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1996 - Mr Major’s Comments on the North West

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the North West, made during an interview held in London on Thursday 25th July 1996.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked when he would be visiting Manchester, as Michael Heseltine had already visited twice to monitor the repairs following the bomb damage].

PRIME MINISTER:

I expect to be at Manchester within the next few days, I am looking forward to coming and I think Michael will probably be with me. I would like to see for myself the damage that was created and the way it is now being handled and I think there is no substitute - even having the Deputy Prime Minister there - for seeing it yourself and that is what I propose to do.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he would be offering financial assistance for Manchester].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think the first thing I want to do is to see what is happening. What we are clearly going to have to do is to look at a tripartite system, you may even say a quadripartite system - the Government, the European Union, the private sector itself and of course the insurance money - all of which will come together and we really need to see how we can produce the best possible use of those resources for the redevelopment of those parts of Manchester that have been damaged.

It was a dreadful event, it was an attempt to terrorise Manchester and predictably of course it failed, Mancunians would have nothing to do with that. Now we must see what we can do to correct the damage that was done and perhaps improve on what was there.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if the Government should be doing more for Manchester].

PRIME MINISTER:

The European money is British money, let us not deceive ourselves, it is British money that goes to the European Union and is then redirected back and that is why we have such a very large net contribution to Europe so don't let us fool ourselves about that, it is British money that is coming into Manchester.

We need to see precisely what needs to be done, precisely what resources are required and precisely what are available. There will be a great deal of money of course that will come in from the direct insurance, there will be a great deal of money that will come in from the private sector to renovate it. What we need to do is to find out what needs to be done. At the moment we don't know that. Just pledging a sum of money is neither here nor there. We need to see and then assess and then discuss with Manchester City Council and others what actually needs to be done to ensure that we cannot just replace what was there but improve upon it so this is going to be quite a lengthy business, it isn't a question of a quick gesture of a few million here or there. We need to look at what can be done in the interests of Manchester, that may take some time but we will do it thoroughly.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked why the Government paid for bomb damage in Northern Ireland, but not in Manchester].

PRIME MINISTER:

You don't accurately describe what happens in Northern Ireland but I want to come and see for myself what the position is. Let me see for myself and then we can assess what the position is. That is the purpose of my coming, it is why Michael Heseltine has been not two, I think perhaps three times by now and there may well be more visits.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked why half a billion pounds had been paid by the tax-payer to businesses in Northern Ireland which have suffered bomb damage].

PRIME MINISTER:

That is over a very long period and in very different circumstances. I don't want to draw a comparison between Northern Ireland and Manchester. There is help for Manchester, there has been help for Manchester, there will be help for Manchester but what we need to do is to find out how best that help can be directed and to bring together all the agencies that can help renovate the areas of Manchester that have been damaged by this terrorist outrage.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked why Manchester tax-payers had paid tax which had helped Northern Ireland but weren’t receiving any themselves].

PRIME MINISTER:

I have answered that question three times and I don't propose to answer it a fourth time. I am coming to see what needs to be done. When we have seen what needs to be done, we can then have a cool assessment of what needs to be done and that is the way think we should approach it.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked when defence orders for the region would be announced].

PRIME MINISTER:

You don't just produce defence orders costing £4 billion without a proper assessment and evaluation of those defence orders. They are very big defence orders. All three of the defence orders announced today will actually benefit the north west, Walton, Chorley, Manchester and other parts of the north west. They are very big orders, they needed a very careful evaluation. These are some of the biggest defence contracts that have ever been awarded. The evaluation has just been concluded, the decisions have just been made and they have been announced so there has been no delay in announcing decisions and they are very welcome news I think for the Armed Forces undoubtedly but also for many parts of the United Kingdom and especially Manchester who, as I indicated, will actually benefit from each of the three orders that have been announced today.