HC Deb 21 February 1978 vol 944 cc1210-1
Q3. Mr. Pattie

asked the Prime Minister whether he will list his official engagements for 21st February.

The Prime Minister

In addition to my duties in this House, I shall be holding meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. This evening I hope to have an audience of Her Majesty the Queen.

Mr. Pattie

Will the Prime Minister take time to reflect today that our economic well-being depends vitally upon our ability to compete in world markets? Further, is he aware, in spite of what he said on the question of our having higher unemployment in this country than is suffered by our competitors around the world, that productivity in this country is static and that output has not yet reached the level achieved in 1973? Why is he so self-satisfied about this, and what is he doing about it?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member is only repeating points that I have made time after time from this Dispatch Box, without always commanding full support from the Conservatives. I am glad to see that the hon. Member has not returned to the charge he made in The Times this morning about the remarkable duplicity of the Defence Estimates.

Mr. Clemitson

Will my right hon. Friend take time to point out to the Leader of the Opposition that, whereas employment in this country is as high today as it was at the beginning of the decade, in Germany there has been a loss of well over 1.5 million jobs?

The Prime Minister

That is true, and it is also true that the Opposition have consistently voted against all the measures that the Government have introduced to save jobs, whether that be in the motor car industry, in the shipbuilding industry or elsewhere. On the manufacturing side, there are more people at work today in Britain than there were a year ago. This number will continue to increase. In common with other Western countries, we are facing a substantial short-term increase in the number of young people reaching the age of 15 or 16. This situation will last for two or three years and will be followed by a substantial decline. Therefore, far more people will be coming on to the employment register seeking work for many years.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. We must now move on. I allowed extra time because we were a minute late in starting Prime Minister's Questions.

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