Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1989 Jan 24 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 [145/866-71]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2422
Themes: Arts & entertainment, Executive, Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Monetary policy, Energy, Environment, Public spending & borrowing, Taxation, Foreign policy (development, aid, etc), Foreign policy (USA), NHS reforms 1987-90, Housing, Local government, Security services, Social security & welfare, Voluntary sector & charity
[column 866]

PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Campbell-Savours

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 24 January.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

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.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Has the Prime Minister noted the comments of her hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, South (Mr. Aitken) who last week said that M15, after the general election of 1979, fingered six Conservative Members of Parliament as unsuitable for office? Will the Prime Minister confirm that she received a report on each [column 867]of those Members? Will she also confirm that each of those Members has been blacklisted for ministerial appointment? Does she not believe that all those Members have a right to know what charges were made against them so that they can clear their names?

The Prime Minister

I noted the comments of Jonathan Aitkenmy hon. Friend. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Workington will not be surprised at my reply—indeed he could almost have dictated it as he studied his question. I follow the rules of my predecessors: I do not comment on security matters.

Q2. Mr. Page

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 24 January.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Page

As my right hon. Friend is in overall charge of policy and in charge of the policy review committees, can she assure the House that the members of those committees, and particularly the Ministers, enthusiastically and regularly attend those meetings? I ask because in the latest edition of the Tribune it is said that due to lack of interest, due to lack of attendance, seven national policy committees have been cancelled by the Labour party.

The Prime Minister

rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I trust that the question was about Ministers, not about the Opposition.

The Prime Minister

As regards my responsibilities, I confirm that my colleagues, right hon. and hon., regularly and punctually attend all committees, and are skilful, forceful and effective in their comments and in the implementation of policy following such meetings.

Mr. Wigley

Is the Prime Minister aware that, recently, thousands of pensioners who last year received a mediocre—a small—increase, over and above their basic pension entitlement, which was due to a heating allowance or some such payment, have been told not to expect any increase in their pension from next April? How would the Prime Minister and her husband like to live on a pension of £55 a week with no increase?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman knows that all the special sums allocated to heating allowances for particular people were lumped together and distributed among those entitled to income support so that they received it regularly. That was done with the approval of the House. The hon. Gentleman also knows that the upratings for pensions in the future have been announced. Unlike the Labour party's figures, they follow precisely the RPI figure, and there was no fiddling with the RPI figure.

Mr. Favell

Is the Prime Minister aware that many people are deeply opposed to the Griffiths proposals that town halls should devise care packages for the elderly and handicapped? What about the family, the family doctor and the district nurse?

The Prime Minister

We shall consider precisely what to propose to the House on the Griffiths report but that will not be before the National Health Service review has been completed.

[column 868]

Mr. Kinnock

Will the Prime Minister confirm that her Government take a bigger share in taxation from the incomes of the majority of families and earners than any Government in history?

The Prime Minister

The overall burden of taxation is falling. It is true that there was a time under the previous Labour Government when the burden was less than it is now. That was because they borrowed so much—[Interruption,]Indeed, borrowing went up to 9 per cent. of GDP because they had neither the skill nor the guts to cover their expenditure by taxation. They left the debts for us to repay.

Mr. Kinnock

Why cannot the Prime Minister give an honest answer to an honest question? Does the Prime Minister recall saying that the share of the nation's income taken by the state must be steadily reduced? Can she tell us why, under her Government, it has been increased to a higher level than under any previous Government, Conservative or Labour?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman's Government borrowing requirement rose to 9 per cent. of GDP which—in terms of today's money—meant that they were borrowing the equivalent of £40 billion a year. We are now having to tax to repay the debt that they created. They always leave debts saddled around the necks of their children.

Sir John Stokes

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will know that I am not one of those who constantly asks for more spending of taxpayers' money. However, did she hear the recent remarks of my noble Friend Lord Blake about the dire straits of our historical records and great manuscripts that are in danger of being permanently damaged unless more funds are made available to look after them properly?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend will know that this Government set up the English Heritage foundation and gave it substantial finance to ensure that there was sufficient money available to keep those objects that are particularly valuable. There are also other Government agencies that protect and look after our heritage. I am sure that Lord Charteris will look into these matters.

Q3. Mr. Ronnie Campbell

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 24 January.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Campbell

What advice does the Prime Minister have for young families and couples who face mortgage increases of £50 and £60 a month? Has she the same advice as the Chancellor, who said that people in those categories must make cuts elsewhere?

The Prime Minister

Quite obviously, those people—particularly those who very recently purchased houses and, therefore, did so at the top end of the market—are having particular difficulty with mortgage increases. That does not alter the fact that we must put the reduction of inflation at the top of the list, and we have to do that through interest rates. Those who purchased their houses before that time, have enjoyed a considerable increase in [column 869]capital. Indeed, as the hon. Gentleman knows, often those who lend money to others to purchase houses do not do as well as those who buy the houses.

Q4. Mr. Jack

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 24 January.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Jack

Will my right hon. Friend accept my congratulations for the support which she is giving to the world ozone conference? Does she agree that the destruction each year of an area equivalent to Great Britain of Brazilian rain forest highlights another major threat to the world? Will she outline to the House the measures that the Government intend to take to alleviate the problem?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend knows that the second part of the world ozone conference is being held in London on 7 March when we hope to cut the emissions of chlorofluorocarbons by 85 per cent. from what they were. We have already reached our target of cutting them by 50 per cent. We think that we should go further. The other matter which he mentioned has more to do with carbon dioxide, or the greenhouse effect. The cutting down of tropical forests on the present scale is having an adverse effect. The overseas aid Department, under my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Patten), takes into account the willingness of countries to keep their tropical forests when giving aid to them.

Dr. Cunningham

Since when?

The Prime Minister

If the right hon. Gentleman had been listening to what I said before—of course, he was not here—he would have known that this is not a new policy. It indicates the great significance which we attach to the keeping of tropical rain forests.

Mr. Sean Hughes

Does the Prime Minister share the view expressed earlier by the Secretary of State for Defence that no responsible British Government should rule out the possibility of having to fight, and presumably win, a conventional war in Europe?

The Prime Minister

I am not quite certain what George Youngermy right hon. Friend said but we both hold precisely the same view—[Laughter.] That could have been better put, could it not? I am not certain whether the hon. Gentleman's report of what my right hon. Friend said is correct; indeed, I doubt it. Let me make it clear; conventional weapons, however strong, have not been enough to prevent war from starting. That is the lesson of history. Conventional weapons alone have not been enough to prevent the start of world war. We believe strongly that it is vital to have a nuclear deterrent. It is that which has kept the peace in the last 40 years.

Q5. Mr. Andrew Mitchell

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 24 January.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Mitchell

Given that health care has been, is and will continue to be provided on the basis of need and not on the basis of ability to pay, does my right hon. Friend agree that the Pavlovian reaction of distress from the [column 870]Opposition Benches is completely synthetic in view of the fact that the review is designed to inject added efficiency to ensure that resources for patient care go further?

The Prime Minister

Certainly the Health Service will continue to be available as now on the basis of those who need health care getting it at the time when they need it. One point of the review is to get better value for money from the enormous extra resources in money, nurses and doctors which are being put into the service. The National Health Service is steadily increasing its efficiency. We now treat 1 million more in-patients and 2.5 million more out-patients a year than 10 years ago. That is a considerable achievement.

Q6. Mr. Tony Banks

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 24 January.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Banks

Did the Prime Minister see “Panorama” last night, which showed the Salvation Army handing out stale bread on council estates in Scotland? When will the Prime Minister come out from that bullet-proof Daimler of hers and start visiting some social security offices and council estates up and down the country to see the stale bread society that she is creating for millions of people?

The Prime Minister

Nonsense. The hon. Gentleman is quite aware, and dislikes it intensely, that the level of spending on social security exceeds anything that was available under his Government. I must say to the hon. Gentleman that I thought his comment was a great insult to the Salvation Army.

Mr. Wilshire

Following the inauguration of a new American President last Friday, will my right hon. Friend find the time to convey to former President Reagan the thanks of the House for his great contribution to world peace and to NATO? Will she also find the time to express to President Bush the best wishes of the House for his term of office?

The Prime Minister

Immediately before he left office I expressed our great thanks, and our appreciation to President Reagan for all that he has done for sure defence and for extending freedom the world over. On the day of his inauguration, I expressed our congratulations and best wishes to President Bush, and assured him that we would continue to be a true and faithful ally in defence of freedom.

Q7. Mr. Tom Clarke

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 24 January.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Clarke

If the economy is as strong as the Prime Minister has been saying, why do sections 1, 2, 3, 7 and 11 of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 remain unimplemented, despite being given Royal Assent more than two and a half years ago?

The Prime Minister

I had the impression that two sections had come into effect and that we were ready to implement the third when we have secured agreement from local authorities. In the meantime, may I point out that, [column 871]because the economy is strong, we have been able to spend about 90 per cent. more in real terms on the disabled than any previous Government.