The Prime Minister has been addressing Welsh Conservatives, whose conference opened today at Llandudno. She defended the new Community Charge; on educational reform, she stressed the importance of parental responsibility for children's behaviour. And she spoke of the opportunities offered by the advent of the Single European Market in 1992. But Mrs Thatcher devoted much of her speech to industrial and economic matters. She also answered a number of questions from the floor. We've just had this report from our chief political correspondent, Brian Curtois, in Llandudno: [end p1]
Mrs. Thatcher was paying a flying visit to the Welsh Conservatives before she goes to the Toronto economic summit at the weekend. Her main economic point today was to demonstrate how the country had responded to the need for change when some of our industries had declined in the nineteen fifties, sixties and seventies. Mrs Thatcher admitted having had a nightmare when she first came to power in 1979:
Supposing we get all the finances right. Supposing we give trade unions back to their members, management back to management, get the taxation right, get down the rules and regulation get the privatisation right. Supposing we do all that, and then we find that the spirit of enterprise isn't there any more. For people have lost the initiative and the enterprise. What shall we do then? Well, of course I worry. But the interesting thing was that about two years before the last election the whole thing began to flower and bloom again. Industries began - new industries began to come. New industries began to come to Wales. They not only began to come but they flourished.
Mrs. Thatcher faced searching questions from her supporters. She said she expected economic growth to continue, but not at last year's speed. She hoped unemployment would continue to fall. Would inflation take off? Mrs. Thatcher said she didn't think it would go up sharply, but it might go up a little. And on the current problem of the moment, football hooligans, Mrs. Thatcher said that if the government did decide to bring in legislation to deal with hooligans, she hoped it would be approved without any difficulty. [end p2]
(2) BBC Radio News Report 2400 17 June 1988:
The Prime Minister, speaking to Welsh Conservatives at their conference in Llandudno, has said she expects the growth rate in the economy to slow down next year. But she thought unemployment would continue to fall. Mrs. Thatcher was making a brief visit to Wales before her departure at the weekend for the economic summit in Toronto. Our Political Correspondent, Martin Dowle, reports from Llandudno: [end p3]
Last week, the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development predicted that Britain's growth rate would drop from its current rate of 3.5 percent to just 2.2 percent in 1989. In a question and answer session at the Llandudno conference, Mrs Thatcher confirmed the government agreed with this prediction.
It's unlikely to be able to go on quite as fast as it did last year but we expect the growth to continue, but not at quite such a fast pace this coming year. But we hope at a pace fast enough to continue to get down the amount of unemployment. It will depend upon us to be keeping a firm hand on the finances, which we intend to do.
Mrs Thatcher also responded to fears from one representative at the conference over rising inflation by saying she didn't think it would rise sharply. But she expressed concern at unit wage costs saying the increase in average earnings of 8 and a half percent was running way ahead of inflation and that was why interest rates had been put back up.
The Prime Minister also expanded on the outcome of yesterday's meeting at Downing Street of ministers on football hooliganism. She suggested the government might consider banning away fans from travelling to other clubs' grounds - a solution which, she said, had been successfully applied at Luton Town. And she declared her determination to eradicate what she described as a blot on the country's reputation.