Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1988 Oct 31 Mo
Margaret Thatcher

Interview for Scotland on Sunday

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Interview
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday
Editorial comments: 1115-1225.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 8840
Themes: General Elections, Conservative Party (organization), Housing, Local government, Union of UK nations, Labour Party & socialism, Conservative Party (history), Industry, Privatized & state industries, Religion & morality, Social security & welfare, Taxation, Executive, Employment, Leadership, Defence (general), Trade unions, By-elections, NHS reforms 1987-90, Private health care, Northern Ireland, Terrorism, Media, Conservatism, Education

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

You have made five visits to Scotland since your band of Tories at Westminster was reduced to just ten in the General Election and you have made a determined effort to win back the Scots and you made that a point in your speech at Perth. You have got a new organisation, you have got Malcolm Rifkind, who seems to be going round Scotland preaching Thatcherism, and yet the opinion polls seem to put Labour higher than they were at the last General Election. Why do you think that is?

Prime Minister

I cannot tell you why. I think we have got a marvellous Secretary of State for Scotland. I think Malcolm Rifkind is [end p1] absolutely superb, Scotland is benefitting enormously from the policies that we are pursuing, its cities are transformed, they are looking extremely good, Edinburgh is a very thriving city, the second financial city in the whole of the United Kingdom. Glasgow, it is just a joy to go there and see it quite different from the way in which it used to be and Scotland is flourishing.

It is my job and Malcolm's job to try do the very best we can for Scotland, if Scotland wishes to throw all that over and risk it, then that is Scotland's choice.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

But there are some facts and figures, for example, it seems that Scotland perhaps is not taking Thatcherism on board as much as the rest of the country. For example, owner occupation is lower in Scotland, shareholding is lower in Scotland. Do you think that the Scots are perhaps rejecting some of your policies?

Prime Minister

No I think that historically, as you know, there has been a much much higher proportion of council housing and flats in Scotland than in the rest of the United Kingdom, so we started from a different base. I think that if you take that into account you will find that sales are going reasonably well in Scotland. [end p2]

More people want them, more people are wanting to purchase their own homes but there was a very very different proportion in the beginning.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

What about some of the other possible reasons? Poll after poll in Scotland shows that the Scottish people back either some form of devolution, the majority do, or even quite a substantial minority back full-scale independence. Why is the Tory Party the only party that rejects this completely?

Prime Minister

I do not think, as far as I am aware, that the Labour Party wants to go to full independence in any way. So let us say that the people who in fact support Labour are not voting in any way for independence. That would be the last thing that the Labour Party wanted, the very last thing.

So what you are saying, therefore, is that there is an overwhelming majority of people who would be against independence for Scotland, which to me is not surprising because I think that it is a thing some people may talk about but when they actually get down to look at the consequences then I think that they would be very very far-reaching indeed and it is the reason why most [end p3] people do not want it and that is the reason why when it came to the famous occasion when they had the Referendum they voted that way.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

But there is still a majority in favour of some kind of devolution, an Assembly?

Prime Minister

But you know there is quite a lot of administrative devolution. As you know, Malcolm Rifkind has enormous powers for the Scottish Office, the administrative devolution is enormous. Such that I get two things being said which are kind of in the opposite direction: “Why do more of your Ministers not come up to Scotland?” But then I said: “Quite a number of my Ministers do not have any authority in Scotland”. “Ah, but we still want to see them”.

Now you take education, for example, the only authority on education that our Kenneth BakerEducation Secretary has in Scotland is some with the universities, it is very indirect because it is run by the University Grants Committee, but they still say: “But we want to see him”. So I say to him: “You must go up more often”.

But you see Kenneth Clarke does the health down here, but Malcolm does the health up in Scotland and I say: “But never mind, [end p4] they still want to see you in Scotland”.

So there we are having the people of Scotland saying send up more United Kingdom Ministers, even though the administrative position is that their writ does not run in Scotland because Malcolm Rifkind has all the powers.

Now that is in a way saying please we are very much part of the United Kingdom, and indeed Ministers are going more and more often. I go, you see I come to Scotland, I go in and out of a city in Scotland the same way as I would go in and out of a city in England or when I go in and out of various cities in Northern Ireland.

So it is not coming to Scotland, it is going to places in the United Kingdom.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

In your speech at the Perth Conference you said that the Scots invented Thatcherism, you mentioned Adam Smith, etc., and you then went on to say that Scotland had effectively been smothered by successive governments from the reality of industrial change. Wasn't that a criticism also of Tory Governments? [end p5]

Prime Minister

I think in many respects we at one stage donned some of the characteristics of socialism. For example, I think it was a Conservative Government, indeed it was, which sent the car factory to Linwood because we said you cannot develop where you wish to develop. It was Conservative governments that sent many factories away from where they wanted to be, into the regions, sent them there, did not say we will give you incentives to go there, which is what we do, these are incentives you can choose but these are incentives, but said not only do you have to get planning permission, but you have to get a development certificate and we will deny you that development certificate where you want to go.

So you saw what happened with Linwood. Eighteen out of nineteen years in which that factory was at Linwood it made a loss. Now you cannot go on making a loss, but it was even worse than that in a way because when it started there, all the wages became much higher than they were locally and therefore all your small local businesses could not compete for the labour and therefore they went out of business.

So when the whole thing collapsed because it was making a loss you had also lost your smaller businesses which could have prospered, they were Scottish businesses and could have prospered and grown, and that was why it did not work.

Yes you are quite right, we did make some of those mistakes. In fact we reaped, I am afraid, the adverse consequences of some [end p6] of those mistakes. Now that is why we do it very differently. We say: “Yes, we do want you to go to the regions and we will give incentives for you to go to the regions. Here are the incentives.” That is why many factories come, that is why you have got some of the greatest electronic factories in Scotland. “Here are the incentives, and we will compete with other people who want you to go and we will have a discretionary incentive that we can give you as much incentive as possible to go the regions”.

But that is totally different from incentives to go so they choose they want to go, from saying: “No you cannot go where you want to go, you must go where you do not want to go.”

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

Are you not saying that there is no case for regional systems?

Prime Minister

No, you have not listened to what I have said, with greatest respect. I have just said we give considerable incentives to go. Those incentives apply to specific regions. So we have a direct regional policy which are incentives to people to go there. They are not directions they are incentives, so that when they go they go because they have looked around, they have looked around at [end p7] what the labour position is, they have looked around at the transport facilities, they have looked around at the locality, they have chosen to take up the incentives to go there.

That is a much stronger commitment than saying: “Well, we would like to go there but you have stopped us and therefore we have had to go somewhere else.”

It is a much stronger commitment to the factory to go there.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

Where, I am thinking, does that leave the position of a plant, for example, like Ravenscraig?

Prime Minister

Ravenscraig is part of the British Steel Corporation and because it was one of the main plants and because we had given undertakings, those undertakings remain and you know what those undertakings are. That was a public sector industry and being a public sector industry I am afraid did not stop people from having redundancies because in the end we have to make our living, not because we are Britain and because we are really rather nice people, but because the goods we sell can compete with those anywhere else in the world and as a matter of fact steel is getting more competitive. [end p8]

We also came under Europe for steel, as you know, and we were on quotas for a very long time. Now those quotas have just gone because of the growth in the world and growth in countries like …

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

So you see a future for Ravenscraig, a long-term future?

Prime Minister

We gave certain undertakings to Ravenscraig, we do not know what the steel market will be. What we hope is that now we have got the steel industry in very good condition and do not forget, when I first came into office steel was losing heavily and steel had its hand into the tax-payer's pocket. There was something like one year, I know it was £1 billion.

So steel was competing with things like education and health for funds. Of course we had to get it efficient. Now it is and steel is now contributing to the Treasury chest and therefore contributing to the money required for health and education. It is a big turn-round but it is a totally different attitude, it is an attitude which says: “we are strong enough, we are enterprising enough, we are good enough to compete.”

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

That is what you said also in your speech at Perth about the Scots, that Tory values are in tune with everything that is finest in Scottish character. Don't you admit that there is also a great collectivist tradition in Scotland, trade unions, the Church, for example?

Prime Minister

The Church is not exactly a collectivist tradition if I might respectively say so. The Church is far older than the term collectivism. The Church is people freely wishing to bear witness to their deepest beliefs.

As you know, the Church is not a single body, there are many many different views and many many different churches. But the idea that the Church is a collectivist belief, it is … If I might say, Christianity is, that each and every one of us is accountable to the great Creator one day, each and every one, for the way in which we use the talents we were given and the way in which we use our talents depends upon our relationship with our neighbour and how much we do for him.

That is personal responsibility, personal accountability.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

You stirred quite a bit of controversy when you went to what was called the Sermon on the Mound in Scotland? [end p9]

Prime Minister

Look you are putting words into my mouth and you are using terms which are not in any way what they were, now don't do it.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

I said what it was called.

Prime Minister

By whom?

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

By the newspapers in Scotland.

Prime Minister

Well, what it was called by you and then you turn round and say: “Well, we called it that and so it is that”.

I was asked to address the Scottish Assembly, it was a great honour. I felt that I must devote a very considerable amount of time and thought to saying what I believed and how, in my view, politics and Christianity interwove.

So it was not a sermon on the mount [Mound? MT may have misunderstood or misheard Peter McMahon], it was Scotland asking me fully and frankly to give my beliefs, doing me the supreme courtesy and honour of asking me and listening with great attention.

And if I might say, we have had more requests for copies of that speech from all over the world than any other. [end p10]

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

It was the reaction. It provoked, as I you I am sure know, a great debate in Scotland surrounding partly your use of the Bible to explain how you felt about things personal and your personal beliefs in politics and several critics pointed out that you could equally say from quoting from the Bible, you quoted for example Saint Paul: “if a man will not work, he shall not eat”. Your critics in Scotland said, “Well, Prime Minister, you have been Prime Minister whilst there has been a substantial amount of unemployment in Scotland, how can you make a statement like that?” - that was one of the criticisms.

Prime Minister

I would also ask you to go on and look in another part of the speech where I said that we have such a highly specialised economy now, very highly specialised, quite different from the days, the Bible does not set out an economic programme, it sets out certain principles.

First that you are responsible for yourself, second that most of us, being Christians, would not wish anyone to be wanting by misfortune the fundamental things which they require for life.

Now I as a Christian cannot know about everyone else in the country, neither can other Christians, so therefore we do wholly and utterly agree that we have in our highly complex society a kind of mutual insurance system, which is your National Insurance, which [end p11] says we each pay a certain amount per week, per month, to National Insurance so that we each insure one another, that if we do not have any earnings either because we are too old, or deemed to be too old, to work or because we are sick or because we cannot get a job, then we shall have an income.

But that does not mean that you shall be able to choose not to work and still be able to expect your neighbour to keep you. That was all covered in that speech.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

Yes, and in the speech which I re-read again because I want obviously to make sure that I understood …

Prime Minister

But you should not be able to choose to be idle. Idleness is not something which either Judaism or Christianity take kindly to.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

The great tradition of the work ethic in Scotland for example? [end p12]

Prime Minister

Yes, and in the Church, the whole of Judaism and Christianity.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

There was also another specific point that was made by your critics in Scotland. You made a personal point of mentioning the Tenth Commandment: “Thy shall not covet,” but others said: “Well, what about the point that is put in the Bible about the prospect of a rich man attaining the Kingdom of Heaven?”

Prime Minister

Of course you cannot take your treasures with you, you do not need me to tell you that, you do not need the Bible. You know full well that the treasures you lay up on earth you cannot take with you.

What one hopes you can take with you is the character that you build on earth and what you do with your talents. Now if you do not use your talents, how in the world can you have any resources to help your neighbour? Are you going to be condemned for building up resources so that you may help your neighbour? Are you going to be condemned because you have been hard-working, had savings? How then, to whom can the Church go to help the poor? To whom can they go save the people who have used their talents honestly and conscientiously and saved a bit to help others? [end p13]

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

I think there are many people in the Church of Scotland, I would not say it was the majority, but there are many people who expressed the view that perhaps Government has a greater responsibility and they would argue that morally the Government has a responsibility perhaps to tax rich people more so that the Government could provide those services.

Prime Minister

Let me put this to you. The result of taxing people less, because do not forget what you are taxing is people's own efforts, now I think the view that you are putting is that the result of people's own efforts belong to the State, and the State can then hand back a bit of pocket-money for them to keep.

That is not my view and I do not believe it is the view of those who share the most deepest things that I share. The view is that we each decide how hard we work. We each are responsible for those we bring into the world, our families. We each decide how much we save for the future, how much we are prepared to give to our children.

It is not for Government to take more from each person than is necessary for the fundamental functions of government. Now the result of our policies has been as we have put down taxes so people have made more and greater effort because they were able the better then to look after their own children and have something over for [end p14] them to decide how much they gave to the Church or how much they gave to the neighbour.

The result of that has been more money for those who work harder and that has left more money over for those who are in need.

Do you mean to say that Christianity is to tell us to do everything we can to help to get people out of poverty and then when we succeed to turn round and criticise us?

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

Could we possibly turn back a bit, you mentioned Malcolm Rifkind. At the Tory Party Conference in Brighton he delivered the CPC Lecture this year, which I am sure you are aware of, the theme is towards 2000 and he set out his vision of a country with both businesses and the public sector moving away from the South East, that was something I believe you called in your Perth speech the crowded and high-priced South East. Is that something that you identify with?

Prime Minister

Yes, yes of course. But it is happening now because the cost, this is the ordinary economics of Adam Smith working, when your costs get too high in the South East and because technology has become so advanced, you are quite able to move and just be almost as much in touch as easily through your terminals from a long way [end p15] north, just as much as you can from the next street.

That has made other things possible and so yes people are doing it and they are looking around and looking to see where they should go and when they choose to go to Scotland, they will in fact sometimes go to the regions and if they are going to take on extra people up there some of them will come and say, “Well please can we have some help?”

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

The Government was I believe looking at it generally in terms of what the Government can do, specifically about its responsibilities, the staff it has. Is it something that you are likely in the future to make a new effort on?

Prime Minister

I do not think we shall have a new general relocation policy, but what has happened is that departments are themselves looking around. Do not forget that your departments, your Trade Department for example, has its regional offices. The whole of your Social Security has its regional offices, it has to, has its local offices. The whole of your National Health Service is distributed well around the country. [end p16]

Let us face it, in Scotland quite a number of the Defence is up in Scotland and then you have quite a number, in addition to your own Scottish Department, a number of the other departments which have chosen to relocate in Scotland and are very pleased that they are doing so.

You have got quite a lot in East Kilbride, you have got the Overseas Aid, and we find now that what we are saying to departments is: “Look, your running costs are too high, you have got to cut them down.” So they are going out and looking for themselves.

Now what they are doing usually is dispersing some of the posts to Scotland as well, it is no earthly good just sending the same number of people up to Scotland. Obviously you want some of your key people to go, then others because their homes, their schools, their friends are down here, will choose to stay down here, which will release more jobs in Scotland.

But do just remember that it is people's lives you are changing and therefore you have to persuade them. It is not always easy, but when they go up there and look, quite honestly they will find a very much better quality of life, salary-for-salary, wage-for-wage, and they are frequently very pleased with the schools, the roads are good, and so it is a question of getting people's prejudices out of their minds. [end p17]

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

The Overseas Development Administration is a good example of this. A recent independent report identified as you said that the quality of life was better, people liked moving there, and yet the people who work there would argue that there are still, just to take this as one example, seven hundred civil servants in London and they say, as you said, that with new technology perhaps that could be reduced by half, perhaps that could be reduced to a hundred and that a new impetus is needed to get this going?

Prime Minister

Yes, but they will already be looking at that because we are bearing down quite hard on the running costs of each department and frankly if they have got their running costs high they have not got as much money to disburse to do their real job as they should.

Now you do need some here frequently. I should think I have three or four Ministers coming in here every week, perhaps not as many every week but last evening we had in a Minister from India, last week we had another Minister from Bangladesh and the first thing I do is to say: “Go across and see Chris Patten”. So you have obviously got to have some of them.

But the leases for some buildings will come to and end and then they decide where they should go. [end p18]

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

So it will be through financial pressure rather than through a new particular policy?

Prime Minister

Well it is, the financial pressure is a pretty strong part of it and not only is there financial pressure but they cannot necessarily get all the people they want here of the sort of quality that they want and for the same amount of money they can sometimes get a better, more efficient office there.

I think we find, didn't I see that we have got as many people dispersing through voluntarily going there as through compulsion. They react against compulsion. Voluntarily they are quite pleased and quite chuffed: “Look, we have chosen to go, wasn't that good?”

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

Moving on, at the recent Chequers meeting, you took on board, or it was reported that you took on board, what is being called in Scotland the Hughes Initiative on training. The Scottish Development Agency declined initially to make a submission to that and they have said recently that morale there has taken a “clobbering” through these moves to combine training in Scotland. How do you view what is going to happen there? [end p19]

Prime Minister

I do not see why any enterprise, organisation, should take a plunge in morale because it hears that we are going to do more about training. How is enterprise going to flourish if between enterprise and government and education we do not see that the people have the training for the new technology?

That should have put up their morale. Goodness me, we are going to do more about training, isn't that good? You know in some cases there are still quite a number of unskilled jobs for which they are not getting people to apply, which is not good at all. But equally there are a lot of skilled jobs for which people have not yet arsquouired the skills.

That means that we have to look at the schools, which we are doing, the technical colleges, which we are doing, getting closer work between the universities and industry and really enterprise training is a part of enterprise you cannot flourish.

So I would just say to them: “How do you think we are going to have the vision, to be able to realise the vision, for the year 2000 and do not forget there are all the years up to there as well, without doing the training?”

I think that they might have thought that their work was not going to be so great. I think most of us see that the new Scottish Enterprise will in fact have, bigger overall, an oversight over training as well. [end p20]

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

To be fair to them they have now said that they are looking at it positively as well.

Prime Minister

I am sure they will, I am sure they will. But you know it does not matter who you are, you do not always welcome change because, maybe if I might say this, many of us like to go on in the way we are, we know that, but if you go on in just the way you are you will not be up front or up top in the next generation of business and we have to stay up front and up top.

So that is a perfectly natural reaction in a way but when you come to work it out you see an opportunity.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

Do you see there being a separate Bill for Scotland to do this?

Prime Minister

There will be a separate White Paper which Malcolm RifkindMalcolm is working on very hard and consulting very hard. It may be that we need a separate Bill, if we do we will have to have one. [end p21]

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

How do you envisage these separate Enterprise Boards working. It has been suggested that you might have difficulty getting local business people on board for example?

Prime Minister

I do not think that we will necessarily be able to get them everywhere and there will be no earthly point in having the organisation if there were not enough people prepared to come forward locally.

But on the other hand there are lots of people who are not prepared to come forward to send someone to Edinburgh to sit on a Board, who are prepared to send someone locally, in the evening or for part of the daytime because they can see the benefit to their locality.

Now all right, where we get that we think will mobilise a lot more people and that we will get this much closer working between industry, schools, technicality and between the people who are doing the training and your Job Centres as well and that is good because they are really all part of one town, one rural area.

Where we are not going to get them, all right we will still have to go on working through SDA and through the training coming together. We will still have to work, hoping that we will be able to inspire people to come forward and quite a lot more people now are self-employed and starting up their own businesses, that is [end p22] really one of the great encouragements that is happening and they will come to take more responsibility.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

Do you also see the Job Centre as being part of this overall body?

Prime Minister

People go to a Job Centre to try to get jobs and you need to look to see well now why aren't we getting people coming forward for these jobs, now just why? Is it that more training is needed? The whole thing is all of a piece and we are trying to get it closer to be all of a piece.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

Bill Hughes has obviously impressed you with his proposals. There have been suggestions that he might be the next Tory Party Chairman in Scotland?

Prime Minister

We have a Tory Party Chairman at the moment. I have no ideas about who will take over when Jim Goold goes, I hope Jim Goold will stay. But I am always interested in people who are prepared to work hard, with the sort of people who provide enterprise, who [end p23] provide jobs for others, because we have got an awful lot of talkers in this world and I am on the side of the doers. It is jolly easy to talk and make speeches, what I call graph paper speeches, you know a scatter of figures over graph paper and it is usually done by people who have never really created a single job for anyone else in their lives and if they know how better to do it than anyone else, why do they withhold their talents?

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

Bill Hughes is a doer.

Prime Minister

Bill Hughes and many many other people are doers, so is Jim Goold, so are many of my other people in Scotland, they are doers.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

You have also mentioned Malcolm Rifkind and praised him. In recent interviews you have made it clear that you would like to lead the Party at the next election and go into a fourth term of office, do you see possibly that Malcolm Rifkind might be a possible successor, he is young enough? [end p24]

Prime Minister

It is not for me to say who shall be my successor. It is for me to try to see that when the time comes there are a number of very very able people in Cabinet, any one of whom would be better than those who could be offered in rival parties.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

And Malcolm Rifkind is one of those?

Prime Minister

Excellent. Of course Malcolm Rifkind is a very very able person, very able. I think everyone realises that. [end p25]

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

There are two things occupying Scotland at the moment. One particularly the Royal Ordnance Factories and the position there. Now it has been charged by your opponents that the Government must have known when they sold off the Royal Ordnance Factory, privatised it, that there would inevitably be job losses, particularly Bishopton because it is in Scotland.

Prime Minister

The Royal Ordnance Factories were not doing well as nationalised industries. We thought that they would do a lot better privatised. Neither was steel doing well, as you know, but we had to take action on that while it was still in the public sector.

The people who bid for Royal Ordnance knew all the liabilities, all existing contracts, all the problems of decontaminating the sites, very expensive problems, all the problems of moving. That is why we were not killed in the rush for good bids because they knew the whole picture. [end p26]

Yes, we did want to privatise it, believing that that would get it running much more efficiently, but we realised that there would be difficulties going from one to another and therefore, as you know, we gave them certain guarantees for three or four years on certain contracts.

But you look at the entire picture and there were free competitive bids and we took the highest.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

But there is still the charge, again from your opponents, that the Government did it quite quickly in order that they would not take the blame for the job losses?

Prime Minister

There probably will be some redundancies. Are our opponents saying that you must stay in yesterday's practices and yesterday's mode of work and that you must necessarily pay more for that and therefore have a more expensive government? That is what our opponents say. Listen to them and we would still be in a Hansom Cab society with muskets. [end p27]

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

They say that there is a strategic point in that closing a factory like Bishopton for example, specialised in propellants among other things, in times of crisis in times of war, you are reducing your capacity, therefore you are endangering the country?

Prime Minister

I understand that there is another factory that can supply those things in the United Kingdom.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

So that is another concern?

Prime Minister

No I do not think that is a concern, we are always very watchful of strategic things, do not forget there are some foodstuffs we have to import as well, not the ones we can grow here. You do not close down wholly.

We have looked at the strategic things but you cannot stay in yesterday's jobs, in yesterday's restrictive practices and hope to have the flourishing, thriving economy that Scotland now has and you listen to some of those trade unionists, some of them, not all, my goodness me you have got some good, it was not Gavin Laird who stopped Ford from going to Dundee, but some of them want to stay in yesterday and want to use their power and their pressure to keep [end p28] this country belonging to yesterday's products, yesterday's prices.

That is the way to poverty and bankruptcy.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

So you are saying that Royal Ordnance, like anything else, must operate in the private sector …

Prime Minister

Royal Ordnance must operate efficiently, like anything else, and if it does not, it is taking money from things like health and education.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

Even if it means job losses?

Prime Minister

What are you going to say, we have to stay in the Hansom Cab society? Do you think we would have kept the jobs if we had? Do you think we would have kept the jobs? No, of course we could not. They want to say keep the jobs now, knowing full well that if they do the whole thing will go broke and there will be no jobs.

This is the short-sighted, blinkered view that they put across. Keep going every single job, this year and next, and what [end p29] will happen? The whole thing will collapse in two or three years time and you will have no jobs.

You have to keep, to keep a firm going, you have to become efficient and you have to come up-to-date with your products. That is when you have a future. It may be a future with a fewer people, with fewer families, but you will have that future and then you rely on your enterprise to create new products of tomorrow and that is what has happened.

Many of the jobs in Scotland are products which did not exist twenty years ago. What then if the trade unions had had their way, Keep today's jobs - where would Scotland be if she had done that?

Can I just ask, in the newspaper industry have you not come up to-date with the most modern technology? Have you not had to have redundancies? Has it not kept your circulation up? Has it not given you a better future than you would have had otherwise? In television have they not gone to the more modern technology? Yes?

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

It could be argued that my newspaper is the product of new technology, yes. [end p30]

Prime Minister

So your job depended upon being competitive and absorbing new technology. Well done.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

If only my computer at the Commons worked! Finally, on Scotland, we have a by-election that is coming up in Govan, do you think you are going to win?

Prime Minister

I am not going to make any comment on by-elections, no by-elections are like General Elections. The issues tend to be different and the way in which they run tend to be different.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

If I could perhaps turn to wider issues. You are continuing your review of the Health Service, how far have you got?

Prime Minister

You have got a very good candidate.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

In Govan? Yes, I met him actually. [end p31]

Prime Minister

A very very very good candidate.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

The Health Services, your review, it is said now that you will not be producing anything until perhaps Christmas or beyond?

Prime Minister

I would think round about that, possibly in the New Year. We are working closely, Malcolm RifkindMalcolm and Ken Clarke and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Tom King and Peter Walker.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

Is there a likelihood that out of this there will be some legislation or is it more likely to be …

Prime Minister

We shall do as much as we can without legislation and we may have to have some legislation.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

What sort of legislation might that be?

Prime Minister

I think you must contain your impatience just a little bit longer. [end p32]

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

It has been reported that you have ruled out …

Prime Minister

It will be things which we hope will improve the operation of the National Health Service.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

Could you give me some examples?

Prime Minister

Not yet, not yet.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

It has been said that you have ruled out tax relief on private health care, is that correct?

Prime Minister

I am not going to say what we have ruled in or ruled out. I think that you must wait a little while longer.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

You would not even like to say about tax relief for private care for pensioners? [end p33]

Prime Minister

I am not going to constrain Nigel Lawsonthe Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

What about in general terms? It is obvious from what Kenneth Clarke said at the Party Conference that you are looking at, for example, making the NHS more efficient, improving internal markets for example.

Prime Minister

Of course, making it more efficient. You see sometimes people run out of money not because there was not enough money but because it was not properly managed or properly spent or that they have not got their whole act together and that we just have to look at because it is tax-payers' money, it is not Government's money.

At the moment, on average, a family of four pays £33 every week, through its various taxes, straight to the National Health Service to keep it going. That is a lot of money. They are entitled to say: “Are we getting full value for that amount of money?”

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

The types of things that have been mentioned are computerisation for example? [end p34]

Prime Minister

I think obviously the waiting lists show us that the position is very very different from one district to another, even though they might have a similar amount of money and similar facilities, now why? But the patient really wants to know, “Please, if I cannot go to my own local hospital, the nearest, is there another one within reach or maybe where my daughter is married and living there, which could in fact do this operation?”

That does mean your local doctors having access to more information than they have now and being able to advise.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

Is this not a change of emphasis? Wasn't initially the National Health Service Review going to be a great radical shake-up, and now you seem to be talking about greater efficiency, improvements in the existing service?

Prime Minister

No, we have been pouring money into the National Health Service, pouring money in. What was happening, we had not got the requisite information for a long time on what the cost of certain operations were, what the cost of various things were, and it was when we started to get this that we realised there was an enormous difference between the way in which some of the districts work. [end p35]

Some work absolutely marvellously and then some just were not using their money so efficiently and then were screaming for more and then the ones that were doing well came along and said: “Now look, we are using our resources very well but we do not get the extra money, don't you think it is the people who are good managers who do best, who make the money stretch furthest who should have the extra money because we are likely to get more done than those who perhaps do not manage it as well?”

So we got these figures in and we are having therefore a look at the structure, but we said right at the beginning it is to make the National Health Service work the better and to get better value for money and to be able to do more things with the extra money that is going in as well as existing money.

But we did not have the information necessary to do it. And then of course we have done the nurses' increase in pay which brings the increase in nurses' pay during the lifetime of this Government to 45&pcnt; over and above inflation, over and above inflation, that is pretty good.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

You mentioned the structure of the Health Service. Although we have a different structure in Scotland is it possible you will be looking at structures in England and possible changes there? [end p36]

Prime Minister

No no, Malcolm RifkindMalcolm is involved in this. Things are slightly different in Scotland, they are also different in Northern Ireland and in Wales and that has to be taken into account.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

But it was said that you might possibly abolish regional health authorities in England for example?

Prime Minister

We have to take into account the differences between the Scottish structure, and the Northern Irish structure, which again has slight differences, and the Welsh. All that we are looking at and that is one of the reasons why it is taking longer.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

Could we turn to something else which is quite controversial lately - your moves against broadcasting remarks by certain organisations, including Sinn Fein?

Prime Minister

Sinn Fein and the equivalent Unionist one which is UDA, so it is even-handed. [end p37]

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

I could not remember the other one.

Prime Minister

There are so many things which are designated by letters that you can get just a little bit confused.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

Given that the vast majority of people in Britain have a revulsion for the violence of Northern Ireland, aren't you curbing the right of a Member of Parliament to put his case, given that he was elected by the British electorate?

Prime Minister

A person who is elected to Parliament and comes to take his seat has the privilege of Parliament. That is quite fundamental. We have not any Sinn Fein members who have come to take their seats. But the people in a democracy who say: “I belong to a party that believes that we can pursue our ends by violence” is against democracy. Democracy is saying we reject violence, we do it by ballot. And a person who is by violence has no respect for the rule of law, which is the only thing which makes freedom work, has no respect for the lives of innocent people.

I had a letter from a mother who had lost her son in the Armed Forces as a result of violence. She wrote to me when some [end p38] of the media said, “Oh, you are curbing our freedom of speech.” The terrorists do not regard anyone else's freedom at all. They disregard it. This mother said, “They, the press and media, say: &oq;Where is the freedom of the press?’ Let me say this to them,” she went on: “Where is the freedom of my son?”

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

In that case would it not be more logical to also extend measures like this to, for example, the written press. Why just television?

Prime Minister

The television comes right into your living room. The television is the most powerful medium known in the world, the most powerful medium. People were utterly repelled at seeing television give the privilege of an interview to people whom they knew were supporting those who use the gun to snuff out people's lives, people who were defending freedom.

Let me say to the media, those people defend your freedom just as much as anyone else's and don't you as the media think that you not only have a right to criticise, but you have a duty to uphold those great freedoms which you use every day to such advantage? [end p39]

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

But is there not also, if you see Gerry Adams for example on the television after Enniskillen and see him trying to explain away the actions of people he supports, does that not have the opposite effect of saying …

Prime Minister

No, I know you use this. I find we have had great support from the ordinary people on this because they find it repugnant that people should put up a person to put his case to television when he rejects the argument of persuasion and says: “I stand by the gun”. I find it utterly repugnant.

You know when you use freedom so much, as the media do, they do have a duty sometimes to uphold that and they are not neutral, should not be neutral between the terrorist and the innocent person. They should be on the side of innocence, on the side of rule of law. They should not treat the terrorist and the innocent person equally. [end p40]

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

You say that television is the most powerful medium because it comes directly into your living room. What about satellite broadcasting and cable, which do the same - they come direct to you?

Prime Minister

Yes indeed, and that is why we have set up a Standards Organisation and why we are trying through the Council of Europe, which has twenty-one countries, to get a code of conduct which totally and utterly rejects violence and why I have said sometimes at some seminars if the only way in which we can do it - because we must protect people against this - is to say that it should be an offence to advertise with a station unless it accepts certain standards on codes of conduct, and that is why we are trying to get one through the Council of Europe. [end p41]

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

So you are saying that it is quite possible that some sort of measures to restrict access to cable and satellite for groups like Sinn Fein and the other ones you mentioned might be a possibility?

Prime Minister

I am saying that we have set up a body to deal with this matter; a body which was not welcomed by the press - some aspects of the press - but which was very welcome and was really at the demand of the people of this country.

May I say this to you: You would not have your freedoms if the terrorists had their way and there are many people in this country who would still have their sons and husbands if it were not for the terrorist and the gun.

I am standing up for the law-abiding citizen and I hope the media will think it their duty to do so. They could not operate freely if the terrorists had their way. The terrorist snuffs out democracy, snuffs out freedom and says: “I substitute the gun and the bomb! Do as I wish or I shoot or I bomb or I maim!” There would be no such thing as a free press.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

And the Broadcasting Standards Council may have some part to play part in this, as the European bodies as well? [end p42]

Prime Minister

Oh yes, indeed. The Broadcasting Council is to deal with violence and sex - not party political things - but violence.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

I am just trying to say whether that might leave, for example, an interview done by, say, a cable station or satellite - say the new Rupert Murdoch satellite TV does an interview with Gerry Adams, at the moment …

Prime Minister

I am trying to say that we are trying to get a code of conduct right through the Council of Europe which it is vital will apply to all of these people. It will apply to all of these satellite organisations.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

You are going to have a Prevention of Terrorism Act. Is it likely that people will have to, in future, if they want to be elected, swear some kind of oath renouncing violence? [end p43]

Prime Minister

You must wait until the new legislation comes in.

Have you anything to say in favour of the law-abiding, innocent citizen and our fight against terrorism or are you wholly on the side of giving the terrorist the freedoms that he rejects for others?

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

I am not sure that my personal opinions are particularly important, but I am just putting to you the argument that is made by many of my far more senior colleagues than me in the media.

Prime Minister

Well just remember what that mother said. “They say, &oq;What about the freedom of the press?’ Where is the freedom of my son?”

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

You have achieved a lot since you came into No.10. I am sure you would point to things like the unions, the economy, privatisation.

What do you feel you have got on the horizon? What more can you achieve? What more do you want to achieve? [end p44]

Prime Minister

We are trying to extend opportunity much more widely. There are some people who have not been able to profit from it fully yet and sometimes, when we try to extend opportunity, some of the people who oppose us most vigorously are some of the really left-wing Labour authorities. They do not like opportunity being spread more widely - it reduces their control over the people in their area.

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

So what can you do about that?

Prime Minister

Precisely what we are doing on the Education Reform Bill. It is going to take longer in Scotland because, as you know, you do not have governing bodies as we do and so we have to go at it via a longer route in Scotland and certainly, we are trying to give them wider choices; those who are local authority tenants to have a wider choice and not necessarily to be a tenant of the local council.

Now that is going to take a time, but we are in fact trying to get them out of the hands of those who wish to control their lives and say: “Look! You have the same freedoms, the same dignity, to choose as other people and we will try, therefore, to enlarge your freedom of choice!” [end p45]

Peter McMahon, Scotland on Sunday

Looking back in history, is that how you would like to be seen - as someone who extended people's freedoms, personal freedoms?

Prime Minister

We have extended freedoms; we have reduced the amount of central control, by handing over the decision to ordinary people where they wish to take advantage of it and by saying to ordinary folk - to everyone - “We have equal rights as citizens. We have equal responsibilities as citizens, according to our ability to rise to those responsibilities!”

It has been part of my belief that we should give them the chance to own capital to a greater extent than they ever had. If you own your own capital, you are thinking about the future of your children; you are a more responsible person; you are concerned about your own house; you are concerned to respect your neighbour's property and therefore you are more concerned about the standing and reputation of the whole neighbourhood. You are a person saying: “I am prepared to take responsibility - so is my neighbour - not only about our property, but about the standard and standing and repute of the whole neighbourhood!” [end p46]

So by extending the capital to houses, by extending them to shares, then you have an interest, too, in the future of the industry and commerce; you have an interest in the future, so you are dispersing the capital ownership, you are dispersing the responsibility that goes with it; you are dispersing the decision-making and so you are in a position to say much more.

In this day, when you think so much is by mass-production and by technology, what really counts is the person behind that technology and the people who make the choices and decisions - and that we are spreading ever more widely because of our fundamental belief that although there will be some people who abuse their freedom, the overwhelming majority are decent and honourable citizens and we give them the chance to make the greater number of decisions - then it will be to the benefit of them and to our country.