Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1990 Jul 31 Tu
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for ITN

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: TV Interview
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Sir Alastair Burnet, ITN
Editorial comments: 1600-1635.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1022
Themes: Executive (appointments), Economy (general discussions), Monetary policy, European Union (general), Economic, monetary & political union, Foreign policy (Central & Eastern Europe), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU), Housing, Law & order, Conservative (leadership elections), Northern Ireland, Terrorism

Interviewer

Prime Minister, have you withdrawn security guards from politicians connected with Northern Ireland because of the money?

Prime Minister

I should think we are spending as much on security as we have ever spent. With the best will in the world in an open society it is not possible to protect everyone all the time and therefore they do get expert advice on what best to do. But you know we are all the same in a way, we do not believe that things will happen to us. But I assure you, we do as much as we possibly can and will continue to do so.

Interviewer

Is any progress being made to beat the IRA either in this country or in Southern Ireland?

Prime Minister

I think the fact that they are going for what are called soft targets indicates that we have had some success with the other things which they have tried to do. And of course we have to [end p1] remember that by definition the public only hear of the failures, they do not hear of the times where we have been successful in stopping some other tragedy that could have happened.

Interviewer

On Europe, are you failing to get your way for the sort of Europe you want?

Prime Minister

I would have thought we were getting our way. We got our way over the financing of Europe, over Britain's budget; we got our way over getting down the surpluses, that took quite a time; we tried very hard when we were at the Houston Economic Summit to agree with the United States that we have both got to get down subsidies on agriculture; we have got our way on a number of other things, we were the first to demand a Single Market and to go ahead with it.

So I would think we have a pretty good record of getting our way and when just recently we were faced with a demand, let us go for political union, it is not really one would have thought that astonishing to say to them: “Tell me, what do you mean by political union?” When one is met with a stunned silence to propose some things that it does not mean and therefore gradually to come to the conclusion that it means just making some of the institutions work better. But you see when people hear that we are going to political union in this country all their fears are raised. We are a very proud country, we are a nation state of very long standing and we do not want to lose those things. [end p2]

Interviewer

Do you think people really agree with Mr Ridley?

Prime Minister

I think apart from the way in which Mr Ridley said it, some of the things he said, some of them, not all of them, were in tune with people's feelings because naturally some people, particularly those who lived through the last war, feel a number of apprehensions and there is nothing unusual about that, I think people across Europe feel some apprehensions. I think that is perhaps a little different from the way in which it came out.

Interviewer

Here competitiveness is falling, prices are still rising, even people who have bought their own homes are now apparently going to lose them. Have you lost your way too?

Prime Minister

No, I do not think so. For example, we have more jobs in this country than we have ever had in our history before—27 million—that is good. We have had in each of the last three years record investment and we are doing better than some other countries on investment, that is good, investing for the future is doing well. And some society the other day looked at the 50 best performing companies throughout the whole of Europe, 28 of those 50 were British, that is good. We have a very strong base, yes we have some problems, we have a very strong base. [end p3]

Now of course when people are in difficulty because of high interest rates we are the first to be concerned, we would all be in even more difficulty if we got inflation higher and as you know high interest rates are the way to get inflation down. I know that there have been some new figures which are about to come out shortly and some of them have been trailed. I am told that the numbers of people who are having their homes repossessed has gone up and I am told that it is about twice as many as it was before. Before, it was 0.1 percent of those who have mortgages so if it has doubled it is 0.2 percent. That means that 99.8 percent of people who are buying their homes are managing, some of them with difficulty, but the difficulty will be worth it in the end as they will have an asset of tremendous importance and value.

Of course I regret anyone who is having difficulty, particularly those who have bought homes in the last two or three years because they bought at the top of the market. And when you are buying a house, we have all done it, you always spend a bit more than you can afford to spend and then when the interest rate goes up more than you expected of course it means that you have to allocate a much bigger proportion of your income than you thought. That will not endure, as some of us also have been through it and at the end we are very pleased that we took the plunge and bought the biggest asset we will ever buy.

Interviewer

One of the building societies today is suggesting that as many as a million home owners may be in trouble. [end p4]

Prime Minister

I would doubt that very much indeed. It may be that they are rearranging some of their interest payments because if you are in difficulty you can extend the time in which you have to pay and if you include that in the definition then there might be a good deal more than the previous figures which I have indicated.

Interviewer

Finally, do you expect there to be a competition for the leadership of the Conservative Party this autumn?

Prime Minister

I have no idea, I have far too much work to do to bother about things like that.

Interviewer

Would you welcome one?

Prime Minister

I do not think I would particularly welcome one but it is not for me to say, if there is one, well, there will be one and that is that.