HC Deb 14 June 1979 vol 968 cc616-8
Q4. Mr. Mike Thomas

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 14 June.

The Prime Minister

This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet. In addition to duties in this House, I shall have further meetings with ministerial colleagues. I shall also be meeting the Vice-President of Egypt and later the Governor of Hong Kong. This evening, I shall attend a dinner given by President Moi of Kenya.

Mr. Thomas

Will the right hon. Lady reflect during the day on the fact that, when we take into account the increases in the MLR and the increases in council rents which will result from public expenditure cuts, and the increase in mortgage payments, VAT, petrol and other prices, no one who is a taxpayer earning less than £10,000 a year will be better off as a result of her Budget?

The Prime Minister

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's figures for one moment. The difference between the effect of tax increases on the RPI under the last Government and tax increases under this Government is that we reduced direct tax, leaving more money available in people's pockets to meet any increases, costs and charges, with some left over.

Sir Paul Bryan

When the Prime Minister meets the Governor of Hong Kong, will she assure him that Hong Kong and its people have the full-hearted support of the Government and this House in their difficult problem of dealing with the flood of refugees from China and Vietnam which they are facing with such humanity?

The Prime Minister

I shall gladly convey that message. The Governor of Hong Kong has an extremely difficult task. Although I sent a message to the United Nations calling for an international conference to resolve these matters, things are going very slowly. It is a problem on such a scale that it can only be resolved internationally. The United Nations has certainly helped and met the costs of flying the passangers from the "Sibonga" and the "Roachbank" to Britain. That falls on the United Nations budget, but we need something much more fundamental to try to solve the problems of Hong Kong and the whole problem of Vietnam refugees who are suffering from the callousness of their present Government.

Mr. Ashley

Is the Prime Minister aware that her call to the United Nations over the refugees will be very welcome? What is required now is a lead from this Government by making an approach to every Government in the world to make a special response for refugees. Will the right hon. Lady consider making a direct unilateral approach to every Government asking them to take in more refugees, in addition to the United Nations' initiative which she has begun?

The Prime Minister

With great respect, I think that it is best to approach this matter through the United Nations. Of course, we contacted a number of other nations when we had the problems with the "Sibonga" and the "Roachbank", because the latter was standing off Taiwan, but an organised conference is needed to try to solve this problem.

Mr. Lawrence

Will my right hon. Friend take some time to consider whether, in view of the concentration of Mr. Nkomo's terrorist forces in Zambia, it is any longer safe to allow Her Majesty the Queen to visit the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference in Lusaka and whether it might not be more appropriate to hold the conference in Nairobi?

The Prime Minister

I answered a question on this matter earlier today. Of course, the safety of Her Majesty the Queen is our paramount consideration. Nevertheless, we hope that she will be able to attend the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference in Lusaka. We are consulting everyone concerned and will take into account their advice and the information we have before finally advising Her Majesty.