Trades Union Congress

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th July 1983.

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Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West 12:00 am, 5th July 1983

asked the Prime Minister when she intends next to meet the Trades Union Congress general council.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

If the Prime Minister meets the TUC general council, may I ask her to be aware that there will be considerable concern about the plight of the unemployed? Will she reassure trade unionists and others about the position of a married couple with two children, whose basic unemployment benefit is £41·05, which is a low income, because there is no way in which such families could hear cuts in their benefits this year or next year?

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman can have listened to the reply that I have just given, which is that the unemployment benefit, when the increases announced after the Gracious Speech are in place, will be slightly higher than it was in real terms when we came into office. In so far as that is insufficient, there is, and should be, extra supplementary benefit available. The hon. Gentleman will also be aware that when child benefit is increased in November to the level announced in the last Budget, that also will be at a record level.

Photo of Mr Tony Marlow Mr Tony Marlow , Northampton North

Does my right hon. Friend share the lack of confidence of the leader of the SDP in the SDP, because if that party were to overtake the Labour party in the next four years it would do far better under the existing system than it would under a system of proportional representation?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I must point out to the hon. Gentleman that the question is about the Trades Union Congress general council.

Photo of Mr Dave Nellist Mr Dave Nellist , Coventry South East

Taking the Prime Minister's remarks today, and previously, about unemployment benefit and the amount of food for which that would pay, together with the fact that the Cabinet sat down on 21 June to a meal costing £23·50 per person, could the Prime Minister explain to the House what it feels like to eat a meal that cost 90 per cent. of a single person's dole payment?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. That supplementary question had nothing to do with the question either.