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Volume 115: debated on Thursday 30 April 1987

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

This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that in implementing promptly and in full the recommended 9·5 per cent. pay increase for nurses the Government have demonstrated their continuing commitment to improving the lot of the nursing profession, which has grown by 30,000 under the present Government? Does she also agree that there is no justification for the lightning teachers' strikes, such as those that are happening in my constituency at present, when the Government have awarded teachers a 25 per cent. average increase? That is far more than my constituents in manufacturing industry have been able to obtain.

I agree with my hon. Friend. Under the last Labour Government nurses' pay actually fell in terms of what it would purchase. Under the present Government it has gone up by 30 per cent. over and above the rate of inflation. As my hon. Friend says teachers have also done very well. Their pay will have increased by 27 per cent. over and above the rate of inflation. That shows that, under this Government, the growth that we have experienced has been put to very good use, not only in reducing taxation, but in bringing an enhanced standard of living to those who work in education and the social services.

On the basis of the information now available to her, will the Prime Minister admit that the Government's poll tax scheme, when combined with the so-called social security reform, will result in most families in this country on joint incomes of less than £21,000 a year being worse off than they are now, before the two schemes are implemented?

The right hon. Gentleman is aware of some of the tables that have been published. He will now have to wait until we see what net incomes are and how much Labour authorities in particular spend and charge in rates.

The Prime Minister is trying to deny a fact that she either knows to be true or ought to know to be true. Such conduct only confirms that the Government are ruthlessly determined not to tell the truth about the financial consequences of their re-election. I put the question to the Prime Minister again. It is a matter of fact on which work has been done and has been published. Is it not true that the majority of families with joint incomes of £21,000 or less will be worse off, regardless of whether their local authority is Labour, Conservative or anything else?

What people will have to pay in rates, or later in community charge, will depend upon some of the expenditure of local authorities. Now I understand why the Leader of the Opposition is not present. It is because Ealing has increased its rate by about 62 per cent.

The Prime Minister is devious and disingenuous at the same time. The whole country will understand that she is determined not to tell the truth about the financial consequences of the re-election of her Government. It is all part of the secret manifesto, and we shall expose the lot.

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would give a list of the high rates of Left-wing Labour-authorities and the catastrophe, not only of the high rating of ILEA, but of the appalling education.

Will my right hon. Friend confound the dismal Jimmies and agree with me that Scotland's economic performance is one of the success stories of this Government and that that success story will continue if a Conservative Government are re-elected?

Yes. The CBI survey relating to England, Wales and Scotland was very optimistic. It showed a level of optimism that we have not seen for a very long time. The reports of the top 50 companies in Scotland are excellent and unemployment is now falling.

Order. I know that we may be getting close to an exciting time, but—Mr. Jenkins.

I recognise that the Prime Minister is bound to attach considerable importance to the views of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Sir J. Callaghan) on the subject of an MI5 inquiry, but will she none the less repudiate, on reflection, the extraordinary constitutional doctrine that she appeared to be propounding on Tuesday, namely, that the activities of a permanent Government agency, however monstrous they may be alleged to be, cannot be inquired into once there has been a change of Government?

I have nothing to add to the replies that I have given before and to what I said on Tuesday.

Order. When I call the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) he may say what he wants to say., but I have not yet called him.

Order. If the hon. Gentleman goes on like this, it will be a long time before I call him.

Will my right hon. Friend find time today to assure the House that the Government have no plans to raise the rate of VAT to the 25 per cent. that was reached under the last Labour Government?