Skip to main content

Prime Minister (Engagements)

Volume 979: debated on Thursday 28 February 1980

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Prime Minister whether she will list her official engagements for Thursday 28 February.

During the course of her busy day, will my right hon. Friend take time to reflect on the TUC's proposal to call a one-day national strke on 14 May, bearing in mind the damage that that will do to our economy and the disruption that will ensue in our daily lives? Does my right hon. Friend agree that the TUC leadership would do well to listen to the chorus of opinion that is growing daily among its members and their wives, who wish to express their right to work rather than blindly obey the diktats of Congress House?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I totally agree with him that such a day of action would do no good to British trade unionism, British industry or the reputation and standing of British goods and services abroad.

Will the right hon. Lady find time today to instruct the Governor of Southern Rhodesia that, after the elections are declared, he must summon to form the Government of Zimbabwe the man who has won the most seats?

No, Sir, because that it not quite the constitutional position. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!".] That is not quite the constitutional position, unless one party wins a clear majority. If a party does not win a clear majority, the constitution requires the Governor to appoint whoever, in his judgment, is best able to command the support of the majority. It is for the leaders of the parties, and not the Governor, to decide what coalitions to form. That is the constitutional position.

Will my right hon. Friend find time today to consider the plight of the people of Cambodia? Is she aware that for a nation of 42 million people there are only 56 doctors in the entire country, and that all outside assistance has been refused by the authorities in Pnom Penh, apart from a 10-man Soviet team, which is but a drop in the ocean? Is she further aware that the International Committee of the Red Cross says that up to the end of last year, of the 40,000 tonnes of relief supplies that it delivered to Pnom Penh, only 2 per cent. were distributed? Will she make representations to the United Nations and also the Soviet Government, who are financing the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia to the tune of $2½ million per day?

I shall, of course, look further into the matters revealed by my lion. Friend. I thought that the relief operation through this country and the EEC was going well. In view of the new points that my hon. Friend raises, I shall look at the matter again.

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Secretary of State for Social Services said that the Government had taken no decision about changing the method of paying social security benefits? Will the right hon. Lady take the opportunity categorically to deny that the Government have any intention of changing the system?

I believe that what the hon. Lady is asking is that, if they wish, retirement pensioners can continue to have their pensions paid weekly through a post office. I agree that that is right. However, if others want theirs paid through a bank at, say, fortnightly intervals or at periods less than quarterly, they, too, should be able to make that choice.

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the Treasury answer which shows that in this calendar year our net contribution to the EEC budget will not be the often-quoted £1 billion, but £1·3 billion? In her efforts to secure a broad balance, will my right hon. Friend ignore the faint-hearted, wherever they may be, and recognise that she will have the full-hearted consent of the people in whatever action is necessary to secure her objective?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. It is true that unless we get a settlement of the budget problem, our net contribution looks like rising. That is why it is so important not only to get a settlement for next year, but a formula that will affect future years.