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Prime Minister (Engagements)

Volume 974: debated on Thursday 29 November 1979

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

I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend is taking part in the meeting of the European Council in Dublin.

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that he said earlier this year, when fishing for immigrant votes, that all British citizens were regarded as equal, regardless of colour, race or creed? How does he reconcile that statement with the squalid immigration White Paper that he presented, urged on by his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in such a shamefaced manner earlier this month?

Like every other right hon. and hon. Member, I do not fish for votes. I merely seek them. I did not say that I sought votes from the immigrant population or anywhere else. There will be an opportunity to debate the White Paper. I understand that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will probably announce a debate for next week. I shall then be able to explain to the hon. Gentleman that what I am doing accords very much with what the Leader of the Opposition and many others have done before.

Has my right hon. Friend had time today to estimate the total cost to the public purse of yesterday's Labour Party organised demonstration? Will he comment on other areas of need on which the money could have been better spent?

In my capacity as Home Secretary I received reports on yesterday's marches. The marches were conducted properly and correctly. That was a satisfactory outcome. I found it surprising that people decided to take part in it. Presumably they were backing the previous Government, who ruined the country economically and went into the election on a bogus prospectus.

Will my right hon. Friend take time during the rest of the day to meet his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment to consider again the proposal to introduce the local government Bill in another place? Will he persuade him to step back from the course of setting specific limits for local authorities, which will cause a conflict that the Government will live to regret?

Of course I am prepared to discuss these matters with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. I should have thought that there were substantial advantages in introducing the Bill in the House of Lords.

In view of the serious situation in Iran, will my right hon. Friend urge the Prime Minister in Dublin to discuss with her colleagues possible contingency plans to keep open the Strait of Hormuz? Will he give an assurance that Britain and America will stand ready to give support to the nation of Oman?

I shall call my right hon. Friend's attention to what my hon. Friend has said. It would be unwise, in advance of discussions, for me to go any further than that.