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1997 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Bangalore

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Bangalore, given on Friday 10th January 1997.


QUESTION:

You have had a good welcome all the way round, Prime Minister, you must be enjoying it?

PRIME MINISTER:

It has been a very enjoyable visit, a very worthwhile visit. I am delighted I came.

QUESTION:

You must be wishing that perhaps you will have the same warmth of welcome, particularly for the South Wirral by-election, it is going to be a crucial one, isn't it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Every by-election is crucial, but South Wirral I suppose especially so. But we will call the South Wirral by-election soon.

QUESTION:

Does the decision to call the South Wirral by-election mean you have abandoned the hope of getting through to 1 May?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, certainly not, most certainly not. I will call an election when I think it is appropriate. But there are Parliamentary conventions about calling by-elections and we will honour the Parliamentary conventions. That will mean we need to call the South Wirral by-election round about the end of the month, I don't precisely recall the exact date, and of course we will do so. But it has no further implication other than meeting the normal Parliamentary conventions.

QUESTION:

Would you be willing to predict that you can hold on to it, as it is so close to a general election?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don't make predictions about by-elections. All by-elections are important. I think what we need to concentrate on is not the date of by-elections, not even the date of general elections to be frank, but on the policy matters that need to be determined between the parties and on the policies that are right for the United Kingdom in the years ahead. Those are the matters that I will be concentrating on up to the by-election, during the by-election, up to the general election and during it.

QUESTION:

Will you go to Wirral South yourself, Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

Traditionally I haven't, I would not expect to, I think we will have a lot of Ministers at the Wirral South by-election. Since I am talking of tradition in calling it, traditionally I can't think of an occasion when a Prime Minister has visited a by-election. I suspect I will have plenty of electioneering opportunities over the few weeks that lie ahead.

QUESTION:

Do you know about British Telecom buying a 60 million stake in India's largest cable cellular operation?

PRIME MINISTER:

I knew it was probable. I haven't seen lain Valiance today so I don't know the last knockings of the deal, but I understand it is probable.

QUESTION:

It has been concluded, I believe.

PRIME MINISTER:

If it has been concluded, I am very pleased it has been concluded. British Telecom, since they were privatised, have invested very heavily not only across the United Kingdom, certainly across the United Kingdom, but also across the rest of the world with substantial external investment and as a result of that a long stream of future earnings for the United Kingdom. So I am very pleased to see it. We are, the United Kingdom, I think the second largest overseas investor anywhere in the world and that is a very remarkable position and it is an indication of the strength of our economy that that is accelerating.

QUESTION:

Are you getting indications of other deals on the way as a result of the group that you have led here?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am sure there will be some, yes I am sure there will be some. Don't ask me to predict precisely what. The businessmen and I have gone in opposite directions, we have opened a few doors. Ian Lang has been with them, he may be able to give you more information. Rut frankly, even if we had that information, until the contracts were announced I don't think we would say anything about it. But this is intended to enshrine and develop the long term Anglo-Indian relationship. Since the establishment of the Indo-British Partnership in 1993, when I came here then, exports and investment have pretty nearly doubled, pretty nearly doubled.

And it has gone both ways, both Indian investment in the United Kingdom, UK investment in India, and the trade flow both ways. And I think the success of that is very startling and it has indicated to everyone what the opportunities are for the future. And I think what we have done so far, what business and commerce I perhaps might more accurately say have done so far, is very remarkable. But I think the scope for accelerating and increasing that is almost unlimited, so I would expect to see a tremendous future increase in Anglo-Indian trade and investment.

QUESTION:

Can you give any more assurances about this question of transparency which I believe is a bit of a euphemism? The Prime Minister spoke of it yesterday, you saw him today.

PRIME MINISTER:

It depends which aspects of transparency you are talking about. Transparency has many different forms. In terms of the trade flow and the transparency of the trade flow and the transparency of investment and matters of that sort, I think that is a situation that is improving all the time.