HC Deb 15 July 1980 vol 988 cc1231-4
Q4. Mr. Goodlad

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

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Goodlad

Will my right hon. Friend find time today to study the serious implications of the very high salaries being paid to the chief executives of some county and district councils, many of whom have highly-paid deputies. Does she agree that the degree of moderation recently demonstrated by the chief executive of the West Midlands Council is but a very modest step in the right direction?

The Prime Minister

Yes, I hope that these chief executives will also follow the lead that I have recommended the House to follow in connection with our own salaries. Many people, in the West Midlands and elsewhere, are now agreeing to take reduced wage settlements in order to keep their industries competitive. They will feel very great resentment if the fruits of their efforts go to pay more top salaries to top people in town halls.

Mr. Ray Powell

Does the Prime Minister expect the 50,000 redundant workers or the 15,000 out-of-work steel-men, or even the hundreds of bankrupt business men—[HON. MEMBERS: "Reading."] Of course I am reading. [Interruption.] Does the—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman would have been much wiser to say that he was making copious use of notes. He is not permitted to read his question. He must try to memorise it.

Mr. Powell

It is very difficult, Mr. Speaker, because the Tories have devastated Wales to such an extent that we have great difficulty in remembering all the things that they have done in 14 months. Does the Prime Minister expect to have the welcome that we normally afford to Prime Ministers or members of Governments when she comes to Wales on Saturday, having devastated the steel industry, created 50,000 redundant workers, and hit the unemployed, the sick and the homeless? [Interruption.] In view of all those things, does she really expect a welcome on Saturday? [Interruption.] Would it not be far better—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. I hope that the Prime Minister heard enough to answer.

The Prime Minister

I shall attempt to answer the bit that I heard. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman remembers that I once went to a Tory Party conference in Ebbw Vale, soon after the shutdown of some of the steelworks in Ebbw Vale had been announced by the previous Government. We realised that it was necessary to try to get the steel firms into a better competitive position. There is still a need to do so. I hope that when I go to Wales the people will realise that the Government have done a great deal to show their concern—[Interruption.]—for the inevitable redundancies by providing about £48 million for remedial measures to provide new jobs, and about £15 million further north in the case of Shotton.

Mr. Peyton

While I accept that the Prime Minister's replies are a great deal better than most of the questions deserve, will she reconsider a practice under which, monotonously, twice a week, week after week, 40 or 50 hon. Members inquire what she is doing on the day she answers Questions?

The Prime Minister

My job is to keep the answers in order. It is the job of Mr. Speaker and hon. Members to keep the questions in order. I do not think that I have transferred a single oral question, I am happy to take the bowling from wherever it comes.

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