Engagements

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 31st October 1989.

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Photo of Mr Michael Latham Mr Michael Latham , Rutland and Melton 12:00 am, 31st October 1989

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 31 October.

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

This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today. This evening I hope to have an audience of Her Majesty the Queen.

Photo of Mr Michael Latham Mr Michael Latham , Rutland and Melton

While continuing to implement the policies which have been approved by the electorate on three occasions, will my right hon. Friend confirm that successful Governments must always be responding and listening to the real aspirations of the people?

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

Yes. That is why under the 10-year policies of Conservative Governments we have created more wealth than ever before, have spread it more widely than ever before, have a higher standard of living than ever before, have higher standards of social services than ever before and have a higher reputation abroad than ever before. Yes, we have indeed been listening. I believe that those are the real aspirations of the British people.

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

As I said last week, advisers are there to advise and must advise honestly and freely. Ministers are there to decide. That is the way this Government do things.

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 Prime Minister is being less than frank with the House and the country—[Interruption.] Does she recall that she said that she did everything possible to dissuade the Chancellor? Is not the real truth that she deliberately refused to do the one thing that would have kept him in office, which was to sack the man who, with her concurrence, was constantly undermining the Chancellor and his policy position on managing the currency?

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

In this party, Ministers decide and advisers only advise.

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

If what the Prime Minister has said is really true, may I ask her to explain why the former Chancellor had to write: Recent events have confirmed that this essential requirement cannot be satisfied so long as Alan Walters remains your personal adviser. Did he make that up after he had spoken to the Prime Minister?

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

Nonsense. The position is precisely as I have set it out many times. Advisers are free to advise honestly. Ministers decide —[Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman will remember that neither Mr. Kaldor nor Mr. Balogh were exactly shrinking violets.

Photo of Mr Robin Maxwell-Hyslop Mr Robin Maxwell-Hyslop , Tiverton

Will my right hon. Friend find time today to confirm that although high interest rates are a temporary agony, to have savings destroyed and the financial working capital of every small company destroyed by inflation is a permanent and not a temporary destruction of their ability to live on trade reasonably?

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

Yes. My hon. Friend has put it perfectly. It was a destruction of savings and investment under the Labour Government that lost them the complete confidence of this country. Under us, savings have kept their value. That is why we put the diminution of inflation as our top priority and we shall continue to do so.

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Does the Prime Minister realise that her lonely hostility to Europe has cost her four Cabinet Ministers and will cost Britain lost opportunities, lost wealth and lost prosperity in the future? How much more are we all going to have to pay for the triumph of a personal obsession over the national interest?

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

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will read the Bruges speech properly, when he will see that half the history of this country has been bound up with Europe. It is not hostility to Europe. We believe in Europe, but a Europe based on a free economy—a deregulated Europe with freedom under a rule of law, not a regulated bureaucracy dictating to this House from Brussels.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Substitute Member)

Has my right hon. Friend noticed the underlying confidence of the money markets in her Government's economic policy? Has she had time to contrast that with the best efforts of the Leader of the Opposition to talk sterling down?

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

Yes. The money markets have remained stable in spite of the efforts of the Leader of the Opposition to talk the pound down. He did not succeed. Confidence in this Government was sufficient to hold the markets.

Photo of Mr Martin Redmond Mr Martin Redmond , Don Valley

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 31 October.

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

Following the disclosure in the leaked documents about the devastating effects of the privatisation of the electricity industry on the mining industry, will the right hon. Lady reconsider her attitude and not use the payroll vote to force the Bill through?

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

The contracts between the electricity industry and the coal industry are still under negotiation. The hon. Gentleman is aware that in the past 10 years, we have spent about £2 million every working day on investment in the coal mines. That should enable many of them to be highly competitive in the coal that they produce and to supply highly competitive coal to the electricity industry. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will not wish to pay more for electricity than necessary and will be keen for coal to be competitive.

Photo of Mr John Butcher Mr John Butcher , Coventry South West

Further to the point made by the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown), does my right hon. Friend agree that if Britain were prematurely to join the exchange rate mechanism at a time when German interest rates are 7 per cent. below our own, British borrowers might avoid the domestic constraints and borrow with impunity from Germany, thus increasing the money supply and frustrating the fight against inflation?

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

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. The conditions under which we shall join the exchange rate mechanism—we already belong to the European monetary system, of course—were laid down and agreed at Madrid. They are specified in stage I of the Delors report—[Interruption.] Of course the Opposition do not want the truth. It gets in their way. [Interruption.]

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

Order. The Prime Minister must have an opportunity to reply.

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

The conditions are specified in stage I of the Delors report which provides for completion of the internal market, abolition of all foreign exchange controls, full implementation of a free market in financial services and the strengthening of the Community's competition policy. In those circumstances and provided that inflation in Britain has been brought down significantly, as we intend, the conditions would clearly exist for sterling to join the exchange rate mechanism. That is precisely what was laid down at Madrid and agreed by everyone.

Photo of John McFall John McFall , Dumbarton

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 31 October.

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 John McFall John McFall , Dumbarton

Despite the traumatic events of last week and the removal of her most formidable opponent from the Cabinet, the Prime Minister has declared business as usual. Can we take it therefore that she will not be recommending to her Cabinet the advice of Mayor Ed Koch of New York who said, "If you agree with me on nine out of 12 issues, support me, but if you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see your psychiatrist"?

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

We do things rather differently this side of the Atlantic.

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

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 31 October.

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

Can my right hon. Friend cast her mind back to 1979 when after five years of Socialism the Chrysler car business was sold to Peugeot-Talbot for 66p after 700 strikes in 1978? Is my right hon. Friend aware that after the past eight or nine years Peugeot is now making a profit of £100 million a year and producing more cars than ever? Does that not say more for Conservative Governments and nothing at all for Socialism?

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

Yes. As I said in reply to the first question this afternoon, under this Government wealth has been created and spread ever more widely. Under the last Labour Government, the Labour party took us to the IMF—bankrupt.

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

Does the Prime Minister agree with Lord Hailsham who said this weekend, speaking with all the authority of a former Lord Chancellor who had served for many years in the Prime Minister's Cabinet, that for the Prime Minister to use her press officers to undermine her colleagues was not only disloyal, but dishonourable? Will she now stop that?

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

This was a comment from my noble Friend. I was surprised at it and I was very surprised that he made it. It is totally untrue and in any case, I would never take it from the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), whose only adviser was the IMF.

Photo of Andrew MacKay Andrew MacKay , Berkshire East

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 31 October.

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 Andrew MacKay Andrew MacKay , Berkshire East

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be a cruel deception to suggest that there is some painless way to bring down inflation and that if credit controls were introduced today, they would prove to be quite ineffective due to the international nature of the banking and financial markets?

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

I agree with my hon. Friend. The point was made effectively in the last debate on economic affairs when my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) dealt very well with the issue of credit controls. They will not work in the modern world with a free and open banking system. In an earlier debate, a former Treasury Minister in a Labour Government said: The Labour Party idea that you can have credit controls is rubbish. There is no way you can control credit except by controlling the price of credit, and the price of credit is Bank Rate.

Photo of Mr Dave Nellist Mr Dave Nellist , Coventry South East

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 31 October.

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 Dave Nellist Mr Dave Nellist , Coventry South East

Is the Prime Minister aware that in a tragic car accident last week in Coventry, the firefighters cut the cars apart, the police directed the traffic and an ambulance worker was upside down for two hours in that car infusing blood to the victim? How then this morning can Duncan Nichol say that the ambulance workers do not deserve parity with the other services? When will the Prime Minister stop chasing ambulances down to places like Clapham and King's Cross and praising ambulance workers and then treating them like dirt as she does now?

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

We all praise ambulance workers for their work and do not use them cheaply as the hon. Gentleman has done. Their pay claim, as the hon. Gentleman is aware, is being negotiated and I most earnestly hope that they will keep emergency cover until the negotiations are complete.

Photo of Mr Paul Marland Mr Paul Marland , Gloucestershire West

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 31 October.

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 Paul Marland Mr Paul Marland , Gloucestershire West

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the valuable contribution that is made to environmental protection by recycling—[Interruption.] Will she ensure that, under the forthcoming environmental protection Bill the work of the recycler is not interrupted by misleading definitions of waste?

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

Yes. Recycling, in all its forms, makes a great contribution to the economy, and we at No. 10 Downing street have introduced recycled paper.