Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1984 Apr 9 Mo
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for BBC1 Panorama

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Sir Robin Day, BBC
Editorial comments: The fifty minute interview began at 2010 and was broadcast live.
Importance ranking: Key
Word count: 8344
Themes: Autobiographical comments, Autobiography (marriage & children), Parliament, Conservatism, Conservative Party (organization), Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Education, Employment, Industry, Local elections, Monetary policy, Privatized & state industries, Energy, Environment, Public spending & borrowing, Taxation, Trade, European Union (general), European Union Budget, Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Labour Party & socialism, Law & order, Local government, Liberal & Social Democratic Parties, Leadership, Social security & welfare, Trade union law reform, Strikes & other union action, Famous statements by MT
Sir Robin Day

Prime Minister, on this increasingly serious coal dispute, why has the employment legislation introduced under your Government failed to have any useful effect? Prime Minister

I do not accept that it has failed to have any useful effect. With regard to what has happened on the picket lines, the criminal law on picketeting has remained the same for centuries and everyone knows what it is. You are entitled peacefully to persuade other people not to go to work if you wish, but the essential thing is “peacefully to persuade”. Large numbers are intimidation and, of course, they can be threatening, and that is a matter for the criminal law. It is the police who are in charge of enforcing the criminal law and the police, I think, have done a superb job. Sir Robin Day

But why has your employment legislation, namely the civil law against secondary picketing and secondary action, why has this not been invoked? Prime Minister

Mr. MacGregor did go to the courts, you will remember, for an injunction. The civil law is there to be invoked if he wishes. It is just an extra thing which he can use, but the choice is his. If he feels he can secure his objective the better without using it, so be it. That is his choice. Sir Robin Day

But there are other people involved in that. I mean, people whose coal supplies may be interrupted. Are you encouraging no-one to invoke the Prior and Tebbitt laws, as they are called? Prime Minister

It is for each person to decide whether they wish to invoke the laws. At the moment, as you know, those miners who have decided to go to work are going to work. They can get through, and the police are seeing that those who want to go to work do get through to their work. That, I think, is a very very great achievement. Sir Robin Day

But as regards the law, you said, you see, that Mr. MacGregor had gone to the courts for an injunction against the picketing by Yorkshire miners of people in Nottinghamshire and elsewhere, but nobody has taken any notice of that. Prime Minister

It is for him to decide whether he needs to go further with that law to achieve his objective, and his objective is exactly the same as ours: it is a prosperous coal industry with a good future. At the moment, as you know, the miners are divided. Some passionately want to work and are working; others want to vote and are not being allowed to vote. But at the moment, many pits are working and working very well indeed. Sir Robin Day

Is Mr. Scargill correct when he says that Mr. MacGregor wants to cut the coal industry down to 100 pits and 100,000 men? Prime Minister

Mr. MacGregor and the Government want a good, prosperous coal industry, producing coal economically at a competitive price that it can sell, because it affects not only those who work in the coal industry; it affects so many others as well. A lot of industries need good, cheap coal. No government has done more for a good coal industry than this one. You cannot name any government throughout history which has invested more in the future of coal than this Conservative Government. Sir Robin Day

Does the plan mean cutting the number of pits down to about 100, as Mr. Scargill keeps saying to his men, some of whom appear to believe it, you see? Prime Minister

If you go back to the plan for coal to 1974, when the Labour Government started a plan for coal and it was later revised, it involved agreements on productivity, agreements on investment, agreements on closing down the older pits. It was then revised. Over 11 years, Labour closed 300 pits. Over 9 years, the Conservative Government have closed 92 pits, so there is no difference between us that certain pits have to be closed down. The choice that we have to make, I think, under this Government, is do you subsidise the older pits which are not as good, not as healthy, not as good to work in, or do you in fact put your money into investing in the new pits, much healthier for miners, much better equipped, with a future?

We have taken the view, and I think it was the view taken by previous Labour Governments, that the thing to do is to invest in the future and, indeed, as I have indicated on the pit closures, we have not followed a different path from Labour. We have put more money into investment and that, I hope, is an earnest of our confidence in the future of the coal pits and coal-mining industry in this country. Sir Robin Day

Indeed, three years ago, you gave way to the threat of a strike and postponed pit closures in order to get on well with the miners, didn't you? Prime Minister

We are now putting heavy investment into the future, into pits like Selby. We took a decision to open up more coal-mining facilities at Asfordby. Not an easy decision because, you know, you had to balance things between the needs of the environment …   . it is a very beautiful area …   . and the needs of coal-mining. Sir Robin Day

Do you understand though, Prime Minister, the fears expressed even by moderate miners' leaders that the MacGregor closures will as they put it, butcher their industry and leave whole pit communities without work and perhaps hope, as they see it? Prime Minister

The MacGregor Plan will give this country the best hope of a good coal industry it has ever had. That, I think, is what miners want and I think they want the future to be that, for their families, who can now go and work in far better conditions than ever in the past. If you have a choice to subsidise older pits, not as healthy, not as safe—and many of us would not wish miners to work in those conditions—or to put money into the future, which—if you are really concerned—do you take? Because do not forget it is tax-payers' money. This year, we are putting in—or the tax-payers are putting in—£1.3 thousand million pounds. That is the measure of their faith and this Government's confidence in the future of coal. I think they feel—and I feel—that the pay keeps the miners sort of 25%; above average earnings in other industries. The investment is excellent: £2 million a day. And should some miners have to take early retirement, the deal that he is being offered is a very good one—and so it should be, because it has been their capital, as it were. That is a good deal. It is a good deal for an industry with a future. Sir Robin Day

Why hasn't the Government arranged for Parliament—after these weeks of this very difficult dispute—to debate these matters and to hear these arguments which you have been explaining here on “Panorama” on the floor of the House of Commons? Prime Minister

But we had two debates on the coal industry—quite wide-ranging debates—in the month of March. We had to because the financing came up. We have had one private notice question. I am answering questions Tuesday and Thursday almost every week and, of course, it always comes up. So there has been no shortage. The day we had a debate on what is called The Easter Adjournment and it was raised then. That was Thursday night, so it is not as if these things have not been raised in Parliament. Sir Robin Day

But you have left it open to the Labour Party—a Labour backbencher—to get an emergency debate tomorrow simply on the question of police tactics. Will that not tend to look to the public as if somehow the police are in the dock in Parliament instead of discussing the whole issue? Prime Minister

He must take responsibility for the kind of debate he has asked. Most of us who have watched the scenes on television have only the highest praise for the police. They indeed have kept the right of miners to go to work open, and they have done it marvellously. Sir Robin Day

You have no anxieties about some of the allegations made about the police, such as asking people how they voted and stopping people from going to Nottingham at Dartford Tunnel, and so on? Prime Minister

The police have to keep the right to go to work. They have to keep it open. It is well known that they can in fact stop cars if they are going to carry out what they believe would be a breach of the peace. That is well established in law. If there are individual complaints about policemen, there is a well established machinery to pursue them. I think it totally and utterly false to cast a slur on the police for the superb way in which they have handled this dispute and the way in which they have kept open a man's right to go to his place of work unmolested. That is a fundamental right in this country and it would be far better if people looked on who is trying to stop that right and criticized them. Sir Robin Day

Nonetheless, you would agree, would you not, Prime Minister, that it is vitally important in a country such as ours that the police, under their Chief Constable, should be upholding the law and seen to be upholding the law rather than to be upholding the Government? Prime Minister

I believe the police are upholding the law. They are not upholding the Government. This is not a dispute between miners and Government. This is a dispute between miners and miners. They have in their constitution the right to have a ballot. They have not been able to have a national ballot yet. Many of them have had local ballots. This is a dispute between miners and miners. It is some of the miners who are trying to stop other miners going to work. It is the police who are in charge of upholding the law. It is not for us to make complaints. If there are individual complaints, there is a well known machinery for pursuing them, but I would be very very concerned indeed if I thought that people were going for the police except on specific complaints. The police have been wonderful. Sir Robin Day

On a totally different issue, Prime Minister, why are you so determined to go ahead with the controversial legislation to abolish the GLC and the 6 Metropolitan Counties—a measure which is opposed by some of your most senior former Cabinet colleagues and others? Prime Minister

First, because all Conservative Members of Parliament fought the last election on that basis. We heard very very little comment or complaint about it then. That was the basis on which we fought, 13 million people endorsed that, and so we shall go ahead with it.

The real reason is that there is so much duplication and overlap between your Metropolitan Counties and your Districts and I believe that the time has come to return more of the powers to local authorities. Many of them are already exercised by the Districts. Sir Robin Day

Are you saying that it has got nothing to do with the fact that all these authorities are Labour-controlled? Prime Minister

No, it has not. We, in fact, created—as you know—a number of the Metropolitan Counties. I, frankly, feel that we made a mistake in creating them. I remember vividly at the time— I was in charge of education as Secretary of State for Education—it was suggested that I put education to the upper tier. I absolutely refused to do so, because I believe that education is better handled at the District level, particularly the schools. So the Metropolitan Counties never had education.

Many of the powers which they operate—for example, planning—are also operated at District level, and therefore you have duplication, and I think the time has come to say there is not sufficient for the upper tiers to do; they really have too little to do. There is too much duplication, and that is the real reason why they must go. Sir Robin Day

On the GLC, are you not concerned by a recent opinion poll which showed 61%; of Londoners against abolishing the GLC? Prime Minister

No, I am not concerned about that at all. It was a poll taken, I think, of about a thousand people and I could say, look, I had a poll taken of the whole country during the election. But as far as the GLC is concerned, the police powers are exercised by the Home Secretary, not the GLC; the housing powers ceased to be exercised by GLC and were returned to the Districts some time ago and the Districts, I think, exercise them very much better. I think the powers with regard to fire can be exercised by joint boards and with regard to education, the outer London boroughs already have educational powers. It is only the Inner London Authorities that have education exercised through ILEA and as you know, we made an announcement that there will be an elected authority for that. Sir Robin Day

You are entitled to say that you had a pledge in your manifesto to do this. You did not say anything in the manifesto about cancelling the elections and substituting a nominated body from the borough council. Why not extend the life of the present elected councils and do it that way? Prime Minister

I think it would perhaps be really rather more dangerous to extend the life of elected councils. You could argue that that would be a more dangerous precedent than allowing them to serve the full elected time for which they were elected. No-one is being cut off. They are having the full time for which they were elected as councillor. When that comes to an end, there is only a year before GLC is abolished and it seems rather ridiculous to hold other elections. Is it not better to say we will put it over to the elected representatives of the Districts who are, in fact, going to be able to exercise most of the powers which the GLC exercise, so it is going over to elected representatives, within their period of election, of the authorities which will have the responsibilities for discharging the duties which go to them. Sir Robin Day

On another matter—again on which you have had trouble from your parliamentary supporters—why is the Government afraid or unwilling to use its majority to change the law on the political levy, to a system of contracting in, so that trade union members would not have to contract out of the levy if they do not wish to pay it? Prime Minister

We said quite clearly in the manifesto on which we fought the election, on which we won, and which we upheld, that first, we would try to come to a voluntary arrangement with the unions. That they would make it quite clear that people were not compelled to pay a levy. Sir Robin Day

But you come to a voluntary arrangement with the TUC, which has no power over the unions. Prime Minister

We came to a voluntary arrangement with the TUC. We will see if that voluntary arrangement works. If it does not—as we have made it clear—we will still have the right to bring in legislation. We set out what we would do in the manifesto and we are trying to do that. If we can get it voluntarily, so be it. That is better. If we cannot, and it does not work, then we shall have to bring in legislation. Sir Robin Day

But is not the blunt truth that you are holding back from this so as to avoid pressure for legislation against company contributions to Tory funds? Prime Minister

No, Sir Robin, the two are really totally different. No-one is compelled to contribute to Tory Party funds. Everyone who does, who is a company, has to make it public knowledge. The two are totally different. What I said is that we would try to do the arrangements with the unions voluntarily, and we are upholding that. Sir Robin Day

Of course, there is another suggestion, that is that you really want to keep the Labour Party in funds, even though they are the official Opposition, because you are really more scared of the Alliance, which came second in twice as many Tory seats as did the Labour Party. Prime Minister

No, I am not scared of the Alliance at all. Well, we will not talk about the Alliance except perhaps in this connection, but I do think that it is important that political parties raise their own funds to fight elections. I do think it would be a very retrograde step if in this country we said: right, political parties are going to compel contributions from the tax-payer. I think that would be very very bad indeed. Sir Robin Day

In your recent Birmingham speech, Prime Minister, you remember that you claimed that the British people now have—and I quote—a radical Government with a powerful purpose and a clear idea of where it is going. Now, how can you claim to be a radical Tory Government with a powerful purpose when public expenditure now takes a bigger proportion of the national wealth than when you first took power nearly five years ago? Prime Minister

Yes, it does in almost every country in Europe and in the States during a period of recession, because your income goes down during a period of recession—it has in Europe, it has in the States—but you cannot suddenly cut your expenditure. What we have done is swung some of the taxation away from direct taxation to indirect taxation and as you know, if the Labour structure of income tax were still in existence now, people would be paying £3½ billion more in income tax today than they are. Also, we have taken a lot of direct taxation away from companies. It was Labour who put on that monstrous National Insurance Surcharge, which was a tax on jobs, and we have taken that off. Sir Robin Day

But aren't you disappointed at having failed to reduce public expenditure as a proportion of the national income, because you said in your 1979 manifesto—and I quote—“the State takes too much of the nation's income; its share must be steadily reduced.” And it has steadily gone up! Prime Minister

That is correct, for the reason which I have indicated. When you have a recession, in fact your income comes back faster than you can cut your public expenditure and although the question you have put is one which pundits and commentators often put, in Parliament you will find that I am criticised for trying to cut public expenditure too much, and I reckon we have got it about right. Yes, I have cut some things, but they needed to be cut. Other things I have held, and the public expenditure forecasts that we fought the election on have been held absolutely. What that means is that as we get growth, the growth really should be available to go to reducing taxation and believe you me, if I gave in every Tuesday and every Thursday to the demands made upon me by the Labour Party, by the Alliance, sometimes even by one or two of our own people, taxation would be very much higher than it is.

Just after the Budget—that fantastically successful Budget when Nigel Lawson laid out the future for a parliament and said: Look, you can have a choice: more public expenditure or lower taxation, and most of us want lower taxation—do you know the next question I got the next week? Please would we put up the unemployment benefit to the long-term supplementary benefit rate. Do you know how much that would cost? £450 million. No, we have got it right, Sir Robin. Just about all things considered, we have got it right, by very disciplined control and doing it fairly. A fair deal for the weaker members of our society and a fair deal for the tax-payers. Sir Robin Day

You say you have got it right, but how can you have got it right when unemployment is still going up? Prime Minister

That is in fact not quite so much a matter of public expenditure, although it does in fact cost £6 billion. Sir Robin Day

Mr. Heath said it costs £15 million. Prime Minister

We have had this argument before.

I can tell you it cost us exactly this year £6 billion, because that, in fact, is the amount which you pay out in unemployment benefit and the amount which then you pay out in supplementary benefit that people depend upon and that comes to about £6 billion. It was £5 billion last year, but the benefits have gone up. Now, if many many of the people who criticise us for unemployment—and I am the first to want to get unemployment down—went out, or were capable of going out, and starting up wealth-creating businesses of their own, we would be a great deal better off. There are not a lot of people who can. Fortunately, there are more and more who are doing it. But employment, profitable employment, good jobs are created by those who can start a business, expand it, build it up, please the customers, make a profit, plough it back, expand. Sir Robin Day

But are you saying the Government has no role in this, you see, because Sir Ian Gilmour , your former Government Minister, and Mr. Heath , they both argue—and others—they say that we have got to take the once and for all opportunity of the North

Sea oil revenue to put some money into the economy to create some jobs on a selective basis, particularly in the construction industry, Mr. Heath suggests. Now what is wrong with that? Prime Minister

North Sea oil revenue is already being used—as my back-benchers know—is already being used to the full, and some of them are the first to demand extra public expenditure, although they know it is being used to the full. But let me point this out about North Sea oil revenue:

It will not go on for an unlimited time, as we all know, but in a way, we are making provision for the future, because a good deal of money is going from here to be invested overseas. Now, that is a good thing. We are getting a lot of money in here which is invested here; a lot of money was invested in North Sea oil to enable it to be developed and we have to pay out interest and dividends on that. But a lot of money since the end of exchange controls, by pension funds—whether they be trade union pensions funds or other pension funds—has gone overseas. Indeed, our investment overseas has gone up from £15 billion in 1979 to £50 billion. That is very good. It is also producing income back of £2.5 billion a year. That will be the nest egg we shall have, and we will build it up, when North Sea oil has gone. So we are in fact using up one asset which people enabled us to develop by investing here, and we are building up other assets overseas commensurate with those which we used to have in pre-war days. Sir Robin Day

But your critics, Prime Minister, will be appalled to hear you taking pride in the fact that North Sea oil revenue is going abroad instead of being put into operations here in order to increase jobs, in order to bring the mass unemployment down. Prime Minister

Investment will go where it is profitable for it to go. The pension funds, insurance funds, have to look after the income of their beneficiaries and will invest where it is profitable to invest. There is no shortage of money in this country for profitable investment. There is quite a good deal of money looking for profitable investment, so when we get our industries profitable, you will find that there is sufficient—and, indeed, I think even Mr. Harold Wilson said that in the inquiry he had.

So we have to get our industries profitable and if, I might say so, Sir Robin, no-one in fact has done more to try to get industry profitable than this Government, or to create the conditions—and we are succeeding. Profits are up. Industrial production is going up. Industries are expanding. New industries are being created. We have more self-employed than we have ever had before. Yes, there is a new kind of industrial revolution coming. The electronics industry is doing well. Yes, Britain is on the move into industries with good prospects, with a good future. That has happened within the lifetime of this Government. Sir Robin Day

What sort of a recovery is it and what sort of move is it if unemployment is not being reduced and unemployment is in fact still going up? I mean, I read in the Daily Telegraph the other day that Ministers are very puzzled by the fact that unemployment is still going up in real terms. Is that correct? Prime Minister

No. I saw that phrase, I saw the phrase “puzzled” but actually, if you look at the numbers of people of working age, because of past baby booms they are now school-leavers, and between 1978/79 and 1984, there a million more people of working age. The school-leavers now—the baby boom—are coming into the period of working age, so you have actually to create more jobs to stand still. And it will go on until about 1988/89 so we have more coming on to the labour market, so I think we are not puzzled. And, of course, industries still are becoming steadily more and more efficient, but more are being created. That is the important thing. Sir Robin Day

When do you think unemployment will start to come down, Prime Minister? Prime Minister

I am not going to predict. It is a hostage to fortune. What I am going to say is this: We are creating the right conditions for industries to be able to flourish, whether they are industrial, whether they are service. We are keeping down inflation; we are running the economy of this country in a sound way. People know that we will stick to what we say. We will go on running it in a sound way. We are trying to do everything to give incentives to individuals—I mentioned income tax a moment ago—incentive to companies—I mentioned the reduction of the National Insurance Surcharge to help jobs; cutting Corporation Tax so it will be worthwhile making profits, and making it much more neutral as between investment in capital and investment in people. We are doing all the right things to get future good and profitable industries and, Sir Robin, it is working. Sir Robin Day

But when you ask your expert advisers and officials and economists, who are all over Whitehall and near No. 10 … when you ask them when will unemployment start coming down, what do they tell you? Prime Minister

Oh, they will give you all sorts of forecasts based on all sorts of assumptions, but the results they get out depend upon the assumptions they put in, because no-one in fact makes a forecast. It will depend upon world conditions; it will depend upon how we take advantage of the opportunities; it will depend upon how many people start up on their own; it will depend upon how successful they are; it will depend upon how wages move in this country compared with how wages move in others; it will depend upon productivity; it will depend upon good design; it will depend upon go-getters; it will depend upon having an enterprising culture. All of those things. Good Heavens! We were first into the first Industrial Revolution and now at last we are doing well on electronics and I hope we are to do very well on the service industries. Sir Robin Day

The present Chancellor of the Exchequer—you will remember—when he was … had another job during the election campaign … predicted that unemployment would start to fall this year, but it has not happened, has it? Prime Minister

I am more cautious than he is, a good deal more cautious. It is rising more slowly, but because of this great big demographic thing, that we have got a million more people of working age and more school-leavers coming on to the market—although at the moment more school-leavers are getting jobs fortunately—I am just very cautious, because I know it depends not upon talk of either economists or, if I might say so, politicians. It depends on the doers, the people who go out and create the wealth, the men and women who work in industry, the service industries, in offices; it depends upon them, not on the pontificators, but on the doers. Sir Robin Day

Of course, when you and I were younger, Prime Minister, it used to be assumed that Government was part of the doers, that Government had a contribution to make to create jobs and to create wealth—not the whole responsibility, but it had a contribution. Prime Minister

This Government has made a splendid contribution. If we had had governments in the past who had kept inflation down, British industry would have been in a great deal better state than it was when I took it over. You do not hear this Government being in trouble with deficits. You have many other governments being in trouble with deficits—not this one. You do not hear of this Government raising too much money overseas which it cannot afford to pay back. This Government has paid back the debts which the previous Labour Government got into. Yes, we are running our economy in a very sound way. We have taken off a lot of the controls and a lot of the controls hindered industry in its start. We are putting on incentives: everything from share options to enable ordinary folk to have a very much better share in the industry in which they work. We are denationalizing and giving preference to the people who work in an industry. All of these things we are doing.

So we are saying: it does not matter who you are, where you come from. It is if you can make a contribution to our society, and if you can, and if you can build up a fortune to yourself, jolly good luck to you, because in doing so you will help to create jobs for others and I want the successful people here and that is the sort of economy that I am building. Not an envious society, but a go-getter society which will in fact create profitable business and good jobs for other people with a good future. Sir Robin Day

All of those watching may not all be go-getters, but when is your go-getting society and your successful entrepreneurs, when are they going to create the conditions, with Government help perhaps, which will start to reduce the mass unemployment? One year, two years, three years? Prime Minister

Let me take some examples.

The chemical industry is doing extremely well. It is getting other world chemical industry beaten. The vehicle industry is coming up very fast indeed. Small business is starting and we have done a tremendous amount of help to that. The electronics business is also getting away to a very very fast start—a late start, but a very very fast start. Of course, we are also in a technological revolution and we shall in fact have to pick up on service industries. But bearing in mind the increased numbers of people of working age, new jobs are being created, but for a time they will not in fact show in the unemployment figures, but when you look at the proportion of people in work, let me make this perfectly clear: we have a bigger proportion of our population in work than they have in France. This, of course, is because we have rather more married women working than they do in France. We have a bigger proportion than many industrial countries of our population in work. Sir Robin Day

Well, you have put your case with great force on that and I would like to move to another topic because there are many interesting ones to discuss.

A lot of people, when we talk about public expenditure and so on and so forth, wonder how you can possibly justify the cost of the Trident nuclear missile programme which, as you know, has escalated in cost to nearly £9 billion altogether, and they ask this question because they are told by a lot of people who argue about it that the use of such a weapon would be national suicide. Prime Minister

Now which question are you asking first?

First Trident. It is 3%; Over the lifetime over which we acquired it, it is 3%; of the defence budget. Sir Robin Day

6%; of the equipment budget. Prime Minister

Yes, 3%; of the defence budget, 6%; of the equipment budget. We could not possibly get such good deterrent value for that money as we get in Trident.

Now, should we have Trident? Yes! We must, I believe, have an independent nuclear deterrent in this country. The alternative is if you do not have one yourself, you rely on someone else's umbrella, so you cannot have a moral case against it, if you say we are not going to have it, we are going to rely on someone else's use of it, so there can be no moral case against it. But some of those people who say we must not have it, try to deploy a moral case against it. I do not recognize, I must say, a moral case against it for this reason. Either we have these weapons or we lave them totally in the hands of the potential aggressor. To leave the world's most powerful weapons totally in the hands of a potential aggressor seems to me the height of absurdity and danger. I would not do it, because they then only have to threaten you. How, if they threatened you with nuclear weapons and you had none to deter, could you put your conventional forces into fight, knowing you could be threatened? The alternative would be surrender. Sir Robin Day

Supposing they threaten you with their massive conventional forces, is our answer to use, to rely on the nuclear deterrent first? Prime Minister

The nuclear deterrent is there to deter all war—and it has. And that is what my critics cannot get over. We have had the longest period of peace for a very long time. To me, that is the most valuable thing of all. The nuclear deterrent has deterred not only nuclear war, because it is so horrific; it has deterred conventional war, and please do not think conventional war was cosy. It was terrible, absolutely dreadful, as anyone who came through the last war knows, in the number of people who lost their life. It has deterred that terror as well. Sir Robin Day

Do you have a hope of …   . are you hopeful of opening up a dialogue—a new dialogue—with the Soviet Union, as a British policy, bearing in mind the very stern things you were saying about Russia until quite recently? Prime Minister

I believe passionately in our way of life. We would all say, if we were asked to say what is the characteristic of Britain, everyone would say the same—we are a free country and we are going to stay that way. We take it for granted. It should not be taken for granted. We believe in freedom and justice and we want peace with freedom and justice. We will argue our case for our way of life against anyone else in the world against theirs. It is a far superior system for individuals, free men and women than Communism. Sir Robin Day

Are you thinking of going to Moscow to talk with them? Prime Minister

Yes, but you were talking about some of the things that I have said about Communism. I would still say that a free way of life gives both dignity and prosperity that you do not get in Communism. I do not retreat from that one moment, but I was getting very worried that somehow we were not getting to grips with some of the other problems. We had had various kinds of disarmament talks going on for a long time, about the strategic nuclear weapons, about the theatre nuclear weapons, about the conventional weapons, about chemical weapons, the conventional weapons going on for nine years, the nuclear weapons going on for a long time.

Now, we were not getting anywhere very fast and I think we gradually, a number of us, got together and we began to think: what can we do about this? Sir Robin Day

By “We” you mean Britain. We are not involved in most of those talks. Prime Minister

We are not involved, but we are kept very very closely in touch as we work very closely with the United States and we put our input in discussions into them. They were not getting anywhere, Sir Robin, and I felt that we could not leave it like that and I felt that perhaps we should tackle it in a different way. If we got a greater understanding across the political divide—and it is a political divide—if we got a greater understanding across that, then we might find that those disarmament talks might go better.

Now, we in NATO are totally defensive. No-one needs to fear anything from us at all. We will not pursue our way of life by force. It is not in our creed to do so. But I do want to talk across the divide and that is why I went to Hungary and why I wanted also to talk more widely, because I think when we get that greater understanding—and I think when they understand that we are not threatening them—NATO threatens no-one … we might get that. Sir Robin Day

What is the next step in talking across the great divide, to invite Mr. Chernenko here perhaps? Prime Minister

I think you are jumping much too fast. You know, you do not get instant success on this. You have to build it up slowly and steadily, but when I went to Moscow we did mention there could be reinstatements to Kornienko's visit, which had been stopped because of the shooting down of the Korean air liner, and do not forget that previously relations had been bad because of Afghanistan. Now, that visit was reinstated. He has been. Sir Geoffrey Howe will be going to see Mr. Gromyko in Moscow in July. I also, as you know, talked in Hungary and I think got just a greater understanding of their viewpoint and made it perfectly clear that NATO threatens no-one. We have to get this message across. Democracies are peace-loving by their very nature, so does it not make sense for the democracies and for the Communist block to say: Look, we are both spending far too much on weapons, we both wish to be secure, can we not keep our security, but at a lower level of men and weapons, by agreements that we come down, also by verifying what each other is doing? It makes sense for us, it makes sense to them. We have a common interest in this and I wish to pursue it very vigorously because I think if we get a greater understanding—and you always benefit from dialogue and talking—we might get that greater trust. In any event, we might avoid misunderstanding and then we might get a movement in these disarmament talks which is so important. Sir Robin Day

Could I draw your back to that familiar subject of the Common Market Budget, Prime Minister. The talks resumed again today, I think with our Foreign Ministers. Are you hopeful of getting it settled this time? Prime Minister

I am always hopeful. I do not know whether it will be settled. If it is not, we shall go. We have made, really, great strides in the agricultural policy, which would not have been made without Britain's influence. Let us be absolutely clear about that. Britain has done a very great deal in making the Common Market face up to fundamental issues. We now have this other one. Britain deserves a fair deal in the amount by which she finances the Common Market …   . Sir Robin Day

What is the gap between us now, £150 million is it? Prime Minister

I do not think you can say it that way, because it is not a gap in any particular one year. It is the figures which you put in for the first year will become multiplied in future years as the budget goes up, and that is why it is so important to get the first starting figure, because you get a multiplied effect. Sir Robin Day

What is left now to get right? Prime Minister

Well, we have got the system. At least, I believe we have got the system. What we have to do is to get the starting point. The starting point is supremely important because it has a multiplied effect in future years. You cannot just say it is that gap. As the money going into the Common Market rises, the gap will get larger so, in fact, you have to get it right. When we have done that, there will be so many more things we can do. Sir Robin Day

Are you reasonably confident that this week, Prime Minister, you will get what you called and what you want and I quote—a fair system of financing and disciplined expenditure, so that we can put behind us this endless haggling over money? Prime Minister

We are well on the way to getting a system of disciplined expenditure, again, due to Britain, as we say: Look, you simply must decide at the beginning of the year how much money you can spend and how much you can spend on agriculture. That again, is due to Britain's firmness. That is two things due to Britain's firmness. We still have to get the third. We shall, I believe, get the third. Indeed, I am fairly confident we shall get the third, because they recognise our case and it is still just a question of deciding the details and how much. Sir Robin Day

They have said an awful lot of unkind things about you, Prime Minister. They seemed to find you very tiresome at the last summit, didn't they? Prime Minister

They are tiresome. They are nine to one, and there are nine of them being tiresome and only one of me, and I can cope with nine of them, so they ought to be able to stand one of me, and anyway, they could end the tiresomeness and stubbornness by giving me what I want, which is a fair deal for Britain and I shall go till I get a fair deal, but it will be a fair and reasonable deal, because I want to get it over. I am fed up with haggling about this. There are far more important things for us to do in future and no-one has greater vision about what Europe can do as an entity than Britain, and no-one has done more for Europe over past years than Britain. Sir Robin Day

On another matter, Prime Minister, what is your reaction to the view of Mr. Peter Shore , the Shadow Leader of the House, that there are still questions about the Oman contract and your son Mark which you have a public duty to answer? Prime Minister

Well, he has had the relevant answers. The House has had the relevant answers. He may not like the answers, but that is not my fault. Sir Robin Day

The relevant answer he says he has not had—and other people say it also—that you have not answered the question as to when you were in Oman, did you know of your son's financial interest in the Cementation bid? Prime Minister

I answer for what I do. I have answered for what I do. I have said perfectly clearly it was up to Oman to whom they allocated this right to negotiate and eventually the contract. I do not mention the names of particular British companies and did not on that occasion. I said it is vitally important, I believe, that the business comes to Britain. I have answered fully for my role. The business did come to Britain, that business and a lot of other business in the rest of the Gulf.

Now, what are they saying I did wrong? Did wrong in getting business for Britain, for some 400 companies? What are they saying I did wrong? Batting for Britain? I shall go on batting for Britain! Sir Robin Day

Were you at any time advised or warned by your officials about a possible conflict of interest between your public duties and your son's private interests? Prime Minister

As I have indicated in the House on many occasions, I was advised to raise the matter of the whole University contract with the Government of Oman. That I did. I did it, I believe, very forcefully, because I wanted the business to come to Britain. The business did come to Britain. Some 400 companies are involved. I am sorry that the Labour Party does not like the business coming to Britain. I am very sorry, but I shall go on trying to bat for Britain, getting more business for Britain, and on that tour I got contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds, and scarcely a week goes by now without my being asked to back up, the demand to back up the representations that British companies are making to try to get business overseas because competitors' governments back them. Sir Robin Day

Let me ask you one more question on this matter, because you have made your position clear on it. Can you give the public, the people, an assurance that if all the facts were disclosed about this matter, there would be no evidence of any impropriety on your part and no breach of the rigorous standards we all expect from people in public life? Prime Minister

I believe that is correct. Sir Robin Day

Then why not publish all the facts? Prime Minister

Because the facts will be published in due course of time, but you know full well, when the 30-year-records come of course they will. Of course they will. But you know as well as I do, Sir Robin, that discussions between heads of government are confidential and what do you think? Are you really suggesting that I should have confidential discussions with other heads of government, that I should break confidentiality? That I should break confidentiality on commercial contracts? Are you really suggesting, is the Labour Party really suggesting that that is the way for Britain to behave, that that is the way to get contracts for Britain? Are they really suggesting the right way for the head of a British Government is to breach confidentiality? What they are complaining about is that as a result of work that the British Prime Minister did—did correctly, did on advice from Government Departments, did on advice from the relevant departments—work came to Britain. They have not been able to say that a single thing which I did was wrong, not a single thing. The work came to Britain, because the Government of Oman decided to whom it should go. Sir Robin Day

What they have said very strongly is that you refuse to say whether you knew that your son had a financial interest. Prime Minister

I answer for what I do. Sir Robin, what are you alleging that I did wrong? Sir Robin Day

I am not suggesting anything. I am just putting to you the questions which they say you have not answered and we will leave it there.

Mrs. Thatcher, do you intend to lead the Conservative Party into the next election in, say, 1987? Prime Minister

I hope so. Sir Robin Day

Of course, if you do do that, and let us say that the next election is in the autumn of 1987, do you realise then that you will have held the office of Prime Minister for a longer … for the longest continuous period of this century and possibly long before that? Prime Minister

Yes. Sir Robin Day

Eight and a half years and you will be … Prime Minister

Not very long. Sir Robin Day

Eight and a half years. Prime Minister

Yes, it is not very long if you look back to other times. Sir Robin Day

And you will be 62. Do you still think you will want to go ahead at the next election? Prime Minister

Yes. I shall be a very fit 62. You might be a little bit nearer that than I am, but do you feel all right? Sir Robin Day

Forgive me if I do not answer that question, Prime Minister, towards the end of this interesting interview.

One of your most famous declarations, Prime Minister, which everyone will remember, was when you said—this was just before you took office—I am not a consensus politician or a pragmatic politician. I am a conviction politician. After 5 years as Prime Minister, are you still a conviction politician, despite what the realities of office have taught you? Prime Minister

Most certainly. I make it perfectly clear what I believe in. Then I set about to translate my beliefs into action. Then I say: All right, you are free to accept or reject. But, in fact, the convictions which I have had are really beginning to show results. We have a sound financial policy; we are upholding the rule of law; we have a sound defence policy; we have protected the weak; we have done far better by the National Health Service than the Labour Party; we have, in fact, carried out the things which we said we were going to do; we have the biggest privatization programme of any Conservative Government and we are going to continue. We are succeeding; we are going to continue to succeed and I believe in saying what I do. Do you think that any of the great politicians or great faiths of the world would ever have got anywhere if people had gone out and said: “Brothers, I believe in consensus!” No, they did not. They went out and said: “This is what I believe. If you believe that too, vote for me. If not, you are free to reject me!” Sir Robin Day

There are those, including many in your own party, Prime Minister, who think the country at this time could do with a bit less conviction, which means belief beyond argument, and a bit more consensus, which means reasoning together as one nation. Prime Minister

We got a really rather good consensus, I thought, during the last election. Consensus behind my convictions. Sir Robin Day

Only 42%; of the people. Prime Minister

42%; of the people, and a very very good majority, far more than anyone else got for theirs, far more than anyone else. No, I believe that we have set about it the right way. Do you really think that consensus, trying to conceal what you believe, and saying: “Just appoint me and I will do what is pragmatic” … Sir Robin Day

It also means getting agreement with other people. It does not mean concealing anything! Prime Minister

Do you know, I once asked in an international conference …   . I said to one of my colleagues who shall be nameless and will stay nameless in spite of all efforts to try to ask me to reveal who it was … I said: “Why do you say on that particular occasion ‘They got a consensus’. ‘Well’, he said, ‘You have to, because they could not reach agreement!’ No, I go for agreement, agreement for the things I want to do and if you get agreement, you do not need consensus. Sir Robin Day

We had better leave it there, otherwise … Prime Minister

… consensus is too wishy washy, Sir Robin. I am clear. Sir Robin Day

…   . we will hold up the 9 o'clock news, which will tell us what you have been saying. Prime Minister, thank you. Prime Minister

Thank you!