HC Deb 15 February 1979 vol 962 cc1310-1
Q3. Mr. Brotherton

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 15 February.

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Member to the reply that I have just given to my hon. Friend the Member for Thornaby (Mr. Wrigglesworth). [HON. MEMBERS: "Wrong answer!"]

Mr. Speaker


The Prime Minister

But nearly all these questions are the same, anyway. [Interruption.] And so is this answer.

This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall be holding further meetings with ministerial colleagues and others.

Mr. Brotherton

Despite the Prime Minister's lamentable lack of attention to detail, will he find time today to have a word with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science? Will he tell the right hon. Lady that her fine words about crossing picket lines, uttered in this House on Tuesday, would have rung far more true if she had not indulged in mob picketing outside the Grunwick factory last year? Furthermore, does not the Prime Minister agree that the double standards displayed by the right hon. Lady are typical of what has now become the common currency of his Administration?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that cheap abuse of that sort will appeal to anybody.

Mr. English

Has my hon. Friend at any time today discussed paragraph 27 of the joint statement issued yesterday, which talks about an economic assessment before Easter? May I take it that there will be one before this Easter? Since the CBI and the Treasury have colossal economic and computational resources, and since, as far as I know, the TUC has no resources of that character, is my right hon. Friend taking steps to ensure that all parties will be equally well advised in these discussions?

The Prime Minister

The Chancellor knows how far he can rely on the computational resources that he has, and I hope that he does not rely on them too much. The TUC in the early months of every year produces an excellent and valuable review of the economic prospects. I hope that that will be fully taken into account. It is intended that there should be discussions before the current year beginning on 6 April next. The TUC will be as fully informed as anyone of the information that is available.

Sir Bernard Braine

Amid all his preoccupations today, has the Prime Minister found time to look at my letter of 1 February, drawing his attention to the continued failure of subordinate Ministers to grasp the serious peril facing my constituents, 8,000 of whom have effectively been told by the Health and Safety Executive that they are living in a danger area where the worst effects of a methane gas cloud explosion might be felt? Will he take command of the situation, knock some heads together, and get some action?

The Prime Minister

I read the hon. Member's letter. Such allegations and people's safety, whether or not they are his constituents, are of great importance, and I asked that there should be a full investigation and report. The Secretary of State for the Environment and other Ministers are so doing. It is a difficult problem, but the Government are reviewing the matter and will reach a conclusion. We shall have to consider whether we can totally safeguard the lives of the hon. Member's constituents in all circumstances. But I am well aware of the problem.

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