Engagements

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th June 1986.

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Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest 12:00 am, 5th June 1986

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 5 June.

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 this House I shall be having further meetings later today, including one with the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest

I applaud the Prime Minister's championship of family life, to which Labour party elements in London show such hostility, but will she turn her attention urgently to another aspect of the Judeo-Christian ethic, and follow her support of the Unborn Children (Protection) Bill, introduced by the right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell), by ensuring that there is legislation to outlaw experiments on embryonic human beings?

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

My hon. Friend is correct to say that that Bill is a matter of great public interest and that it found much support on both sides of the House, but, as he will know, many different views have been expressed, and before the Government could introduce any legislation they would have to take into account the many differing views.

Photo of Mr David Steel Mr David Steel Leader of the Liberal Party

With reference to the Prime Minister's speech yesterday to the Conservative women's conference, is she aware that the theories that she expounded then on how to reduce unemployment have been implemented by her for the past seven years? What makes the right hon. Lady think that they will be any more successful in future than they have been so far?

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

As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, in the past three years almost 1 million new jobs have been created—(Interruption.] That would seem to mean that we are going in the right direction.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 5 June.

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 Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the 1971 and 1981 immigration Acts are not racially discriminatory, that the Government have no plans to repeal them, and that to do so would increase unemployment and lead to difficulties that do not now exist between different groups in this country? Does my right hon. Friend agree that the plans of the Leader of the Opposition would achieve just that?

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

I confirm that it is our intention to maintain both the Immigration Act 1971, with its immigration controls, and the British Nationality Act 1981. Any reduction of the controls on immigration into this country would be highly damaging to good race relations.

Photo of Mr Alf Morris Mr Alf Morris , Manchester Wythenshawe

Is the Prime Minister prepared to say how much the Government expect to raise in value added tax from the widely acclaimed activities of Sport Aid? Is she aware that every penny of the money raised is intended for Africa's poor, not for the Treasury? Why can she not make a matching payment to compensate the charity for the amount that it will have to pay in VAT?

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

As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, this matter comes up from time to time and came up under previous Governments. No Government have been able to exempt all charities from VAT. By way of tax relief, this Government have done more than any other to help the funds of charities.

Photo of David Heathcoat-Amory David Heathcoat-Amory , Wells

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the strength of feeling that exists in my constituency and in that of my hon. Friend the Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Boscawen) about the activities of so-called hippies who show contempt for every aspect of organised society, except the social security office? Does she agree that the present law is inadequate to cope with this threat, and will she undertake to draft legislation to make it possible for people to clear land that is being occupied by these travelling gangs?

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

As I and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary have said, if the present law is inadeqate, we will have to introduce fresh law. In many cases, the present law is adequate. The problem is how to deal with people who accept all the advantages and benefits of a free society but refuse to rise to their responsibilities. We shall have to look afresh at this whole question.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Falkirk West

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 5 June.

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 Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Falkirk West

When the Prime Minister got carried away yesterday with her own empty rhetoric about her vision of a little bit of heaven on earth for everybody, did she forget that we have over 4 million people unemployed, that over 7 million people are living at the official poverty level, that over 1·5 million people are waiting for houses, and that over 750,000 people are waiting to go into hospital? Will the Prime Minister return to the real world and realise that instead of a heaven on earth in Britain today, the reality of Thatcherism is a living hell?

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

The phrase "heaven on earth" came from Mrs. Eleanor Bonner when she was contrasting life in a free society, which is heaven on earth, with life in the Socialist society of Soviet Russia, from which she came. She found that heaven on earth was being able to own one's own home and get operations in the West which she could not get in the Soviet Union.

Photo of Mr Ralph Howell Mr Ralph Howell , North Norfolk

Bearing in mind the widespread reports that my right hon. Friend was highly impressed by the recent "Panorama" programme about workfare schemes in the United States, will she now set up a pilot workfare scheme with a view to a nation-wide workfare scheme for all able-bodied and long-term unemployed? Does she realise that such a scheme would make life difficult for hippy convoys, would make it difficult for those foreign visitors who can claim £78 a week as soon as they report into a hotel in Britain, and would generally stop abuse of the welfare system?

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

I know how keen my hon. Friend is on that. We are looking into the way in which workfare operates in the United States. We are finding that some of the things that we have, such as the community programme and jobstart, would rank as workfare schemes in the United States. As my hon. Friend knows, some of those schemes are being extended. I am only too delighted to do anything I can to make life difficult for such things as hippy convoys.

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

On reflection, does the Prime Minister not think that she was wrong to use the words of a very courageous woman, Mrs. Bonner, for the partisan purposes for which she sought to use them yesterday? Does she recall saying that her policy starts with the family, its freedom and well-being? Is there not a huge inconsistency between those words and her deeds over seven years of government, which have inflicted unemployment on an extra 2 million people, poverty on an extra 4 million people and bad housing and inadequate education on millions more? What about their freedom and their well-being, or does she not think that they belong to families?

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

Mrs. Bonner used those words in contrasting the benefits of a free society with the benefits of a Socialist society of the kind in which Mrs. Bonner lives. Housing is much better under this Government than it was under Labour; so are the health services; so is the standard of living. That is the right hon. Gentleman's problem. We are doing far better than his Government did.

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

Order. Will the right hon. Gentleman please rephrase that question?

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

The right hon. Lady compounds the distorted use of words when she gives the impression that there are only two alternatives in this world—the Soviet society and her society—although she knows perfectly well that there are decent democratic alternatives to both kinds of society. If the Prime Minister really believes that housing is better under the Conservatives, how does she explain the worst record for housing starts in this country at any time since before the second world war?

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

On housing, 1·3 million new homes have been built in Great Britain since 1979; 900,000 public sector council houses and flats have been sold to their tenants; home ownership is up to 62 per cent.; and 55 per cent. of blue collar workers own their homes, compared with 40 per cent. in 1979 under the Labour Government.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

Does my right hon. Friend realise that the answer that she gave earlier to my hon. Friend the Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory) is not as satisfactory as some of us would like? Will she give a positive assurance to the farming community that the Government will ensure that by this time next year there is legislation to make certain that innocent people cannot have their lives ruined, that the farming community cannot lose out, and that in fact positive steps will be taken to ensure that vagrant hippies cannot invade in the way that they have invaded during the past few months?

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

I make it perfectly clear to my hon. Friend the if fresh legislation on criminal trespass is needed to deter hippies, it will be introduced.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 5 June.

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 Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

When the Prime Minister said yesterday that it was no coincidence that the countries with lower taxes produce more jobs and have lower unemployment, was she deluding herself or just the gullible ladies of the Conservative women's conference? Is she not aware that Turkey has the lowest tax take of any OECD country, but unemployment as high as ours, and that of 10 countries with higher tax takes than ours, nine have lower levels of unemployment? Is not the real lesson from these international figures that sensible public spending produces jobs, while her policies destroy jobs?

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

The hon. Gentleman is speaking nonsense. As he knows full well, there are far more jobs and there is far less unemployment in the United States, where personal taxation is a great deal lower and where a Bill that is now before the equivalent of this Chamber in the United States is proposing to make the top tax limit in the United States below the bottom tax limit here. Also, he knows full well that Japan and Switzerland, which have much lower personal taxation than we have here, have far more jobs and far less unemployment. The fact is that the Labour party likes high taxation. The right hon. Gentleman likes to have his hands in the pockets of the people.

Photo of Mr John Townend Mr John Townend , Bridlington

On the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway), does my right hon. Friend agree that if the proposals put forward by the Leader of the Opposition in India to change the immigration laws went through, that would increase immigration from the Indian subcontinent and be against the wishes of the vast majority in this country?

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

Yes. I believe that to say anything that would effect a reduction in immigration controls would have a very bad effect on race relations in this country. I believe that to say that certain Acts would be repealed without saying what would be put in their place is thoroughly irresponsible.

Photo of Mr Martin Redmond Mr Martin Redmond , Don Valley

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 5 June.

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 Mr Martin Redmond Mr Martin Redmond , Don Valley

Who from America advised the Prime Minister that the F111s were more accurate than the carrier-based aircraft?

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

As I said the last time I answered questions, we received advice from the United States and from this country to that effect. — [HON. MEMBERS: "Who?"] That is not for me to reveal.