Previous Section Home Page

Mr. Lee : Not at all. As a result of the findings of our review, we are asking the BTA to put more of its marketing effort and more of its personnel abroad at the sharp end. The problem at present, in our view, is that its staff is concentrated very much in this country. Of a total complement of 460 staff, only 170 are overseas.

Mr. Cryer : In the review, has the Minister ensured that people working in the tourist industry have the right to join trade unions, and that the trade unions are given the opportunity to recruit in the tourist industry to ensure decent wages and working conditions in an industry which is notorious for the lack of either? Does he agree with his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that, if trade unions are good enough for Poland, they are good enough for our workers?

Mr. Lee : I get a little upset when hon. Gentlemen, such as the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer), knock the wage levels in the tourist industry. The truth is that the remuneration packages in the industry are increasing all the time. It is being increasingly seen as an attractive industry to join. I remind the hon. Gentleman that no other industry is creating jobs at the rate of nearly 1,000 net new jobs a week.

Mr. Key : Does my hon. Friend accept that the Government's record of steady and modest support for the tourist industry is one of great success on which they should be congratulated? Will he, however, have a word with the chairman of English Heritage to press on him the importance of a speedy decision on the future of Stonehenge?

Mr. Lee : On my hon. Friend's latter point, either I will have a word with the chairman of English Heritage or I will ask my successor to do so.

Employment Training

13. Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what information he has about the number of ET placements in the Yorkshire and Humberside region.

Mr. Nicholls : We estimate that more than 19,100 people on employment training in the Yorkshire and Humberside region are on placements with employers or projects on any one day.

Column 215

Mrs. Mahon : Can I bring the Minister back to the quality of some of those placements and tell him of the experience of my constituent, Michael Pickles, who answered an advertisement in the Graduate Post for a qualification in higher management? He spent four months doing nothing and, when he complained, he found out that the course was for a BTech diploma that he could have obtained with 60 hours of correspondence learning. He has complained to the Minister's Department. Many of the post graduate courses are, in fact, rubbish.

Mr. Nicholls : I would give a fraction more credibility to the hon. Lady's account if she had raised it with me in correspondence. If she wants to do so now, I shall be more than happy to look into the matter. Mercifully, the hon. Lady's attitude is not shared by all those responsible local authorities in her locality. I have no doubt that she will be pleased to record that the local authority careers service is a training agent for Calderdale, but perhaps she would have disparaging things to say about it as well.


14. Mr. David Davis : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the ratio of strikes in the public sector to those in the private sector ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Cope : In 1988 the average number of working days lost per employee through strikes in the public sector was just under three times the average for the private sector.

Mr. Davis : Does my right hon. Friend agree that that reflects the public's perception when they see strikes on television because those strikes are invariably in the public sector, not in the Marks and Spencer or Sainsbury of the private sector? Does my right hon. Friend further agree that we should address that issue at its fundamental point and deal with the fact that it is the state sector monopolies that are causing the strikes and set about returning many of them to a competitive private sector role at an even faster rate than we are doing?

Mr. Cope : I entirely agree with my hon. Friend in principle. As he knows, studies are in progress on the privatisation of British Rail. However, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said earlier, that is obviously a longer-term issue than the present dispute.



Q2. Mr. Ward : To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 18 July.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher) : This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. I also attended the ceremony to mark the arrival of his Highness the President of the United Arab Emirates. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall be having further meetings later today. This evening I shall be attending a state banquet at Buckingham palace.

Mr. Ward : Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating the borough of Poole on the award of a European flag for clean beaches and bathing waters? Will she remind those people who are leaving these shores for

Column 216

polluted beaches elsewhere in Europe that the Environment Commissioner of the EEC has complimented this country and has said that no other country in Europe has a greater awareness of environmental problems?

The Prime Minister : Yes, I gladly join my hon. Friend in congratulating the borough of Poole. I also thank the dockers of Poole for returning to work. I note the contrast with many less desirable resorts overseas. I am glad that the European Commissioner has at last congratulated my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment on the way in which this country is vigorously tackling its environmental problems, in contrast to the way in which the Labour Government failed to tackle them when they were in power. Under the EC directive, which we are now following, we have enabled the water authorities to spend £100 million per year to comply with that directive. Britain is the only European Community country with a programme to ensure full compliance in the 1990s.

Mr. Kinnock : Will the Prime Minister tell us why, after 10 years of her Government, it is necessary to trawl Holland, Germany, Denmark, Australia, Barbados and other countries in a desperate search for trained teachers?

The Prime Minister : Perhaps because we have a bigger proportion of teachers to pupils than was ever the case under the Labour Government-- [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker : Order.

Mr. Kinnock : The Prime Minister must be the only mother or grandmother in the land who does not realise that there is a great and growing shortage of primary school teachers and of teachers of science, maths and languages in secondary schools. She must also be unaware that her policies are making matters even worse. How can the right hon. Lady and her Ministers inflict on other people's children problems that they would never accept for their own children?

The Prime Minister : I tell the right hon. Gentleman again that we have a bigger proportion of teachers to pupils than was ever the case, or was ever thought of, under the Labour Government. Classes have got smaller and we have a better curriculum and, yes, we have flexible pay to enable us to attract more maths, science and physics teachers, in whom I am particularly interested.

Mr. Bowis : Will my right hon. Friend find time to make it clear that in the view of the Government, it can never be right to use industrial action against the old, sick and young-- [Interruption.] --as is now happening because of the NALGO dispute? Will she also make it clear that it can never be right to be silent on such an issue, as right hon. and hon. Members on the Opposition Front Bench are silent?

The Prime Minister : Yes, I totally agree with my hon. Friend. The Opposition talk about compassion, but some of the unions do not practise it when it comes to the point. I also notice that in the railway strike, two of the unions went through the proper procedures, one to independent arbitration, and accepted the results of that arbitration and their members are prepared and ready to go back to work. The third union, under the militants on its executive, did not. The question is which unions do Opposition

Column 217

Members support--those who follow the procedure or those who do not and who are prepared to put the public to great inconvenience?

Q3. Mr. Bradley : To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 18 July 1989.

The Prime Minister : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply that I gave some moments ago.

Mr. Bradley : In the light of the comments by the Junior Health Minister, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, that the current financial crisis in the National Health Service shows that the figures are meaningless and misleading, may I ask the Prime Minister urgently to review the agenda for South Manchester health authority's meeting this coming Thursday, which proposes £1.2 million worth of cuts, the shedding of 100 health care posts and the option of compulsory redundancies? Will the right hon. Lady give assurances to the people of Manchester that extra resources will be made immediately available to meet the health needs of the mentally ill and the elderly of south Manchester?

The Prime Minister : Having allocated enormous extra sums to the NHS, the service is not in crisis. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that for every £1 that Labour spent on the NHS per year, we are spending £3 per year. We have made available £2 billion by way of additional funding, which was announced at the time of the Autumn Statement, and since then £204 million has been made available to cover costs arising from doctors' and nurses' pay awards, plus £40 million of additional funding. That is a massive amount of extra funding because under the Conservatives the economy is successful and can afford it.

As to the situation at the Withington hospital, about which the hon. Gentleman asked me, a 24-bed ward containing 21 patients has been temporarily closed, but the patients will continue to be cared for. Between 15 and 17 of them will be moved to other places within that unit. The remainder may be discharged, but only if the doctors are satisfied-- [Interruption.] I have been asked the question. Opposition Members may not like them, but I have the answers-- [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker : Order. The Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister : The remainder will be discharged if the doctors are satisfied that their treatment has been satisfactorily completed and that the necessary support services are on hand for their aftercare.

Labour Statistics

Q4. Sir Michael Shaw : To ask the Prime Minister if she will make a statement about the fall in unemployment since June 1987.

The Prime Minister : Since June 1987, the level of unemployment, seasonally adjusted, in the United Kingdom has fallen by 1,047,900 to 6.3 per cent. The number of people in work is an all-time record at 26,685,000.

Sir Michael Shaw : I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Is she aware that her statement shows that in the months ahead, the firm economic policies that have been

Column 218

pursued by the Government will not only provide reduced inflation, but will do so at no cost to the greater opportunities for employment that now exist?

The Prime Minister : Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend. Our overriding priority now is to bring down inflation. That will ensure that we can maintain prosperity and continue to create more jobs because inflation in the long run is the enemy of more jobs. This is totally different from the policy of Opposition Members, who I understand are on record as wanting a less deflationary emphasis throughout the economy, which of course would lead to more inflation, which is a policy to which they are used.

Mr. Turner : Was it the Prime Minister's decision or that of her Secretary of State for Employment to instruct Training Agency managers not to give information on filled employment training places to Members of Parliament? What is there to hide? Is that not an infringement of the rights and responsibilities of Members of Parliament?

The Prime Minister : My right hon. Friend's policy is to give as much information as he possibly can, particularly on training, where the Government's policies have been an outstanding success.

Mr. William Powell : Is my right hon. Friend aware that unemployment in my constituency has fallen from 8,000 to 1,812 at the latest count? Is she further aware that the main cause for that is the Government's policies? Will she ensure that the good work continues so that unemployment is eliminated completely?

The Prime Minister : Yes. My hon. Friend's constituency has a particularly good record. It had to diversify when a major plant was closed. The average unemployment figure for the European Community as a whole is 9.3 per cent. whereas for this country it is 6.3 per cent.

Q.5. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Prime Minister is she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 18 July.

The Prime Minister : I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply that I gave some moments ago.

Mr. Bennett : Would the Prime Minister be pleased if, after an 8.8 per cent. pay rise, her gross weekly wage came to only £105?

The Prime Minister : Do I understand that the hon. Gentleman is backing the National Union of Railwaymen in continuing its strikes? [Interruption.] Oh, yes. Now we have the answer and it is what we thought. Labour Members do not back the unions that followed the established procedures, went to independent arbitration and accepted the result. They back the NUR which did not follow the established procedures and refused to accept independent arbitration because it would rather inconvenience the consumer and the travelling public. As always, Labour Members are in hock to the unions.

Q.6. Mr. Irvine : To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 18 July.

The Prime Minister : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply that I gave some moments ago.

Mr. Irvine : Does my right hon. Friend agree that as the volume and importance of European Community legislation increases, so the importance increases of this

Column 219

House giving it proper and adequate scrutiny and adapting its procedures to enable it to do so? In particular, does she agree on the importance of enabling the House to debate European Community legislation before it reaches the Council of Ministers?

The Prime Minister : I recognise my hon. Friend's concern and that of many hon. Members on both sides, that a great deal of legislation is coming from the European Community in connection with the Single European Act. I share my hon. Friend's concern that it should be properly scrutinised by the House. Parliament is central to our activities in a way that it is not in some Community countries. My right hon. Friend the Lord President recently gave evidence to the Select Committee on Procedure and is discussing with the Chairman of the Select Committee on European Legislation possible improvements to the present system. My hon. Friend's remarks accord with what I should like to see happen.

Column 220

Miss Lestor : As of yesterday afternoon we, too, became a grandmother-- [Interruption.] Would the Prime Minister join me in paying tribute to the team at St. George's hospital, Tooting which assisted in that rather premature birth, particularly to the doctor who delivered the baby? Ten years after the Prime Minister came to power that doctor, had worked from Saturday morning until the delivery at 5 pm on Monday.

The Prime Minister : First, I gladly congratulate the new grandparents. I am sure that the birth has given them great joy and will continue to do so. I have visited St. George's hospital, Tooting following an accident, and while there I saw the new emergency department. We are naturally anxious to reduce the number of hours that medical staff have to work and we are negotiating to that end. In fact, the average number of hours being worked is less than it used to be, so there has already been some improvement.

Next Section (Debates)

  Home Page