HC Deb 10 November 1987 vol 122 cc157-8
Q1. Mr. Rooker

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 10 November.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today. This evening I hope to have an audience of Her Majesty The Queen.

Mr. Rooker

Does the Prime Minister accept that, when the state causes an avoidable injustice to a citizen, compensation and help should he swift and substantial? That being so, why is there such a delay in dealing with the legitimate claim of 1,200 of our fellow citizens who suffer from haemophilia and who have contracted the AIDS virus from the use of dirty blood products? They were not to blame and we need to help them.

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is considering this matter and I hope that he will have a statement to make shortly.

Mr. Peter Robinson

During the course of the day, will the Prime Minister reflect upon the massacre in Enniskillen on Sunday? As Ulster once again buries its dead, will she attempt to project herself forward into the meetings at council chambers up and down Northern Ireland where Unionists councillors and others have to sit down with representatives of the Provisional IRA? Will she take the obvious and logical step to proscribe Sinn Fein and any other organisation that supports terrorism?

The Prime Minister

We are concerned about the presence in Northern Ireland of district councillors who support terrorist violence. We believe that parties should choose between violence and democratic ways. A recent discussion paper canvassed a number of possible solutions to this problem, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will consider what further steps should be taken in the light of comments received. The possibility of proscribing a number of organisations, Sinn Fein and UDA among them, is kept under review, but proscription is a blanket measure that would go further than the specific problem. We shall await further consultation results before we make up our mind.

Mr. Kinnock

May I first say how much I agree with the view expressed by the Prime Minister that those who pursue the so-called joint strategy of the ballot and the bullet are guilty of both hypocrisy and complete incompatability with a democracy. Will the right hon. Lady accept that, even in the wake of the barbarism at Enniskillen, she is completely right to resist demands for the return of internment, since that would be more likely to give some form of perverse reward to the terrorists than enhanced security? Can the Prime Minister now tell us whether she will be meeting the Taoiseach, Mr. Haughey, to consider new joint initiatives to improve security and intensify the use of the Anglo-Irish Agreement for that purpose?

The Prime Minister

At the moment I have no plans to meet the Taoiseach. I shall be seeing him in the margins of the European Council at the beginning of December. I believe that at the moment events are speaking very loudly to those who have important decisions to make.

Sir Giles Shaw

Does my right hon. Friend consider that the unity of condemnation in the House against the outrage on Sunday should be followed by unity of purpose in dealing with terrorism? Does that suggest to my right hon. Friend that those who have consistently opposed the Prevention of Terrorism Act should now reconsider their position?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. The Prevention of Terrorism Act will come up for renewal in the coming year and I hope that we shall have unity of purpose in supporting it.

Mr. David Marshall

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 10 November.

The Prime Minister

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

Mr. Marshall

Is the Prime Minister aware of the Age Concern prediction that almost 1 million pensioners are at risk this winter? As she has stated that she needs the comfort of a £100 cashmere sweater to keep warm, what does she intend to do to prevent less well-off pensioners from freezing to death this winter?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, the heating additions are higher than they have ever been, both on the regular supplementary benefit, where they go the whole year through to enable people to buy cheaper coal during the summer if they wish, and the severe weather payments, which have been the object of many questions in the House and which we have changed so that we now believe that they will achieve the best possible results.

Mr. Hayes

I hope that my right hon. Friend is greatly encouraged by the fact that on Sunday every Catholic priest in Ireland will be preaching on the sinfulness of those who harbour the Remembrance Day butchers. Does she agree that when those people are brought to justice, it must be British justice, before a British court and a British judge, and that any foreign Government who attempt to foil this will not be forgiven or forgotten by the House?

The Prime Minister

I think that we are all encouraged by the universal condemnation and repugnance felt by the whole world about the vile act that took place in Enniskillen. I agree with my hon. Friend that the justice in Northern Ireland is the justice of the United Kingdom and the courts of the United Kingdom.