Engagements

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th March 1989.

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Photo of Mrs Maria Fyfe Mrs Maria Fyfe , Glasgow Maryhill 12:00 am, 14th March 1989

To ask the Prime Minister is she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 14 March 1989.

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

This morning I presided over 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.

Photo of Mrs Maria Fyfe Mrs Maria Fyfe , Glasgow Maryhill

Does the Prime Minister think that people suffering from Alzheimer's disease should have to pay the poll tax?

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

As the hon. Lady is aware, those who fall into the definition of severe mental handicap are exempt. It has not been possible to have a particular definition at the time at which that occurs for Alzheimer's disease to bring everyone automatically into that definition.

Photo of Mr Irvine Patnick Mr Irvine Patnick , Sheffield, Hallam

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 14 March 1989.

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 Irvine Patnick Mr Irvine Patnick , Sheffield, Hallam

My right hon. Friend drew attention during a recent visit to the north-east to the region's confidence. Does she agree that that confidence has shown an upswing in the whole of the area, and does it not demonstrate the hollowness of the so-called north-south divide?

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

I totally agree with my hon. Friend. In a visit to both the north-east and north-west last week one found that business is flourishing, business men are optimistic, unemployment is falling and the amount of reconstruction under the urban development corporation, particularly on the river front, is going excellently. I agree that the north-south divide has gone.

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

Following the comments by the Secretary of State for Health at the weekend, will the Prime Minister now assure the House that when she next needs the services of a doctor she will not follow her usual practice of reaching for her wallet?

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

The right hon. Gentleman is referring to the average receipts for the general practitioner in the Health Service. My right hon. and learned Friend is absolutely correct in giving the figure for the average receipts.

Photo of Mr Gary Waller Mr Gary Waller , Keighley

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 14 March 1989.

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

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

Photo of Mr Gary Waller Mr Gary Waller , Keighley

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the very considerable concern which exists, for instance, in the Yorkshire area about river pollution and about the fact that the water authorities, which are themselves sometimes the guilty parties, have responsibility for the enforcement of pollution control? Does my right hon. Friend agree that, when ecological issues rightly have priority, it is important that we get rid of these anomalies as soon as we can?

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

I agree with my hon. Friend. When water is privatised, the duty of regulation and policing the standards of water and of rivers will come either under the National Rivers Authority or under the Director General of Water Services who will also be able to control the prices. That will be a great advance in addition to the extra efficiency that we will get from privatisation. It will be a good deal for the consumer.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

Following the right hon. Lady's visit to Liverpool last Friday when she attacked the workers at Birds Eye—1,000 of whom have now been put out of work—and the city council which is collaborating with all the interests in the area, will she now apologise to the people of Liverpool and Merseyside and understand that the people in my area put compassion before profit, which is something which the right hon. Lady does not understand?

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

Apparently the hon. Gentleman does not understand that to satisfy the consumer—we are all consumers—companies must stay competitive and efficient. If workers in his area refuse to be competitive, efficient, or to accept high productivity, the investment will go to those many workers who are prepared to be just that.

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

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 14 March.

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

In the short time which remains before my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer unveils his Budget proposals to the House, will my right hon. Friend reflect on the growing strength of the British economy? Will she confirm that in the past two years the growth in jobs has been greater than at any time since the end of the second world war? Does she agree that it is very gratifying to note that, to the end of last September, 60,000 of those jobs were created in manufacturing industry? Is it not, therefore, clear that those are the outward and visible signs of an industry which has now regained its competitiveness and the outlook for the economy is excellent?

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

The standard of living is higher than it has ever been. The number of people in work is higher than ever before and there are 1 million more people in work than in 1979. The number of people at work in manufacturing industry is growing. That is a very good record and the prospects for the future are good.

Photo of Eddie McGrady Eddie McGrady , South Down

Is the Prime Minister aware of the distress, hardship and injustice which is often caused in Northern Ireland when the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland issues an order under section 42 in the national interest whereby companies are deprived of their contracts and employees of their jobs? Does she agree that natural justice demands that the accused know the accusation and have the chance to defend themselves? Will she make arrangements for an appeal procedure to enable those injustices to be eradicated?

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

I shall refer that point to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland who does a superb job in respect of his duties in Northern Ireland, as in all others.

Photo of Mr Tim Rathbone Mr Tim Rathbone , Lewes

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 14 March.

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 Rathbone Mr Tim Rathbone , Lewes

With the Government's commitment to fundamental change in South Africa, will my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister endorse the recommendations of the judicial commission set up by the South African Government for the banning of apartheid, the abolition of all apartheid legislation, the adoption of a Bill of Rights and a national franchise to re-establish human rights in that country?

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

As I understand it, that particular commission—which we would agree with—insisted that apartheid must end by a process of negotiation and we fully support that. Some encouraging changes are taking place, not least with the independence of Namibia which is a great step forward. We are also doing our level best to help the further education of black South Africans and we are now spending some £10 million on assisting them to get a better education. There is a great deal of room for hope for South Africa.

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

Would the Prime Minister, for once, like the unusual opportunity of uniting the House behind her and join me in sending good wishes to the only football team left in Europe, Heart of Midlothian, in the fourth round tie against Bayern Munich this evening?

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

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 14 March.

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

Does my right hon. Friend agree that not only is British business creating more jobs than ever before within the United Kingdom economy but it is investing in and taking over four times as many overseas companies as any other western country? Does she agree with me that this indicates that our economy is very strong indeed?

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

Yes. As far as this country is concerned, business investment as a proportion of GDP is at an all-time high, in addition to which, being a very internationally minded country, we are investing heavily overseas—more than any other European country. We are in the lead by a long way; we are way ahead of the second country, which is France.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

Does the Prime Minister believe that the shameful decision of Judge Pickles to sentence my constituent—[Interruption.]

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

Order. The hon. Member knows that the Prime Minister cannot answer questions such as that.

Photo of Mr David Martin Mr David Martin , Portsmouth South

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 14 March.

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 David Martin Mr David Martin , Portsmouth South

Will my right hon. Friend assure me that the reports that I have seen in the newspapers about delays that may take place in the reform of the legal profession are not right and that we shall get on as soon as possible in the next Session with the excellent reforms proposed by the Lord Chancellor and put them into practice as soon as possible?

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

The measures have been proposed in Green Papers which will be thoroughly debated. Then I hope that we shall be able to bring forward legislation as soon as possible, most likely next year.

Photo of Mr James Lamond Mr James Lamond , Oldham Central and Royton

Is the Prime Minister's interest in human rights deep enough for her to place on the agenda of the conference on human rights in Paris under the Vienna talks the question of the treatment of political prisoners in Turkey, our NATO ally?

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

We have raised the question of human rights in Turkey with Ministers who have come here. They have replied that they are doing everything possible to restore full human rights in Turkey and that the cases which are frequently raised date back some considerable time.

Photo of Mr Spencer Batiste Mr Spencer Batiste , Elmet

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 14 March.

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 Spencer Batiste Mr Spencer Batiste , Elmet

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that where a monopoly does not reflect the realities of the market place it is not only the consumer but the supplier who suffers, because sooner or later the market place will reassert itself and if the supplier has not adjusted his services to meet that it will be unable to adapt? In those circumstances, will she give an assurance to those in the legal profession who seek its urgent reform that she is fully behind them?

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

Most people, I think, who have studied the Green Papers of my right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor about the reform of the legal profession are behind the overwhelming majority of his reforms. There are still some dissentient voices, particularly in the legal profession, but I think that, broadly speaking, what he proposes is right. We shall consider what is said in the debate very carefully and I hope that we shall be in a position to bring forward legislation.

Photo of Mr David Alton Mr David Alton , Liverpool Mossley Hill

Notwithstanding the resilience and sense of optimism which the Prime Minister will have found during her visit to the Albert dock in Liverpool and the housing co-operatives that she visited last Friday, does she agree that in an area in which 98,000 people are out of work, and some 18,000 have been out of work for the last five years, there is no point in just blaming the victims and that the Merseyside economy cannot stand to lose another 1,000 jobs? Will she personally do what she can to try to save those jobs?

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

I was questioned about that particular loss of jobs, and I indicated that it was because the company could not achieve competitiveness, could not get rid of some restrictive practices, and could not increase productivity in that particular factory. So it chose to invest in a factory where it could do so. The company is still investing, but not at that factory. I was questioned about that matter at a spot where it is proposed to create another 5,000 jobs, arising from some of the reconstruction that is being undertaken at the docks as an extension of the work of the urban development corporation. It seems to me that there are fresh opportunities there. The hon. Gentleman will know that the company is delaying the close-down, to enable its workers to obtain other jobs and other training before closure occurs.—[Interruption] The company must be competitive, and if the hon. Gentleman does not understand that, he is against the consumer and against every single worker.

Photo of Mr Michael Knowles Mr Michael Knowles , Nottingham East

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagement for Tuesday 14 March.

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 Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman is present.

Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack , Fylde

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 14 March.

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 Michael Jack Michael Jack , Fylde

Recently, my right hon. Friend sponsored an excellent conference in London, on the preservation of the ozone layer. Will she consider sponsoring a similar event to help ensure the preservation of the world's rain forests?

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

That aspect was, of course, mentioned at the conference on the preservation of the ozone layer. If my hon. Friend the Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack) consults my hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas development, he will learn that a considerable number of our grants and aid are already given with the preservation of the rain forests in mind, because that is very important to the preservation of the ozone layer as a whole.