HC Deb 23 November 1982 vol 32 cc705-6
Q4. Sir Anthony Meyer

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 23 November.

The Prime Minister

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave some moments ago.

Sir Anthony Meyer

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is an unfilled vacancy, and that is the leadership of the free world at a particularly perilous moment? Is she further aware that, as the senior leader in the West—[Interruption]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The House does itself no good by all this noise. If we get into the habit of trying to shout down what we do not like, democracy will come to an end here.

Sir Anthony Meyer

—she is uniquely qualified to fill that post if she can demonstrate the same intensity of concern for the well-being of the peoples of the European Community and the Atlantic alliance as she has convincingly demonstrated for the well-being of the people of this country?

The Prime Minister

I realise what my hon. Friend is saying, but anyone who attempted to self-style himself as the leader of either the free world or the European Community would not get far or have much influence. In the European Community we are a partnership of 10 sovereign nations, each representing its own interests, but realising that it is better for all and each of us to do certain things in common. We shall continue to represent British interests, and we shall continue to try to seek equitable policies for the Community as a whole. That is the best leadership that we can give.

Mr. Tom Clarke

In view of the frequent references to so-called social security exploiters, is it not outrageous that millions of pounds are lost to Britain because of tax evasion? Will the Prime Minister respond to the Civil Service trade unions by making personnel available for the collection of such vital revenue and in so doing respond to the views of the Public Accounts Committee?

The Prime Minister

If there is fraud of any kind, either in connection with social security or tax, there are people allocated to root it out, after which it becomes a matter for the police. There are such people in the Department of Health and Social Security and in the back tax department of the Inland Revenue.

Mr. Dickens

For the sake of the strength of the £ sterling, will my right hon. Friend please confirm to the House that the Government intend to stand steadfast behind their economic policies and that we have merely requested local government to spend up to its controlled agreed quotas?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is right. No one in the market should have any doubt about our determination to hold fast to our strategy to beat inflation. Sound money remains at the heart of our economic policies.

We have asked local authorities to spend up to and not beyond their allocations. Indeed, it is our policy to keep all public expenditure within the cash limits that have been set.

Mr. Michael Latham (Melton)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I raise again a matter which I raised with you a couple of weeks ago? There is an increasing tendency among hon. Members—today it was a right hon. Member—to raise points of order in the middle of Question Time, which takes away the rights of other Back-Bench Members.

Mr. Speaker

I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman. The House knows that I have asked right hon. and hon. Members to wait until after Question Time to raise points of order. I shall do my best to ensure that that happens in future.

Sir John Biggs-Davison (Epping Forest)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Was it not the case that the right hon. Member desired protection, and does not the House need protection from spurious points of order?