Engagements

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th May 1986.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Freeson Mr Reginald Freeson , Brent East 12:00 am, 8th May 1986

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 8 May.

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

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, including one with the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.

Photo of Mr Reginald Freeson Mr Reginald Freeson , Brent East

Has the Prime Minister seen today's report of the Congressional decision to refuse endorsements of the latest proposals for arms exports to a middle east country? Does she sympathise with that rejection? Will she participate in trying to cut the obscene pouring of billions of pounds' worth of offensive arms equipment into middle east countries, causing political instability and the threat and risk of further wars in that area?

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

As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, that is not a matter for me. He will also be aware of our decision at the Tokyo summit not to export arms to Libya.

Photo of Mr Patrick McNair-Wilson Mr Patrick McNair-Wilson , New Forest

Has my right hon. Friend yet had time to consider the worrying fall in the number of Americans planning to visit the United Kingdom since the Libyan bombing? As that is completely unjustified, is she aware of any plans to invite the United States' First Lady to the royal wedding, since an early invitation followed by an early acceptance may well go some way towards reversing that trend?

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

That is not a matter for me, but I am well aware of the reports of the reduction in the number of tourists from America coming to the United Kingdom, and I have already had something to say about it. They should continue to come. This is a marvellous country to visit, it is extremely safe, and there is a great deal going on that they will wish to see this summer.

Photo of Mr John Cartwright Mr John Cartwright , Woolwich

Has the Prime Minister yet had time to consider the Privileges Committee recommendation that Mr. Richard Evans of The Times be suspended from the Lobby for six months for publishing a leaked report from the Environment Select Committee? Does she not think it ironic that Select Committees, set up to throw light on the workings of Government Departments, should be in danger of establishing rules of secrecy around their affairs which they would condemn if it occurred in Whitehall? If the House were to punish a journalist while letting the source of the leak go scot free, would it not appear to many outside as both pompous and extremely unfair?

Photo of Mr Michael Shersby Mr Michael Shersby , Uxbridge

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 8 May.

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

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

Photo of Mr Michael Shersby Mr Michael Shersby , Uxbridge

Is my right hon. Friend aware that she has the widespread support of the British people for the initiative she has taken to prevent terrorism? Will she take time today to consider the terrorism of British scientists by the Animal Liberation Front, which has caused millions of pounds' worth of damage during the past year and which is now resorting to the use of bombs and other forms of violence?

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

I agree with my hon. Friend. One can only utterly condemn the activities of the animal liberation movement, which deliberately poisons and contaminates food to cause great harm to human beings, and deliberately lets out animals, which causes harm to other animals. We support the police in their activities to deal with it. If further legislation were needed, we should not hesitate to introduce it.

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

First, I endorse every word of the Prime Minister's last answer.

In the wake of the Chernobyl disaster, is the right hon. Lady aware of the widespread feeling that the coordination of information between her relevant Ministers has been inadequate? Does she accept that the best assurance against unjustified alarm is candid information and coherent organisation by the Government? Will she ensure that clear and explicit information is provided to the general public about the form, incidence and implications of radioactive contamination in Britain?

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

I read what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment said on Tuesday. I thought that it was an excellent statement. It was very well received. The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that, after the arrival of the radioactive cloud over the United Kingdom last Friday, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food set up an incident room to provide expert advice on foodstuffs, and the Department of the Environment is acting as the overall lead Department, with responsibility for co-ordinating, monitoring and disseminating relevant information and acting as a focal point for inquiries.

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

When the right hon. Lady has time, will she ensure that action is taken to remove the inconsistencies that have been apparent in the information, and that the information is put in a form which the general public can clearly comprehend?

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

That is one reason for the Department of the Environment information room—it acts a clearing-house for information. I sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman's request to try to put the information in a form that ordinary people can understand.

Photo of Mr Ian Lloyd Mr Ian Lloyd , Havant

May I first congratulate the Prime Minister on her safe return from an outstandingly successful conference. May I, in the context of the Chernobyl disaster, refer her to the tendentious, inaccurate and damaging advertisement published by Friends of the Earth in The Times today. Does she agree that the damage done to Western economies by OPEC in the last decade would pale into total insignificance if Western Governments were to be panicked by public reaction into closing down the nuclear industry?

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

I agree with my hon. Friend. He is the first to know and to say that the record of the nuclear industry in this country has been excellent. As far as civil installations are concerned, there has been no fatality in this country. Provided we go on, as we shall, in safety in design, safety in manufacturing, safety in the mode of operation and safety in maintenance, I believe that that record will continue and will gain public confidence once again.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 8 May.

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

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

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

On reflection, does the Prime Minister not agree that she was rather unfair and hasty in dismissing the present Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food from his position as chairman of the Conservative party? Is she aware that it is an open secret here that, even among his Cabinet colleagues, there is a good deal of dissatisfaction at the way in which the present chairman of the Tory party is carrying on, and no doubt by tomorrow morning there will be even more dissatisfaction? Being no doubt, in some respects at least, a fair-minded person, why does the Prime Minister not bring back the little fellow and give him another chance?

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

Both of them do extremely well wherever they serve, and that is what the hon. Gentleman does not like.

Photo of Mr Ralph Howell Mr Ralph Howell , North Norfolk

May I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the outstanding part that she played in the success of the Tokyo summit and say how pleased I am that far greater prominence was given to the problems of agriculture than at any previous summit. May I tell my right hon. Friend that the present policy of cutting agricultural prices will fail, and urge her urgently to call a conference of all nations which have agricultural exports to form a concerted policy in order to avoid a trade war across the Atlantic?

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

As I think my hon. Friend knows, for the first time we had quite a considerable discussion on agriculture and on the tendency to protect and subsidise it so that we have enormous surpluses. He is the first to know that we have to find a way of getting down those surpluses. I am well aware of his personal opinion that price reductions may not be the only way, but I think he will agree, from the communiqué at the Tokyo summit, that for the first time all nations are looking at it together as a common problem instead of looking at it as a matter of competitive subsidies and competitive protection. I think that to look at it together and to cooperate in finding a solution—and through OECD—is the best way to go about it.