HC Deb 17 November 1981 vol 13 cc160-2
Q3. Mr. Freud

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 17 November.

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply that I gave some moments ago.

Mr. Freud

Is the Prime Minister aware that our annual expenditure on military bands last year was £28 million? Is she further aware that for the sake of less than one-tenth of that sum the Conservative-controlled Cambridgeshire county council is reducing capitation, cutting village schools, stopping courses in further education and is now considering bussing mentally handicapped children to places away from Ely? Does she really think that she has her priorities right and that there is no alternative?

The Prime Minister

The amount spent under the rate support grant and through rates on the education of each pupil is the same in real terms as it has been in the past. How it is spent is a matter for the local county council.

Mr. Adley

Does my right hon. Friend recall that when President Mitterrand was elected he was given a rapturous welcome in the House by the Leader of the Opposition? Will my right hon. Friend now welcome President Mitterrand's latest decision on nuclear weapons and his robust rejection of unilateral disarmament, and perhaps invite the Leader of the Opposition to join her?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is right. President Mitterrand has been staunch in providing for the defence of France and in joining in providing weapons and soldiers for the whole of the Western Alliance. He has also been staunch on the need for a nuclear deterrent and never in favour of unilateral disarmament, because he believes, as most of us do, in multilateral disarmament. The way to achieve that is the way in which we are proceeding.

Mr. Winnick

Was not yesterday's outburst and exhibitionism a good illustration of the attitude of certain Unionist leaders who are determined to do what they can to create total confusion over the steps taken by the British and Irish Governments? Will the Prime Minister give an assurance today that neither the hon. Gentleman who was responsible for yesterday's outburst, nor the IRA murderers, will prevent the steps that have been taken with the Dublin Government from developing? Does she agree that those steps should be developed in order to make it easier for an agreement to be reached between Dublin and London?

The Prime Minister

What has happened will not deflect the Government in any way. The security forces will carry out their duty, as will the police. Most of us deplored what happened yesterday and believe that that—and the alleged assertion of one hon. Member that he will make the Province ungovernable—is not in the true interests of the people of Ulster. It could put the lives of many innocent people at risk and make the task of the security forces more difficult.

Mr. Latham

When, this morning, my right hon. Friend met King Hussein of Jordan—a country with which we have long had close relations—did she discuss with him how Britain, Europe and the Americans could best get their policies together on the Middle East? At present there seems to be a horrendous gap.

The Prime Minister

That is exactly what we were trying to discuss. We have the Camp David agreement, the European initiative and the eight principles enunciated by Saudi Arabia. The latter will be discussed soon at an Arab summit. Those proposals are on the table and we are all seeking a comprehensive settlement of the Middle East problem. As a first step, we all want recognition by the Palestinian people of the right of Israel to exist behind secure boundaries and simultaneous recognition by the Israelis of the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination. If we could achieve that it would be a major step forward. I believe that everyone is seeking a way in which to achieve it.