HC Deb 15 November 1979 vol 973 cc1501-2
Q.4. Mr. Bob Dunn

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 15 November.

The Prime Minister

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave earlier.

Mr. Dunn

Will my right hon. Friend take time from her arrangements today to consider how best to persuade our NATO allies urgently to increase expenditure on defence? Will she continue to remind our allies in NATO that the hallmark of a free society is the ability to defend itself?

The Prime Minister

I totally agree with my hon. Friend that those of us who value a free society must be prepared, as a first charge, to ensure that it is properly defended. My hon. Friend knows that we have accepted the NATO target of a 3 per cent. annual increase in expenditure. I hope that other NATO countries will also accept that increase. Many of them already spend far more per head on defence than we do.

Mr. James Hamilton

Will the right hon. Lady give time today to deny the fact that her Government are operating an incomes policy? It appears that for private enterprise free collective bargaining is all right, but the right hon. Lady has put a ceiling on the public sector.

The Prime Minister

As far as the public sector is concerned, we set cash limits, but the cash limits that apply to the nationalised industries are but a very small part of their total income. We set those limits with a view to getting unit wage costs down, and I am grateful for the opportunity to make that clear.