HC Deb 10 April 1984 vol 58 cc191-3
Q1. Mr. Montgomery

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 10 April.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others and met the Amir of Bahrain on his arrival for a state visit. On my return I sent to the Civil Commissioner in Port Stanley a message expressing the Government's deepest sympathy at the tragic loss of life and injury sustained in the fire at Port Stanley hospital earlier today. In addition to my duties in the House I shall be having further meetings later today. This evening I hope to attend a state banquet for the Amir of Bahrain at Windsor castle.

Mr. Montgomery

Is my right hon. Friend aware that she will have widespread support for her robust support for the police in their difficult task of ensuring that people who want to go to their place of work can do so unmolested?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I believe that the police have overwhelming support in the country and among those miners who have been able to go to their place of work because of the careful attitude of the police in this matter.

Mr. Lofthouse

Is the Prime Minister aware that, within 12 months, it is possible that all miners over 50 years of age will have lost their jobs? Have the Government any plans to encourage alternative industry in those mining areas, or does she intend that those young miners should never work again?

The Prime Minister

In so far as the mines are in special development areas or areas in which there is special development assistance, that assistance will apply. In so far as other grants for the start of small businesses or enterprise allowances are available, they also will apply. Might I point out that when miners over 55 have to retire the terms for them are, I believe, more generous than have been provided by any previous Government.

Mr. Kinnock

The Prime Minister told Sir Robin Day last night that she wanted a go-getter society. As we now have more than 1 million 18 to 24-year-olds unemployed in Britain, can she tell them where they can go and what they can get?

The Prime Minister

If the right hon. Gentleman had listened a bit more carefully he might have learnt a little more. I said that we need an enterprising society—no Government can succeed without the men and women of enterprise.

Mr. Kinnock

Goverments cannot provide the men and women of initiative, but they can prevent the men and women of initiative. As 23 per cent. of 18 to 24-year-olds are without jobs, will she tell us what she will do to enable them to use their initiative, vitality, intelligence and talents? What will she do instead of give the smug sermons that have now entirely taken the place of economic policy?

The Prime Minister

If the right hon. Gentleman puts the two parts of his questions together, he will see that the Government have encouraged the men of enterprise by reducing many of the controls and by levying much less direct taxation on enterprise. Indeed, if we had the Labour tax regime, we would now be paying £3.5 billion more in income tax. As far as the young people are concerned. we have provided the best training scheme ever, and that, together with the enterprise and training schemes, is producing the results which the right hon. Gentleman refuses to recognise, but which are there.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Yeo.

Mr. Nellist

Could the right hon. Lady live on £25 a week? How much is that banquet tonight costing?

Mr. Speaker

Order. I must say to the hon. Gentleman that if he does that again he will have to leave.

Mr. Yeo

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, if individual civil servants are to be free to decide in respect of which actions and information they obey the Official Secrets Act, and in respect of which matters they flout that Act, the business of Government would rapidly become completely unworkable.

The Prime Minister

I agree with my hon. Friend. No Government can carry on except with the total trust of the Civil Service, and I believe that we have that total trust except in very rare individual cases.

Mr. Steel

Is the Prime Minister making any representation today to the United States Government about their dangerous activity in mining the ports of Nicaragua?

The Prime Minister

We have previously made it very clear to the United States Government that we are against mining the ports in Nicaragua because, of course, it is very dangerous to international traffic on the high seas.

Q2. Mr. Leighton

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 10 April.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Leighton

In the interests of the safety of British seafarers, would the Prime Minister consider co-operating with the French in removing the mines laid in Nicaraguan waters?

The Prime Minister

We have not the resources out there to do so.

Mr. Key

Will my right hon. Friend, in expressing the sympathy of all of us for those who were killed in the fire in the Falkland Islands hospital, recall that she visited that hospital herself and saw the conditions there? Will she further recall that, more than a year ago, a report was made condemning the fire safety procedures in that hospital and that British troops were moved out of it some weeks ago because of fire hazard? Will she do all that she can to encourage the Falkland Islands Government to replace that hospital as soon as possible, in the interests of the civilian population, especially the old people who were in it?

The Prime Minister

A new hospital is planned. I am afraid that, of necessity, it will take some time to build. We shall do all that we can to speed up the building and, in the meantime, to provide other alternative facilities.