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1993 - Mr Major’s Pool Interview with the Media

Below is the text of Mr Major’s pool interview with the media, en route to London on Thursday 25th February 1993.


QUESTION:

Mr Major, your trip to America I understand has ended on a good note for British jobs?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes it has, I think it is very good news. We have seen several pieces of good news recently, the move of Hoover to the United Kingdom I think is very good news, and of course Digital establishing themselves in a bigger way at Ayr, safeguarding 1,100 jobs and potentially providing several hundred more, I think that is very good news.

QUESTION:

Can you claim some personal credit for an initiative of your own, I notice you had Howard Davies over here to meet the executives from the administration.

PRIME MINISTER:

Howard Davies and Michael Angus were over here but that is what you would expect us to do and I am delighted to work with British industry when we could. I spoke to the Managing Director of Digital but that was after they had made the decision.

QUESTION:

You were being questioned quite heavily earlier on today about the loss of jobs in Britain and you were making the point that you believe the conditions for recovery are there and there is evidence of that, what is that evidence?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think there are several things. In terms of external investment into this country, well we just mentioned some of the evidence. If you look at what was happening last year, even in the depths of the recession, I know about the job losses and so does everyone else, but 400,000 new firms actually registered for business in the depth of the recession last year. That was the pattern we saw after the 1981 recession that produced a substantial amount of employment growth throughout the 1980s, so I think that is a very important factor. The fact that in terms of productivity improvement we now have the best productivity rates of anywhere in the European Community is another important factor, not a glamorous one which people will immediately fasten upon, but a critical one from the point of view of investors as for job growth.

QUESTION:

It is not just draining jobs from our supposed European partners?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I do not believe so. If you actually look not just at the levels of unemployment in this country but also at the levels of employment in this country you get rather a different perspective. Of all the European countries we have the second highest proportion of our adult population in secure jobs, only Denmark is ahead of us and most of the European nations are well behind us.

QUESTION:

You have the Budget coming up, we did have a significant shift in economic policy at the end of last year, do you believe that that now is the political basis or does a lot more work have to be done politically to change the conditions?

PRIME MINISTER:

The Autumn Statement was there to help stimulate recovery and I think most people would say that it did. The package that the Chancellor put in hand to deal with repossessions was clearly very successful. We must now address the situation as it is and the Chancellor will do that in the Budget.

QUESTION:

I was surprised by the warmth of President Clinton when he met you yesterday, what do you think lay behind that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Of course although it was the first time President Clinton and I had met, we have had a number of very lengthy and detailed telephone conversations, so we were hardly strangers. We had addressed a series of problems together, we had examined them together and both of us had a very clear idea of what was in the other’s mind when we met. But underlying personal relationships there is the shared interests that the United States and the United Kingdom have, shared instincts but also shared interests in how we have free trade, how to lead to trade agreements, how we deal with Yugoslavia, Russia, Iraq. Those are areas where the United States would look instinctively to us, knowing that we would be likely to share their view, and where we would look instinctively to them for precisely the same reason.

QUESTION:

They were concerned perhaps that the campaign rhetoric had worried people in Europe and that we needed reassurance perhaps?

PRIME MINISTER:

Campaigns are curious things on each side of the Atlantic and all the way around the world, one has to face the realities of governing and dealing with problems as they are, that is what governments are about and that is what they do. I think we will work very closely with this administration as we did with the last.