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Volume 21: debated on Tuesday 30 March 1982

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asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 March.

I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend is attending a meeting of the. European Council in Brussels.

In the light of yesterday's debate on Trident, will my right hon. Friend take time today to consider the need for this country to maintain adequate surface forces? In particular, in view of what is happening in the South Atlantic, will he say that Her Majesty's Government realise the benefits and value of HMS "Endurance", and tell us what steps the Government now propose to take, in view of the value of that ship, either to replace her or to keep her in service?

Certainly the Government accept the value of HMS "Endurance". In answer to my hon. Friend's other question, after all the changes that have been made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence, the Royal Navy will remain one of the largest and best equipped navies in the world, apart from those of the two super Powers.

Does the Home Secretary realise that many of us deplore the continued failure by the Prime Minister to accept the link between rising crime in London and the inner cities and the Government's economic policies, but that on the other hand we also deplore the kind of remarks that were made yesterday by Mr. Ken Livingstone, when he attacked the new Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis before that gentleman has even got his feet under the desk at Scotland Yard? [HON. MEMBERS: "Too long".] Does he accept that the new commissioner should be given a fair run and that he should be given the support of the people at large—

Order. Hon. Members should be able to put their questions succinctly and to come to a conclusion.

May I remind the House that the new commissioner was a London bobby on the beat in the London borough of Islington?

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, I and many other Ministers have always said, unemployment is a factor, but it is not the only factor, and it is certainly no excuse for the increase in crime. I find Mr. Livingstone's remarks about the new commissioner most deplorable and exceptionable in every way. The new commissioner has been appointed and will take office in October. He has an excellent record as a police officer in this country and in Northern Ireland. The hon. Gentleman is right. He was a considerable figure in London's police force before he went to Northern Ireland and has been a bobby on the beat. I deeply resent Mr. Livingstone's implications.

Will my right hon. Friend draw to the Prime Minister's attention the speech made yesterday by the Governor of the Bank of England, and the CBI report, which both show that our economy is picking up? Does he agree that we should cheer and not jeer about that news, which proves that our policies are working and that it would be folly to change them?

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. I, too, find it extraordinary that Opposition Members jeer rather than cheer at good news.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us when the Prime Minister said that she accepted the connection between the rate of unemployment and the crime rate, as he said that all Ministers had done so? Will he take account of the fact that a few minutes before he began to answer these questions the Secretary of State for Employment acknowledged that unemployment was soon likely again to be over 3 million and that a major contributory factor would be the number of young people coming on the register? What effects does the right hon. Gentleman believe that that fact will have this summer in Toxteth, Brixton and in many other places? [HON.MEMBERS:"Disgraceful"].

I find the right hon. Gentleman's last question highly deplorable. I should have thought that every hon. Member would wish to see peace on our streets and no more riots of any sort this summer. For the right hon. Gentleman to suggest that riots might occur is highly irresponsible.

I repeat that the Prime Minister, I and other Ministers have always made it clear that unemployment is a factor. But many other factors play a part in the problems of crime. There are many other difficulties and a great many other factors, for which every hon. Member has a responsibility. The right hon. Gentleman knows that very well.

If the right hon. Gentleman finds anything deplorable in what I have said, why does he not go away and do his duty by again reading the Scarman report, which justifies up to the hilt everything that I have said?

I simply find it deplorable that the right hon. Gentleman should suggest that there is any excuse whatever for crime or riots on our streets.

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that he knows perfectly well that there is a connection between mass unemployment, particularly among young people, and the riots, which is what the Scarman report said? Does he not accept that the Government should wake up and do their duty to prevent mass unemployment?

The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that the Government have taken many very important steps, following the Scarman report. Such steps will continue to be taken. But nothing that Lord Scarman or anybody else says can excuse violence or riots on our streets. The right hon. Gentleman knows that very well.

In view of the importance to the Highland economy, will my right hon. Friend do everything within his power to make a suitable power contract available to an operator for the Invergordon smelter?

That matter is being considered by my right hon. Friends. I have nothing further to say at this stage.


asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 March.

I have been asked to reply. I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply that I gave some moments ago.

On behalf of the Prime Minister and the Government, will the right hon. Gentleman admit to the disgraceful folly of selling five battleships to Argentina, which are now being used against us in our British protectorate in the Falkland Islands?

During a week in which my right hon. Friend successfully routed his critics and confirmed his authority as Home Secretary, may I ask whether he had time to notice the application of stop and search powers by certain pickets at the Massey Ferguson factory? Can he explain why, when stop and search powers are exercised unlawfully by pickets they are supported by certain Labour Members, whereas the proposition that the police should have stop and search powers, approved by the House, is opposed by them?

What explanation do the Government have for the failure of their law and order policies?

The hon. Gentleman and many others on the Opposition Benches who now propose that there should be more bobbies on the beat should realise that they removed them in the first place.


asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 March.

I have been asked to reply.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply that I gave some moments ago.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that in recent years we have had great difficulty in controlling costs on civil engineering contracts, such as those for the Isle of Grain power station and the Humber bridge? Will the Government reconsider their decision to go ahead with the new British Library? Will my right hon. Friend comment on the views of the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) that the likely total cost will be £600 million?

It was decided to go ahead with that major project because it was the most cost-effective way to preserve the priceless heritage of books and manuscripts that the library holds. I understand that only the first phase has so far been attempted at a cost of £88 million at current prices. The timing and cost of future phases will be considered, but the estimate is totally out of accord with what the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) said.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are now many hundreds of thousands of young people under 25 who have been out of work for over 12 months? Is he further aware of the simmering anger and despair of the large number of young people who regard the society created by his Government as one of no hope and no future? What is he prepared to do about that?

I find it extraordinary that the hon. Gentleman should imply that the Government have created the situation. The unemployment problems that we face, particularly for our young people, have been growing for many years. The Government have taken many steps to alleviate them. We should all welcome that fact.

Will my right hon. Friend ask the Prime Minister, both as Prime Minister and a London Member, to reflect upon the disgraceful waste of ratepayers' money by the Greater London Council in trying to explain the muddle over London Transport? Will she consider whether there is any useful service now performed by the Greater London Council?

I agree with my hon. Friend that the behaviour of the leader of the Greater London Council is quite extraordinary in any democratic society. I hope that it will be widely condemned on both sides of the House.

Will the Home Secretary, in his dual capacity today, look into the fact that constituents of mine have written to the police and had no answer? Is he aware that they have written to me as their Member of Parliament; that I have written to the police and had no answer? Is he further aware that I have telephoned and had no answer, that I raised the matter in the House last night, and have now received a telephone message without details from the police at Scotland Yard, who do not even know the number of their own police station? As this is a case of people complaining of racial harassment, where racial murders have been committed, will he look into this and see why the police—who are now larger in numbers than they have ever been, with a better organisation and with every facility—cannot answer a Member of Parliament's letter, or do not want to, whereas the Prime Minister can? Will he have a word with me? If he will not I shall cause a disturbance here—[Interruption.]—to draw attention to the fact that the ratepayers, who pay those police, cannot get proper treatment. It is no good the Home Secretary—[Interruption.]

The hon. Gentleman has asked me if I will look into those matters. The answer to that is 'Yes". He has asked me if I will talk to him about those matters. "Yes," but not under the threat of duress by his causing a disturbance.

I shall take the hon. Gentleman's point of order after I have heard the hon. Member for Keighley.

In view of the highly unsatisfactory nature of the Secretary of State's reply to question 14, I give notice that I reserve the right to raise this matter on the Adjournment, in view of the very strong expressions of dissent from the Labour Benches.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think that the Home Secretary has been here long enough to know that if I say I shall cause a disturbance in the House, that has nothing to do with him; it is to do with Mr Speaker.

Not for the first time, the hon Gentleman is quite correct. The Home Secretary cart look. after his own affairs.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply given by the Home Secretary to my question, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.