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.
She has dissuaded her parents from raising funds for a private operation because that would he unfair to the 100 other children who are currently awaiting operations at the Birmingham children's hospital. Will the Prime Minister contrast that with her own approach—"I spend my money to go on the day I choose, at the time I choose and to the doctor I choose."? Which of those two approaches does she think is more inspired by St. Francis, who willingly embraced poverty for himself but was always mindful of the rights of others?
I wonder which the right hon. and learned Gentleman thinks is better—to help to create more wealth so that there is more to spend on those in need and far more heart operations than there used to be? He knows as well as I do that when an operation is an emergency case, that operation will take priority. I understand that this was not an emergency case. I very recently visited Papworth hospital, which is absolutely superb in the heart operations that it does and is a great credit to the Health Service, as is this Government's record.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the people of Wales are keenly looking forward to her visit tomorrow? She will find them in cheerful and buoyant mood following the package of measures announced by our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales for the regeneration of the Welsh valleys.
I thank my hon. Friend very much. I thought that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales' statement was a n excellent one. It was very welcome to Wales and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer's handling of the economy has done excellent things for Wales, which has a very good standard of living.
Will the Prime Minister tell the House whether her espousal of Victorian and, more lately, aldermanic, morality extends. to the issuing of threats to Opposition parties who do not kow-tow to the Government line, to the effect that they may lose their money for research purposes to combat the politicisation of the Civil Service? Does her assertion of moral leadership over the West adapt President Kennedy's 1961 slogan to "Ich bin ein blackmailer"?
I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's allegations. With regard to what is called the Short money, the arrangements were announced to the House on 24 May 1988 and the Government will honour their commitments. With regard to President Kennedy, that is not a matter for which I am responsible in any way.
Since the majority of active IRA terrorists are known to the authorities and since, given the special nature of terrorism, the courts find it difficult to deliver them to justice, is it not time that we considered taking the players, as they are macabrely known, temporarily out of circulation? Deprivation of the liberty of the unconvicted is regrettable, but is it not a lesser evil than the slaughter of the innocents and the mourning, grief and bereavement that come after it?
I understand that my hon. Friend feels very strongly, as do all Members of the House, about the terrible atrocity in Lisburn, in Northern Ireland, yesterday, all the more since it was a charitable occasion in which families were taking part. It could have been even worse than it was. We would like to express sympathy, particularly with the bereaved families, and admiration for the armed services for the marvellous work they do, and also for the fact that they do go and help in these events in the community. My hon. Friend is asking really whether we would consider internment once again. This matter is kept under review, but I would be very, very reluctant to do so. It would be a very serious step to take. As he knows, we are constantly trying to improve all our defences against terrorism by trying to secure better co-operation from south of the border.
May I first agree with every single word that the Prime Minister used in that last reply?
Does the Prime Minister agree with the view of the Secretary of State for the Environment that people who believe that they should stop all development in their own areas are selfish? If she does take that view, what does she recommend as the cure for the "not in my back yard" attitude—the NIMBY syndrome—to which that same Secretary of State for the Environment now appears to have fallen victim? Does she think that the treatment should include putting him out to grass permanently?
With all the great issues in the world, the right hon. Gentleman never fails to surprise me with the smallness of some of his questions. [Interruption.] Of course one cannot stop development. The right hon. Gentleman is well aware of that. Development has continued and will continue. There are 1·5 million more dwelling houses now than there used to he. Yes, we do try to protect the green belt. Yes, we do try to protect some of the land in the countryside. But development, in both town and country, there has to be, for the future of this country, and the thing is to see that it is the right development and, where it is in difficult areas, that it is in keeping with the development and the architecture of the area.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment does his work excellently and in a very distinguished way. Neither in intellect nor in performance can the right hon. Gentleman hold a candle to him.
I hear what the Prime Minister says. Does she not think that, as a general matter of conduct, people in glass houses should not throw stones and that Ministers in Gloucestershire rectories should practise what they preach, or stop preaching, or stop practising?
Yes, I do believe that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman takes his own advice.
Does my right hon. Friend agree with me and with the citizens of Belfast, to whom I paid a visit at the weekend, that the IRA draws comfort and encouragement for its dastardly acts, such as that perpetrated yesterday, from the fact that the citizens of Ulster may not vote red or blue but only green or orange, and that by fielding candidates from the main political parties we would signal to the IRA that that part of the United Kingdom is not up for grabs?
When will the right hon. Lady address her moral crusade to the pornographic telephone services? Is she aware that I have given evidence only this week to her right hon. Friend the Home Secretary of a young girl working for one of the private telephone companies having to listen to a pervert masturbating on the telephone? Is this the sort of thing that the Prime Minister wants to ignore in the telephone service, or is the problem that it is too near to the flagship of a previous Parliament?
Of course not. There are already laws which are designed to stop that very thing. As a number of hon. Members said immediately, why not put the telephone down very quickly?
My right hon. Friend will know that today's unemployment figures show a dramatic drop once again, with the west midlands economy top of the league in creating new jobs. is this not further evidence that her economic policies are creating wealth, prosperity and a caring community, with over £9 billion a year raised by people for charitable works?
Yes. The unemployment figures today show another large, welcome drop, with the fall in unemployment in the north, the north-west and the west midlands being the greatest. They also give the welcome news that the increase in jobs in the calendar year 1987 was the greatest for a generation. We have a substantial increase in jobs, falling unemployment, a very good training scheme and an excellent economy.
Is the Prime Minister aware of the findings of last week's Glasgow Herald opinion poll, which showed that the political effect in Scotland of her visit to the Scottish cup final and her epistle to the Caledonians was to increase Scottish National party support to its highest level for 10 years? Will the Prime Minister demonstrate her extensive knowledge of Scottish affairs by reminding the House of the names of the Moderator of the General Assembly, which she addressed, and the captain of Celtic, to whom she presented the cup?
I had a very good day in Scotland. Whatever the hon. Gentleman tries to say, Scotland's economy and people are benefiting enormously from the way in which the Government are handling them.
In a week when the Budget tax cuts will first be seen in pay packets throughout the nation, will my right hon. Friend reaffirm the Government's commitment to cut taxation still further? Will she contrast that with the Opposition's action in voting against the tax cuts recently, and their determination to reverse them?
It was an excellent Budget, the results of which will be felt in pay packets at the end of this week and this month. As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor said at the time, he has set a new target of a basic rate of 20p in the pound, when it is prudent to do that. It might be both prudent and wise to remind hon. Members that the Opposition voted against the cut in the basic rate from 27p to 25p and to remind people that, had the Labour regime's 33p in the pound basic rate still been in force, a man on average earnings would now be paying an extra £13 in tax every week. That is what Labour would have done—taken more out of the pockets of working people.