HC Deb 10 July 1980 vol 988 cc755-7
Q4. Mr. R. C. Mitchell

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 10 July.

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave earlier.

Mr. Mitchell

Will the Prime Minister find time today to telephone the leader of the Conservative group on the Hampshire county council and ask him to withdraw the proposals to cut £10 million from the education budget, which, among other things, will lead to the sacking of 1,000 teachers by Christmas? Is the Prime Minister aware that the chief education officer of Hampshire has said publicly that if these cuts go through, the education committee will no longer be able to fulfil its statutory duties?

The Prime Minister

The short answer is "No, Sir". I must leave these matters to the local education authority. Like the Government, I expect that it has members making great demands on a limited purse, and it has somehow to match the two.

Mr. Geoffrey Johnson Smith

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Some hon. Members—it may apply to both sides of the House—are having some difficulty in hearing some of the answers. It may have something to do with the accoustical system. Could not those responsible for the amplification of our proceedings do something about it?

Mr. Speaker

I hope that whoever is responsible has heard that.

Mr. Shersby

Will my right hon. Friend take time to consider the judgment of the Court of Appeal today in the case of Hillingdon borough council v. Streeting, the result of which is to compel local authorities to provide accommodation for people from overseas who have no connection with any local authority in the United Kingdom? Will she discuss this matter with her right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, with a view to amending the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act to ensure that homeless persons from overseas do not have priority in housing over the indigenous population?

The Prime Minister

I saw that judgment, and it obviously will be of concern to many people who are seeking housing. We must consider it in detail, and decide whether that Act needs amending.

Mr. Wellbeloved

In view of the breach of faith in respect of the Boyle Commission report, will the Prime Minister confirm that she will honour the recommendations of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body in respect of the pay of the Armed Forces?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Rev. Ian Paisley

Will the Prime Minister take time today to read some of the 1,000 letters that were delivered to her by the four widows from Fermanagh, whose husbands were murdered by the IRA? Is she aware that the people of Northern Ireland were grateful for the fact that she was able to meet those widows and hear at first hand some of the current fears of the womenfolk of Ulster?

The Prime Minister

I saw the four widows. It was obviously a very distressing experience for us. I learnt more from them by seeing them than I could ever have learnt from reading any number of papers or letters. They brought a large number of letters from people who live near the border. I have already seen a very considerable number of them.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and I put security at the top of our list of priorities for Northern Ireland.

Mr. David Watkins

Has the Prime Minister yet considered the petition about Consett that was presented yesterday for her attention, signed by more than 20,000 people? In considering that petition, will she bear in mind that the steelworks at Consett is meeting all the criteria that she has repeatedly laid down in this House for survival, in that it is both profitable and highly productive? Will she recognise that its loss would devastate an entire community?

The Prime Minister

I received the petition. I can understand the hon. Gentleman's concern about the loss of a main steelworks such as Consett and the effect that this has on the community. With regard to the point that is continually made that Consett steelworks is profitable, I must correct any impression that it has been profitable for a long time. From 1975 to 1979 it made annual losses varying from £3.5 million to over £17 million. It was profitable for only one quarter of last year, when it made something like £½ million. It is, I regret to say, again now in a loss-making position.

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