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1981 Jul 21 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

Radio Interview for Central Office of Information (Ottawa G7)

Document type:speeches
Document kind:Radio Interview
Venue:Ottowa
Source:Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist:Peter Ward, COI
Editorial comments:Exact time and place uncertain.
Importance ranking:Major
Word count:818
Themes:Defence (arms control), Economy (general discussions), Monetary policy, Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (USA), Law and order, Northern Ireland, Terrorism

Interviewer

What was the major accomplishment of this Summit? And were you satisfied with it?

Prime Minister

A number. First, I think, it's the most workmanlike Summit that I've ever attended. Secondly, the measure of agreement on a very wide range of subjects. We talked a lot about the world economy. In the trough of the recession we had to try to agree on the way to come out of it to get expansion in a sound way. We always realise that we're not going to get the rates of growth that we had past decades. But we realise that we must try to expand world trade, expand our own economies in a way that gives us good, lasting jobs and prospects for the future. We had a lot of discussion on the Middle East which, after all, is always a topical issue, but it's a very acute issue at the present time. We took the discussion on how to help developing countries a good step forward in preparation for the Mexico Summit and we reached a very, very considerable measure of agreement on the whole of East/West relations and, in particular, we all said ‘Look, we must defend ourselves to preserve our freedom. We must have a defence capability to preserve our freedom. It must be strong enough to deter, but at the same time, we must try to negotiate with the Soviet Union reduction in weaponry. But any reductions with negotiate must be verifiable.’ So it was a very, very good conference altogether.

Interviewer

Mrs. Thatcher. On the economy, there are hawks and doves. You and Mr. Reagan have been characterised as hawks on interest rates particularly for Mr. Reagan. Who pushed the hardest for American interest rates to stabilise within the near future? Was it Mr. Mitterrand or Mr. Schmidt ?[fo 1]

Prime Minister

I must just quarrel with some of your question. You will remember that interest rates in the United States were very high—as high as they are now—under President Carter . Was he a hawk or was he a dove?

He had very very high interest rates and President Reagan inherited those interest rates. President Reagan has not yet been able to get his present programmes through Congress—they're going through now—severely and substantially to cut public spending. So he'll hope to cut his deficit to reduce interest rates. So whosever fault it is, you cannot say it is the fault of President Reagan 's programmes as they have not yet been put into action.

Interviewer

Is he saying that when the rest of his programme is through Congress at least interest rates will stabilise?

Prime Minister

He's saying that he regards it as just as important as anyone else to try to get interest rates down. They affect his small businesses as they affect ours. They affect his construction industries as they affect ours. They affect his propensity to invest in the future as they affect industries in our country. He wants them down just as much as everyone else. That is probably why he's got a real tough programme of cutting public spending to get it down—the one that he's trying to put through Congress now.

Interviewer

Did he convince you that he can make it work in a short period of time—within, say, less than a year?[fo 2]

Prime Minister

He's trying to get public spending down. That is absolutely the right way to go and I hope and believe it will get through Congress and it will have an effect. And interest rates in the United States will come down. They've been up high for the long time. They were high for a long time under President Carter .

Interviewer

Mrs. Thatcher. I'd like to ask you one more question. The International Committee of the Red Cross seems to have failed in the latest attempt in Northern Ireland. Where do you go from here in Northern Ireland?

Prime Minister

We have now had contact with two international organisations. After all, the European Commission of Human Rights came in and have done everything which they promised to do some time ago. None of those convicted criminals on hunger strike will make a complaint to the European Commission of Human Rights. If they did, we'd get them in again. So we've also asked in the International Committee of the Red Cross. After all, this is an international organisation of supreme repute and it would appear that no one can criticise conditions in the Maze Prison which indeed are among some of the best in the world. So it is not that which is an issue in any way. I just hope that those people on hunger strike will come off it. It is futile. It can do them no good at all. It is for them or for the people who are influencing them to go on hunger strike. It is for them to get off. It is they who are causing the deaths of these people.