HC Deb 10 February 1976 vol 905 cc231-2
Q4. Mr. Ward

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his speech on Government policy at the Savoy Hotel on 22nd January to the French Chamber of Commerce.

The Prime Minister

I did so on 23rd January, Sir.

Mr. Ward

In addition to the encouraging signs mentioned in that speech by my right hon. Friend about Britain's recovery, has he since seen the figures showing an increase in British exports of farm machinery, particularly of tractors? Will he agree that this is a further indication of an upturn in our economy?

The Prime Minister

Yes. This was the view of the industrialists I met in Birmingham last week about the change in the economy, however disappointing it may be to some Opposition Members. I agree with my hon. Friend about the export achievement. I saw some of that agricultural machinery and heard a great deal about those successes when I opened the Royal Show last summer.

Mr. Hordern

Will the Prime Minister explain why he referred in his speech only to the first six months' figures for the nation's share of world trade? If he consults his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade he will see that our share of world trade has been declining in the latest two quarters.

The Prime Minister

These are the figures that are available. Some of the comparable foreign figures have not yet been published and can only be estimated. Taking Britain as a whole, for the first time since the 1960s we have maintained and increased our share of world trade.

Mr. Lipton

May I, Mr. Speaker, in full accord with your ruling, ask one supplementary question relating to the subject matter of the original Question? The question is as follows: apart from the Prime Minister's speech, was it a good dinner?

The Prime Minister

There is clearly no ministerial responsibility, but the answer is "Yes, Sir". That also applies to the dinner given by the overseas bankers and also to that given by the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Lawson

Despite the Prime Minister's complacency about the economic situation, does he agree with the Home Secretary that if public expenditure were to exceed 60 per cent. of gross national product, freedom and democracy would be in danger? What does he intend to do about the situation, considering the fact that we are now in excess of that figure?

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I have already given. As a once-distinguished city editor, he should not build up for himself, or for his party, the reputation of wallowing in the hope of a national failure.