Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1990 Jun 3 Su
Margaret Thatcher

Radio Interview for BBC World Service (phone-in)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: Radio Interview
Venue: Studio S7, Bush House, Aldwych, central London
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Oliver Scott, BBC
Editorial comments: 1500-1600. Information as to venue kindly supplied by Mr Roger Wilmut, who operated the studio mixing desk. A note by Roger Wilmut follows the text. BBC copyright material has been paraphrased; full text available on CD-ROM.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 9262
Themes: Agriculture, Monarchy, Commonwealth (South Africa), Defence (general), Privatized & state industries, Energy, Environment, Trade, European Union (general), European Union Single Market, Foreign policy (Africa), Foreign policy (Asia), Foreign policy (Australia & NZ), Foreign policy (Central & Eastern Europe), Foreign policy (International organizations), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Leadership, Media, Northern Ireland, Religion & morality, Terrorism

Announcer

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Now an international phone-in with MT; series host Oliver Scott.

Oliver Scott (Presenter)

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MT Prime Minister throughout the 1980s—decade of great social change in Britain and with huge punch on international stage in its last months. For then, very suddenly, corrupt timeserving Communist regimes in Eastern Europe fell.

Could not have taken place as it did without the tacit acceptance by Moscow and Mikhail Gorbachev.

This year, therefore, a time for new ground rules, systems and relationships.

Just now Presidents Bush and Gorbachev beginning press conference at White House about their summit. British Government, too, will be heard.

First question on East/West relations, from Hassan Sami, calling from Cairo regarding united Germany. Mr. Sami? [end p1]

Hassan Sami

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Would you accept a neutral united Germany in Europe which isn't a member of the NATO or perhaps only a political member of it?

Would it be acceptable for both sides that Germany be covered by the French nuclear power?

The Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher (Prime Minister)

Thank you very much, Mr. Sami. It's an opportunity for me too, to answer your questions.

First, no, Britain would not accept a neutral Germany as a satisfactory result of the difficulties which we're now experiencing. West Germany is a member of NATO—a very important member of NATO. East Germany also wishes, when she becomes unified, to become a member of NATO as the unified Germany and we could not accept a neutral Germany. It's necessary to have Germany in NATO to continue Western security.

The second part of your question—would we accept her as a kind of just political member and her troops not militarily integrating into NATO—the answer to that is no. It is vital to Western security to have a unified Germany within NATO fully militarily. [end p2]

Oliver Scott

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Mr. Sami, happy?

Hassan Sami

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Yes.

Oliver Scott

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Now Mr. Kenneth Holliday, calling from Tuscany in Italy: urgency of forming an East/West alliance, Mr. Holliday.

Kenneth Holliday

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Good afternoon, Prime Minister.

Margaret Thatcher

Good afternoon, Mr Holliday.

Kenneth Holliday

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In view changed world situation, alliance should urgently be formed between the US, Soviet Union, Europe to replace belligerent pacts of Warsaw and NATO. Would save so many summit meetings. Could MT not initiate this?

Margaret Thatcher

Thank you very much. Normally, new alliances cause more summits, but that does not undermine your question. In a way, we already have such an alliance. [end p3]

You'll recall the Helsinki agreement which was signed in 1975 by thirty-five nations, including the United States, Canada, all the European nations, the Nordic, the Central European nations and most nations, nations of the Warsaw Pact and, of course, the Soviet Union. That is the alliance which, I think, would meet your purpose. NATO will continue to be our defence alliance; the European Community will continue to be our main economic alliance, but you're quite right, we have to have an alliance where we talk across the old divides of Europe and the Helsinki Accord, known as the CSCE, provides just such a forum. We hope, in fact, to have a meeting of that alliance later this year provided there is an agreement reached about conventional weapons between the Warsaw Pact countries and NATO.

So already that alliance exists and we are using it fairly extensively and I believe that it should be used even more extensively in the future and that its Foreign Ministers should meet regularly. It's very good to have such a forum to talk things over.

Oliver Scott

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Mr. Holliday, satisfied with that reply?

Kenneth Holliday

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Yes, I partly answers question. But arguments over things like Berlin … present agreements haven't sorted them out.

Margaret Thatcher

Well, the Berlin question remains from the last War, where we have the four power agreement on Berlin. [end p4]

We're trying to get a final settlement of that in time for the new conference of the Helsinki Accord's nations that should be held by the end of this year. Most of us want all of the outstanding external questions relating to German unification settled before the end of the year, but in any case, before that Helsinki Accord conference meets again.

So there is a very special reason attached to Berlin and then, if by any chance, either East Germany or the Berlin authorities still wanted some of our troops to remain in Berlin say for a transitional period, that would not be under the old left over from War time Berlin Agreement, it would be under a new agreement between the separate countries and the new unified Germany.

Oliver Scott

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Question from Bromley in Kent from Mr Juras [he pronounces this Uras]concerning a divisive East/West issue at present.

Mr Juras

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Prime Minister, first thank you for seeing our PM while she was here in London, Mrs Prunskiene. While visiting Soviet Union this week and during your talks with Mr Gorbachev, will you protest inhuman blockade of Lithuania and its right to independence?

Margaret Thatcher

We shall, of course, talk about Lithuania. It would be inconceivable that we didn't when I'm talking to Mr Gorbachev. [end p5]

Our position over Lithuania is that we have never recognised that Lithuania was legally a part of the Soviet Union. Obviously you know its history because you sound as if you're Lithuanian. It was given by Hitler 's Germany to Stalin 's Soviet Union as part of that friendship pact, latest part of the friendship pact. We never recognised that legal [sic] gift.

Consequently, our Embassy in Moscow has never visited, none of its Members have ever visited Lithuania because we didn't recognise it legally as part. But in fact, it has been part of the Soviet Union. Now, you see what we do about that highly complex situation—because you mustn't let the words or the strict legalities stop you from getting the real solution. And I see it like this; Mrs. Prunskiene and I had a very good talk and she is very anxious to settle it, as are we, and she also knows the sensitivies on the Soviet Union side, so that's a very good thing.

Lithuania has a right to self-determination—that is from the Lithuanian side. From the Moscow side, Mr Gorbachev, President Gorbachev has passed a law giving such states the right to secede, so neither side is saying that they can't go. Both … one side is saying we have a right to self-determination and the other side is saying you have a right to secede.

So really, what we've got to do is find a way of getting rid of the blockages and getting both sides talking about the practicalities. The practicalities will take quite a time because having been, de facto, a part of the Soviet Union, there'll be many things to disentangle and many things to discuss, for example, about defence, because there is an outlet there to the Baltic. Those problems are soluble and the good news is that both President Gorbachev and Lithuania are saying there is a right to secede. [end p6]

So let's get not too pessimistic or tied up in the technicalities. Let's concentrate on trying to find a way where each side understands the sensitivities of the other—and there are sensitivities—but gets down to the practicalities.

Oliver Scott

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Does Britain’s voice – or France’s or Germany’s - count in an essentially internal Soviet matter, though Lithuanians don't see it that way?

Margaret Thatcher

Yes, I think it does count. I am asked about it quite often in the House of Commons and what I say, I know, goes to the relevant embassies in each country. We all, as I mentioned, signed the Helsinki Accord. Part of that Helsinki Accord is that borders shall not be violated by force, but they may be changed by agreement. And so it is possible to change these borders by agreement—there's the extra complication with Lithuania and Estonia and Latvia about their history. Yes, I think we do have a voice; I think most European countries who were involved in that War have a voice, but we all have it through the Helsinki Accord which we signed.

Oliver Scott

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Thank you. Time to move on again. Call from Mr Rinders in Longiano Italy, about Gorbymania. Mr. Rinders.

Mr Rinders

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Good afternoon, Prime Minister. [end p7]

Margaret Thatcher

Good afternoon.

Mr. Rinders

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Do you think Gorbymania in Western press gone too far? And are you impressed still with Mr Gorbachev? I think Western leaders should pressure him more.

Margaret Thatcher

I don't like the phrase at all, Gorbymania. I just don't like it at all. I think that President Gorbachev has been a quite … or is quite a remarkable President and a remarkable person.

When you think, the greater part of this century, the old type of Communism has held sway throughout the Soviet Union and also has had the objective of expanding throughout the world, and he had the courage and vision to say, “It isn't working; it gives people neither personal dignity nor liberty, nor does it bring prosperity. And all of the artificial things and statistics about standard of living and so on that have been put out are just not right, and the economy is crumbling and so we've got to go to something else. And we're no longer trying to get this system throughout the world because it isn't a system that has any kind of future for ordinary people” —I think that's a remarkable, courageous, and visionary thing to do.

It is much much more difficult then to go from a whole economy which has operated on the basis that every single thing you do you do under instruction and take no initiative yourself—to turn round from that to the kind of economy where you take your own initiative, your own responsibility, make your own things and have to sell them. So I think that praise of Mr Gorbachev—now President Gorbachev—is fully merited. [end p8]

The other thing that has always interested me right from the beginning when I met him—we were the first non-Communist country that he visited—he was quite different from any other Russian or member of the Soviet Union I had ever met. Normally when you sit down to talk to them under the old Communist system—any Communist country—they had a pile of papers on the table, no matter what question you asked they'd read out a paragraph from this pile of papers, and you'd say “It doesn't answer my question,” nevertheless, you still got the same thing read out, and you couldn't really have a debate or argument or discuss things.

So not so, Mr Gorbachev. Immediately he tackled the questions and could roam over the whole political spectrum. That was quite new.

So I think the praise and the accolades that he is getting are fully, fully deserved, and I think that without the change of view that he's taken, we couldn't be solving not only East/West problems now but also problems like Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and Nicaragua—all of those things where previously the Communists had been supporting different kinds of movements.

So I am a great pioneer for President Gorbachev. He is very easy to discuss with, very tough in some ways—but then, so am I—and I always enjoy a very detailed debate because … and I think it's been happening with President Bush this week. What they're doing is moving things forward, preparing for the next solution to the next problem.

Oliver Scott

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Mr. Rinders, are you satisfied with that answer?

Mr. Rinders

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Yes, thank you. [end p9]

Margaret Thatcher

Thank you.

Mr. Rinders

Thank you, thank you.

Oliver Scott

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Next caller is in Budapest, Duncan Shields with question about European Community.

Duncan Shields

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Good afternoon.

Margaret Thatcher

Hello, Mr Shields.

Duncan Shields

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Hello. With East Germany automatically entering EC through unification, do you not see dangers in EC continuing to exclude the newly democratised central European states like Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia until post-1992? [end p10]

Margaret Thatcher

Well, now, that's a real complicated question. First, the unification of Germany which consists automatically of East Germany coming in to West Germany, but nevertheless, the East German economy is a Communist economy, highly subsidised, highly controlled, highly bureaucratised, and one that doesn't fit into the Community at all.

So there has to be quite a considerable transitional period before goods from that country can be accepted into the Community on the same basis as goods from the rest of the Community, because otherwise it wouldn't be fair to the rest of us who operate on the same competition rules. That will certainly bring us quite considerable problems, but the fundamental point is, you can't have them in on the normal basis—it has to be on a transitional basis—until their economy has become much more like ours.

Now, what then do we do about the East European countries that are becoming freer—much much freer? Well, we've already started. First, we agreed as a Community, we should give some aid, and we're doing that. Secondly, for quite a long time we have had trading agreements with those countries because quite a long time ago we decided that we would try to increase contacts between East and West.

We recognised at that time that they were part of the Communist bloc, but we always wanted to try to start to end the divisions of Europe, and the way to do it was through trading agreements. So we had those for a time and now we're trying to get what's called an association agreement with each of them.

Sometimes an association agreement gives hope that one day they'll come into the Community; that's not necessary. I personally do hope that one day the Community will be very much larger than twelve members and that some of those countries will become full members when they have our type of economy. [end p11]

In the meantime, perhaps they can join the Council of Europe when they've got full democracies. So we're already onto trying to deal with this and trying to overcome what has been that division of Europe, and I must say it's a joy that we're now able to discuss these things so freely and see them coming up to a freedom for which we've fought, but which they have not known.

Oliver Scott

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Mr Shields, thank you for calling.

Have concentrated so far on East/West affairs. Now different direction.

Next caller from South Africa: Mr Michael Rozetenstein

Michael Rozetenstein

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Good afternoon.

Margaret Thatcher

Good afternoon, Mr Rozetenstein.

Michael Rozetenstein

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What role for British Government in mediating within South Africa? Secondly, aims of your proposed visit to South Africa? [end p12]

Margaret Thatcher

Well, first I don't think it's for us to mediate between the Government, the present Government of South Africa and those with whom she will have to negotiate, the ANC and many other black South Africans. It's not for us to mediate. It is for the present Government of South Africa and all of the rest of the representatives of both black South Africa and the Indians and the Cape coloured to come to their own conclusions. Anything that we can do to bring them together, of course, would be done. But even so, I think that is broadly for them.

Our role has been a really rather different one. Twofold, along with the rest of the world we have totally and utterly condemned apartheid. It is wrong, it is morally wrong, that is not in doubt. It has to go. that too is not in doubt. And President de Klerk, as you know, is moving fast on getting rid of some of the laws which belong to the old apartheid system.

So first, like with the rest of our fellow nations, we have condemned it. But secondly, we know full well that you'll not get greater hopes for all of the people of South Africa unless you keep a prosperous economy going. Well, the fact is that a South African economy is the most prosperous in the whole of Africa south of the Sahara.

Now, there have been people who have wanted to put sanctions on it. Sanctions only work by causing vast unemployment and starvation therefore of people whom you're trying to help. If you're trying to bring up their standard of living, you must keep the economy going and therefore we have been quite rigidly against comprehensive sanctions and that now is at last being seen to have been right. And when the negotiations are complete and there is a fully democratic Government in South Africa, that Government will inherit a prosperous economy, it will inherit the best economy in Africa. [end p13]

For that, I think they perhaps won't say thank you, but we shall just have the satisfaction of knowing that we played quite a large part in helping that economy to survive.

Oliver Scott

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Forceful reply, Mr Rozetenstein. Satisfied?

Michael Rozetenstein

Thank you very much.

Margaret Thatcher

Thank you, you're very kind.

Oliver Scott

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Excellent. Now Mr de Sellis from Brussels in Belgium.

Mr de Sellis

Yes. Good afternoon, Prime Minister.

Margaret Thatcher

Good afternoon, Mr de Sellis.

Mr de Sellis

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A year after Tiananmen; do you have message for Chinese people?

Margaret Thatcher

A message for the Chinese people?—just let me think for a moment. My concerns are obviously very much with Hong Kong. [end p14]

We are responsible for Hong Kong, for the people of Hong Kong, until 1997 and we have reached an agreement with the Government of China about the future of Hong Kong which enables her capitalist economy of Hong Kong to continue for some fifty years. We have watched China, Tiananmen Square, with great anxiety.

Before that, our hopes were rising because the Chinese Government had been going about enlarging freedom in a different way from the Soviet Government. Chinese Government were enlarging economic freedom. They had, of course, a very different history and many many of their people had been used to growing their produce on their own land in the rural areas and they were giving them much more economic freedom; they didn't have to sell everything through the Communist outlets, but they could sell themselves.

And so they were beginning to get the real market place kind of atmosphere that we know so well and then from that, of course, they began to ask for greater political freedom. I know that the Chinese Government is restoring more of the economic freedom and encouraging it. I believe that gradually we will find that more democracy will come to that country. I don't believe that China can be excluded somehow from the movement that is going on the world over, as people need to have their dignity and their self-esteem and that will need to have some political expression—a better economy isn't enough—it will need to have some political expression. I think it will take quite a time and I think it will have to be done in a different way from the way in which other people are doing it, because China is an enormous country and has her own history and culture. But I believe, myself, that gradually it will go to a more democratic system and that, obviously would be our wish. [end p15]

In the meantime, the economic freedom is beginning to work again and gives us a basis of hope and also, I believe, that China will honour the commitments that she has made with us about the future of Hong Kong because I think she'll wish to be seen to honour them in the forum of the world.

Oliver Scott

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Next called from Hong Kong, Mr. Laski.

Margaret Thatcher

Hello, Mr. Laski.

Mr Laski

Good evening, Prime Minister.

Margaret Thatcher

Good evening. It's evening there, yes.

Mr Laski

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If you were negotiating the joint declaration for Hong Kong now, would you consider different terms, for example, democratic representation or British right of abode, or agreement no soldiers of the Chinese Republic should be stationed in urban areas, Kowloon or Hong Kong island?

Margaret Thatcher

We spent a long time negotiating that agreement. It took several months to get it started. We had to do a lot of information to Chinese people who were negotiating with us about a free market economy and the kind of basic law that it [end p16] requires. It was a very steady, informative negotiation and I think that we were able to get a good deal for the people of Hong Kong and I think they recognised that.

It would not have been possible to negotiate what you ask with regard to the military. It is always, of course, possible for China to accede to that as an act of policy at the time. It is always also possible for China to say that people who have British passports who live in Hong Kong would have their British passports recognised, because that is normal agreement, normal agreement between sovereign states. I don't think that the difficulties will come from the agreement, as such, I think if there are problems it may come from the different stage of development with regard to democracy between China and Hong Kong.

As you know, we had a long negotiation with China about how far we should go with regard to increasing democracy in Hong Kong because our wish is to have a very smooth handover in 1997 and if we can get their agreement—and certainly we can go ahead without it because we are in charge of it administratively until 1997—we have taken the view that if we can always push a little bit further and a little bit further as we have been doing, as they have accepted, then we might get a smooth handover in 1997.

So I think we got the best agreement that we could and I don't think it is that particular agreement that is holding anything up now. It may be that we differ on certain acts of policy but then we go in and try to convince them of our view and what is best for Hong Kong. And what is best for Hong Kong is usually best for China because we're very anxious that Hong Kong should keep her confidence and her prosperity.

Oliver Scott

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Now halfway through programme. [end p17]

[Introduction of the next caller missing]. [end p18] Material paraphrased:

[CALLER]

Could you tell us Government's position on Middle East against the background of international polarisation?

Margaret Thatcher

It's a very deep question. May I tackle the Arab/Israeli divide at the moment?

You're quite right, whereas in the rest of the world, people of different views are managing to come together and talk with a view to settling their differences and seeing a way through which is right for both their peoples, that, alas is not happening on the West Bank between the Jewish Government and the Arab peoples. And it is a great sorrow that it is not, and it's made the more difficult by the fact that there is not an effective Government in Israel to negotiate with.

I know that both President Bush and the European Community are very concerned about it; they are constantly trying new initiatives to get some talks going so that Israel can talk to some people who truly represent the Palestinian people-that does not necessarily mean members of the PLO, but who truly represent the Palestinian people—and we would like that to be against the background of an international conference—just as a background against that conference, not to get involved in detail—but so that it was the world saying now is the time to settle those differences. I wish I could be more specific; it's a great sorrow that it has not yet gone further.

With regard to the problems with Iraq/Iran, I hope that those will move forward. I think that it is important to get that full ceasefire. I also understand from the things which there have been in the press this morning, although I have no further news, that Mr Rafsanjani has held out a very significant olive branch to us. [end p19]

It would seem that Iran would like to have talks about perhaps re-starting diplomatic relations, and any olive branch is very significant. I know that the Islamic people are always very concerned about anything which they regard as an insult to Islam in exactly the same way as we are concerned when people insult Christianity. And we regard their insults as blasphemous, and I know the same thing happens with the great religion of Islam.

We can't stop freedom of speech; I think we would really, when we talk it through, come to a similar view. These are very great world religions—I'm a fervent Christian and others are fervent Moslem—these religions can easily survive the comment of a few people who receive great publicity because of their adverse comments about them. And I don't think that we should put too much stress on those adverse comments.

The religions have been for many hundreds of years, and they will survive, and I hope that we will regard what has been said, when I see … in more full detail, as a significant move. And I hope that it will lead through further talks to the restoration—or can lead—of diplomatic relations between Iran and our country. And I'm very pleased to hear people in other countries of the Middle East saying that it is really not acceptable to take hostages, it is uncivilised behaviour and the sooner we get all of those released, the better it will be, not only for those hostages—who are never out of our thoughts—and for their families—but for the world as a whole that we are back to a code of civilised behaviour.

Oliver Scott

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Not said so in so many words, Mrs. Thatcher, but I suspect from last answer that you think, perhaps [end p20] release is coming for of all the hostages, including British.

Margaret Thatcher

I never like to raise false hopes, but we have kept our Ambassador in the Lebanon throughout all the troubles, with a very small staff, and he was very anxious to stay there, when I was getting concerned that, well, was it right—and so was the Foreign Secretary—was it right to keep him there? Because it's just battle the whole time.

He was very anxious to stay there with a small staff in case there was any news that he could possibly pick up by being there, pick up or see to help the hostages. They have never been out of our minds.

We've had sometimes false hopes raised many times and therefore I'm very very careful what I say. It looks as if we have a new significant olive branch put out to us. Anything that we can properly do—we have the greatest respect for Islam, the greatest possible respect—we cannot stop freedom of speech in our country.

I know if they are concerned about what they consider blasphemy, many of us as Christians are concerned about it. But the thing is, not to put too much emphasis on it, it's small compared with the enormous achievements of the great world religions. So we shall continue to do everything. I think it's Terry Waite, is it not, his fifty-first birthday? I think the fourth that he's held in captivity and there are others, and also we have other people too in Iran.

We had, you know, it was we who were told to leave Iran and we have been quite anxious to start talks once again to restore diplomatic relations, but obviously, we cannot do anything which would hinder freedom of speech in this country. [end p21]

Oliver Scott

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Francesca Dawson from Venetia in Italy with question on the environment.

Francesca Dawson

Yes. Good afternoon, Prime Minister.

Margaret Thatcher

Miss Dawson, hello.

Francesca Dawson

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Problem of global warming and degradation of environment the most urgent items on Government's agenda at present?

Margaret Thatcher

I think they are urgent. I think we have already begun to tackle them. You know the international conferences we've had on the ozone layer, because you'll remember it was the British Antarctic Survey that discovered the hole in the ozone layer and they have been monitoring it and that hole, we believe, was caused by new chemicals which were discovered there which were acclaimed as a great discovery in the 1930s.

And we have got an agreement that we're gradually going to phase out those chemicals and we're doing a good deal of research on substitute chemicals. They're important chemicals because our refrigeration relies on them heavily, dry cleaning and so on. But we don't need aerosols; we can find other ways of using the polishes and the cosmetics which have been put into aerosols. So we've already started on the ozone layer. [end p22]

We've just recently had a very effective report from the International Panel on Climate Change, which is a group of people under the Chairmanship of Dr Houghton who's head of our Meteorological Centre. They've come out with a report saying that the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that is going into the atmosphere is increasing very rapidly, is such that it cannot be ignored. They will not say precisely what the changes in climate that we have seen are due to; whether they are mainly due to natural causes, because we've had differences in climate before, but they do think we cannot ignore this enormous increase which is coming, first because we have a much greater population kept alive by much more intensive agriculture and kept alive by much more intensive industry and used for fossil fuel.

We cannot ignore this and therefore we are going to—I hope all of us, because it has to be done by all—agree to modify some of the things we do so that we cut down the extra which would otherwise go into that atmosphere and could cause very considerable problems to future generations.

Oliver Scott

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Next caller is Edward Lewis from Qatar. Mr Lewis.

Margaret Thatcher

Mr. Lewis, good afternoon.

Edward Lewis

Oh, good afternoon, Prime Minister.

Margaret Thatcher

You're in Qatar are you? [end p23]

Edward Lewis

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Good afternoon, Mrs Thatcher.

Margaret Thatcher

Good afternoon.

Edward Lewis

Appears consensus that you are better placed than other world leaders to appreciate the gravity of environmental problems, but your commitment to coping with them insufficient—too little too late. Your reply?

Margaret Thatcher

Well, first, they're not right, are they?

It was our British Antarctic Survey which discovered the hole in the ozone layer; we had the second conference here, and a very successful conference it was, and I think we have something like thirty-five nations of the world signed up to that convention. But I stress, as I've stressed before to the previous enquirer, it has to be all nations.

We are responsible in this country for about 3%; of the accretion of gases on the greenhouse gases. Now, we shall not get anywhere unless we also persuade China and India to sign up to these things, but we are giving a lead and we shall continue to do so.

We believe that we can get the emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and the other greenhouse gases, down to where they will be … back down to where they are in 1990 by the year 2005. They'll go up before then; then they'll stabilise and they'll come back down.

Now, it's no good just writing up, writing your name, signing an agreement if you don't think it can be realised. That, I believe, is what we can do and therefore we have made our target clear. [end p24]

But I think the worst thing that can happen is a lot of talk, a lot of signing up and then not honouring it. That is not our way. What we sign up to, we will, in fact, honour.

Oliver Scott

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Many scientists think global warming conclusively proved, but British Government talking about action in fifteen years time—and only then—to stabilise rather than cut, for example, carbon dioxide emissions? What people want is action tomorrow?

Margaret Thatcher

But there has to be action now and will be in order to reach the target in the year 2005. But some of the people who criticise—for example, I would only turn round and say to them, what are you suggesting, for example?—that we should ditch all our coal miners and say we're not going to burn coal in power stations any more, any more, because it will be better if we burn gas?—No, we can't do that, we can't do that. And so the new electricity companies have an agreement with the coal miners and we are going to do with some of our power stations, take the sulphur dioxide out as we agreed to, and we agreed to, and then, with one other, we shall probably put in gas. But you've just got to have regard for your people.

Now certainly, as far as France is concerned, she will have an easier task, because 60 or 70%; of her electricity comes from nuclear power. But you know, some of the many people who are urging me to do more about it, are the greatest opponents of nuclear power—the greatest opponents, but they've just got to come down from this ivory tower and get down to the practical arrangements. [end p25]

Now, that's what we are doing and I've said what I believe we can do and I believe we can hit that target at about the year 2005; it'll require pretty firm things which we have to do. Other people say, right, just clap an enormous heavy tax extra on petrol.

Believe you me, by the year 2005, I believe the cost of oil will have gone up enough without our adding to it. So they just have got to be realistic about this. I believe we're realistic, I believe we've given them lead; we're in the position to honour the lead we have given as we have on the ozone layer. We have marvellous scientists in this sphere-the Antarctic Survey, the Arctic Survey, the people at Cambridge are absolutely terrific—a marvellous Meteorological Office; it was our Dr. Houghton who was in charge of this. Every single word of my speech last week I agreed with him, to see that it was scientifically accurate. Now, we don't make agreements on hot air, but on solid science and what is practical and what is reasonable for our people.

Oliver Scott

Fine.

Margaret Thatcher

I feel strongly about it and I trust I make myself clear.

Oliver Scott

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Next callerMr Liam Dillon. Mr. Dillon.

Margaret Thatcher

Mr Dillon. [end p26]

Liam Dillon

Material paraphrased:

Mrs. Thatcher, good afternoon. Obvious from your answers you would like see end to disarray and dismay of human history so do you expect that before you leave No.10, you will have left legacy of peace in Ireland, based on friendship and co-operation Dublin, London, Belfast? Perhaps you and your Secretary might settle this finally.

Margaret Thatcher

Mr Dillon, peace in Ireland, in Northern Ireland, will not depend upon me alone or on this Government. Every single citizen of Northern Ireland, be they of Republican background or of Unionist background, has the same democratic vote for the Westminster Parliament; has a similar democratic vote for district councils.

The trouble is that there are some people who do not like the result of democracy and try to bomb and maim innocent people out of it by their wicked actions. We must be absolutely clear that both Northern Ireland—the United Kingdom including Northern Ireland—and the Republic of Ireland must leave no stone unturned to catch any such barbaric criminal and to bring him to justice in the courts of the land where that crime was committed. If we can get that and if we can get everyone realising that these people are not only wanting the unity of Ireland against the wishes of the majority of Northern Ireland, but they're out to destroy democracy and replace it with the rule of the gun, whether that gun or bombing be used on innocent babies, women, Australians, Americans, anyone in London at the time when they put it off. [end p27] These people are wicked and it requires all of us in Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom and other countries to make it perfectly clear that this is totally unacceptable and that the guilty must be brought to justice.

Oliver Scott

Material paraphrased:

Mr Dillon, empassioned answer from Prime Minister. Are you happy with that?

Liam Dillon

Material paraphrased:

Yes, MT absolutely right and general feeling in Ireland would agree with her. But not possible to stress the good things about the three places, the three cities and the people and give less oxygen, publicity oxygen as she herself has said so well, to bad things?

Margaret Thatcher

I agree with you. We should give much more publicity to the good things and when I'm in Northern Ireland visiting, the country is more prosperous than it has ever been. Industry is going well and there is a great deal for which we have to be thankful. But obviously, the men with the gun, and they'd be useless without guns and explosives, the men—it's only the strength of the gun and explosives—who use their gun and explosives to tackle those who live by the rule of law and civil law—these men must be dealt with and we need the full co-operation of all the forces of authority in the Republic in order to do it, and we need the full condemnation of people everywhere. [end p28]

There are many many people and young children who have been deprived of their fathers and of their family life by these people and they are just uncivilised, the people who do these things, and they must not be acceptable in any society at all.

Oliver Scott

Material paraphrased:

Next caller Mr Luxton in New South Wales. Mr Luxton, your question for the Prime Minister?

Mr Luxton

Yes, good morning, Mrs Thatcher.

Margaret Thatcher

Good morning … oh, I've said good morning, good afternoon, and good evening. How are you, Mr Luxton?

Mr Luxton

Material paraphrased:

Effect on the Commonwealth of Britain becoming more and more part of the European federation? As an Australian, I'm especially interested in role of Monarchy for nations such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada?

Margaret Thatcher

Well, we're both very fortunate in that we are both a Monarchy. I think it is quite the best constitutional arrangement that there can ever be to have a Monarchy who is the focus of all the patriotism, affection and continuity and have people like Prime Ministers to take the rap for [end p29] everything that goes wrong. It really is a very, very good way of having the whole focus of a country, and the affection and patriotism, and yet getting your elected representatives answerable.

Now, you asked also about 1992 and the European Community; 1992 when we have a single market, that is to say, goods and services can circulate freely and easily without subsidy throughout the Community. We, in Britain, have struggled and still struggle valiantly to make certain this does not become an exclusive club.

We are concerned that we get down barriers to trade inside the Community as an example to the outside world and not to put up barriers around the Community, and so therefore now, we and the United States and, I think, the Commission, are ardently negotiating in the Uruguay round over agriculture because we know full well we all … many of us subsidise our agriculture, the United States does, we do, Japan does, and that just isn't fair for the economies of the world who have to rely on agriculture for exports in order to get their living. And we want to start to get the subsidies down and we are negotiating in the Uruguay round to do that.

We also do not want so many regulations in Europe that it puts up the cost of our things that the next demand we get is a protective tariff barrier around it. We have always fought very hard in the Community on negotiations for both Australia and New Zealand, particularly when it comes to the new agreements on lamb and butter, with New Zealand, and we shall continue to do so. But you know, we don't want these new arrangements, like the European Community, to be new exclusive blocs inducing other exclusive blocs the world over; that would be a retrograde step.

We want them to be a centre where we get the trade barriers down and we negotiate and get more and more trade barriers down so we enlarge world trade which will be for the good of us all. [end p30]

But it's very good to have a question from someone in a Commonwealth country and thank you very much.

Oliver Scott

Material paraphrased:

Next Peter Dreeson in Victoria, Canada.

Peter Dreeson

Yes, good morning, Mrs Thatcher.

Margaret Thatcher

Hello, good morning, Mr Dreeson.

Peter Dreeson

Material paraphrased:

My question concerns economic reform in Soviet Union. In comparison to Mr Gorbachev, Mr Yeltsin wants to reform more quickly but people of Byelorussia and the Ukraine voted against and don't support Gorbachev reforms. So it seems Gorbachev caught in the middle. Is it Gorbachev and Yeltsin could work together for benefit of Soviet people?

Margaret Thatcher

I think in a country as big as the Soviet Union you have need of a number of very very intensive politicians, you know, strong personality, who can get together and go forward together deciding how those economic reforms should be brought about. [end p31]

I mean, the fact is, Mr Dreeson, you cannot reform Communism, you can only change it. You can't reform Communism, you have to change it to a different system and that is the difficulty.

When the people, as in the Soviet Union, have had no experience of land ownership, of small business, of being able to do things on their own, to start up on their own, they have, in fact, to go and get permission to do everything. If you want a plumber, the State organisation will send the plumber to you. Every single thing is the subject of bureaucracy or permission. No-one has been able to start up a factory on their own, do their own thing, produce their own goods and sell them across the Soviet Union. I can understand why, in going from a totally centrally controlled deeply bureaucratic economy to a free one is causing problems because people—with change, people are naturally fearful of change. They want to know where they're going and they want to know what it's going to be like.

Now, the great difficulty is they've had fixed prices for many many years and those fixed prices bear no relation to the cost of what they're producing. And really, you know, just have a look at it with regard to farming. If your prices are so low, then your farmers just don't grow the produce. So what you have is fixed prices, sometimes not sufficient to enable goods to be produced, and you really have to go to freeing prices.

If you ask people, “Do you agree that prices shall be increased by 100, 200 or 300%;?” —naturally they tend to say “No” , unless they say, “Well now, what else are we going to get for this, are we going to get full democracy as in Poland or are we going to get something else?”

And Mikhail Gorbachevhe's right up against the boundary between the two economic systems. Everything by central control or far more by personal effort, initiative and responsibility in a society which has never known it. [end p32]

Don't underestimate the enormity of the task; these things can be solved, given time and example, and if there is the spirit and the will to solve them. And I think you need quite a number of really powerful politicians—never mind if you've got several powerful politicians, provided they work out their same objective and try to do their level best to implement it, having agreed, as they do, that Communism doesn't work and that it's crumbling.

The question is, how do you get to something that does work and brings the prosperity? It's not impossible; we have it, so does the United States. You're not at the leading edge of technology, you're only trying to do what has been done many times in the history of the world, but never quite going from this totally centrally controlled system to a free one. So, it's a bit of history, but they'll do it.

Oliver Scott

Material paraphrased:

Next caller Deeta Yetussasan, from London, very young listener

Deeta Yetussasan

Yes. Good afternoon, Prime Minister.

Margaret Thatcher

Hello, Deeta.

Deeta Yetussasan

Material paraphrased:

Hello. Like former Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, you are lady with strong potential and intelligence and personality much more than the average. [end p33]

Russians called you the Iron Lady, could you tell me secrets that make you a much popular lady in the world?

Margaret Thatcher

Well, you're very kind and very complimentary. I knew Mrs Gandhi and liked her very much and I knew, I've known other women Prime Ministers too, like Golda Meir. I think we all had one thing in common: we decided what we thought it was right to do and then we stuck to it. And we never did anything just for convenience, but we stuck to what we thought was right and we tried to explain it and we remained totally honest about it. I think that's the most important thing in politics. And I hope one day, Deeta, that you might think of coming into politics because you sound very interested.

Oliver Scott

Deeta?

Deeta Yetussasan

Yeah.

Oliver Scott

Material paraphrased:

Happy with that?

Deeta Yetussasan

Yes, thank you.

Margaret Thatcher

Thank you very much, Deeta.

Deeta Yetussasan

Okay. [end p34]

Oliver Scott

Material paraphrased:

Now about to end

Margaret Thatcher

[Interrupting] … Oh, it was a lovely thing to end on wasn't it?

Oliver Scott

Yes, absolutely marvellous.

Margaret Thatcher

Charming.

Oliver Scott

Material paraphrased:

Thank you Prime Minister.

Margaret Thatcher

I thoroughly enjoyed it, thank you very much.

Note by Roger Wilmut from http://homepage.mac.com/rfwilmut/more/2006/0612.html

On 3 June 1990 Margaret Thatcher, then Prime Minister, took part in a phone-in for the BBC World Service, answering questions from phoners-in from all over the world. I was allocated as the Studio Manager (operating the mixing desk) for this event. As you can imagine we all took it very seriously - I spent all morning checking every connection, phone line and microphone, and we had the full police presence and sniffer dogs routine before she came in, and so on.

Some years later the producer wrote in the Guardian newspaper that 'we in the cubicle' could see the realisation dawning on her that the whole world was listening to her every word: he concluded that the boost that this gave to her ego resulted in her leaving the World Service alone at a time when she was attacking other parts of the BBC. I wouldn't know about that - and I had my hands full just keeping the programme running smoothly, so I hardly heard a word she said.

I should explain that World Service programmes run to a very tight schedule because of some transmitters joining and leaving as the peak listening hours move round the planet: transmissions start and finish to the second, and over-running is impossible. I don't know whether anyone explained this to her: possibly not. Or possibly they did and she didn't listen.

The programme was supposed to finish at 45 seconds to 4 p.m.: five seconds before this Oliver Scott, the presenter, wrapped up neatly - and then the wretched woman tried to get the last word ('..and might I just say...' or something like that). This left me with three seconds to decide what to do: so I fell back on Engineering training and the rule book and took her off the air, mid-sentence, at the exact finish time.

Everyone in the cubicle looked a bit worried, and she looked a bit thunderous just for a moment, but it passed over: and to be fair no-one ever suggested that I should have done something different. (Had I let her go on some transmitters would have cut her anyway: and there might have been an automated signature tune crashing over her a few seconds later for all I knew, so things could have got a lot messier.)

I had to write a log, of course ('Prime Minister pot-cut to prevent an over-run' - standard formula: 'pot-cut' means shutting the fader rapidly): where it said 'What action should be taken to prevent this happening again?' I wrote 'General Election'. (I didn't anticipate a palace revolution - and evidently neither did she).

So I may be the only person ever to silence Margaret Thatcher.