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Engagements

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd February 1988.

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Photo of Chris Mullin Chris Mullin , Sunderland South 12:00 am, 23rd February 1988

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 23 February.

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 Chris Mullin Chris Mullin , Sunderland South

Does the Prime Minister agree with Lord Denning that it is better to have one or two innocent people remain in gaol than to risk undermining the credibility of the legal system by having to own up to a mistake? [Interruption.] Does she further agree that nothing discredits our system of justice so much as the widespread notion that some mistakes are too big to own up to?

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

The hon. Gentleman asked me to agree with a proposition by Lord Denning. I would prefer to see the proposition in context. I understand that the hon. Member may be referring once again to the recent hearing by the Court of Appeal of the case of the Birmingham pub bombings. The Court of Appeal hearing fully examined the defence case and decided that the convictions were sound. The Court of Appeal has certified that there is a point of public importance. I understand that the appellants intend to apply to the House of Lords to pursue the matter. The judgment, of course, is fully available to those who wish to read it in detail.

Photo of Mr Anthony Favell Mr Anthony Favell , Stockport

Has my right hon. Friend had time today to consider the Japanese ambassador's comment that if there were a business Olympics we would win gold medals? What kind of medals would we win if the Opposition were in charge?

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

I saw the most excellent comment by the Japanese ambassador. I think that he and Japan are very pleased with the inward investment that they have had into this country. They have insisted on one union only with which to negotiate. The companies have done well and the work force has done well. They have done well for Britain and we are very pleased with the compliments of the Japanese ambassador on our excellent, enterprising industry.

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 23 February.

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 Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

Will the Prime Minister acknowledge the fundamental importance to the Scottish economy of the coal and steel industries? Is she aware of the widespread concern that thousands of jobs which depend upon these industries are threatened by privatisation? Will she take steps to direct British Steel to invest in new facilities in Scotland? Will she put an end to the suggested economic lunacy of a privatised South of Scotland Electricity Board being allowed to close pits by importing foreign coal?

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

The hon. Gentleman has, not unexpectedly, asked two questions, one about steel and one about coal. As to steel, it is the subject of a debate later. The hon. Gentleman is aware that undertakings, subject to commercial considerations, were given to Ravenscraig with respect to steelmaking for the next seven years and to the Associated Dalzell plant for plate-rolling. It was, I think, an undertaking for the longest production of almost any steel plant in Europe. I thought that that went down extremely well in Scotland. We hope to undertake the privatisation of electricity, including Scottish electricity, during the lifetime of this Parliament. There will, I hope, be a White Paper out soon about our proposal.

I understand that the hon. Gentleman was asking a third question about coal, in connection with the ending of the coal contract, which I believe is due to terminate at the end of March—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is aware that the existing arrangements between the South of Scotland Electricity Board and British Coal are due to terminate at the end of March. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If they are not, there is no problem.

Photo of Mr Ivor Stanbrook Mr Ivor Stanbrook , Orpington

When my right hon. Friend signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement, did she expect that the Irish Government would use it to justify a unilateral inquiry into an incident that occurred within the United Kingdom, to restrict the extradition of alleged terrorists from Ireland, to set aside a decision of the Attorney-General and to attempt to reverse the verdict of the British Court of Appeal?

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

I do not think that it is right or possible to use the Anglo-Irish Agreement for that purpose, if one looks at the terms of the agreement. With regard to the inquiry which the Republic of Ireland has recently indicated that it has set up, of course, in their own country the Irish Government can inquire into anything they wish, but not in matters north of the border. I have taken note of what my Friend has said about the extradition arrangements which we had with them and which were changed unilaterally. I have nothing to add to the excellent statement which my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General made in the House on other matters.

Mr. Smith:

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 23 February.

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.

Mr. Smith:

Further to the question that was asked earlier by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, was the Prime Minister denying the report that appeared in today's Daily Telegraph that Ministers have already decided not fully to fund the nurses' pay review, but instead to seek further efficiency savings? If she is not denying those reports, when will she realise that for her to suggest that nurses' pay should be funded only at the expense of patient care would be beyond contempt and rejected decisively by this House, as it has been by the Select Committee on Social Services, and as it will be by the people of this country?

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

I have not read any newspapers today. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I have been far too busy. What appears in those newspapers is not my responsibility. We shall deal with the report of the review bodies in precisely the same way and with precisely the same expedition as we dealt with them in previous years, and in particular last year. The hon. Gentleman will not have long to wait.

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

Order. I shall take points of order after the statement.

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

I have a point of order arising out of Prime Minister's questions, Mr. Speaker.

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

Order. I know that the hon. Gentleman wishes to raise a matter, but I shall still take points of order after the statement.