HC Deb 29 June 1978 vol 952 cc1564-5
15. Mr. Dykes

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is satisfied with the trend of manufacturing output and consumer spending in the British economy in the first five months of 1978.

Mr. Robert Sheldon

The encouraging growth in both these indicators is fully consistent with a steady improvement in the economy.

Mr. Dykes

I appreciate that that is the only answer that the Minister can give, but is that not the same as saying that as a result of the miraculous economic policies pursued by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in recent painful months, this country now hopes its economy to be 55 per cent. of the size of the German economy at the end of this year, instead of 52 per cent.?

Mr. Sheldon

I am not sure whether the hon. Member was in the House when my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer dealt with an earlier question and pointed out that due to cutbacks in the German economy ours was growing at a very satisfactory rate by comparison with that economy. That should give considerable satisfaction to the House.

Mr. Molloy

Will my right hon. Friend please note that the finest mark of the success of what my right hon. and hon. Friends are doing in lifting the British economy from the state in which we found it is the constant carping criticism of Tory Members, who become very anguished and upset at the news of any good progress that is made in the name of Great Britain?

Mr. Sheldon

I also see the connection between any good news and the disappointment on the faces of many Opposition Members. It is a feature that we may have to live with for quite a time yet.

Mr. Tapsell

Is it not a deplorable reflection on this Government's handling of the real economy that manufacturing output today is lower than it was when this Government first came to power more than four years ago?

Mr. Sheldon

The hon. Member will have heard the figures for the last month and will be aware that they show very considerable improvements, which we fully expect to be sustained over the period ahead. If the hon. Member is making a comparision with a situation in which the money supply rose by an incredible extent in order to achieve a spurious and temporary productive gain, I should say that our improvement is based on a much firmer foundation than that.