HC Deb 12 July 1979 vol 970 cc661-2
Q5. Mr. Canavan

asked the Prime Minister what are her official engagements for 12 July.

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave earlier.

Mr. Canavan

Will the Prime Minister find time today to consider the report of the Royal Commission on the distribution of income and wealth, which points out that the richest 5 per cent. of the population own almost three-quarters of the land in this country? Will the Prime Minister also consider the recommendation of the Northfield committee to extend the public ownership of land and introduce a comprehensive register of land ownership, which would reveal that the Conservative Party chairman owns 44,000 acres of land in Scotland, but that he is a mere pauper compared with the Duke of Buccleuch, who owns more than 250,000 acres of land?

The Prime Minister

The report of the Royal Commission on the distribution of income and wealth refers to the distribution of wealth in the life- time of the Labour Government. I trust that wealth will be much more widely distributed when the Conservative policy of selling council houses has taken effect. It will make many people property owners for the first time in their lives.

Mr. James Callaghan

Will the Prime Minister say how it is possible to sell council houses when people cannot obtain mortgages?

The Prime Minister

Is it not beyond the financial wit of man to transfer the payments which the local authorities make to the tenants to make as mortgage repayments, instead of as rent.

Mr. du Cann

Will my right hon. Friend consider today what action might be taken under the law in respect of a recent television programme that gave great offence to Members of Parliament on both sides of the House and people outside, namely, the interview with the alleged assassin of our late colleague Mr. Airey Neave?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General is considering the matter raised by my right hon. Friend. Having seen the transcript of the programme, I am appalled that it was ever transmitted. I believe that it reflects gravely upon the judgment of the BBC and those responsible for the decision.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

Does the Prime Minister recall that several weeks ago I wrote to her about an order for 77 Chieftain tanks at Vickers works at Ellesmere? Is she aware that, following the closure of the Scotswood works in my constituency, with the loss of 750 jobs, there is grave anxiety in the area? Will she take a few minutes off from her busy programme today to have words with her right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence so that a decision may be made on the contract?

The Prime Minister

I know the hon. Gentleman's concern. No decision has yet been reached on that matter. As the hon. Gentleman knows, we are seeking further orders to replace those that we lost from Iran.