Engagements

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th January 1988.

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Photo of Mr Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Paisley South 12:00 am, 28th January 1988

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 28 January.

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 Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Paisley South

I have been listening with growing astonishment to the right hon. Lady's claims about decentralisation, since only yesterday she intervened to take direct control over education in Paisley. Are not the regulations she announced yesterday monstrous, arbitrary and possibly illegal? Does she realise that her intervention in favour of one school out of six is an attempt to condemn the other five good schools to closure? Will she not follow the advice given by every commentator and every newspaper in Scotland, led by the Glasgow Herald, which used the headline: Government sledgehammer"? That is the right hon. Lady; it is a good phrase. The Herald said: Yesterday was a dismal day for what still remains of local democracy. Will the right hon. Lady now recognise the evil and stupidity of her action and withdraw it?

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

Extensive representations were made to keep in existence a very good school, very popular with parents. What the hon. Gentleman cannot stand is that that school gives great opportunity. Parents wanted it to be kept in existence. It is a very popular decision, which will bring opportunity to many pupils. The hon. Gentleman speaks about legislation. One can lay down regulations only under existing legislation.

Photo of Mr Tim Smith Mr Tim Smith , Beaconsfield

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 28 January.

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 Tim Smith Mr Tim Smith , Beaconsfield

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the strike proposed for next week by certain nursing unions can only hurt patients? Will she therefore condemn the action and invite the Leader of the Opposition to do the same?

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

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I agree with my hon. Friend. Strike action in the Health Service harms the patient and puts heavier burdens on those with higher professional standards who refuse to strike. I condemn such action. I had hoped that it might be condemned by all parts of the House. At any rate, it is condemned by those who care about the Health Service.

Photo of Mrs Alice Mahon Mrs Alice Mahon , Halifax

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 28 January.

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

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

Photo of Mrs Alice Mahon Mrs Alice Mahon , Halifax

How does the Prime Minister justify her previous remarks? Why cannot she defend the nurses who are taking action in defence of the National Health Service as vigorously as she defended the workers in Solidarity against the dictatorial rule of General Jaruzelski?

Photo of Dr Charles Goodson-Wickes Dr Charles Goodson-Wickes , Wimbledon

Does my right hon. Friend share my deep disquiet at the disclosure in the House of individual medical histories? Does the unethical practice adopted by right hon. and hon. Opposition Members achieve anything, save adding to the distress of the parents concerned?

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

I am not aware of a particular case. I would have thought that the general proposition put by my hon. Friend is correct.

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

Will the Prime Minister recognise that, following—

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

Hon. Members must not interrupt in that way.

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

Following her unsuccessful attempt to divide the nurses' unions, will the Prime Minister recognise that the one thing that she could do to restore morale in the National Health Service would be to state unequivocally that the nurses' pay award will be funded in full, without cuts in the budgets of health authorities?

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

We had that identical question either last Question Time or the time before. Identical questions get identical answers. As Government we shall deal with the proposals from the review body in the way in which we have dealt with them before. When we know what the proposals are we shall decide precisely how they are to be funded.

Photo of Mr John Browne Mr John Browne , Winchester

Does my right hon. Friend accept that our nation led the world in the exploration of land, sea and air, bringing great commercial, political and cultural advantage to our country? Does she believe that our national interest is greatly served by leading in the exploration of the new domain of space? If so, will she please give due weight to Lord Shackleton's report and give a clear indication to the House of precisely what is our national space strategy?

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

Money spent on research in space has be weighed against the other competing demands for research money. That is what we are doing. We are keeping, of course, the full subscription to the mandatory programme of the European Space Agency. Some of the other programmes are optional. I understand that ESA itself is reviewing some of its programmes.

Photo of Mr Peter Pike Mr Peter Pike , Burnley

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 28 January.

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 Peter Pike Mr Peter Pike , Burnley

Will the Prime Minister try to find time today to discuss with the Government Chief Whip arid her ministerial colleagues, the hon. Members for Pendle (Mr. Lee) and for Rossendale and Darwen (Mr. Trippier) the outcome of a meeting that they attended with me earlier this month with Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale district health authority, when that authority listed a contingency plan for cuts within the Health Service which it said would affect patient care and levels of service within the area if nurses' pay is underfunded next year? Does she recognise that Sir John Page, of the regional health authority, said this week that the health authority, which has now withdrawn that ploy, must submit another? Does she accept that the cuts are already at an unacceptable level? Will she make additional funds available now?

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

I took the precaution of inquiring about the position of Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale health authority. According to our records, the number of in-patients is up by 7·5 per cent.—

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

I am coming on. Day cases have gone up by 80 per cent., capital building completed has cost £6 million — the phase 3 development of Burnley general hospital. A pharmacy is under construction at a cost of £1·9 million. In the pipeline, it is planned to spend £5·9 million on Pendle community hospital. Waiting lists are down by 30 per cent, since 1983. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would like to say thank you.

Photo of Mr Roger King Mr Roger King , Birmingham, Northfield

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 28 January.

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 Roger King Mr Roger King , Birmingham, Northfield

Is my right hon. Friend aware that February's edition of the authorative motoring magazine Car has tested 12 cars on a price-quality audit? No. 10 was a Mercedes-Benz, No. 9 was a Citroen, No. 8 was a Toyota, No. 3 was an Audi, No 2 was a British-built Ford Fiesta, and the Birmingham-built Metro was at the top of the list? Is that not further evidence that the car manufacturers in the midlands have Vorsprung the world?

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

Yes. That points to the success of Birmingham and the west midlands as one of the premier car-producing areas in Europe. I congratulate them and wish them well. The west midlands is doing extremely well and the economic forecast is good.