Biography Chronology Home Search Speeches/Statements

1993 - PMQT 6th July 1993

Below is the text of Prime Minister's Question Time from 6th July 1993. Tony Newton responded on behalf of John Major.

PRIME MINISTER:

Engagements

Q1. Mr. Dykes : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 6 July.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Tony Newton) : I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is attending the G7 economic summit in Tokyo.

Mr. Dykes : Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that Her Majesty's Government and our leading partners will exert maximum pressure on the Japanese to open their markets to imports of all kinds and to the sort of free trade that is now developing rapidly in the European single market?

Mr. Newton : My hon. Friend is absolutely right to emphasise that. One of the key aims of the G7 summit will be to agree on measures that can help to further the recovery of the world economy, including the maintenance and sustenance of free and competitive trade. My right hon. Friend's aim will include very much ensuring that sufficient progress is made on the market access and services package to permit early resumption of the multilateral negotiations in Geneva and bring a successful conclusion to the Uruguay round.

Mrs. Beckett : Is the Lord President aware that, last night in another place, his ministerial colleagues said that the defeat that the Government suffered on the Railways Bill struck at the heart of that legislation? Does he agree?

Mr. Newton : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has made it clear that the Government have set out and seen accepted in this place their arguments on this matter and he will take a lot of persuading to believe that the policy should be changed. Nevertheless, the other place has asked for reconsideration and, of course, we will carefully consider the points that have been made.

Mrs. Beckett : Is it not crazy that the French, the Germans or the Italians will be able to run trains on British railways and the only people who will not are British Rail? Why do the Government not show some common sense and simply admit that they have got it wrong?

Mr. Newton : The right hon. Lady and her right hon. and hon. Friends have fought every privatisation for 12 or 14 years. As one by one the privatisations have proved successful, they have been forced to abandon most of that. The people who need to learn the lessons are Her Majesty's Opposition.

Mr. Mark Robinson : Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has published figures today showing an 11 per cent. increase in new care sales over June 1992? Is that not further evidence that the recovery is being sustained?

Mr. Newton : Yes, indeed. My hon. Friend has described exactly the figures published this morning by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. What is more, the SMMT goes on to say that recovery in the new car market in all but three of the past 15 months is now clearly established. That comes alongside all the other evidence that we have seen-- manufacturing output up, car output up, exports up and unemployment down.


Q2. Mr. Bradley : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 6 July.

Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave some moments ago.

Mr. Bradley : Does the Leader of the House recall that on 29 October 1987, less than six years ago, as the then Minister for Health, he proudly came to my constituency to open the Duchess of York children's hospital? Is he aware that, last week, South Manchester health authority confirmed its plan to close that purpose-built children's hospital despite overwhelming opposition?

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether he supports the all- party campaign, which has overwhelming public support, to keep open our children's hospital, or will he accept the invitation which is on the way to him, to return to Manchester, to close that hospital on behalf of the Government?

Mr. Newton : I well remember the occasion to which the hon. Gentleman refers, although I have to say that the hospital was not opened by me but by the Duchess of York. I am aware that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health is considering the proposal, but the hon. Gentleman knows that it will be subject to full public consultation. My right hon. Friend will make her decision in due course.


Q3. Dr. Spink : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 6 July.

Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply.

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

Dr. Spink : Does my right hon. Friend agree that political parties should not sell the right to choose their leaders or decide their policies? Can he confirm that the Conservative party remains committed to one man, one vote?

Mr. Newton rose-- [Interruption.]

Madam Speaker : Order. The activities of political parties are not a subject for Prime Minister's Question Time. The hon. Member for Castle Point (Dr. Spink) must question the Government about their policies. It is Government policy in which we are interested. Mr. Newton rose-- --

Hon. Members : No.

Madam Speaker : Order. The Leader of the House has been with us a long time and he is a respected man in this place. I am sure that he has an appropriate reply.

Mr. Newton : I was going to say that I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Dr. Spink) was asking about the Government's attitude to such matters. [Interruption.] I think that that question is entirely right. I have read with great interest the press reports of recent days, starting with that about the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith), who said that he was going to have a confrontation with the unions, and followed by the comments of the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett), who said that she was looking for compromise. I just wonder when we shall have the climbdown and capitulation.


Q4. Mr. Heppell : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 6 July.

Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave some moments ago.

Mr. Heppell : Is the Leader of the House aware that 405 former council properties are empty in the city of Nottingham and that 80 of them have already been vandalised, when 350 households have been designated as statutorily homeless and another 104 families live in conditions that are statutorily overcrowded? Does the Leader of the House not believe that it is time that the Government took a compassionate and humanitarian view and allowed the city council to spend some of the £53 million that it has amassed from the sale of council houses to put roofs over those people's heads?

Mr. Newton : The hon. Gentleman will know that, at this period of time, Nottingham city council--in common with others--has full freedom to spend capital receipts. It can also take advantage– [Interruption.] It may spend capital receipts generated at this time. It also has access to the full range of measures that my right hon. and hon. Friends have introduced to assist the housing market.

Mr. John Greenway : Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating Viscount Runciman and his colleagues on the report of the Royal Commission on criminal justice, which has been published today? Although many of its recommendations will require a great deal of thought and consideration, does my right hon. Friend agree that some improvements in our criminal justice system are desirable not just to protect the innocent but to ensure that the guilty are properly convicted?

Hon. Members : Hear, hear.

Mr. Newton : It is obvious from the response of my right hon. and hon. Friends--and, I suspect, a good deal of sympathy from the Opposition-- that there is a wide welcome for the report that has been published today by the Royal Commission on criminal justice. There will no doubt be differences of opinion about some of the report's conclusions, but the importance of that matter is undoubted. The contribution that the royal commission has made to the debate on those matters is undoubted and the Government will give its recommendations the most careful consideration and then come to conclusions about what to do.


Q5. Mr. Tyler : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 6 July.

Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave some moments ago.

Mr. Tyler : Is the Lord President aware that the Prime Minister visited north Cornwall exactly five months ago today and promised my constituents that he was taking action on excessive water and sewerage charges? Will he confirm whether it is the Government's policy to renege on existing environmental obligations or does he intend to break that promise?

Mr. Newton : The hon. Gentleman is right to refer to my right hon. Friend's visit to the south-west and to his recognition of the concern felt in the south-west, and much expressed by my hon. Friends, about the level of water charges. My right hon. Friends have been actively examining the options for reducing the increase in charges and, particularly, phasing in the burdens of the waste water directive in a way that would help. That consideration is going on at the moment.


Q6. Dr. Michael Clark : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 6 July.

Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply.

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

Dr. Clark : Does my right hon. Friend agree with Senator Campos, who is currently leading a Brazilian Inter-Parliamentary Union delegation to Westminster, when he said last night that Brazil is not just a country of the future, nor Britain just a country of the past, but that both are countries for today? Is that not best illustrated by the figures for Jaguar cars, which show that output has gone up 46 per cent., exports to Germany and the United States by 20 per cent., and that confidence in that company is greater than for many years.

Mr. Newton : I acknowledge my hon. Friend's interest in Brazil and echo the welcome that he has given to the visitors who are here from that country. I join him also in hoping that they may boost Jaguar car sales still further by taking some back with them. Meanwhile, I endorse my hon. Friend's pleasure at the British motor industry in accelerating away from its European competitors and links with the figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders that we were discussing earlier.

Ms Abbott : If the Government are really concerned about single mothers on benefit, when will they bring forward a strategy for child care? Is the Minister aware that most women on benefit would dearly like to go out to work and be independent but that their main problem is child care? When will the Government understand that investment in child care would be an investment in growth in general, and the surest and most humane way to get women off social security?

Mr. Newton : The hon. Lady will be familiar with the increase in pre -school provision of all kinds in recent years. She will also be well aware that at least as important a part of a policy in the area with which she is concerned are those policies for the improved collection and enforcement of child maintenance represented by the Child Support Agency, now getting successfully under way.


Q7. Mr. Haselhurst : To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 6 July.

Mr. Newton : I have been asked to reply.

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

Mr. Haselhurst : Is it correct to say that my right hon. Friend's colleagues in the Department of Trade and Industry have secured a further £2 billion of help from European Community structural funds to help two of the most disadvantaged areas of the United Kingdom? If so, is that not proof of the merits of working vigorously and whole-heartedly within the Community, rather than constantly fretting about our relationship with it?

Mr. Newton : My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Indeed, the whole House will wish to pay tribute to the Minister for Industry on his negotiating success in the Community at the end of last week. He succeeded in reaching an agreement which will extend objective 1 status under the structural fund to Merseyside and to the Highlands and Islands enterprise area, and to the areas Argyll, Bute and West Moray which were not proposed by the Commission. That agreement is likely to bring about £2.25 billion to the United Kingdom over the next six years, to all its objective 1 areas, including Northern Ireland.

Mr. Bryan Davies : With regard to political contributions, why is it all one way? What incentives do the Government give to rich Britons to make political contributions to right-wing regimes abroad, or does the whole idea stink?

Mr. Newton : As I may possibly have said on some previous occasion, I will listen to lectures from such as the hon. Gentleman on that matter when we stop facing the prospect of a position in the Labour party where it will be one man, 2 million votes.