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1996 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Huntingdon

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Huntingdon, held on Friday 15th November 1996.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked whether the extra jobs for Rover meant that the recovery was here to stay].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think the announcement by BMW Rover is very good news indeed. What we have seen over recent months is a whole group of international investors beating their way to Britain in order to invest large sums of money. They can see the good prospects for this country and I am delighted about the investment. It's very good news for Britain and excellent news for the Midlands.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked about the Working Time Directive].

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, one of the reasons companies are coming here is because we are a very competitive nation. That is what is creating the new jobs: that is one of the reasons, no doubt, that many of the large investors are coming here. And measures like the Working Time Directive, not just this measure which is a bad measure in its own right, but other measures that would follow it, would damage that competitiveness and reduce the chance of such investments in the future. So I believe they are very damaging.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked whether the sleaze in the Liberal Democrats was any different from the Premier Club].

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I don't know what the details are of the allegations against the Liberal Democrats. I haven't seen the details yet. But I understand it's a question of 'cash for contracts'. Well, I don't know the facts of that, but I just believe that's a matter to be examined. The Liberal Democrats have said repeatedly when these matters have arisen that they should be thoroughly examined. I hope that on this occasion they will do that. Perhaps it should go to the Nolan Committee.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked about paying for access to politicians].

PRIME MINISTER:

Well the Labour Party ask for a large amount of money to have dinner with Mr Blair. The question, as far as I understand it, is whether the contracts actually follow the meeting. I think that is the point at issue, not the question of meeting politicians.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked about Zaire].

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it covers some of the points that Michael Portillo was making yesterday. There are several difficult components to this. Firstly and clearly, you need to have secure control of Goma and Bukavu, which is certainly true. But beyond that there are an unknown number of refugees in many parts of Zaire, spread out widely across Western Zaire. So the point that we British have been making all along is we need plans, not just to cope with the main centres, but how we can cope with those refugees that are mobile. We don't know where all of them are yet. This is part of the problem.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked about the rules of engagement].

PRIME MINISTER:

The rules of engagement will be clarified very soon, and British troops intrinsically have the right to defend themselves and will certainly do so. No-one is going to take any risk whatsoever with the lives of British troops. They will have whatever rules of engagement that are necessary.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked when the first deployment would be].

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we have a group examining the situation out there, and we are still in further discussions with the Americans, the Canadians and others about precisely what the full scale of deployment will be. Not just the British deployment, but other people's as well. So I hope it can be done very speedily. There isn't a great deal of time, and speed in many ways is of the essence. So we will not delay: the faster it can be done the better.