HC Deb 19 February 1987 vol 110 cc805-7W
Mr. Soames

asked the Prime Minister what are the objectives of Her Majesty's Government for the rest of this Parliament.

The Prime Minister

At home, we shall continue prudent and sound financial policies, designed to strengthen prospects for employment, involving a more flexible and competitive economy, which encourages initiative and enterprise. We shall aim to continue to keep public spending falling as a proportion of GDP, to keep public sector borrowing low and to reduce taxation. We will work for the still wider spread of wealth and ownership in our country, based upon the privatisation of industries, and an increase in individual home and share ownership.

We will help industry and commerce to increase the national production of wealth by creating the climate within which consumer choice and markets can properly operate. We will be active in ensuring that the rules by which markets are regulated are vigorously enforced.

We will use our legislation to protect householders and businesses from excessive rate demands and we will continue our efforts to ensure efficient and effective local government.

We will continue to promote private sector involvement in the regeneration of inner cities, and carry on our work to simplify and improve the planning system in the interests both of the economy and of the environment.

Through the Development Commission and in other ways, we will foster the diversification of rural economies in a way which protects the environment.

We will continue to promote consumer choice and efficiency through competition in the provision of transport services. We expect to privatise BAA (formerly the British Airports Authority) in the summer; we are proceeding with the third Dartford Crossing and legislation on the Channel tunnel project is currently before Parliament.

We shall continue to ensure that the increasing resources we are making available to the NHS go to improve the quality of service. We are launching a new drive to tackle hospital waiting lists and times. We shall continue the fight against AIDS, which will include the establishment of a new Health Education Authority, with powers to carry forward the public education campaign on AIDS.

Changes to the social security system will be implemented which will target help to those who most need it while improving incentives to work and widening individual choice in pension provisions.

We shall vigorously uphold the rule of law and fight crime, especially drug misuse and crimes of violence. The Criminal Justice Bill now before Parliament will improve the law on measures against fraud, on the sentencing of offenders, on compensation for victims and on confiscating the proceeds of crime.

We shall continue to work for a better educational system, by giving parents more say in the education of their children, by extending the training and vocational elements in teenage education, and by laying greater emphasis on higher standards.

We will press on with the implementation of our policies for a better school curriculum and examination system. We shall pursue the establishment of city technology colleges in urban areas and the extension throughout the country to 14–18 year olds of the technical and vocational education initiative.

In further and higher education we shall continue to increase opportunities for study, to put increasing emphasis on vocational education, especially in science and engineering, and to promote higher quality and greater efficiency.

In the energy field, our policies will promote the best use of our rich endowment of natural resources and scientific and innovative talent in a responsible, market-orientated environment.

We shall continue policies designed to promote employment and enterprise and to assist the unemployed back into work; to remove unnecessary constraints and burdens from the wealth and job creating sectors of the economy; and to encourage the spread of democratic procedures within trade unions.

We will continue to contribute to peace with freedom and justice in Europe by maintaining effective defences in co-operation with our NATO allies. We will ensure that Britain maintains an independent nuclear deterrent. We will continue to discharge our defence responsibilties and protect British interests outside the NATO area. We will maintain our drive to secure better value for money from the defence budget, particularly through increased competition and international collaboration in the procurement of equipment. We will work from strength for balanced and verifiable reductions in nuclear and conventional weapons as well as a global ban on chemical weapons. We also want greater co-operation and trust between East and West: I am looking forward to visiting Moscow at the end of March.

We shall promote the prosperity of the United Kingdom and that of its Allies and the developing countries by working to sustain and improve the world open trading system. We shall work with others to promote non-inflationary economic growth and the liberalisation of world trade both at the Venice economic summit and in the Uruguay round of negotiations under the general agreement on tariffs and trade.

Within the European Community we shall work for sound financing and strict budgetary discipline, further improvements in the common agricultural policy, a single market for goods and services and other policies where we can achieve more by co-operation in the Community than on our own. We shall seek to ensure that Europe plays its full part in international affairs, by working to improve Europe's competitive position in world trade and to achieve closer co-operation between the Twelve over foreign policy.

We shall continue to work for an effective United Nations Organisation. We wish to see human rights and the rule of law upheld internationally. We shall press for an end to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and Vietnamese aggression in Cambodia, so that both countries can regain their independence. With our European and Commonwealth partners we shall continue to promote peaceful dialogue in South Africa, as the most effective way of replacing the apartheid system by a form of government which commands the support of all South Africans and will ensure South Africa's future prosperity and stability. We shall work to promote peace in the Middle East and to lessen tensions in Central America. We shall continue to stand by the Falkland Islanders. We shall sustain our efforts to combat hunger, disease (particularly AIDS) and the scourges of international terrorism and drug trafficking.