Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the South, made during an interview held in London on Thursday 25th July 1996.
[Mr Major was asked why nobody believed the economy was doing well].
I think you only have to look around and if you say why does nobody believe me, go and try and find a restaurant in London and see if you can get in, have a look at how many people are taking flights to go abroad on holiday, have a look at how many people will actually be buying new cars in August. There is the tangible proof. Have a look at the unemployment figures, they are pretty tangible proof as well. They are now coming down for the fourth successive year. I don't think you or anybody else can name me another European country in which that is happening. So the reality is that the economy is beginning to perform excellently, there is yet another report out in the last few days making that point absolutely clearly.
[Mr Major was asked why people felt insecure].
I believe that people have had a sense of insecurity through the recession. And daily
of course people point insecure matters at them. If you will forgive me making this
point, you put the points to me negatively, you don't say to me that the British
economy is doing better than any other economy in Europe. Yet that is true, you know
it is true, I know it is true. Yet it is the negative aspect that so often makes
the news. I believe what people will continue to see is the reality of what has happened
[Mr Major was asked why the Government wasn’t trusted].
You make that assertion, I don't know upon what basis you make that assertion.
[Mr Major was told that it was true].
That may be your personal view, you are perfectly entitled to your personal view but that is the assertion that you make.
[Mr Major was asked if taxes had risen].
If you actually look at the tax burden you will find it has actually fallen since
1992. That is a reality of life and you need to look at that. Many people who are
paying more taxes are paying more taxes because they are in a higher income bracket
[Mr Major was asked if voters in the region would back the Conservative Party in a General Election].
I think the big idea that people wish to see for themselves and their family is the
security of their employment, improving the education system for their children with
better choice than ever before. I take the view that education is an absolutely key
issue for this reason. In our country there are millions of children. They are all
original, they are all diverse, they all have their own interests. We ought not to
squeeze them in a regimented education system. We want an education system that is
diverse so that it can cater with the diversity of our children. That is why I would
[Mr Major was asked about the single currency].
We have got to make a decision on what is right for this country. There are an awful lot of people who want to cut off that decision because they are running their own agenda. They want to say now, in advance of knowing the facts, in advance of being able to influence the debate, that we will do either one thing or the other. I have a particular responsibility as Prime Minister, to represent what is right for this country. Uniquely I have negotiated a position where the United Kingdom can say ‘No’ if others go ahead, and other countries cannot necessarily do that if they meet the criteria. Now it would be folly to throw that unique advantage away.
A single currency, if it proceeds, is going to affect our country, whether or not
we are in it. I ask you a simple question -
[Mr Major was asked about devolution for the Isle of Wight].
You will be unsurprised to know that I don't think it is a very good idea. I gather the Liberal Democrats are running this idea, I don't know, very possibly within the Isle of Wight they will then propose devolution for a particular Parish Council, I can't imagine. No nonsense seems to me to be too silly for them. I don't think the people of the Isle of Wight will take that as a very serious proposition, I think they are much too sensible to have much to do with that sort of Liberal Democrat idea.