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Prime Minister (Engagements)

Volume 974: debated on Thursday 29 November 1979

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Q6.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 29 November.

I have been asked to reply.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond).

Has my right hon. Friend noted with the same concern as that of many Members of the House that the strike figures this year are the worst since 1926? Does he agree that the sooner we as a country learn that we cannot strike our way to prosperity the better, and that the only way for this country to get back on its feet is through increased productivity so that there is more to share and we have genuine prosperity, instead of the problem that exists today?

I am sure that a large number of people in this country will agree with my hon. Friend's statement that we cannot strike our way to prosperity. The right to strike is a cherished freedom in this country. If abused, it can only undermine the standard of living of the people of this country. The Opposition know this as well as anyone else.

Will my right hon. Friend, in the course of his busy day, find time to contact the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority, in the light of the disturbing tragedy involving Air New Zealand? Will he ask the chairman whether it would be advisable to ground all British DC10s until we are sure that they are safe to fly?

I appreciate the concern of the hon. Gentleman and, indeed, of the whole House and the country about what is a serious matter. At the same time, it must be right to hear the report of the experts in the case before jumping to any conclusion one way or the other.

Does my right hon. Friend welcome the removal of the pickets from Charing Cross hospital? Does he agree that their removal owes everything to the action of doctors, nurses and patients, and absolutely nothing to the TUC or the union concerned? Does it not make absolute nonsense of the much vaunted TUC guidelines on picketing, all of which were broken with impunity by the pickets in this instance?

I think that everyone in the country and in the House will greatly welcome the fact that these pickets have been removed. It is a satisfactory situation and a tribute to all concerned who have been determined to continue to do their best work for the patients.

Order. Will the hon. Gentleman kindly wait, or is the matter so urgent that it cannot wait? I have had notice of two other points of order, and I propose to take them after the Business Statement.