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1996 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Questions in Nuneaton

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep questions and answers, in Nuneaton on 26th April 1996.


QUESTION:

What about the VAT case the Government has just lost in the court?

PRIME MINISTER:

The case has not yet been determined. It’s still in the courts. It will go to the High Court. The figures that I have seen banded around so relentlessly in the press bear no relation to what the figures really are. So I think people would be very wise to wait and see. It's going to take some time to determine. Earlier courts decided one way, this court has decided another. It will now I assume go forward to the House of Lords and I think people really should just wait for that. It's going to take some time.

QUESTION:

Will it rule out tax cuts in the next Budget?

PRIME MINISTER:

I very much doubt that this matter is going to be determined and we think we have an extremely good case and we expect to win the case. In which case the proposition that so seems to concern some people isn't going to happen but we'd better wait and see. It still has to go to the House of Lords. We will fight the case very vigorously. We expect to win the case and the problem will then fall away.

QUESTION:

Will it rule out tax cuts?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have no intention of anticipating what is going to be in the Budget. It's an extremely good try but I have no intention of doing so. This is a matter that's still in the courts. It's going forward in the courts and I am not going to say anything more about it than that. We think we have a very good case. We think we will win the case. We will take it forward in the courts and in any event the figures that are being bandied around this morning are wholly wrong.

QUESTION:

Economic outlook?

PRIME MINISTER:

Things are beginning to go well everywhere. I think one can see the changing circumstances that are happening at the moment If you compare what is happening here with what is happening in other countries in the same economic environment we have inflation at a level we haven't seen for a very long time and still falling; we have unemployment far lower than any of our European competitors who face the same problems; we have got growth coming; we've got mortgages at their lowest level for 30 years; inflation in its best position for 50 years. So there is a great deal I think that is going to help. And at the end of this month of course, in a day or so, people will begin to see the tax reductions from the last Budget in their pay packets. And I think they will begin to realise as most of the in depth opinion studies show that the economy has decisively turned, it is getting better and what I hope will come out of that is that people will feel much more confident both in the short term and in the long term prospects. That is what I would like to see. I would like to see this attitude that people have had of not feeling confident disappear. There is no reason for lack of confidence in the prospects of this country. I think that is becoming increasingly apparent and I think that evidence will grow as month succeeds month from now on,

QUESTION:

Confidence in your administration?

PRIME MINISTER:

We have another year of this Parliament. The changes that we put in place are increasingly coming through. What I determined in the depth of the recession was that we would do nothing in the period of the recession that would mean that the recovery would be hampered when it came by having sown the seeds of future economic difficulties and we didn't. And the result of that is that we had the best economic platform for prosperity over the years that lie ahead than we have seen for a very, very long time indeed.

QUESTION:

Thoughts on Paddy Ashdown visiting Stratford at the same time?

PRIME MINISTER:

I didn't know he was here actually. I’m in Stratford this afternoon. I'm very pleased for him to follow me around.

QUESTION:

One of your backbenchers said today this ruling does mean no tax cuts which would be a disaster for you in the election. Do you agree with that?

PRIME MINISTER:

You are asking me to comment on something that hasn't happened. One can always make speculative comments on things that haven't happened. People haven't had a chance to look at the judgement, they haven't had a chance to assess it in any way, they haven't had a chance to consider the fact that in earlier courts we won and that we expect to win when it goes to the high courts. So I think people should just wait upon events and not over hype them and over exaggerate them.

QUESTION:

Good news?

PRIME MINISTER:

There is very good news here. Just have a look round everywhere. You can see the housing market starting to move; you can see mortgages at their lowest for 30 years; you can see tax cuts in people's pay packets this week; you can see unemployment lower here than in any comparable country; you can see more people in work in this country than in any other comparable country. There is nowhere else in Western Europe at the moment where the people of this country could live and find better economic circumstances and that is the view of the Europeans not just my view. You may I would say that wouldn't I, but go and ask the Europeans and they will tell you the same thing.

QUESTION (member of the public):

Why don't you stop those French walking all over us?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are working for a negotiated settlement. That means reaching an agreement. If one strikes attitudes the people who would pay the price of that will be the beef farmers. If you were a beef farmer you would want this matter solved. And I want it solved.