The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1989Chancellor (1989-1990)

Mr Major’s British Chambers of Commerce Speech – 5 December 1989

Below is the text of a press release from HM Treasury on 5th December 1989, following Mr Major’s speech at the annual lunch of the Association of British Chambers of Commerce.


Difficult Year, Promising Decade Press Release

The Chancellor, John Major, speaking today at the inaugural annual lunch of the Association of British Chambers of Commerce expressed his hope for a cordial and productive relationship with the Association. He went on;

“You are an important representative voice for business in Britain today, and I can assure you that the Government will pay a great deal of attention to your views”

The main priority is to get on top of inflation. That requires tight monetary and fiscal policies which would inevitably have an impact on business. But it was reassuring that investment was holding up well and the regional pattern of the slowdown was most pronounced in those areas where excess demand had been most evident.

“I do not myself believe that a recession is likely or necessary; although in the complex international economy of today no one can ever be certain of that. What gives me confidence about the long term is the underlying health and strength of British business. That is considerable”.

He noted particular cultural changes that are likely to be long-lasting.

“Greater worker involvement in industry has also contributed to a real erosion of the ‘them and us’ divide which for so long bedevilled British industry. The truth is, there has been a culture change. It was long overdue, and it is happening – to some extent is has happened”.

“And the signs are that this culture is becoming entrenched. As young people see that starting their own business really is an option, more and more of them envisage doing so themselves in the future”.

Looking to the future, the Chancellor stressed that;

“Next year will be difficult, but the next decade is full of promise”.

“I hope British industry will gather the confidence to regain the markets we have lost and to attack the markets we have not yet conquered.”

“… the underlying state of British industry is one of rude health. It is productive and well equipped; and it faces unparalleled new business opportunities. In the last few years, British industry has demonstrated a greatly improved supply response to rising living standards and rising demand at home. Now is the time to go out and look for business elsewhere, to maintain profits and output and jobs. It is not a time for passive gloom. It is a time for active marketing – and I wish you well.”