HC Deb 12 June 1979 vol 968 cc230-2
Q3. Mr. Geoffrey Robinson

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her public engagements for 12 June.

The Prime Minister

This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet. Later I was present when Her Majesty the Queen welcomed the President of the Republic of Kenya. In addition to duties in this House, I shall have further meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. This evening I shall attend a dinner given by Her Majesty in honour of President Moi.

Mr. Robinson

That is obviously a very busy schedule, but may I ask the right hon. Lady whether, in the course of it, she can find a moment to seek confirmation from her right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry that the detailed and convincing case submitted to his Department today for a waiver of interest and a recapitalisation of the Government loan for the Meriden co-operative will be considered on its merits and not on the basis of any irrelevant political or ideological prejudices?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend always considers things on their merits, and fairly and justly as well. The hon. Gentleman, if I understand his question correctly, is asking for interest to be waived on loans. That is a very serious thing to ask. Governments have to borrow money in order to lend it again. Governments cannot waive their interest, and I hope that when undertakings borrow money in these circumstances they will deem it a matter of honour to meet the interest payments.

Mr. John Mackay

May I ask the Prime Minister whether, in the course, of her busy day, she has had a chance to read an article in The Daily Telegraph yesterday about Rhodesia, in which it was suggested that the European Commissioner for Development at the EEC had written a letter to Mr. Joshua Nkomo congratulating him and urging him on in his fight there? If I may quote from the article—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member is probably not aware that hon. Members may not quote at Question Time.

Mr. Mackay

The letter is said to have continued by wishing Mr. Nkomo well in his gallant struggle. If my right hon. Friend has seen that article, would she like to comment on it?

The Prime Minister

It so happens that I saw the article and the quotation to which my hon. Friend refers. I took the view that it was most inappropriate for a member of the Commission to send a communication of that sort, and I have reason to think that other members of the Commission took the same view.

Mr. Heffer

In view of the fact that the right hon. Lady says that she and her right hon. Friends consider matters on their merits, will she tell the House what is the view of the Government concerning the National Enterprise Board, particularly as it has rescued a number of private enterprise companies which had failed and turned them into profitable organisations? These organisations would be lost to the nation if they went back to private enterprise.

The Prime Minister

The National Enterprise Board requires a great deal of taxpayers' money to continue its operations, and we have to consider the alternative use of taxpayers' money. We shall consider the future of that board on its merits. One of the merits is that it is taxpayers' money that is being used. We cannot get away from that.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Will my right hon. Friend take an opportunity in the course of today to consider a matter on which I imagine the whole House will wish to congratulate her, namely, the resounding success of the Conservative Party in the European elections? Will she take an early opportunity to give to the country and to the European Parliament her own views as to how the new Europe will be able to formulate common policies in the vital fields of energy and foreign policy?

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend that we wish all new Members of the European Parliament well. It is the first democratic international Parliament. It was a historic occasion. We could have wished that there had been a higher turnout. Energy, of course, will be one of the problems that the Parliament can tackle. I trust that our Members will put a forthright view on matters which are of particular interest to this country concerning other aspects of European policy.

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