HC Deb 25 November 1980 vol 994 cc319-20
Q3. Mr. Ralph Howell

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 25 November.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Howell

My right hon. Friend has great support throughout the country for the firm and realistic policies which she has pursued and which were portrayed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday. Is she aware that great damage has been done to the proposals as a whole by the inclusion of an increase in the national insurance contributions? Is she aware that the same revenue could have been raised by indirect taxation, bearing in mind my right hon. Friend's firm commitment to restore incentives to work and to solve the "Why work?" problem.

The Prime Minister

A very considerable increase in indirect taxation would have been required to raise that amount of money. As my hon. Friend knows, the national insurance scheme is not a mere transfer of income. It is an insurance scheme and one's right to benefits from it depends on the contributions made throughout life. It is important to maintain that link. We are in the difficulty, faced by all Governments, that we have to provide not only for rising benefits, but for rising numbers, particularly among retirement pensioners. There is only one way to provide for those who do not work and that is by contributions from those who do.

Mr. Molyneaux

In the course of a busy day, will the Prime Minister inquire into the circumstances in which authorisation was given and facilities provided for a television interview with a convicted prisoner in one of Her Majesty's prisons?

The Prime Minister

I have no intention of holding an inquiry although I should like to make clear that I share the hon. Gentleman's distaste at seeing convicted murderers on television. It was thought that the Government have absolutely nothing to hide about the Maze prison or about their attitude to those on hunger strike. There can be no such thing as a political prisoner. It was thought that this was one possible way of counteracting the IRA propaganda campaign.

Several hon. Members rose—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We were one minute late starting Prime Minister's questions. I shall therefore allow one further minute.

Dr. McDonald

Is the Prime Minister aware that the cut in the standard rate of income tax by 3p in the pound will cost £6 billion in lost revenue by the end of the next financial year? Is she not ashamed of the fact that the old, the sick, the poor and the unemployed pay for those cuts in income tax, which go mainly to benefit the rich, through cuts in welfare spending?

The Prime Minister

Welfare spending, like all other spending, has to be financed by those who are in work. We do no good by demanding more benefits and denying the means to pay for them. The full value of the pension in terms of what it will buy will be preserved. Last year, we added to the provision for pensions because the amount that had been provided was not sufficient. This year, we provided more than was warranted by the price increase. The undertaking is to compensate fully for price increases over the life time of a Parliament.

Mr. William Hamilton


The Prime Minister

That means either making up the shortfall or taking into account the over-provision next time.

    1. c320
  2. WELSH AFFAIRS 26 words