Below are extracts of Mr Major’s comments on the economy, made during an interview held at Chequers on Wednesday 18th September 1996.
[Mr Major was asked if he planned to spend less money and where cuts would come from].
I think there are two elements, as you say: firstly, expansion of the economy; and second, saving money and spending it more effectively. And that is what we have been doing. If you look at the relative comparisons, most of our partners in Western Europe, in the same economic space, would spend between 47-
[Mr Major was asked how he could get below 40 per cent when it had been higher than that for most of the last 17 years].
We have set a target for the moment of 40 per cent, just as originally when we wanted to cut tax we set a target of 25, when we got to 25 per cent for the basic rate, we set a new target. So our first objective is to get it below 40 per cent.
[Mr Major was asked how much lower].
Well we will get it below 40 per cent first and then we will set a further target. I am not going to set a long distance target at the moment. Let us reach the target we have set ourselves for the moment and then see how much further we can take it. That is what we have been doing and is it the only sensible way in which to proceed.
[Mr Major was asked if he would make cuts or believe the economy would grow at a sufficient pace to make cuts unnecessary].
We have been saving public expenditure for some years. Let me take the most practical example -
The question -
Let me give you a practical illustration. Suppose in the last few years we had not privatised all the utilities -