HC Deb 09 March 1982 vol 19 cc719-21
Q3. Mr. Steen

asked the Prime Minister when she plans next to visit Liverpool.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do So.

Mr. Steen

Will my right hon. Friend denounce the scurrilous remarks made yesterday by the Labour candidate for Liverpool, Wavertree, who advocated revolution, social unrest, civil war and bloodshed on our streets? Does she agree that such statements by the Militant Left-wing in Liverpool and on Merseyside drive private investment and private enterprise out of Merseyside and sows the seeds for more social unrest and unease?

The Prime Minister

I denounce and condemn any such remarks by whomsoever they are made. If they were made by the Communist and Fascist Left, that does not surprise me. Equally, I denounce it strongly. Such remarks are designed to bring to an end our parliamentary democracy and the age-old institutions that have served Britain so well. They also drive away productive investment from an area that needs it, which means that jobs do not go there. That may be the objective of such people, who are the great destroyers. Some of them prefer social unrest.

Mr. Alton

I agree with the Prime Minister's comments about those who orchestrate violence on our streets, but does she agree that the fact that 45 per cent. of the people in my constituency and the neighbouring constituencies of Scotland Exchange and Toxteth are standing in dole queues, idle and unemployed, provides the breeding ground for the violence that we have seen?

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Gentleman to Lord Scarman's report, which tried to identify some of the causes of riots. Riots and violence of any kind do not help to attract jobs. We are trying to do everything that we can on Merseyside. During the period under review the resources devoted to the urban programme grant went up considerably compared with those made available under Labour. The resources under the partnership scheme nearly doubled. The resources under Industry Act assistance—to get jobs—went up from £22 million to £32 million from the time of the Labour Government to our time.

Mr. Thornton

Will my right hon. Friend accept from me that there is more to the problems of Liverpool than is evidenced by Toxteth? Does she accept that an over-concentration on those problems is allowing people from the Liverpool Eight Defence Committee, supported by Marxist tendencies in Liverpool, to distort the situation and so give rise to a feeling in Liverpool that the Government are paying far too much attention to Toxteth and less than is needed to the other parts of Liverpool?

The Prime Minister

I fully take my hon. Friend's point. There are many successful firms and companies in Liverpool. Perhaps it would be a refreshing change if we tried to define the reasons for success and then tried to emulate them more widely in Liverpool and elsewhere.

Mr. Parry

When the Prime Minister eventually plucks up courage to visit Liverpool, will she visit the inner city areas? Is she aware that four of the inner city wards, according to official Government surveys, are among the most deprived in the United Kingdom, possibly in Western Europe? Are not the Government's monetary policies responsible for those appalling facts and figures?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I visited Liverpool last year after the riots and appointed my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment to attempt to tackle the deep-seated problems of that city. Those problems have endured for a long time. It is a question not only of money but of leadership at all levels and throughout society. Without that we cannot pull anywhere together. I hope that my right hon. Friend will succeed in getting leadership in the voluntary services, the churches and the local authorities so that we may carry out the necessary reconstruction in attitudes and in discipline in Liverpool.