HC Deb 17 July 1979 vol 970 cc1300-1
Q6. Mr. Straw

asked the Prime Minister when she intends next to meet representatives of the Confederation of British Industry.

The Prime Minister

No dates have yet been arranged.

Mr. Straw

When the Prime Minister eventually meets the CBI, what reply will she give it to its letter—[HON. MEMBERS: " Reading."] Of course I am reading. It is the letter that the CBI wrote to the Secretary of State for Industry. What reply will she give to the CBI's letter which says that the CBI opposes any reduction in regional development grants? What does she think of friends like that who are so quick to desert her and her right hon. Friend in their hour of need?

The Prime Minister

I take more notice of letters when they are written after a statement rather than before. The hon. Gentleman asked what reply I shall send. The CBI welcomed the Budget's provisions and is doing everything that it can to operate the Budget strategy, knowing that the successful manufacturing and commercial industries of this country have to supply the subsidies which so many people want.

Mr. David Steel

How will the Prime Minister explain to the CBI or anybody else the discrepancy between the Conservative Party's election commitment to encourage the development of new industries in certain parts of the country and the downgrading of those areas from development area status, as will be announced this afternoon, and the fact that market interest rates have gone up to 16 per cent?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman asked his question as though the only way in which a small business can get started is with a Government subsidy. If that were so, this country would never have been a highly successful industrial nation.

Mr. Alan Clark

If my right hon. Friend does not intend to authorise a statement about changes in the immigration rules until the winter, will not that lead to a possible beat-the-ban rush, given the long time that will elapse before the announcement is made, which will heighten the anxieties and possibly the disillusionment in the areas most affected?

The Prime Minister

I can only reply that it is our intention to make a statement when we return after the recess.

Mr. Leighton

Is the Prime Minister aware that many of us are worried by the threats from non-parliamentary bodies to push her around? Is she further aware that I have just had a letter from the CBI stating that it expects her to take firm action on labour relations, and goes on to say that unless she does she will be very sharply pushed by that body?

The Prime Minister

It will find it very difficult.

Mr. Cryer

A moment ago the Prime Minister said that she welcomed letters after statements, not before. Does she mean that any consultations with the TUC are merely cosmetic, that she has entirely made up her mind to attack the trade union movement through legislation, and that, whatever the trade union movement says in making reasonable representations she will take no notice of it until the statement on the legislation is made?

The Prime Minister

I have made up my mind to carry out the Conservative Party manifesto. The details are for consultation.