§ Q4. Mr. Proctor
asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 October.
§ Mr. Proctor
During the course of my right hon. Friend's busy day, will she have the opportunity to see reports to the effect that 800 social workers employed by the Conservative-controlled Birmingham city council are on strike against the council's determination to get better value for money for the Birmingham ratepayer? Is this not disgraceful, and will my right hon. Friend take this opportunity to urge these strikers to return to work forthwith?
§ The Prime Minister
I deplore the action taken by the council staff. It is in the interests of all ratepayers to get 889 the best value for money and to have as efficient a working operation as it is possible to achieve, which includes considering the possibility of putting out certain services to private contractors.
§ Mr. Joseph Dean
Will the Prime Minister take time today to deny the reports currently circulating to the effect that the Secretary of State for the Environment is planning a further increase in council house rents of £2 per week, and that he is deliberately delaying a decision until after the by-elections at Northfield and Peckham?
§ Mrs. Knight
During the course of my right hon. Friend's busy day, will she consider the position in Birmingham, where the city council's treasurer's department is refusing to pay money owed by it to small business men, suppliers and contractors? Will she comment on that matter, which is putting many small businesses at grave risk and undoubtedly increasing the danger of further unemployment?
§ The Prime Minister
Prompt payment should be the usual rule. It is especially important to ensure that it is 890 adhered to in the case of small businesses. I join my hon. Friend in making an appeal for payment to be made immediately.
§ Mr. Eadie
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. When my right hon. Friend the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) asked the Prime Minister why she did not meet representatives of the triple alliance—which represents hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland—this morning, she failed to give the House an answer. Why did she not meet them?
§ Mr. Phillip Whitehead (Derby, North)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have given only brief notice of a point of order about the rights of the House, on which I seek your guidance—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I have received notice from another hon. Member that he intends to raise the same point of order. I propose to deal with it following an application under Standing Order No. 9, which is the usual time to deal with such matters.