HC Deb 10 June 1980 vol 986 cc294-6
Q1. Mr. Foulkes

asked the Prime Minister if she wll list her official engagements for Tuesday 10 June.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

In addition to my duties in this House, I shall be having meetings with ministerial colleagues and others.

Mr. Foulkes

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Secretary of State for Defence failed to satisfy the House yesterday—[HON. MEMBERS : "Nonsense."]—on the question of false nuclear alerts? What is she doing to ensure that we do not die through computer error? In the light of the state of the economy, will she check whether the Treasury model is on the same kind of computer?

The Prime Minister

I read the exchanges in the House yesterday involving my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. I thought that he dealt very satisfactorily with the questions asked. Of course, both he and I are concerned about these alerts. Naturally we would be, being responsible for nuclear activity here, and we take that responsibility extremely seriously. But as my right hon. Friend pointed out, the action taken was defensive and the mistake was discovered very quickly.

Mr. Cyril D. Townsend

Now that the Camp David agreement has clearly run into the sands, and recalling a number of serious incidents on the West Bank, is it not a good time for the European Community to be putting forward a new approach to the problems of the Middle East that does not ignore the views of the PLO?

The Prime Minister

As a result of a direction at Luxembourg, the Heads of Government and Prime Ministers will be discussing the situation in the Middle East when we meet this weekend in Venice. I am sure that our discussions will take fully into account the two things which are absolutely vital—the need to recognise Israel's right to exist behind secure boundaries, and the need also to recognise the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people. The difficulty has always been to get these two things reciprocal and in step. But we shall have our discussions, and if we come to any conclusions, doubtless a communique will be issued.

Mr. Maxton

Has the Prime Minister found time to read the announcement last week to the effect that Weir Pumps, in my constituency, is declaring close to 1,000 people redundant? Does she agree that when a company which has a very good export record, which has invested millions of pounds in the last few years in the redevelopment of the company, and which is increasing productivity, blames the Government's record on inflation, the high level of the pound and high interest rates for its failings it is time that she changed her economic policies?

The Prime Minister

If a company has, unfortunately, to declare redundancies, it is obviously because that company is unable to sell its products in the markets of today. [Interruption.] I can only say that many companies are keeping up their export records very well indeed. [HON. MEMBERS : "Where?"] The figures show it. Forty-four per cent. of our exports go directly to the rest of the European Community, and our largest market is West Germany.

Mr. Hugh Fraser

Referring to the Venice summit and appreciating the Government's dilemma in this matter, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether she will assure the House that neither will impediments be put in the way of the advance in the Camp David process nor will damage be done to Anglo-American relations?

The Prime Minister

It is not our purpose in any way to put any impediments in the way of the Camp David process, in which we wholeheartedly believe and which we hope will succeed, nor to cause any problems between Europe and the United States. It is vital that we do not do so.

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