HC Deb 08 April 1982 vol 21 cc1083-4
Q1. Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Prime Minister if she will make a statement outlining the priorities for action of Her Majesty's Government in the remaining part of the present Parliament.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

Our priorities will remain the same as we stated at the outset of this Parliament, and as set out in more detail in the Gracious Speech at the beginning of each parliamentary Session.

With regard to the Falkland Islands, they remain British territory—no invasion can alter that simple fact. It is the Government's objective to see that the Islanders are freed from occupation at the earliest possible moment.

Mr. Taylor

While welcoming that assurance, and hoping that the Prime Minister will show the same courage, determination and common sense that she has shown to date, may I urge her to make a special effort to review the various ways in which the scarce resources of the West are used to prop up the Soviet empire? For example, has she seen in this morning's Hansard a report of the fact that in 1981, EEC countries paid more than £800,000 a day in cash subsidies to ensure that the Russians received massive quantities of food and wine at knock-down prices? Will she be prepared to review that and the other ways in which we prop up the Soviet empire?

The Prime Minister

The figures mentioned by my hon. Friend are familiar to me. Let me make it quite clear that the Government are opposed to any form of special subsidy of Community food products exported to the Soviet Union, and we vote accordingly in the Management Committee, which decides these matters. That, as hon. Members should know, is done by majority, and not, I am afraid——

Mr. Shore

Why does not the right hon. Lady change it?

The Prime Minister

Because we cannot change these things except by total agreement. We are wholly against it and we express our views forcefully.

Our partners in the EEC have been, and are being, extremely helpful in respect of our problems in the Falkland Islands. Both President Mitterrand and Chancellor Schmidt have been in touch with me personally and are taking action to support us.

Mr. Molyneaux

Is the Prime Minister aware that national unity will have been greatly enhanced by the decision to shelve the Gibraltar initiative? Is she aware that such unity can be sustained over the next few critical months by the Government's recognition of the simple wishes of British people, wherever they may be?

The Prime Minister

As to the Gibraltar initiative, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is in touch with the Spanish Foreign Secretary and a simultaneous statement is expected later today. I take note of the import of the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's question.

Mr. Cormack

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the determination and resolve in respect of the Falkland Islands is shared not only in this House but throughout the nation? Would it not be appropriate at an early stage to broadcast to the nation on the Government's plans?

The Prime Minister

I believe that that determination and resolve are shared throughout our country and ever wider, because I think that throughout the Western world and beyond there is a realisation that if this dictator succeeds in unprovoked aggression, other dictators will succeed elsewhere. We are fighting a battle against that type of aggression, and once again it is Britain that is fighting it. I do not think that this is the appropriate moment for a broadcast to the nation, but we have not been short of broadcasts on this issue.

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