HC Deb 06 July 1982 vol 27 cc146-7
Q3. Mr. Leighton

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 6 July.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Leighton

Does the Prime Minister recall the answer that she gave on 9 February to my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), when he warned her of the serious error of paying off HMS "Endurance" and of the consequences of such action? I believe that it was to be sold for about £3 million. Events in the South Atlantic have, I understand, cost rather more than £3 million. What has been the cost of the killing and maiming? As the Foreign Secretary honourably resigned, is it not time for her to accept, in grace and humility, her share of responsibility and culpability?

The Prime Minister

HMS "Endurance" was between the Falkland Islands and South Georgia at the time of the invasion. It was there throughout the invasion of the Falkland Islands. The ship has only two 20 mm guns and two Wasp helicopters.

Mr. Marland

During the course of the day will my right hon. Friend find time to consider the proposed increase in charges that has been announced by British Telecom? It seems to illustrate the insensitivity of the nationalised industries, which pile more and more charges on private industry and individuals.

The Prime Minister

I entirely agree with the point underlying my hon. Friend's question. We need much greater efficiency from British Telecom and from every other industry. We need to reduce overmanning and restrictive practices. However, much money is being invested in new equipment for British Telecom. Over the year British Telecom's profits are about £450 million, which is only about one-quarter of the amount that we are investing in British Telecom. We trust that that new investment will be used efficiently.

Mr. Roy Jenkins


Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Jenkins

On the Falkland Islands inquiry—[Interruption]—will—

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is very unfair if a right hon. or hon. Member is not allowed to put his question. If the House stands for anything, it stands for freedom of speech.

Mr. Jenkins

Can the Prime Minister confirm that the inquiry's terms of reference will not now involve any leisurely ramble over the history of the past two decades, but will concentrate on immediate events, although possibly with a right to look back for the purposes of comparison and clarification?

The Prime Minister

By kind permission of Mr. Speaker, the answer to a written question from the Leader of the Opposition was published at 2.45 pm today, setting out the terms of reference of the proposed inquiry in the following terms: To review the way in which the responsibilities of Government in relation to the Falkland Islands and their dependencies were discharged in the period leading up to the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands on 2 April 1982, taking account of all such factors in previous years as are relevant; and to report. I am also glad to announce—as is stated in that reply—that Lord Franks has agreed to be chairman of the committee.