HC Deb 09 February 1978 vol 943 cc1665-7
Q2. Mr. Jessel

asked the Prime Minister if he will visit Twickenham.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so, in view of the result last Saturday.

Mr. Jessel

I was not playing in the game myself. The Prime Minister's constituents and yours, Mr. Speaker, are always welcome in my constituency to watch rugby matches, especially as the crowds are better behaved than the spectators of some other sports.

Is the Prime Minister aware that in Twickenham there is an increasing risk and damage every year from the River Thames flooding? Is he aware that Professor Sir Hermann Bondi has warned that if the London Underground flooded it would be out of action for nine months and that the economic devastation of the country would be greater than that caused by the London blitz? Why have the Government delayed completion of the London flood barrier until 1982, thus accelerating the cost to £200 million?

The Prime Minister

I am aware that the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel) takes a considerable and continuing interest in flooding in his constituency. He has asked a number of Questions about it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Reading."] I came well prepared. The work is progressing according to a phased programme under which the GLC expects to commence building the flood defences for Twickenham in 1980. Flooding of riverside areas on this stretch of the river is well known and can be caused and aggravated by non-tidal factors. This will be taken into account in designing the further defences.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

With the time that my right hon. Friend has saved by not going to Twickenham, would he care to reflect that, whilst we talk about cynical attitudes, the best exponent of cynical attitudes is the Leader of the Opposition, who tabled a motion for debate on Tuesday and then, during the course of the debate, said that she disagreed with it?

Mrs. Thatcher

indicated dissent.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

It is in Hansard.

The Prime Minister

I followed with interest the interchange and the motion on the Order Paper. What was more interesting was the speech that the Leader of the Opposition made to the overseas bankers yesterday. She said that she would really prefer to see the Multi-Fibre Arrangement wound up. If that happened, we would have a flood of imports. I understand from the right hon. Lady's speech that she is also against export credits, which would destroy the exports that our firms are making. I understand that she at last agrees with her right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) that all grants and subsidies are harmful.

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I think that the Prime Minister is about to conclude.

The Prime Minister

I wonder how many millions of jobs would be lost if the Tories got back to power.

Mr. Walters

The Prime Minister was near Twickenham this morning on his way to London Airport to meet President Sadat. Can he tell the House something about that meeting? Since the President's initiative seems to be faltering as a result of Israel's failure to respond, and bearing in mind the disastrous consequences for Europe if there were a breakdown, did he tell the President that the time had come for the European Community to play an active role?

The Prime Minister

I should be glad to spend a minute on this subject. President Sadat clearly went to the United States feeling that his initiative was faltering and feeling disappointed about the present position. As a result of discussions with President Carter, he feels that there is now a greater prospect that there was of resuming discussions with Israel. It is the Government's view that Israel should show flexibility in the negotiations but that Israel's security is paramount.

When I discussed this with President Sadat, I found that he recognised this. I hope that the Government and people of Israel will recognise that President Sadat is in earnest in trying to find a way of allowing Israel to live in peace and security. I propose to indicate that to Prime Minister Begin in a letter which I intend to send to him.

I discussed the role of Europe with President Sadat. At the moment, although public declarations can be made, I believe that private representations to both sides and a candid expression of opinion of where both sides can move is the best way to help these negotiations forward.

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