HC Deb 11 March 1980 vol 980 cc1146-8
Q1. Mr. Viggers

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 11 March.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

In addition to my duties in this House, I shall be having meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. This evening I hope to have an Audience of Her Majesty The Queen.

Mr. Viggers

Has the Prime Minister had time to read press reports about the recent activities of the so-called National Union of School Students, including joining in TUC protest rallies and holding a weekend conference on lessons in revolution? Does she agree that this movement cannot be completely disregarded as long as it is subsidised by the National Union of Students and as long as its support is accepted by the TUC without comment? Does she agree also that the TUC and the Labour Party should join us in condemning this movement?

The Prime Minister

Of course I agree with my hon. Friend that we must deplore any attempt by any group to advocate contempt for the law. I believe that the TUC would join us in this. I believe that this organisation is a small one and that its numbers are dwindling. In view of its activities, that is not surprising. We hope that that trend will continue.

Mr. Barry Jones

Why has the Prime Minister consistently undermined and humiliated her Secretary of State for Employment?

The Prime Minister

She has not.

Hon. Members

Ask him.

Mr. Thornton

Will my right hon. Friend find time to reflect on the report in The Daily Telegraph this morning of the decision to restart sales from the EEC butter mountain to the USSR? Will she instruct her Ministers to renegotiate the common agricultural policy, which the vast majority of people in this country find totally unacceptable?

The Prime Minister

I have seen those reports. We are very much against, and will continue to press our case against the sale of subsidised butter to the Soviet Union. We have pressed the case in every Council of Ministers, but, as hon. Members know, we do not always have the support of our partners in pursuing our case.

On the question of the common agricultural policy, we agree as have most British Governments, that it needs reforming. However, I would be less than frank if I did not warn my hon. Friend that that will be a very difficult task indeed, and we shall need to be extremely persistent.

Mrs. Renée Short

Will the Prime Minister find time today to look at the advice being given by various people to her Eminence grise, Sir Derek Rayner? Several Select Committees of this House are anxious to have Sir Derek's advice, but they are experiencing difficulties. Will she remove those difficulties?

The Prime Minister

There may well be some problems if Sir Derek Rayner is asked to attend every Select Committee to answer for every project, which he has not done himself, but which people in the separate Departments have done. I urge hon. Members very genuinely to consider this matter. If, because Sir Derek has done one tiny project in each Department, it is suggested that he should be summoned to every Select Committee, we might find ourselves losing the services of a remarkable and wonderful person.

Mr. Emery

To help raise the vast sums of money that will be necessary to assist the new Government in Zimbabwe to overcome the ravages of war, will my right hon. Friend consult the leaders of the Commonwealth, with the object of establishing a development fund? Will she request contributions from the United States of America, the EEC and the Commonwealth to assist Mr. Mugabe to hold to the moderate policies that he has outlined in a most statesmanlike manner?

The Prime Minister

Of course we shall consider what assistance is needed by Rhodesia after independence. We shall discuss that matter with Mr. Mugabe. Some assistance will be forthcoming from Britain. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his suggestion that we should consult others to determine whether they would be prepared to provide extra assistance.