HC Deb 26 June 1979 vol 969 cc280-3
Q1. Mr. Montgomery

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 June.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

In addition to duties in this House I have had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others, including one with Lord Harlech. Later this afternoon I shall leave for the Tokyo economic summit.

Mr. Montgomery

Before my right hon. Friend leaves for Tokyo, can she find time today to read the report on school examination results, which was published yesterday? Does she not think that it would be better for all concerned if every local education authority published the separate examination results for each of the schools in its area?

The Prime Minister

I have indeed, glanced at the report to which my hon. Friend refers. I totally agree with him. I believe that local education authorities should publish the examination results as they refer to schools. I believe that parents are entitled to that information and that it most certainly should not be withheld.

Mr. Bidwell

At some time during her long journeys abroad, will the right hon. Lady reflect upon the fact that her Government are shaping up to deny women's rights in changing immigration rules to prevent equality of the spouses—rules which were previously changed in 1974? Will she also reflect upon the fact that if she has a son-in-law in Australia who is non-patrial it is a long way to go to do a bit of baby-sitting?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman knows that the changes we propose to make in immigration rules were put before the electorate perfectly clearly, and that I answered all questions with great candour, regardless of their source. I believe that we have a mandate to go forward with the changes.

Sir Paul Bryan

No doubt my right hon. Friend will be spending some of today preparing for the summit conference in Tokyo. When she is there, will she constantly bear in mind that the Vietnamese refugee problem is a world problem and that it can be solved only by the very world leaders with whom she will be conferring?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for asking that question. The subject came up at the European Council and will certainly come up at the Tokyo summit. I think that there are two aspects. First, we should do everything we can to stop Vietnam so callously turning out those people. Secondly, there is the matter of trying to cope with the immense refugee problem that the Vietnamese have already created. We must condemn Vietnam with all the power at our command.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will the right hon. Lady take time today to read the newspaper reports about the capitulation of the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food last week? Does she agree with the figures in those newspapers indicating that as a result of that capitulation the EEC farm budget will be increased by about £1,000 million and that our contribution to that will be roughly 20 per cent? Does she confirm those figures?

The Prime Minister

I inquired about the figures before I came to the House. May I make it quite clear that there is a freeze on milk prices for the first time since we joined the Community. There is an excellent butter subsidy and there is something for the farmers. The net effect of my right hon. Friend's efforts in Luxembourg last week is that we are now £30 million better off than we should otherwise have been—for the simple reason that we get back more on the butter subsidy than we pay by way of increase in prices through the budget.

Mr. Emery

Has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to the summary executions in Ghana today of six former leaders of that Commonwealth nation, three of whose lives were thought to be at risk, as expressed by an early-day motion signed by right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House? Will she express her abhorrence of this action and see, perhaps with the Foreign Secretary, what action Britain, in conjunction with other African and Commonwealth nations, might take to try to impress on the present Ghana Government that unilateral action sweeping to one side—[HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] These are men's lives—sweeping to one side internationally accepted human rights and justice cannot be acceptable to the many friends of Ghana throughout the world?

The Prime Minister

We heard from Accra this morning that six further executions took place today, both of former Heads of State and of previous high officials in Ghana. As my hon. Friend knows, when a similar occasion occurred a few days ago we expressed our abhorrence. We do so again, in respnse to this terrible action. We made it perfectly clear that, if there were to be prosecutions, they should be in accordance with internationally accepted principles of justice. We are already in touch through our high commission in Ghana, we are in touch with the Nine, and we hope to get both America and Canada to join us in making similar strong representations to the Government of Ghana.

Mr. James Callaghan

With reference to that last answer, may I assure the right hon. Lady that she will have the full support of the Opposition in those representations and, in view of the special relationship which existed with Ghana and the assistance which this country has given to Ghana in recent years, add the hope that the present leaders will listen to what she has to say?

May I revert to the question about the agricultural policy? There is a great deal of either misunderstanding or something else about this. Why did the Minister of Agriculture depart from the strong words that he had used in the House on 15 June, because it is clear from them that he was "in total agreement" with the proposals of the Commission for a general freeze? Why did he abandon that position? It was an impregnable position. Did the right hon. Lady advise him to do so because of some misunderstanding on the budgetary contributions at Strasbourg, or is it that he just was not tough enough to stand up to what was held over him?

The Prime Minister

There was no linkage between the negotiations going on in Luxembourg and those in Strasbourg. The right hon. Gentleman underestimates the excellence of the package which my right hon. Friend gained. No Labour Minister of Agriculture managed to secure a freeze on milk prices. The results on the butter subsidy which my right hon. Friend gained were excellent. The net effect of his work is that this country is £30 million better off than it would otherwise have been without it. I might add that those farmers who, without my right hon. Friend's efforts, might have had to pay a co-responsibility levy on milk are very pleased with the results of his work.