Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1985 Feb 21 Th
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for ITN (visiting Washington)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: British Residence, Washington DC
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Jon Snow, ITN
Editorial comments: 0700-0800 MT gave interviews to British broadcasters and national public radio.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1411
Themes: Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Economy (general discussions), Monetary policy, Privatized & state industries, Foreign policy (USA), Security services, Strikes & other union action

Jon Snow, ITN

Prime Minister, in your speech on Capitol Hill yesterday you spoke with some pride about the mutual investment in each other's countries and indeed, you said Britain was the biggest direct investor in the United States. Since you lifted exchange controls, £25,000 million of British capital has come into the United States, fuelling recovery and, of course, assisting with some very massive borrowing by the United States. Would not that money have been better spent on a British recovery?

Prime Minister

No, because there has been record investment in Britain last year as well. Last year, an all-time record of investment throughout the economy—£55 billion—so there has been plenty of money for investment in Britain, and also it is very important that we do build up overseas assets. North Sea oil will actually last quite a time. There will come an occasion when we have not got investments in the North Sea yielding as much income as now, and it is absolutely vital to use some of the profits from the North Sea to invest to give us that income, and that is what has been happening, and it is really a cause of great pride that we have built up those investments. [end p1]

Jon Snow, ITN

There is a great spoken consciousness here of the problems of a strong dollar and of the deficit, yet the most recent budget here is not predicted by any of the experts to do much to assault that deficit, and in the meantime you have said yourself that our own recovery is threatened. Is there any sign from your talks that any action will be taken?

Prime Minister

I think that quite a bit of what the Ronald ReaganPresident has proposed will get through Congress—not all—and some of it will be changed, but I found a great awareness on Capitol Hill that they must do something to reduce the deficit, because otherwise it will just go on mounting and you cannot have more and more borrowing on that scale every year, because the amount of expenditure on debt then becomes enormous in itself. So there is a very great awareness. They will do something. They will do quite a bit; perhaps not as much as was originally asked for, but I believe they will take some decisive action.

Jon Snow, ITN

So do you think the strong dollar will weaken and the pound will recover?

Prime Minister

It is very very difficult to prophesy in this sphere. Part of the strong dollar is undoubtedly the very strong economy, the very strong sort of free enterprise cult, the success, the [end p2] “go-go” —people do not say: “I have not got a job, it is the government's fault” —they go out and they get one; they start things up for themselves, and that is very very very important in Britain. But then, you see, some other people who are suffering from the strong dollar also have very strong economies. Japan has a very strong economy. Germany has a very strong economy. Switzerland has a very strong economy, and ours will be even stronger when the coal strike is over, but even without that we had 2½%; growth.

So there is some sort of psychology, some great emotive thing, some great speculative movements of currency round the world which is adding to it, and we are all asking the same question, and if we knew the answer we would be in a position to make a fortune. A lot of other people would know it too.

Jon Snow, ITN

You are a powerless victim in a sense?

Prime Minister

We have done what we could. Namely, we had to put interest rates up, and of course, there is a certain amount of joint intervention and no-one ever knows when it will come. But we all somehow know this cannot go on.

Jon Snow, ITN

Are you asking for more intervention? [end p3]

Prime Minister

No, no. We have an arrangement worked through the G-5 Committee.

Jon Snow, ITN

That is the Group of Five …   .

Prime Minister

…   . you cannot do colossal intervention, but you can do sudden intervention, and that can be very bad for the speculator, and that is the object of the exercise.

Jon Snow, ITN

You said you are the President's greatest fan. Are you as big a fan of his Star Wars initiative as he appears to be?

Prime Minister

I made it quite clear from the very beginning that we simply had to do some research. The Soviet Union, I think, has been ahead in some things. The Soviet Union has been ahead in lasers, in electronic pulse beams; it has got an anti-satellite capacity, none of which the West has got, and so on our fundamental strategy of deterrence and balance, the United States had to embark on a considerable research programme.

If it should result in possible deployment of weapons, then the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty provides that there must be negotiations and I think one of the problems, really, that has arisen is that people do not fully understand the great [end p4] time lag there will be between deciding to do the research and knowing what result it will yield. That will be several years, and in the meantime we must rely on the present nuclear weaponry that we have for our deterrence and our safety.

Jon Snow, ITN

But when does research become deployment? In order to test, or indeed, in order to research, you have to deploy? Are you then saying that having deployed, they will pull it back before they deploy properly?

Prime Minister

No, I am not. I am saying that the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty does not preclude research in any way. It would be strange actually if it included it, because it is not possible to verify what each nation is doing and therefore it has taken quite a long time to find out just exactly what the Soviet Union is doing. So research could not be in that treaty.

There is a certain amount of testing and a limited deployment, as you know, permitted under that treaty. There is one ABM system allowed to each side. Once you get beyond that, then it has to be deployment through negotiation. Everyone is very much aware of that, both sides, and of course, the Soviet Union is doing a good deal of research too. [end p5]

Jon Snow, ITN

Have you ever expressed any misgivings or disagreement on this issue with the President?

Prime Minister

No, we talked it through for a long time when I came here on my way back from China, just before Christmas, and I think we agreed on what can be done and the limits of what can be done before one has to negotiate in the ABM Treaty, but again, I repeat, do not forget the Soviet Union is doing research. The Soviet Union in some respects is ahead, with an anti-satellite capability, and how far one has arrangements and negotiations about anti-satellite matters again is for discussion.

Jon Snow, ITN

Can I just ask you two domestic issues at home. The miners strike which you already mentioned. Do you now see any early end to it?

Prime Minister

No, I do not. One has had one's hopes raised on a number of occasions and therefore when this opportunity came up I was not too optimistic because of what has happened on previous occasions. We thought that there was a possibility that the whole Executive of the NUM had perhaps moved its position and that was the basis on which the National Coal Board once again made yet one further effort and put out a detailed document through the TUC to the NUM and there were one or two comments [end p6] and then the National Coal Board went as far as it possibly could, without compromising its right to manage, which it can never do, without compromising its right to make a final decision on closures of uneconomic pits. It seems that the NUM has not moved its position. It is exactly where it was at the beginning. That is disappointing, but at least we know where we are.

Jon Snow, ITN

One last matter. You may have heard in press reports from Britain that the national press in Britain is reporting that intelligence officers from MI5 have recounted reported that phone taps have been put on trade union leaders' phones, including Arthur Scargill, and on the phones of CND, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament members' phones.

Prime Minister

As you know, we never comment on intelligence. It is governed by the several directives which you know well.

Jon Snow, ITN

Thank you Prime Minister.

Prime Minister

Thank you.