Skip to main content


Volume 79: debated on Thursday 16 May 1985

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


asked the Prime Minister if the Government have any intention of recognising the regime in Kampuchea.

No, Sir. We recognise the state of Cambodia, but in common with the overwhelming majority of the international community will not countenance having relations with the present regime in Phnom Penh, which depends on the Vietnamese occupation forces for its existence.

Does the Prime Minister not think that it is gratuitously offensive to the vast majority of the British people that we recognise at the United Nations the representatives of a regime which murdered 2 million of its own people? Is the bogus excuse still that the north Vietnamese or the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia? If that is the bogus excuse, is the Prime Minister aware of the United Nations 1948 convention on genocide? We cannot argue — [Interruption.] We have obligations under international law to put a stop to genocide.

The Government withdrew formal recognition from the Pol Pot regime in December 1979. In accordance with the recommendation of the United Nations General Assembly credentials committee, we continue to accept the representatives of the democratic parts of Kampuchea as representing the Cambodia seat.

While admitting that the regime we recognise in Kampuchea has a deplorable record, may I ask whether the Prime Minister agrees that the regime in Phnom Penh, backed by the Vietnamese, has committed every crime under the sun and is the enemy of our friends in that part of the world?

Yes. The Vietnamese forces are still in occupation. They have caused the flight of many refugees into Thailand. We give as much support and help as we can to those refugees. We shall not recognise the puppet regime in Phnom Penh, which is upheld only by the Vietnamese occupying forces.


asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 16 May.

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

In view of the wide divisions in her party, will the Prime Minister stop shedding crocodile tears, and will she state today that she is concerned about unemployment? In view of the formation of the new Centre Forward group—

I withdraw. In view of the formation of the Centre Forward group and the statement by Mr. lain Picton, chairman of the Tory Reform Group, will the Prime Minister now state whether the Lady is for turning, and if not, why not?

I am not sure whether I picked my way through that complicated question. The name "Centre Forward" was, of course, first coined by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, who wrote a book called "Centre Forward — a Radical Conservative Programme". Hon. Members can see that book, which I have here. It was written in 1978, and I am delighted to find that my hon. Friend has so many new supporters.

Following the good news from Shell, has my right hon. Friend had the time to reflect on the good news from British Leyland, which, in the first quarter of this year, had achieved its highest output for 10 years, with 98 per cent. availability?

I am always delighted to hear of great success in our motoring industry. I hope that it will steadily increase the proportion of the car market that is taken by firms in this country. I congratulate the company.

Why have crimes of every kind increased substantially since the Prime Minister took office in 1979? What is she going to do about it?

Crime has been going up both in this country and in other countries. This Government, unlike previous ones, have substantially increased the numbers in the police force—by some 12,000. We have also increased the amount of equipment that is available to them.

The police are not convinced by that. Who does the right hon. Lady expect to believe it?

I had hoped that the right hon. Gentleman might actually be swayed by the facts on the numbers of the police.

This right hon. Gentleman and, plainly, the police are more impressed by the 30 per cent. rise in serious crime since the right hon. Lady became leader of the Government. Will she now answer the question? Why is the crime rate so much higher? What is she going to do about it?

I repeat the reply that I gave. We have increased the numbers in the police force. We have also increased, as we did during last year, the actual amount of resources available. If there should be any under-recruitment in local authorities, I urge them to come up to establishment.

Has my right hon. Friend noted that in the year to March wages rose by 9 per cent.? Does she agree that if those in work take more of the national wage bill it must be bad for the unemployed? Will she therefore re-emphasise the need for wage restraint in any sensible attack on unemployment?

Yes, I saw those figures today. On average earnings, the underlying rate is still 7½ per cent., but my hon. Friend will also have heard today the news and wisdom that has come out of Southampton docks. Six months ago those docks were not working at all. The news came today that they have realised that if they are to get back to work they must reduce the wage bill. By doing that they have turned the position around and are now very successful. As my hon. Friend has said, wage costs must not rise too high if we are to get more jobs.

Will the Prime Minister note that in yesterday's elections in Northern Ireland about 10 per cent. of those who wished lawfully to cast their votes were prevented from doing so by the terms of the Elections (Northern Ireland) Act of this Session? Does she agree with the opinion held in all quarters of the Province that that statute cannot remain unamended?

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the purpose of the Elections (Northern Ireland) Act 1985 and the local elections order of 1982 was to strengthen safeguards against personation, to counter a significant increase in electoral abuse in recent years. We shall, of course, be reviewing the way in which the legislation works and, in particular, the usefulness of the various documents specified for identification. In response to the right hon. Gentleman, we shall certainly look at the way in which the Act has worked.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that recently I shared a platform with an employee of the Greater London council whose principal contribution to our discussions was to advocate riot as the only means whereby the ethnic minorities in this country could achieve their objectives? Does my right hon. Friend not think that that is one of the contributions to the rising crime rate?

I hope that almost everyone in the House accepts that the law must be obeyed, and we are all responsible for helping in its enforcement.


asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 16 May.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply that I gave a few moments ago.

Will the Prime Minister reflect on the situation of my constituent E. G. Moxon, and thousands like him, who went out under the job release scheme only to find that this year his annual increase is only 60p due to favourable developments in personal tax allowances? Has not the scheme turned out to be a con trick in that those low-paid people have paid for an increase, which they were not supposed to do? Will that not be detrimental to people wishing to go out under the scheme?

I think the hon. Gentleman will agree that the job release scheme was a good one, allowing people to retire early and releasing jobs for people on the unemployment register. If there is a particular difficulty or a special case in relation to tax I hope that the hon. Gentleman will write to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer about it.


asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 16 May.

Has my right hon. Friend had time during her busy day to read the totally independent report of the Comptroller and Auditor General stating that the National Health Service has never been more flourishing? Does that not show that the Opposition's scurrilous rumours about the future of the Health Service are utterly dishonest?

Yes, the Opposition do a lot of the talking, but we have delivered the best National Health Service that this country has ever known, with more doctors and nurses—[HON. MEMBERS: "Use them!"]—dealing more efficiently with a greater number of patients. [Interruption.] The Opposition may shout, as they usually do, but they cannot overcome the facts. Under this Government the National Health Service is the best ever.

Has the Prime Minister had time today to read the point of order that I raised yesterday regarding early-day motion 686—

Order. The point of order was to me, so it is my responsibility and not that of the Prime Minister.

Yes, Mr. Speaker. I wondered whether the right hon. Lady had had time in her busy day to read that point of order. As Reuters has apologised to me for the inaccurate report, and as the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) has graciously withdrawn the early-day motion, will the right hon. Lady now have the courtesy to apologise for, and withdraw, the remarks that she made without any justification at Question Time on Tuesday?

I said at Question Time on Tuesday:

"Those remarks must have been deeply wounding and we on these Benches reject them absolutely."—[Official Report, 14 May 1985; Vol. 79, c. 169.]
I understand that the hon. Gentleman is withdrawing the remarks—[Interruption.]

I understand that my hon. Friend has withdrawn the remark and, of course, I therefore do. I hope that the hon. Gentleman now thinks that that airstrip was a very good investment—[Interruption.]

Order. I shall take points of order only if they relate to Question Time and only if they are not an extension of Question Time.

Order. If the hon. Gentleman's point of order relates to what happened two days ago, I shall take it later.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As someone who accompanied the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) to the Falkland Islands, I can confirm that everything he has said in the House is correct and that if statements were made on Tuesday impugning his conversations in the Falkland Islands they are wrong and ought to be withdrawn.

I heard the exchanges yesterday and the points of order were addressed to me. I called the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) today. I heard exactly what the Prime Minister said, and she did withdraw.

My hon. Friend the Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) specifically asked the Prime Minister to read the exchanges which took place on Tuesday. She has obviously read them and must know that my hon. Friend was misreported. Will she now have the courtesy and grace to withdraw her remarks?

I thought that I had withdrawn —[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Then I do. I do so now—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] — and of course, I apologise.