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BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW
BILL MORRIS SEPTEMBER 10TH, 2000

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST
The annual TUC conference gets under way in Glasgow today. The conference will conclude with the Head of the Transport Worker's Union, Bill Morris, being installed as the new President of the TUC. It comes in a time when there's increasing pressure from some union activists for the government to take a more positive approach to the Euro. Bill Morris joins me right now from Glasgow. Good morning Bill and congratulations in advance.

BILL MORRIS
Thank you Sir David and good morning to you.

DAVID FROST
Very good to have you with us. Tell me there more positive approach to the Euro, it seems as though you, yourself, are feeling less positive about the Euro than you did a year or two ago, is that true?

BILL MORRIS
Well opposition has always been that we should join, there are clear benefits for Britain to be part of the single currency arrangements but only at the right time and then at the right conditions. Our position here this week has been accepted now because there were no calls for a referendum or indeed were there any call for the five economic tests. The T&G has put those issues firmly on the agenda and I have no doubts that they will be accepted by the Congress this week.

DAVID FROST
And what about the issue, for instance, of pensions. Is the rumour that Gordon Brown may lift pensions to 100 per week, enough to satisfy your members?

BILL MORRIS
I have not been privileged to any of those discussions, we've made our position very clear, we think that the pensioners should benefit from the prosperity of our country and that's what I'll be arguing again this week on behalf of T&G pensioners and indeed pensioners everywhere.

DAVID FROST
So in fact the leadership, Tony Blair and others will have a rough time, you would think, in the Labour conference unless they've acted before then, do you think?

BILL MORRIS
Well I don't want to pre-empt the Labour Party's conference, that's nearly two weeks away, my efforts are concentrated this week in making sure that we leave Glasgow on Friday with a united position on the Euro, with a united position on worker's rights and reinforcing the view that the trade union movement, the TUC should be the authentic voice of workers in the United Kingdom, not just members but all workers.

DAVID FROST
But you can't, you can't get a large group united on the Euro can you? I mean that's the whole thing about a Euro, we all disagree on it?

BILL MORRIS
Well as a result of the T&G's intervention late last night, Sir David, I think that we will surprise Britain when we debate the issue on Tuesday. We've argued that they've got to make tests as paramount, we argue that the British people must have the last word and we argue that the campaign must be coordinated and I'm confident that the movement in this long-established tradition will unite around a common purpose.

DAVID FROST
And one last question, we hear a lot about grass roots and so on, particularly in June and July, being disenchanted with the government, and now of course the poll ratings have come back and so on, but to what extent are you discontented with your Labour government?

BILL MORRIS
Well I've always taken the position that my union is independent, it's not an extension of government or indeed any political party and we reserve the right to be very, very supportive, as we are, when we regard government policies to be in our member's interests. But equally on such issues as asylum seekers and pensions, where we think the government has got it wrong we politely draw our concerns to their attention and usually they respond.

DAVID FROST
Bill thank you very much indeed. Good to have you with us, have a good week.

BILL MORRIS
Okay, thank you Sir David, thank you very much indeed, thank you.

DAVID FROST
Bye bye, Bill Morris, always a pleasure to see him.

END

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