Engagements
Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister

Photo of Mr Robert Adley

Mr Robert Adley (Christchurch)

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 5 May.

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Mrs Margaret Thatcher (Finchley)

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.

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Mr Robert Adley (Christchurch)

While the Opposition have a vested interest in generating misery, is my right hon. Friend aware that in the real world — certainly in my constituency — investment decisions are now being held up pending the outcome of the general election? Is this not the clearest possible evidence that those who are responsible in our country for creating new jobs and generating prosperity want a continuity of the present Government's economic policies and not a return either to the failed policies of the past or, even worse, new policies to fritter away the gains that have so dearly been won in the last few years?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher

Mrs Margaret Thatcher (Finchley)

Yes, I believe that overseas investors prefer a Government who believe in free enterprise and sound finance, and who practise both.

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Mr Neil Kinnock (Islwyn)

Does the right hon. Lady realise that she will have difficulty explaining why manufacturing investment in this country is 20 per cent. lower than it was in 1979 if all she has to say is that it is being held up pending the general election? In their time in office the Government have increased the tax burden on the nation by 17 per cent. and on the average family by 10 per cent. How could the Prime Minister claim last week that hers is the party that reduces taxation? Is it not obvious from that tax-raising record that she cuts truth, not taxes?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher

Mrs Margaret Thatcher (Finchley)

Since 1979 the family man on average earnings has had his income tax reduced by £10 per week compared with the tax regime that Labour left. In addition, this Government have got rid of four taxes that were imposed by Labour, and done many other things to reduce taxation.

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Mr Neil Kinnock (Islwyn)

The Prime Minister promised that taxes must and would be cut when she was first elected. The Prime Minister has presided over an 87 per cent. increase in VAT, a 50 per cent. increase in national insurance contributions, and higher rates and charges, which together mean that that average man with that average family is meeting a tax burden that is 10 per cent. Higher under her Government than under any previous peacetime Government. Does she not realise that it is the total tax that is important to the average family, not merely income tax—or does she not know anything about the average family?

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Mr Neil Kinnock (Islwyn)

The Prime Minister knows very well that there were choices. With the £3 billion from the 2p tax change the best that could be expected was an extra 80,000 jobs. With that £3 billion targeted on manufacturing, construction and vital services, 300,000 jobs could have been created in Britain. Does the Prime Minister not think that that would have been better value for money, better value for people and better value for Britain?

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Mrs Margaret Thatcher (Finchley)

The right hon. Gentleman never says how many jobs would be lost by taking away the money from the people who would have invested it. He wants to talk about losing jobs. Look at his programme on defence, look at his programme on nuclear energy, and look at his programme for minimum wages.

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Mr Bernard Weatherill (Croydon North East)

Order. I have not called the right hon. Gentleman before on Prime Minister's questions.

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Mr Norman St John-Stevas (Chelmsford)

With regard to certain speculation that has appeared in the press about the date of the general election, will my right hon. Friend assure the House that in exercising her constitutional duty of tendering advice she will be guided not by the ephemera of the opinion polls but by the best interests of the country?

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Mr David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale)

During the past fortnight the Government have abandoned the search for sites for nuclear waste on land, announced 82 major road works programmes, given nurses their full pay award and now announced the saving of rural schools. In view of all these deathbed conversions, may we have a general election every year?

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Mrs Margaret Thatcher (Finchley)

I seem to remember the right hon. Gentleman holding things up by virtue of the Lib-Lab pact.

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Mr Fred Silvester (Manchester, Withington)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a movement has erupted in Manchester composed of all parties—Labour, Conservative and alliance—against a 20 per cent. increase in the rates and the mortgaging of their future, and that this petition is a cry for help from the people of Manchester to the people outside it? Will she find time today to give it her support?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher

Mrs Margaret Thatcher (Finchley)

I hope, with my hon. Friend, that people will remember when they vote on Thursday that Labour authorities mean high rates, which mean fewer jobs and a great penalty on domestic rates.

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Mr Roger Stott (Wigan)

Can the Prime Minister explain why a nurse sharing a room in Westminster will have to pay the same amount of poll tax as a millionaire living in Park Lane, and why my constituents will have to find an additional £60 a year in Wigan while she will save £37 per week when she retires to Dulwich?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher

Mrs Margaret Thatcher (Finchley)

I think that what the hon. Gentleman is saying is that one will pay a good deal less poll tax if one lives in a good Tory authority area than if one lives in a Labour authority area. [Interruption.]

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Mr Michael Lord (Suffolk Central)

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 5 May.

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Mr Michael Lord (Suffolk Central)

Will the Prime Minister acknowledge the invaluable role played by village schools in rural communities such as central Suffolk, and will she confirm—[Interruption.]

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Mr Michael Lord (Suffolk Central)

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that no strict criteria are laid down—financial or otherwise—for the closure of such schools and that the decision to close schools will be determined entirely on the ground of whether they are educationally satisfactory?

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Mrs Margaret Thatcher (Finchley)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science recognises the wide support for village schools in the rural community. I understand that an answer will be given later this afternoon.

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Mr Michael Foot (Blaenau Gwent)

Will the Prime Minister undertake to circulate copies of the parable of the unjust steward to any Cabinet member who has not yet acted upon it?

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Mr John Farr (Harborough)

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 5 May.

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Mr John Farr (Harborough)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that next week, for the first time, no fewer than 200 licensed conveyancers will take up their jobs? Is that not first-class news for home buyers and all those on the domestic front? Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Government are to be congratulated on giving this opportunity to buyers in what was formerly a very restricted market?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher

Mrs Margaret Thatcher (Finchley)

Yes. The powers in the Administration of Justice Act 1985 on licensed conveyancers come into effect on 11 May. Those powers will be generally welcomed by all house buyers and by both sides of the House. They will introduce more competition into conveyancing and that competition is already helping to reduce costs and secure better value for money.

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Mr Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North)

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 5 May.

Photo of Mr Jeremy Corbyn

Mr Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North)

Will the Prime Minister take the opportunity today to tell the House whether the statement made by General Rogers to a Congressional Committee that a decision was taken to deploy nuclear weapons before the last general election is true, or a lie?

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Mrs Margaret Thatcher (Finchley)

I am not responsible for the comments made by General Rogers. I know of no such allegations.

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Mr Robert Jones (Hertfordshire West)

Will my right hon. Friend have time today to fit in a message of congratulations for the six newly elected Conservative councillors returned on Thursday with an increased share of the poll, and in particular for the victor in Devon, who succeeded with a 22 per cent. swing from the alliance to the Conservatives?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher

Mrs Margaret Thatcher (Finchley)

Yes, I gladly congratulate those councillors. I hope that the result augurs well for later in the week.

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Mr John McWilliam (Blaydon)

Will the Prime Minister comment on the assertion in Sunday's Observer that she was the ultimate beneficiary of treachery and subversion?

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Mr Richard Hickmet (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 5 May.

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Mr Richard Hickmet (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that most parents are appalled by the promotion of gay rights or lesbian rights, so-called peace studies in our schools and some of the more dangerous loony Left policies in places such as Brent? Is not the Government's suggestion that schools should be given more independence the only way to keep people such as Mr. Lawrence Norcross of Highbury Grove in place and in good heart? Should not those rights be given sooner rather than later?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher

Mrs Margaret Thatcher (Finchley)

Mr. Norcross was a highly respected and regarded head teacher who gave the children in his care an excellent education. The fact of, and the reasons for, his retirement will cause concern in the minds of many parents and underline the wisdom of Conservative policy to give more powers to head teachers and parents over the future of their schools.

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Mr Clement Freud (North East Cambridgeshire)

asked the Prime Minister of she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 5 May.

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Mr Clement Freud (North East Cambridgeshire)

Does the Prime Minister accept that over the years artists have done significantly more for the well-being of nations than have politicians? Will she try to be a little more understanding about the problems of the arts, and especially those of Kent Opera?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher

Mrs Margaret Thatcher (Finchley)

This Government have increased, in real terms, the budget given to the arts, because we have great respect for the services that they provide and for the way in which they enrich the life of the nation. However, I do not entirely accept the hon. Gentleman's initial premise.