HC Deb 03 April 1980 vol 982 cc646-8
4. Mr. McKelvey

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 3 April.

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply that I gave earlier.

Mr. McKelvey

Will the Prime Minister take time today to consider the plight of our carpet industry? Is there any possibility of an early settlement with the EEC regarding import quotas for tufted carpets? Will the right hon. Lady confer with the Secretary of State for Industry with a view to extending the reimbursement period for those on the temporary short-term compensation scheme within the carpet industry in particular, and in industry generally?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman knows, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade applied for quotas on the tufted carpet industry because of the level of imports. The Community felt that the level of imports was not sufficiently high to warrant a quota. My right hon. Friend and the Community are monitoring the quantity of imports that come in and will not hesitate to take action should it become too high.

Mr. Thornton

In view of the news of yet another factory closure in Liverpool which has nothing to do with the normal reasons for such closures, will my right hon. Friend press the Ministers concerned to make as much speed as possible with the enterprise zone, which will give the people in the area a much-needed shot in the arm?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. The enterprise zone scheme is extremely interesting, and will bring a lot of hope to people in areas where there has been precious little. The problem will be to limit enterprise zones, because I believe that we shall have a flood of applications. We shall press ahead as fast as we can, and I hope that the experiment will be thoroughly successful.

Dr. Owen

Will the Prime Minister indicate to the House the consequences of the proposed or possible cancellation of the two AGRs at Heysham and Torness for the power generating industry? Will she give a further assurance that no decision will be taken and announced during the recess?

The Prime Minister

We have not yet decided. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, we are looking once again at the nuclear programme in view of the fact that the consumption of electricity is very much less than had been anticipated. The particular factor to which he refers namely, the effect upon the nuclear power industry, is one that will be taken into account when deciding. I assure him that at the moment no decision has been taken.

Mr. McCrindle

Will the Prime Minister confirm that in the event of a national railway strike the attitude of the Government will be as non-interventionist as it was during the 13 weeks of the steel strike? Will she further confirm that any settlement of the railway dispute should include a high level of productivity, which many of us who use the services of British Rail feel there is ample opportunity to achieve?

The Prime Minister

I am glad to respond to my hon. Friend. The cash limit for British Rail is very high. It is over £700 million this year. It will be something like £730 million to £740 million next year. British Rail must live within that cash limit and accordingly make a settlement in its own way through its own negotiations. May I express one thought? I hope that British Rail will not automatically assume that the railway travelling public will go on paying ever higher fares, because they cannot do that.