Below are extracts from Mr Major’s speech at the Selly Oak Association Dinner at the Centennial Centre at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Friday 12th April 1991.
There is more good news about the strengthening of the economy today. Inflation is down to 8.2 per cent. Interest rates are down by another 1/2 per cent – the fifth cut since we led Britain into the ERM. And, as a result, mortgage rates to householders are being cut. This shows that the tough action we took on the economy throughout last year was right. It has set the country on the right course. Both businesses and home owners are seeing improving conditions today and better times ahead.
The Government was right to make fighting inflation our number one priority. If we had not, our competitive position in the growing markets of the European Community, Eastern Europe and beyond would have been weakened. Instead, Britain’s position is strengthening month by month, while other countries face rising inflation and higher interest rates.
Birmingham was built on exports. It needs a government, like this one, dedicated to making Britain competitive in the world and to keeping it there.
Today’s good news on the economy follows action we took in the Budget which was vital to a manufacturing and industrial city such as Birmingham. Cutting Corporation Tax, giving the UK the lowest rate among industrial countries. And bringing forward a whole raft of measures to help the cashflow and the growth of small businesses.
We have also acted to protect business from high spending councils forcing up the business rate year after year ahead of inflation. The benefit of this will be seen ever more clearly as inflation falls.
And just as we have acted to protect businesses from high spending councils, so too we are taking steps to protect individuals. In the Budget, the Chancellor announced a fundamental shift of the burden of local government funding from local taxes to central taxes, reducing community charge bills by £140. That shift will be permanent.
Alongside lower local bills, we want a stable system of local finance and a simpler structure for local government overall. We will shortly be announcing the details of our proposals for the reform of local taxation to replace the community charge. Proposals that will work – unlike the bogus figures invented by Labour this week.
There is a clear message in this local government campaign. And it is message that will be all too well understood in Birmingham. Labour councillors cost you more. When you look at the levels of spending for every council in the country, you find that the average Labour Councillor spends over £200,000 more than a Conservative Councillor. But for all that huge cost, wherever Labour is in control the standards of service are worse.
That is why on May 2nd when voters choose, if they want value for money and higher quality service, they will vote Conservative.