§ Q2. Mr. Ridley
asked the Prime Minister whether the public speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Eston on 8th December about the state of the economy represents Government policy.
§ Mr. Ridley
Will the Prime Minister ask the Chancellor to refrain from talking about "export-led spurts" and "steady improvements" until they actually take place? Is he further aware that the news that both he and the Chancellor were not to resign, which the Chancellor gave in that speech, was a body blow to sterling?
§ The Prime Minister
My right hon. Friend was replying to certain rumours in the City the previous Friday that we were to resign, which involved a very serious loss of confidence in sterling. It was only—[Interruption]—that was what the City Editors said was the reason for the decline in sterling following these rumours. The hon. Gentleman would be glad to have noticed that, when the rumours were no longer believed, sterling began to recover from that moment.
As to the question of export-led booms and spurts, the hon. Gentleman will no doubt use his influence to put across the fact that there was an increase of between 4 per cent. and 5 per cent. in production last year, and 7 per cent. in productivity, and that since the increase in export volume was 11 per cent. over that period, the phrase used by my right hon. Friend seems to have been justified.