Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1990 Mar 15 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 [169/661-66]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: 1515-1530.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 2319
Themes: Parliament, Conservatism, Education, Employment, Industry, Monetary policy, Privatized & state industries, European Union (general), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Housing, Law & order, Community charge ("poll tax"), Leadership, Northern Ireland, Social security & welfare, Terrorism
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PRIME MINISTER

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Butterfill

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 15 March.

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. Butterfill

Will my right hon. Friend join me in welcoming the decision of Mr. Jacques Delors, president of the European Commission, in rejecting the proposals for new labour laws as part of the social charter of the European Community? Does not that show that she was right in being the first to speak up against these damaging proposals, despite the fact that they were being put forward so enthusiastically by the Labour party and its Socialist allies? Is not it a shame that—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Briefly, please.

Mr. Butterfill

Is not it a shame that when this was first reported in the national newspapers the comment that my right hon. Friend was “isolated” made the front page, whereas now the item makes only page 11?

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The Prime Minister

I join my hon. Friend in being grateful that greater realism and common sense are coming into Brussels. It would be quite absurd to create a common market and then to tie it up with bureaucracy and Socialism. With regard to our sometimes being isolated, as we were in respect of the social charter, I should say that we got the right result then, and many people who criticised us at the time are now taking our view. So we were right.

Mr. Hattersley

Following the tragic events in Iraq earlier today, may I make it clear that the Opposition will support the Government in taking the strongest possible action, consistent with international law, in response to the barbaric execution of Mr. Farzad Bazoft? We are, of course, aware of the importance of doing all that we can to protect Mrs. Daphne Parish and Mr. Ian Richter. The Government, by their actions as well as their words—[Interruption.] Some of us regard this as a grave matter. As I am sure the Prime Minister agrees, the Government, by their actions as well as their words, must express the sense of outrage that is felt throughout the country.

The Prime Minister

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that this is a very grave and serious matter. The Iraqi Government's action is an act of barbarism which is deeply repugnant to all civilised people. We extend our sympathy to Mr. Bazoft 's family and colleagues. I agree that we must consider Mrs. Parish, who is still in prison in Iraq, as well as Mr. Richter, on whose behalf we have made many representations. The right hon. Gentleman will know that my right hon. Friend Douglas Hurdthe Foreign Secretary will be making a statement after questions, so I think that further details should be left until then.

Q2. Mr. Malins

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 15 March.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Malins

Does my right hon. Friend share my disappointment at the decision of the Irish Supreme Court to release two IRA terrorists? Does she further agree that that could damage the Anglo-Irish Agreement and that the action is an unjustified attack and slur on the Northern Irish prison service?

The Prime Minister

I very much agree with my hon. Friend. The suggestion that anyone extradited to Northern Ireland would be maltreated is grossly offensive and totally unjustified. The Northern Irish prison service is run by dedicated and courageous people who do a very difficult job. I fear that such a judgment may encourage terrorists to the view that they will probably find a safe haven in the Republic of Ireland, and that is very serious.

Q3. Dr. Thomas

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 15 March.

The Prime Minister

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

Dr. Thomas

Does the Prime Minister know that she recently scored 66 per cent. in a popularity poll in Lithuania—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. May we have the rest of the question, please?

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Dr. Thomas

Will she reciprocate that affection by declaring her support for the right of the Lithuanian people to negotiate their independence and their return to full statehood?

The Prime Minister

I am very pleased to hear the news that the hon. Gentleman has given to the House. Those people, along with many others, are fighting Socialism. They know the poverty of Socialism and they are trying to get rid of it. The matter must now be taken up in discussion with President Gorbachev. I hope that the outcome will be satisfactory to everyone.

Q4. Mr. Arbuthnot

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 15 March.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Arbuthnot

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Government's determination to keep their spending under control is one factor that keeps public investment flooding into this country? Since the last thing that we want is to call in the International Monetary Fund to bail us out again, as happened under Labour, will she reaffirm that she intends to stick to her courageous line?

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend that we get a great deal of inward investment from Germany, Japan and other investors because they know that the Government will continue to pursue sound economic policies, to have the right industrial law, to resist nationalisation, to privatise more industries and to have lower taxes than we have had at any time since before the war. All those things are vital to investors and to the prosperity of the country.

Mr. Nellist

Will the Prime Minister reconsider her reply at Question Time on Tuesday that not paying the poll tax is anti-democratic and a bad example to set to all young people? Does not she realise that 42.5 per cent., or over 205,000, of the people in Glasgow, are not paying the poll tax, and that they and the millions who are about to join them in England and Wales are deeply insulted by her remarks, because it is for their children and their families that those who can't pay won't pay? I and others on this side of the Chamber are proud to stand alongside those people in Scotland.

The Prime Minister

Deliberately to disobey a law, properly passed through all its stages in Parliament, is thoroughly anti-democratic and contrary to the rule of law, and leads to all the acts of dictatorship against which the House stands firmly. I repeat what I said: it is anti-democratic and against the rule of law. It sets a bad example to children and young people and should never be propounded from the House.

Q5. Mr. Cash

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 15 March.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Cash

Has my right hon. Friend noted that the Labour-controlled country council in Staffordshire, which runs the education of that county, has produced results showing that 11 per cent. of all who leave school do so without educational qualifications? Should not the people [column 664]of Staffordshire closely examine the way that that county council runs its affairs, to ensure that it gets the retribution that it deserves in the forthcoming election?

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend. Whether in central, country council or district council government, we all have a duty to obtain the best value for money, whether it is the community charge or taxpayers' money. High-spending councils often do not get the best value for money in education or other services. Our community charge plans will enable people to scrutinise their local councils more competently to ensure that their money is well spent and to take action if it is not, and if the community charge is too high. Our education reforms will give parents more say in the education of their children and enable them to see how well they are doing. That is thoroughly to be recommended.

Q6. Mr. Cohen

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 15 March.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Cohen

Last week the Prime Minister told me that home repossessions were one third of 1 per cent. Has not the Council of Mortgage Lenders said that the number of people who are six to 12 months in arrears has risen by 29 per cent., and that 500,000 families are now two to six months in arrears? Are not the Government's high interest rate policies to blame, and will they do anything about it in next week's Budget? Should not new home buyers have been warned that they are home owners only on borrowed time?

The Prime Minister

As I told the hon. Gentleman last week, 99.2 per cent. of people are able to pay their mortgages in the normal way. Of course, some are in difficulty. If they are in difficulty with building societies, in most cases the building societies will extend the mortgage or make other arrangements to enable them to pay. That is frequently done. Frequently the value of the asset for which they are receiving the mortgage has increased considerably since they first took out the mortgage.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Is my right hon. Friend aware that industry in the north-west has undergone a resurgency since she took office? Unemployment has fallen substantially, not least in my constituency of Lancaster, where it fell by 0.4 per cent. in the past month alone.

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend. Industry is far stronger now. Restrictive practices have gone, the rate of investment in industry is higher and exports are increasing. Today's news from the unemployment front is that there are now more jobs than ever before: nearly 27 million. We have one of the lowest unemployment figures were announced, Opposition Members used to be the first to get up to ask about them. But they never ask about them now, because we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe. We have created more jobs than they have, and that tells its own story.

Q7. Mr. Flynn

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday, 15 March.

The Prime Minister

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

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Mr. Flynn

Will the Prime Minister join the Life Assurance and Unit Trust Regulatory Organisation and independent consultants in denouncing the wickedly dishonest advertising and overselling of personal pensions? Already, over 1 million people are likely to be worse off because they have been misled, taken the Government bribe and left SERPS. Will the Prime Minister guarantee that when the time is right for those cheated 1 million to return to SERPS, there will be a full-blooded Government advertising campaign to inform them of the truth?

The Prime Minister

I totally reject the hon. Gentleman's premise and the language in which he expressed it. People are perfectly free to take out personal pensions. They take a burden off SERPS, which is why they receive a certain amount from it when setting up pensions. Many people have exercised their choice. I recognise that choice is anathema to Socialism, which is why Socialism will be rejected in this part of Europe as it has been in eastern Europe.

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Q10. Mrs. Mahon

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 15 March.

The Prime Minister

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

Mrs. Mahon

Is the Prime Minister aware that the privatised British Telecom is charging people £80 in certain areas before it will install a telephone? Does she think that that is a good advertisement for the privatised system, remembering that people do not get the £80 back until they have paid four consecutive bills? That is a disgrace. Does she agree that things were better when BT was public?

The Prime Minister

If the hon. Lady looks at the record of British Telecom since it has been privatised she will find that it is giving a much better service. Because of the regulatory regime, it has not been able to increase its prices by anything like the rate of inflation, so in real terms prices have gone down since privatisation. That is good news for all telephone users.