HC Deb 11 May 1978 vol 949 cc1398-401
Q2. Mr. Noble

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his public engagements for 11th May.

The Prime Minister

This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall be holding meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. Later today I shall be leaving for a visit to North-West England. I should like to inform the House that I propose to call at the Italian Embassy immediately after Questions to convey the condolences of Her Majesty's Government on the tragic and brutal murder of Signor Aldo Moro. I am sure that I speak for every hon. Member in offering our deepest sympathy to Signor Moro's widow and family and in paying tribute to one who was an outstanding leader of his country.

Mr. Noble

When my right hon. Friend visits the Italian Embassy, will he express, in addition to our sorrow, the outrage of Members of this House at the violence that has taken place in Italy in recent years, and particularly in the case of this brutal murder? When he goes to the North-West, will he explain to the many trade unionists and workers whom he will meet there the anti-working-class nature of the amendments that were passed through this House this week? In particular, will he explain to them that if a Tory Government had their way, this would have been at the expense of financial assistance to industry, which would lead to large-scale unemployment in the North-West?

The Prime Minister

I find it difficult to combine answers to both those supplementary questions. I should like to content myself by saying that I wrote to Signor Andreotti, the Italian Prime Minister. I told him that the Government—and, I know, the British people as a whole—remain determined that everything possible shall be done, with the Italian Government and other democratic Governments, to protect the rights of individuals and the foundations of our democratic institutions—in Italy and elsewhere—from this terrible threat that has been posed by terrorist violence.

Mrs. Thatcher

May I join with the Prime Minister in the tribute which he has just paid to Signor Moro? I join with him in condemning the callous and brutal murder which took place. We Conservatives would also like to be associated with the condolences to Signor Moro's family and friends. We should also like to express our understanding of the very difficult decisions that faced his colleagues during what must also have been a great ordeal for them. Signor Moro was a victim of a kind of war waged upon the free society. Because of what has happened, we hope that the resolve to fight terrorism will be the greater, and the future of the free society and democracy the more sure.

The Prime Minister

I am obliged to the right hon. Lady for the manner in which she has expressed her thoughts on this matter. I shall certainly convey them to the Italian authorities. I am also glad that, in addition to the great sorrow and anguish of the family, she mentioned the ordeal that Signor Moro's ministerial colleagues have passed through. I hope that any British Government would face such a situation with the same courage as the Italian Government have done.

Q4. Mr. Moate

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 11th May.

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Noble).

Mr. Moate

Will the Prime Minister take time today to give a rather better answer to the question put by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton)? When a Government have clearly lost control of their Budget strategy, and when they were made to look as foolish as they were last night, is it not clearly time in the national interest if not in the Labour Party's interest, for the country to be given a chance to elect a new Government?

The Prime Minister

I am relieved to hear that the hon. Gentleman was considering only the national interest and not what he conceives to be the interest of the Conservative Party on these matters, although he might be wrong even if he thought that. The Government are in control of this matter. I should like to repeat what the Chancellor has said before, namely, that we shall take any action that is necessary, despite the irresponsibility of the Opposition, in order to retain control over the financial situation that has been created by the Opposition's votes.

Mr. Raphael Tuck

Will my right hon. Friend take time off to broadcast to the nation and explain to it that the Conservative Opposition are so narked by his success in pulling this country out of the morass in which he found it when he took office that their leader is dragging a red herring across the trail? She is blowing up an issue to five, six or 10 times its normal size and making an election issue out of it. I refer to immigration. Will he explain this to the electorate, so that it is not fooled when the time comes?

The Prime Minister

Yes, I shall certainly do my best to inform the country about these matters.

Mr. Burden

You will have a hell of a job.

The Prime Minister

Faced, as I am, with this Opposition, I agree with the hon. Member for Rochester—[HON. MEMBERS: "Gillingham."] The hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden). Perhaps Rochester would not have him. The hon. Gentleman has been here a long time, and he had better wait and see. He is always extremely amiable on these matters. As to broadcasting to the nation, if I am to judge from my correspondence I find that whenever these broadcasts take place there is a great surge of support.