§ Q1. Mr. Stan Thorne
asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 23 February.
§ The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)
This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House I shall be having further meetings later today, including one with the Council of Civil Service Unions about GCHQ.
§ Mr. Thorne
Has the Prime Minister yet had time to consider the report of Coopers and Lybrand, which reveals that the abolition of the metropolitan councils will produce no net saving but a possible increase in cost of £60 million per year? Will she comment on that?
§ The Prime Minister
I have seen the outline of the report. Coopers and Lybrand have identified scope for significant savings. The extent to which those savings are realised will depend on how vigorously they are pursued by the boroughs and districts. It is to be hoped that they will actually consider the interests of the ratepayers.
§ Mr. Stokes
Will my right hon. Friend have time in the course of her busy day to consider the plight of the British lorry drivers in France, and will she make a direct personal intervention with President Mitterrand in her best Palmerstonian manner?
§ The Prime Minister
My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs was in Paris this morning and made vigorous representations to the French Government about the plight of our lorry drivers. I should like to report to my hon. Friend that our consular staff in the area worst affected have been increased by people going down there from Paris. Money is being loaned to lorry drivers so that they can purchase the things that they need. Most of them wish to stay with their lorries. We have had requests for repatriation from one group and are urgently considering what can be done about then[. In general, however, the drivers wish to stay with their lorries and our consular staff are doing everything possible to see that they are properly looked after.