HC Deb 22 November 1990 vol 181 cc420-1
Q2. Mr. Marlow

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 22 November.

The Prime Minister

This morning I chaired a meeting of the Cabinet. At 12.45 pm I had an audience of Her Majesty the Queen. Later this afternoon I shall lead for the Government against the motion tabled in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Marlow

Does my right hon. Friend accept that those of us on the Government side of the House who share her objectives, whatever our roles may have been in recent weeks, believe that this is a time of sadness and happiness? It is a time of sadness for my right hon. Friend, bearing in mind the great well of affection for her that exists throughout the House, and a time of happiness in celebration of what has been, is and will remain the greatest peacetime political reign of this century. This will be a day of dedication to sustain and build on the achievements of the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

The Prime Minister

I thank my hon. Friend. The same person, in a slightly different capacity, will be available to serve Britain in whatsoever way it happens.

Mr. Kinnock

May I pay tribute to the Prime Minister, and to the decision that she made this morning? By that, she showed that she amounts to more than those who have turned on her in recent days.

The right hon. Lady, I know, considers the principle of choice extremely important, and rightly so. Does she agree that the people of Britain should now be given the power of choice in a general election?

The Prime Minister

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his earlier comments. The reply to his later question is no—no more than we had a general election when Mr. Wilson was replaced by Mr. Callaghan.

Mr. Churchill

Is my right hon. Friend aware that she deserves the gratitude of the entire nation for her role in bringing to an end the Soviet part in the arms race, and burying once and for all the cold war between the super-powers? It is in that capacity that she will be remembered as the greatest peacetime Prime Minister this country has ever had.

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my hon. Friend both for his staunchness in defence and for his remarks. It was a great privilege to attend the CSCE conference in Paris and to sign some of the disarmament agreements. The new CSCE really ushers in a new order in Europe—and, I hope, a very successful, peaceful one.

Mr. Ashdown

May I say to the Prime Minister that many of us recognise that she had to make a very tough decision this morning? We believe that she made the right decision and made it with great dignity. May I also say to her that, however wide our political divisions—and they are, of course, very wide—no one can doubt the special style that she brought to the Dispatch Box or the courage, conviction and determination that she brought to her premiership?

May I perhaps ask the Prime Minister to use this opportunity to offer the House any advice that she may have for a successor?

The Prime Minister

Apart from the last bit, I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his kindness. May I remind the House that I expect to be here on Tuesday afternoon, and possibly even on Thursday afternoon, so I hope that the House will be as kind then as it is today.