Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1975 May 2 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for ATV (Ryder Report and British Leyland)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Derby
Source: Central TV Archive: OUP transcript
Journalist: John Withington, ATV
Editorial comments: Exact time and place unknown.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 438
Themes: Industry, Trade unions

MT

Before you commit the enormous sums that the present government is proposing to commit, you've got to make very certain that the things which caused British Leyland's failure are on the way to being cured. There's no point just in putting money in if things are going on exactly the same way as they did before.

John Withington, ATV

Now, you say that … before public money is put into Leyland there ought to be assurances from the labour force on labour relations. Now, what sort of assurances would you want?

MT

Well now, if you look at the reports you will find that although they've had increased numbers of people working in British Leyland, production has actually gone down. Now you really need assurances about the future of the numbers, uh, that are going to be employed and the kind of productivity that you are going to get.

I don't believe you can begin to impose this, or sort it out from the outside. I think you have to do it from the inside. But don't forget, it's the present problems that have led to the present failure.

John Withington, ATV

Does that mean that you would expect from the labour force in Leyland some sort of assurance as to no strikes for a specific period, or a reduction of the number of bargaining units?

MT

They must, within the firm, come to some kind of commitment and agreement about how many people they need to produce what kind of output. That must be done from within.

John Withington, ATV

But the unions, of course, say that the problem of British Leyland has been a failure to invest and the reason that the British Leyland worker produces fewer cars than his counterpart in the rest of the world is that he is working with antiquated machinery?

MT

Yes, but look. If in fact you put more in in investment and you don't have a reduced number of people, then all you are going to do is increase the price of the cars.

John Withington, ATV

[interrupts] So … [end p1]

MT

Now that won't in fact ultimately help to sell the product. Also if you look, you see that with the same sort of production—or sometimes even with falling production—they've had more people working on it. Now we can't sort this out from the outside. It must be done from within. But as you know there are very different parts and groups to British Leyland. Some parts work extremely well. Others don't. Some parts make a very good profit. Others don't. So one would say that there is no really fundamental problem there that can't be solved.