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Prime Minister (Engagements)

Volume 979: debated on Tuesday 26 February 1980

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asked the Prime Minister what her official engagements are for 26 February.

Will the Prime Minister have the courage to admit that her Secretary of State for Industry has introduced ruthless, reckless and reactionary policies which are dividing our nation and totally rending apart the social fabric of Britain? When will she assert her premiership, move against the monetarists in the Cabinet and sack the Industry Secretary?

My right hon. Friend, to whom the hon. Member has referred, has probably done as much for the social services of this country as any right hon. Member who was ever responsible for the social services. The hon. Member forgets that it was my right hon. Friend who introduced pensions for those over 80, family income supplement, pensions for widows between 40 and 50 years of age, invalidity pensions and constant attendance allowances. He should pay credit where credit is due.

Will my right hon. Friend take time to reread a report in Saturday's Daily Mail which discloses that the Tameside council intends to allow representatives of the Irish National Liberation Army to lecture in Greater Manchester? Will she not only condemn that proposal, but ban appearances by representatives of a terrorist organisation which was responsible for the murder of Airey Neave?

I certainly deplore the fact that this is being done. Subject to further inquiry, I believe that this is a proscribed organisation and, if so, the matter should be taken up formally with the Home Secretary.

Will the Prime Minister study the comments of the retiring chairman of the Inland Revenue, who estimates that this country loses annually between £2,000 million and £3,000 million through tax evasion?

Would it not be more correct to direct the efforts of a substantial number of the 1,000 people who are supposed to be investigating social security scroungers into chasing tax evaders?

It is fraud whether it occurs when people try to claim social security benefits to which they are not entitled, or when people try to get out of paying tax. Both offences should be treated in exactly the same way.

Will the Prime Minister, particularly in the light of her earlier answer, find time to send a message of congratulations and good wishes to the Governor of Rhodesia and to the people of Rhodesia on the eve of the historic act of casting their votes for a democratically elected Government?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I will certainly do so. The Governor has had an extremely difficult task. This is a week of decision for Rhodesia. I shall send him that message from my right hon. and hon. Friends.