Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1988 Jun 21 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for TV-AM (Toronto G7 Summit)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: MTCC Centre, Toronto
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: David Foster, TV-AM
Editorial comments: 1645 onwards (local time).
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1742
Themes: Economy (general discussions), Monetary policy, Environment, Trade, Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (development, aid, etc), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Law & order, Religion & morality, Sport, Terrorism

David Foster, TV-AM

Prime Minister, you've described it as a very successful summit. If you had to single out one particular issue which you would regard as the most important item discussed over the past few days, what would that be?

Prime Minister

It's always difficult to single out one. I think the one that will have most effect on the future of world trade and, therefore, prosperity, is the decision really to fight protectionism and to take effective decisions in the present GATT round. You see, if we don't get in large in world trade, we don't get in large in prosperity. There's some countries that want to protect their own industries and if you're not prepared to subject your own industries to world competition they will just get more inefficient and there will be less trade and lower standard of living. So, I think that's the single most important decision.

David Foster, TV-AM

You've talked of the buoyant world economy at the moment. Is that something that maybe six months ago you were particularly concerned about in the light of the Stock Market crash? [end p1]

Prime Minister

I think we wondered whether the growth would fall quite sharply. We knew that we could expect a lesser rate of growth this year than last, because we had a very, very good one last year. But, in fact, we couldn't see why there should be real difficulty, because we got all the fundamental policies sound. You know, we got inflation right down; we were living within our means; we got our deficit right down—indeed, as you know, we're actually repaying debt—so it was quite unlike the times when we had got into difficulty. So, we thought—we read the papers too—that maybe people would save more and that there would be fewer retail sales. That did not turn out to be the case—the soundness of the policies saw us through and so it really was just an abberation and did not turn out to be the forerunner of a difficult period.

David Foster, TV-AM

One of the declarations here is that the governments together are going to combat terrorism with more concerted effort. We've had declarations like that in the past—I know that you have been upset at the fact that other governments have perhaps reneged on these agreements. How sure can you be that people are now determined as one group to fight terrorism?

Prime Minister

I think this group is very determined to fight terrorism. But you know only seven countries—and not all countries have signed the Hague Convention. What we are asking more countries to do is to sign that Hague Convention and try to agree to some of the things that we think are very, very important. We are the Summit Seven. It's up to us to give a lead and to set and example and that's what we have tried to do.

David Foster, TV-AM

How angry does it make you when members of the Summit Seven appear to renege on agreement? [end p2]

Prime Minister

I don't think they have reneged on these agreements. Not that I can remember.

David Foster, TV-AM

If we're talking particularly about France perhaps dealing with Iran—something that you would not deign to do?

Prime Minister

As you know, France—you're talking about hostage agreements there—France said that she had not in fact paid money to Iran for the release of the hostages and told us that. But I thought you were talking about the air hi-jacking and the air piracy.

David Foster, TV-AM

I was encapsulating it all together…   .

Prime Minister

Yes, well, as you know, we take a very, very clear view on hostages. We do everything we can to say that they should be released and to try to find out where they are and to say “look, this is totally contrary to all civilised behaviour and they should be released.” But we will not pay over money or make concessions to them for hostages, because that way they have only to take others if they want anything. I'm not quite sure that that is always followed by other countries, but certainly it is very much our way of doing things and it's the right one. It is very sad when you have to see the relatives—and you can understand why, maybe some other people are tempted to try to get them back by doing things which we think are wrong and put other people in danger. But it is the right policy.

David Foster, TV-AM

If we can turn now to one of the other major issues discussed here, the problem of third world debt—the poor African countries. [end p3] How much further along the road do you believe you have now come as a group to solving that problem?

Prime Minister

Well, I think we have entered into a commitment today. You know Nigel Lawson, our Chancellor, put up a proposal quite a long time ago that we really should do it—I think at the last IMF meeting way back last September—that we really should do this. We've just not been able to get agreement on it. Then, all of a sudden, just before the Summit, a whole rash of proposals came out from other countries—all slightly different—which indicated that there was a widening view that something should be done.

Sometimes in politics you have to talk about something quite a long time before people agree actually to take action. I think that's happened. We had a whole series of proposals and so we've agreed that we will each share the burden of getting rid of that debt and helping them with trade debts. We will share the burden equally, but we might each do it in different ways. As you know, we have pretty nearly wiped out the aid debts and now we give aid to the poorest countries in the form of grants and not loans—that's very, very much better. And, as far as their trade debt is concerned, we all reschedule in the same organisation in Paris and we shall do it in different ways. Some will, say, wipe off some of the debt, but get the rest repaid earlier; others will say, “Look, we'll give you a longer period before you have to repay any of it” ; others will say that we will reduce the interest that you have to pay. There will be a whole mixture of methods, but we will all try to help in some way.

David Foster, TV-AM

You've mentioned many times that yourself, Nigel Lawson and Sir Geoffrey Howe are probably the most experienced team here at the Summit. Are you, as some people have been suggesting, the most dominant figure amongst the leaders?

Prime Minister

We all have our own particular personalities, all our own [end p4] particular ways of negotiating. We've been lucky, there has been a great continuity for several years now. I remember the last summit in Canada—Montebello—I had been around for a couple of years; President Reagan joined us then; Mr Mitterrand joined us then. Helmut Schmidt was there and Helmut Kohl came later. Herr Genscher 's been there as Foreign Minister perhaps the longest of us all. But we've had a certain continuity for quite a time, which undoubtedly has helped. But that comes to an end—each of us was new at one time and there will be some continuity and we'll carry on.

I have thought very carefully about these summits and this particular one is extremely useful. This particular one really has influenced the economic future of the countries who are here and also of the larger world, because we've talked things through and we have all, from many different backgrounds, come now to pursue the same policies, the same framework, basic policies, because they're the right policies. And, when each of you is pursuing the same one, it means you can get much better international co-operation and that's better for everyone.

David Foster, TV-AM

One final question Prime Minister. You talk about having created a more affluent society and yet you express concern about the way people behave in this more affluent society. Does it give you great cause for concern; does it worry you greatly about the problems of, say, British hooliganism in Germany?

Prime Minister

Of course I'm worried about it, indeed, of course I said how sorry I was to Chancellor Kohl. But we're not the only country that suffers from that, we are not the only country that suffers from violence; from damage to property; from graffiti; from terribly untidy motorways and streets in towns. The interesting thing here in Toronto is it is a highly prosperous city—very, very prosperous city. The city is extremely clean. It has a lot of open spaces, very attractive buildings, but the other thing is it has a very low rate of crime. Now, here you have high prosperity, a marvellous city kept clean by its inhabitants and very low rate of crime. Now, I wonder [end p5] why they have been able to achieve it, but other cities haven't.

I think its two things. Its first that there are a number of groups of parents who have insisted on keeping standards and handing them down to their children and they've acted very much as communities and each community, or group to which you belong, also insists on high standards and the schools. That's really what communities can and should be doing. And one has to ask why that there were certain accepted standards of dealing one with another, certain standards of courtesy, consideration and integrity. Also, respect for other people's property, respect for the cleanliness of streets—Why is it getting worse? I'm not sure that its a thing that governments themselves can do about it, but the whole groups of people and families can. It's not enough to have a high standard of living, a high standard of prosperity if you've got too much crime on the streets. In Toronto they haven't. So there we can do something—we can analyse success, instead of complaining about the problem.

David Foster, TV-AM

A certain sadness to say good-bye to President Reagan on the Summit stage?

Prime Minister

Oh yes, because Ronald Reaganhe knows that it was the last summit he will attend and he was absolutely marvellous. He was full of energy, contributed to every debate and always thinking about the future. So we shall really miss him.

David Foster, TV-AM

Prime Minister, thank you.

Prime Minister

Thank you.