Republic for which we would have special reason to retain border controls, the external borders of the United Kingdom are international borders as well as internal borders. We must therefore retain our border controls at airports and ports. They will all maintain controls through ports and airports because that is the entry from the outside world. I said earlier that the Trevi Ministers meet frequently and they are moving closer together.

I am not certain whether a federal police force would be advisable. I believe that it would be very difficult to achieve because such a force would have to be answerable specifically to someone, and our present arrangement with co-operation between forces is better.

Mr. Kinnock

There have been several questions on the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act, which the Prime Minister does not seem to have answered with the necessary clarity. Is she aware that, for the reasons given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees), we can understand that, on the conspiracy allegations made against Patrick Ryan, the legal advice may have been that they could not be pressed effectively under the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act? However, is that the advice that the right hon. Lady has received on the other two allegations against Patrick Ryan—possession of explosives and handling of explosives? Is she saying that if she cannot get everything—including bringing Patrick Ryan from Ireland to this country—she will not take legal means to achieve anything?

The Prime Minister

No, I am not saying that. As I told the right hon. Gentleman, my legal advice is that only two of the four charges would come under that Act. The right hon. Gentleman is making an assumption about which two they are, although I have not told him that. If he wants more specific answers, he knows full well that he must obtain legal advice from the proper officer—my right hon. and learned Friend Sir Patrick Mayhewthe Attorney-General or my hon and learned Friend Sir Nicholas Lyellthe Solicitor-General.

Let me make it perfectly clear that we believe, nevertheless, in a policy of extradition and that it is far better to extradite people to stand trial in the country in which the offences have been committed.