HC Deb 26 April 1990 vol 171 cc479-80
Q1. Mr. Callaghan

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 26 April.

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.

Mr. Callaghan

Is the Prime Minister aware that the report of the Select Committee on Education, Science and the Arts on teacher shortages, pay and conditions has been suppressed for almost a year? As the report is not to be published until after the local elections, will the Prime Minister tell the House what she and her Conservative colleagues on the Select Committee are afraid of?

The Prime Minister

We are very proud of our record with regard to teachers' pay, compared with that of the previous Labour Government. By 1 January 1991, teachers' pay will have risen by 50 per cent. on average in cash terms since March 1986. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science is implementing the interim advisory committee's recommendations. That will mean very substantial rises for all teachers, particularly for experienced teachers and for those who are new to the profession. Heads and deputies will receive increases of up to 12.2 per cent. It is a good record.

Mr. Hayward

My right hon. Friend will have received many representations in the past 12 months about alternatives to the community charge. Was not the most callous unveiled yesterday in Scotland, when there was a proposal which made no allowance for rebates for pensioners, the sick, or the unemployed? [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] That proposal was outlined by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) yesterday. [Interruption.]

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend makes—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am not responsible for what the hon. Member said. It is a matter for him. I call the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend makes his own point very effectively—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. This is disgraceful behaviour.

The Prime Minister

The policy of the Opposition which I would criticise is the roof tax, which would bear particularly heavily on all those in council houses who, having purchased their houses at a very generous discount, would find themselves with a very high actual charge—the roof tax—on the up-to-date valuation of their houses.

Mr. Molyneaux

Is the Prime Minister aware that, whatever may be said by politicians in Europe, including some in this House who should know better, there is widespread support throughout the United Kingdom for her defence of Britain's status as a nation state in all respects?

The Prime Minister

I am very grateful for the right hon. Gentleman's question. I agree that most people wish to be absolutely certain that they will continue to have their own head of state or monarchy—half of them are monarchies in Europe—their own parliamentary institutions and other institutions, and that we should be accountable to them.

Mr. John Townend

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the growing anger among the general public at the enormous cost of the recent prison riots, which will have to be paid by the taxpayer? Will she give an assurance that it will not be allowed to happen again that in any future incident control of the prison will be taken immediately and that whatever course is necessary will be used, be it the SAS, tear gas or arms, and that the Government will not be deterred by fear of convicts being injured?

The Prime Minister

The matter of cost will be discussed with the Home Secretary. Although it is normally expected that the police themselves meet from their grants the costs of ordinary policing, that will be further discussed with the Home Secretary. As for the timing of what happened, I think it right that the decision should be left to those on the spot, in conjunction with consultation with the Home Office. It is not for us to second guess the decisions that were made.