Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1990 Apr 9 Mo
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for ITN (World Ministerial Drugs Summit; Northern Ireland)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: ?Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, London
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Jackie Ashley, ITN
Editorial comments: MT gave interviews between 1215-1245 and 1405-1455.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 849
Themes: Foreign policy (Americas excluding USA), Foreign policy (development, aid, etc), Law & order, Northern Ireland, Terrorism

Interviewer

Prime Minister, just how serious do you think the threat of drugs is to this country?

Prime Minister

I think already we have far too much and we know it is serious and we know, as I indicated, that in recent years although the amount of heroin has gone up, the amount of cocaine has gone up even more.

Interviewer

You say the real thing is to start to tackle demand rather than supply. How are we going to do that? [end p1]

Prime Minister

We try to tackle it on all fronts. We do try to tackle supply and as you know—you heard President Barco—they do everything possible, but it is very difficult. We try to follow the drug pedlars and we try also to take the proceeds of drug laundering but of course, there would not be a market unless there were people who consumed drugs and therefore we thought it best to try to get at those as well, not in substitution for action on other fronts but as well.

Interviewer

Do you totally reject the idea of legalising drugs?

Prime Minister

Totally! These things are dangerous! You do not put very dangerous things which can have a devastating effect on people for the rest of their lives, into people's hands.

Interviewer

You have announced a task force which is going to join the fight against drugs. How is that going to work?

Prime Minister

We have had a number of experts operating through the Home Office for some time and also, we have a good deal of experience of cooperating with other countries, so we thought that this unit in the Home Office would get together with all the experts in this [end p2] country and make that task force available to go to developing countries, for example, and design a programme for them as to how to cut down on demand. There is no point in having this expertise and not making it available.

We do cooperate. We cooperate extensively with customs officers and customs duties in other countries and so many of our customs officers already have experience there and they are greatly in demand as well.

Interviewer

You have also announced £1 million for Caribbean countries. What is that money to be spent for?

Prime Minister

Anything, any way they wish to spend it but mostly it will be on education, on customs, on police, any way in trying to cut down demand, any way in which we can help, sometimes in equipment.

You go to these countries—I have been to some of them—and they will say to you: ‘We have got a very dedicated police force and customs, a small group here, but the equipment they have is nothing like as modern and up-to-date as the equipment of the drug dealers and drug-pushers!” so these people have got to have money to get the latest equipment otherwise you will find what they are doing is broken into by people who have a better radio than they do. So they need the equipment and they need the training and then they need people to help them draw up a programme and we can do all that. [end p3]

Interviewer

Do you think the drug barons can ever be beaten or do you think it has now got so out of control that it is a losing battle?

Prime Minister

I was very interested in what President Barco said. He said do not be either Utopian or defeatist and always try to go on steadily improving, that is to say, cut down the supply, cut down the demand, track down the drug dealers and go for their funds. We, as you know, now have a law which means that when we get the drug barons and they are convicted, we can confiscate all of their wealth and possessions that have come from drug dealing, so no longer can they say: “All right! We will do two or three years in prison or three or four or four or five and we have got a packet of money to come out to!” They will not have, the money will have been confiscated too!

Interviewer

Could I just ask you briefly on another subject, Prime Minister, your reaction to the explosion this morning in County Down in which four soldiers have died? [end p4]

Prime Minister

Once again, it is horrific. The Ulster Defence Regiment are very brave people and when you take that, these four people murdered, and look at it alongside the refusal to extradite, I am afraid that tells you its own very tragic story.

We need all the help and cooperation we can get in tracking down these murderers and no stone should be left unturned in helping us to do it.

Interviewer

One final question, if I may, on the subject of prisons.

Do you think it is right to continue the “softly softly” approach rather than sending in the troops as some people are calling for?

Prime Minister

I think that I would leave it to the judgement of those people on the spot who know those particular prisons, who know the prison officers and the police. I think we have to leave it to their judgement. It is not for us to say precisely what. If they ask for resources to be available, then of course we will consider any request.