Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1983 May 23 Mo
Margaret Thatcher

General Election Press Conference (employment)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Conservative Central Office, Smith Square, Westminster
Source: Conservative Party Archive: Central Office transcript
Editorial comments: 0930-1000. MT appeared with Norman Tebbit and Kenneth Baker.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 5341
Themes: Executive (appointments), Economy (general discussions), Employment, General Elections, Monetary policy, Public spending & borrowing, Trade, Foreign policy (USA), Liberal & Social Democratic Parties

The Prime Minister

Ladies and Gentleman, your theme for this morning's press conference is a Conservative strategy for creating more jobs. Therefore, I have with me, Norman Tebbit, Secretary of State for Employment, and Kenneth Baker, Minister of State with particular reference to all the new technologies of the future. Norman will start off by giving you details of the release that you will have in your hands, either now or shortly.

The Rt Hon Norman Tebbit—Secretary of State for Employment

Thank you. Ladies and Gentlemen, first of all, I'd like to draw your attention also to this background out on our far left there, of quotations, which I'm sure you may find familiar, which are useful and entirely relevant and our theme this morning, and in the press release, is very simple. Jobs, as Mr. Callaghan said, are not about simply spending your way out of recession, jobs are in fact about customers, about satisfying customers. And we have to ask if it's likely that Labour policies would assist British firms to win customers. First of all, is it likely that nationalisation will help, or that the Civil Service and Ministers taking temporary control of any business enterprise as they promise would help? Would it help to put the trades unions back in control of firms in this country? Would price controls, dividend controls, help? Would import controls, which would almost certainly spark off a trade war, grossly damaging above all, the interests of third world countries, help? Or indeed, would inflation help? In contrast, we see the key issues in job creation, as being the ability of our firms to satisfy our customers, and our customers to get our goods. So what's going to affect that? First of all, our level of inflation relative to that of our countries. Here in contrast to past years, we are now in the top of the division, our performance on prices is better than most of our customers, er, of our competitors, we've still got some to beat, but we can do that. Also of course, a key in the ability of business to create jobs, is the level of taxes which is paid by business. Business taxes are being cut. Above all the iniquitous National Insurance Surcharge, which of course, was not only imposed by Socialist Governments, but increased with the support of the Liberal Party in Parliament. Rates, which have been soaring and are now under clear control, one of the major expenses in many British businesses. Our strike record has been getting better. Our Trades Unionists, as opposed to some of their leaders, understand what is needed in British business today to beat the competition. Our standards of training are getting better, and the Government is committed to further improvements. The overheads imposed on business by Government are lowering, as we lower the level of costs of Government itself. And of course, one of the most important things is that the overmanning which was damaging British industry, but of course did not show in the unemployment statistics, is now out in the open and companies are down to more realistic manning levels. To take a single example, British Airways with 20,000 less employees, is fitter, keener, more able to expand and move ahead again as the world comes out of recession. That is the Conservative's strategy for jobs, helping industry to find its customers and satisfy its customers.

The Prime Minister

Thank you. Kenneth BakerKenneth.

Kenneth Baker—Minister for Information Technology

An essential element in our strategy for new jobs is to ensure that Britain does not miss out on the micro-chips, which is the most important economic and industrial development since the war. And my task in Government, has been to ensure that we get the best benefits [end p1] we can from this next stage of the Industrial Revolution. That is why we have increased support in the lifetime of the Government from £100 million a year to £350 million a year for the development of new products and processes. It is the fastest area of the Government expenditure growth, and it shows our priority, which is the creation of jobs from the new industries. We've also provided the most ambitious and largest civilian research programme since the Jet engine, in the Albee Committee, that research into the super computers of the 1990s, £350 million over five years. We've also provided £70 million for existing businesses, for the traditional industries in Britain, to equip themselves with the latest technology. So it doesn't matter what you're making, whether it's textiles, or furniture, or glass or whatever it is, if you don't use the latest technologies you won't be making those things within five year's time. We've also made, taken a major initiative in the training area, we've introduced micro-computers into every Secondary school, and now into every, half our Primary schools. And, Prime Minister, it's all British micro-computers. We have done more in the educational area in technology than any country in the Western world. We've also increased the spend at Universities by £100 million, over the next three years for electronics and information technology. One of the initiatives I'm most proud of, is setting up the Information Technology Centres across the country. These are directed at training youngsters who are unqualified and unemployed, sixteen and seventeen year olds, who've left school probably with just one CSE or may be one ‘O’ level, who are out of work and they take these youngsters in, they train them in electronic and computer skills, and it is by far, the most successful training initiative that we've taken. 80 per cent of those youngsters are getting jobs. In the I Tech in Salford no student has actually finished the course because they've been offered a job half way through it. This shows our concern, it shows our priorities. Compared to the other Parties, the Liberal/SDP Alliance only have some forty-nine words in their manifesto on innovation and technology, it's not difficult to perceive a policy, it's not easy to perceive a policy there. The Labour Party have more, but it is State controlled, centrally directed, and I think that by their emphasis upon the older industries, their policies would turn Britain into an industrial museum, we want to turn it into the electronic power house.

The Prime Minister

Thank you very much. Now questions on this theme, yes.

Question

… of pouring money into Biotechnology industries of the kind that one would almost associate with a Labour Government. If these policies are so good, why didn't you introduce them straight away in 1979 when Sir Keith Joseph was …

Kenneth Baker—Minister for Information Technology

Several of these policies were in hand when I joined the Department. The selective support for new product processes which is now called Support for Innovation, were schemes that were started in 1978 and 1979 and developed under, while Sir Keith was Secretary of State for Industry. We have built upon that, we've introduced support schemes for robots, for advanced manufacturing techniques, for software, a whole range of these, because as I've said we can't afford to miss out on this revolution. And the Albee report is in the last three months. [end p2]

Question

(inaudible).

Kenneth Baker—Minister for Information Technology

There's been no U-Turn in this area at all. We have built upon the programmes that we put in place in 1979–1980 and expanded upon them. We recognise the importance of this, we've continued to provide financial support for INMOS, that its got to the stage now where its going to move into profit. And indeed, in the whole of the silicon chip industry, we will probably be by 1985–86 net exporters of silicon chips. There's been massive investment in Britain, by overseas companies, by Hewlett-Packard in Bristol, by Nippon Electric in Scotland in Livingstone, I think the Queen is opening a new factory for Nippon Electric in July, a chip manufacturing company, and we have become a magnet for overseas investment in the last two or three years.

The Rt Hon Norman Tebbit—Secretary of State for Employment

Could I perhaps add something to that, because I was responsible for the work of the NEB, when I was at the Department of Industry, and of course at that time we were still grappling with the inheritance of what Keith Joseph referred as our ‘Greek Colony’. A number of companies with romantic names like Nexos and Aragon and things of that sort, all of which were problems which had to be resolved because our predecessors had been simply backing the wrong technology. That has changed and Ken Baker has now had the opportunity to divert that thrust into industries which are in fact successful.

Kenneth Baker—Minister for Information Technology

Could I just go back to one thing that you mentioned about Keith Joseph? The most important industrial decision that was taken by Keith Joseph was the ending of BT's monopoly. Now, that has freed up the market, that was announced by Keith Joseph in July 1980, that has created opportunity—the Mercury private network, about to offer services. The Radio Celluar networks, licences which we've granted—they are going to create 10,000 jobs by 1990, so that would not have come unless we had announced that change of policy.

Question

At the last election, the Conservative Party promised to create real jobs, can you tell us where those have materialised?

The Prime Minister

Very much in the new electronics, if you just take a quick example of Scotland. There are now 40,000 people employed in the new electronics, rather more than there are in shipbuilding and steel. New jobs are being created the whole time. Even in this last year, there are about 27,000 people on something that you'd never expect, created by the video revolution. We're only just beginning ourselves to produce them, but the numbers of people employed in retail shops and cassettes and producing the programmes amounts to about 27,000. New jobs are being created the whole time, it's an absolute mistake to think of the labour market as a tight constrictive thing. Yes. No, I said one, two, three.

Question

Mr. Tebbit was talking about the jobs …

The Rt Hon Norman Tebbit—Secretary of State for Employment

… Powerfully suppressed. Which part of the world do you live in? Go out into the high streets and ask the shops whether they are selling anything, look at retail trade statistics and [end p3] you'll see that retail trade, final consumer demand, is booming. Where are the new jobs coming from? Well, let me remind you that for example, last year, over 3 million people left the unemployment register to go into jobs. Three million people finding jobs. Where are the new customers? Who on earth then, if there aren't any new customers, do you think are buying three and a half times, sorry, who on earth do you think are buying Jaguars which is accounting for the fact that Jaguars are looking forward to putting the night shift on again? Who are buying the Vauxhalls, which is causing Vauxhalls to talk of putting the night shift back at Ellesmere? Why are Talbot just taking on another 100 extra men? There's no lack of demand there, its just a matter that we haven't been satisfying the demand with our goods, we've been allowing other people to run away with the orders.

Kenneth Baker—Minister for Information Technology

I'd reinforce that strongly. Home computer sales last year rose by 400 per cent. There's not a lack of demand there. Thorn TV are just going onto evening shift to increase their output, from 3,000 television sets a week to four and a half thousand. That means jobs.

The Rt Hon Norman Tebbit—Secretary of State for Employment

Have a look at the SBAC news published this morning, record aerospace exports, yet again.

The Prime Minister

The Daily Mirror.

Question

Can you give a promise that there are no more unpublished reports in Whitehall, the Think Tank or the MSC or [NEDC]Neddy which show … that Conservative policies will lead to even more gloom and doom in the next four or five years?

The Prime Minister

When you say no more, which ones are you referring to, which indicate that, which have not been published?

Question

Sir Campbell Fraser.

The Prime Minister

Sir Campbell Fraser is not employed by HMG. Which ones are you referring to, which have not been, which forecasts are you referring to, which have not been published?

Question

(inaudible).

The Prime Minister

The February [NEDC]Neddy. Oh, we've had the March Neddy, we've had the April Neddy, and they now claim the February Neddy. Well, it's the first time, the February Neddy I think has come up. Neddy is not a Government institution as such, it's an independent institution. Now we've dealt with the April Neddy, the April Neddy was published, correct? Right, so that's not in issue. The April Neddy was published, the March Neddy was not about unemployment forecasts, the March Neddy was about industrial performance. I believe Geoffrey Howe answered this, and said that it was agreed by all at Neddy, and I believe it was very much so by Lionel, Len Murray, that the industrial performance which was not a forecast, which was a record of the previous year, would help our competitors if it were published. It is really rather strange therefore that the Labour Party should be trying to do something which would help our competitors, and which would damage British industry. Now what is this February report? Will someone please tell me what the February [end p4] report is?

The Rt Hon Norman Tebbit—Secretary of State for Employment

I think that this is the Labour Party's campaign of a new Neddy a week. Last week's Neddy was Denis Healey, this week's Neddy is Neil Kinnock.

Question

Prime Minister, I think that two other reports which were mentioned by Peter Philby this morning, in this context of today or yesterday, what is the Manpower Services Commission report?

The Prime Minister

We dealt with that …

Unidentified Speaker

… the Think Tank report about prospects for the 1990s. Those were the three that he mentioned …

The Prime Minister

But we dealt with all due respect, we dealt with those. The CPRS report does not make economic forecasts on employment. And I dealt with this the other day. What it did, was to collect together all the other economic forecasts which had been made all of which had been published. All of them. There were also two Manpower Service Commission reports, both, one I think a published report from a University I think, the other might have been a private report, both were below three million. Now I've dealt with this so many times, can we get it absolutely right now? CPRS does not make economic forecasts of unemployment. It collated all the published forecasts which had been made, it had a forecast from the MSC which was below three million.

Question

Can I ask about one particular job, that does the Prime Minister expect Mr. Pym to be Foreign Secretary after …

The Prime Minister

I'm concentrating on women [sic: winning?], first and then I will as is customary have a look at the jobs which will be held in Cabinet and elsewhere. We must get things in the right order.

Question

(inaudible).

The Prime Minister

I indicated yesterday, that what was reported in the press, there had been conversations with me about this matter, was totally and utterly false. Yes.

Question

Prime Minister, we've been hearing this morning how public expenditure is being increased with a purpose in a particular area. Can you tell me how public expenditure will be reduced in other areas under the lifetime of the next Parliament?

The Prime Minister

All of our public expenditure proposals for the coming three years have already been published and are there. It's very different from the Labour Party. They are now there. They're published and the whole of this manifesto is contained in those public expenditure forecasts. They're all there, go and read them.

Question

(inaudible).

The Prime Minister

Well, you revise your public expenditure each year, because new demands come up. Not all of your public expenditure is cash limited, some of it is demand led, and each year you look afresh at your public expenditure, each year they [end p5] are published, you have now all the published forecasts. Please do not blame me for not having them. Or please do not blame me for having them! Mr. Dimbleby.

Question

Mrs. Thatcher, when the SDP say that they can get one million more jobs in two years, by increasing borrowing to £11 billion, they say in the same breath that your Government has been borrowing £8 to £10 billion. Doesn't this suggest there isn't a difference in principle between you, but only about the extra third [sic] billion pounds involved in the borrowing, in other words … the figures.

The Prime Minister

Yes, but you know full well that it's very, very difficult to forecast your precise borrowing requirement … obvious reasons. It is, it is, you have to take all of your expenditure and all of your income, and your borrowing is the difference between the two. This year we forecast it would be £9½ billion at the beginning of the year, it looks as if there would be a shortfall during the year, even at the beginning of March, but in fact, they got so many bills paid during March that there was not a shortfall. I would doubt very much whether borrowing one extra billion can produce a million jobs, it does not make any sense of any kind at all to me, that. What you have to watch all the time, is that you do not put so much borrowing into the market on the part of the Government, that you in fact press up the interest rates, push up the interest rates. So I can't over emphasise the importance of keeping interest rates down to recovery. Unfortunately as you know, the matter is not wholly with in the gift of any particular Government, because interest rates are effected not only by your own economy, but by other economies out there, in the other parts of the world which of course effects the flow of enormous sums of currency. So interest rates are not wholly within our gift, but what we do can exert a downward pressure upon them. And one way of exerting a downward pressure upon them is by limiting the amount which Government borrows. And its been a very, very important factor.

The Rt Hon Norman Tebbit—Secretary of State for Employment

It's not usually the first 80 per cent of the borrowing which busts the company, its the last twenty per cent of the borrowing which busts the company.

The Prime Minister

Yes at the back, one, two.

Question

Mrs. Thatcher I wonder if I can ask you to make a comment on what Mr. Jenkins said this morning? He said that Mrs. Thatcher's contribution is not only to divide the nation, as not before in more than a generation, but just under the Conservative Party …

The Prime Minister

I really don't think that that is worth commenting on especially from a Party like the Liberals and the SDP and the Alliance who's unity is not renowned even on defence policy.

Question

(inaudible).

The Prime Minister

There's going to be a what? You really are training your … especially from the FT, you know I can't answer that one and it depends what happens in the markets, but you know, the markets at the moment are very quiet and if [end p6] I might say so that is very good. But the markets are steady and quiet, let us hope they stay that way. Williamsburg, I think that there will probably from Williamsburg be some signs of world recovery, that would be my guess, and there are steady signs as you know, you know I'm always very cautious about this, I think rightly so. We are up now about 3 per cent on GDP, above the low point in 1981, but it's cautious, recoveries are slow and they tend to be patchy but I think the signs are definitely there, and I think you'll find that the signs are there too in the United States and also in Germany. So I think you'll probably find that they will stress that there are signs of recovery in the world economy which is good news, because if we're coming out together, it helps each and every one of us, one person can't pull out without the others. I think you'll find that they will insist that if the recovery is to go ahead, we must all of us continue on sound policies, because one of the limiting factors as I might put it this way if we can do on sound policies, we really need to, because we've still got the problems of the debt of some of the countries, the Mexicos, the Brazils, the Argentines, the Zaires, the Nigerias to cope with and that still has to be coped with by the Western banking system and that can only be coped with and absorbed by following very prudent policies. Now that broadly speaking I think will be the message, because as you know they still, we're still not wholly out of that wood yet, but the IMF is I think doing a remarkable job, a very, very good job with those countries by pursuing different policies we hope they can come out, but it does mean that the Western world has to stick to very prudent policies. One, two, three, four.

Question

Just one other question on——

The Prime Minister

Oh, this is your second round. Well you're dead lucky aren't you? Come on.

Question

(inaudible—something about defence spending.)

Kenneth Baker—Minister for Information Technology

Yes we are having, we set up a series of meetings with Michael Heseltine 's team to see whether in fact we can get more of a civilian spin off. We are generally in Britain not very clear at getting things out of the laboratory into the showroom, this is true of our civilian research as well, quite frankly. You know, I think you've said in the past, Prime Minister, that we've rung up sixty-one Nobel Prizes, Japan's won two, it's not fair that they're richer and more successful than we are. Part of our job as we say in our manifesto, is to get the inventivess out of the laboratory, out of the Ivory Towers, actually into the market place. We have ideas there on Science Parks and things of that sort.

The Prime Minister

The young lady before Mr. Emery …   .

Question

Do you think more of the advertisements that have been appearing in the papers aimed at the ethnic minorities …

The Prime Minister

Cecil ParkinsonChairman——

The Rt Hon Cecil Parkinson—Party Chairman

I don't think so, they're, it's a very straightforward advertisement. But I'm most grateful to Mr. Hattersley and the Labour Party for giving our advertisement such publicity. Because [end p7] they attract a lot of attention through them, what the advertisement does is set out quite clearly our record on race relations of promises kept, it points out that although both previous Labour Governments have promised to repeal legislation, they've never actually got round to it, and it also stresses the point that the prospects for the ethnic minorities, like the prospects for the rest of us, depend on the performance of the economy as a whole, and we therefore concentrate the main part of the leaflet on the economic argument, the reason why this Government should be supported and not our opponents.

The Prime Minister

Mr. Emery.

Question

Going back to clear up something that Mr. Shore … (inaudible).

The Prime Minister

Oh, but there wasn't one though there was not a report, there was a proposal for further work.

Question

(inaudible).

The Prime Minister

I can't suppress what doesn't exist. There's a proposal for further work, and we decided not to continue with it.

Question

(inaudible) … consigned to the basement of Central Office …

The Prime Minister

…   . the basement of Central Office? Extra-ordinary, I do wish you, I just hope that someone will come … we have had questions on the real issues, but they must be pretty desperate to go to this. Yes.

Question

The question is this: you said that by the end of another five years of Mrs. Thatcher's policies, you would have wasted £80 to £500 billion of unemployment benefit and the loss in taxation and plus £60 billion on the further exodus …

The Prime Minister

The actual cost of unemployment. I've given the answer many, many times in the House. It comes in two ways, first on withdrawals from the National Insurance Fund for unemployment benefit that is part of insurance, and also from supplementary benefit. The total amount is £5½ billion a year. That's for about 3 million people, it would have been of course quite considerable when there are 1½ million people as well. And I stress again, none of us, neither the Labour Party or us, if one could produce genuine jobs, would do anything other than automatically produce genuine jobs. It's because they can't be produced and because they have to be, have to come because you have to build up companies and commerce, which provide genuine jobs, that we have the problem. But it's five and a half billion. Now, if you're going to have capital flowing out, it follows as the night the day, that if you have a balance of payments surplus, if you have a balance of trade surplus, as we have had for two years, that surplus has to be matched by capital outflow, I mean that's just both sides of the account. You can't have a surplus without it being matched by a capital outflow. There's another point. If you've got North Sea oil which is finite, it is not a bad thing to start also building up overseas assets to give you an income, when North Sea oil has gone. And there is a third point, many, many countries wish to start to produce their own things, they often will not buy them from us, they say, no, we want to provide employment in our countries, therefore [end p8] you've got to set up there. I am saying precisely the same thing to Japan. If you want to sell as many things to us, then you've got to set up factories in Britain. Now you lose the business if you do not set up those factories, there, there are often subsidiaries here, but don't forget some of our, some of the multinationals of course are British ones. And they have to do that, often to keep the business, and setting them up over there, I think there have been a number of reports over the years. We often find that we can export components from this country, to be assembled over there. So there is a very, very real and good economic reason for overseas investment.

The Rt Hon Norman Tebbit—Secretary of State for Employment

On a very rough check, too, in today's terms, Mr. Foot 's unemployment was costing them on, on the Shore basis of calculation, £7 or £8 billion a year. How terribly silly it was of them, not to have used that to get all the people back to work. I still can't quite work out, why it was they hadn't found this magic trick when Mr. Foot was in office, busy doubling unemployment, and increasing the cost of the benefit and losing all that tax. I just can't work out why he didn't know then.

The Prime Minister

We can't stress too much. What we're trying to do, is to produce the genuine jobs of the future by cutting costs on industry, by tax incentives for small business, by helping new products to come to the market and doing new research, and by training. So it's [word missing] and they're genuine, and you really have to work for genuine jobs, you really need the most able people and the most able managers here, and the latest products and efficiency. I remember Campbell Fraser, I thought it was a marvelous speech, saying, look, it's no earthly good producing very efficiently, products that no one wants to buy. Now this is a long-term thing, it's happening the whole time, that new products are coming on to the market. But I believe our policies are more vigorous and more directed to the root causes of unemployment, and therefore, to curing it, than any other, and therefore I believe that our young people together with our inventive genius have very real hope. Yes.

Question

Prime Minister, … (inaudible).

The Prime Minister

Could you be comparatively brief, because we're ten o'clock and Mr. Oakley has been trying to get in for quite a time.

The Rt Hon Cecil Parkinson—Party Chairman

We have a fairly substantial campaign which is going to be mounted in the ethnic press, and we are directing our advertising at your readership in a very, very, specific way. And I'll talk to our Marketing Director and see if we should be doing more.

The Prime Minister

You'd like your business, a man after my own heart. Yes please, yes please.

Question

Prime Minister, at Williamsburg, do you expect to be joining your EEC colleagues in insisting on a lowering of American interest rates, or will you be defending President Reagan 's right to …

The Prime Minister

I hope we shall all be talking very frankly, but there's not the slightest shadow of doubt that a high American deficit does tend to lead to high American interest rates, together [end p9] with certain other figures which are published, which are giving cause for concern. But, em, you have to be pretty certain that you're running your own economy right before you criticise others. Now, on interest rates and deficits, we're absolutely in the clear, and on inflation, and on controlling public expenditure and on keeping costs down. But it is, may I stress it is not, we're not really out to get at one another, what we're out is to do jointly the things which will help us all, and we are all allies, and allies, I think owe one another the benefit of their own judgement, but please, it's not done in any way of animosity, it's done in a way to try to get the right policies for the future.

Question

But you do feel that American interest rates is the most useful thing …

The Prime Minister

I think, I don't know anyone from the previous economic summits that I have attended, I don't know anyone who would contest the proposition, that one of the most important things for economic recovery is to get interest rates down, and for obvious reasons for the construction industry, which obviously is very capital intensive. for building up stocks, you want money to finance them, for expansion you want money to finance it, and really if interest rates are high it does abort quite a bit of that recovery. But American interest rates are five points, I think below what they were at the last economic summit, something of that order, and therefore they will quite rightly say that they are in fact getting them down.

Question

(inaudible).

The Prime Minister

There was actually a very good communique on economic matters at Versailles, if you were, and I do not think that this one will be very different. There's also a very, very, good report on technology matters at Versailles which will be reported to this summit. Gentlemen, I've kept you rather a long time, it's five past ten, we try to end them at ten. Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm sorry.