HC Deb 26 June 1980 vol 987 cc730-1
10. Mr. Edward Lyons

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects his present financial policy to result in the expansion of industry in West Yorkshire.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. John Biffen)

As the Government's monetary and fiscal policies take effect, inflation and interest rates will fall, creating the right climate for increased activity in British industry generally.

Mr. Lyons

Is the Minister aware that the Government's policy of over-valued sterling, high interest rates and industrial non-intervention has caused a shattering acceleration in the decline of the textile, clothing and carpet industries? Is he further aware that in sectors of those industries there is now a gallop towards extinction? In those circumstances, will he change his policies and reverse those disastrous trends?

Mr. Biffen

No, Sir. Any lurch to easy money or protectionism would be even more damaging.

Mr. Marland

Does my right hon. Friend know that in areas such as the Forest of Dean, which has not been designated an assisted area, there is a serious problem with the infrastructure in some districts? Will he consider—

Mr. Speaker

Order. This question is about West Yorkshire, and the hon. Gentleman must relate his remarks to that.

Mr. Woolmer

Does the Minister realise that the wool, textile, carpet and allied trades have lost more than 7,000 jobs in West Yorkshire during the past six months? As British manufacturing industry crumbles under the high interest rates, the over-valued pound, and the Government's deflationary policy, when will the Government reverse their disastrous policies? If the Minister will not listen to the unemployed, will he at least listen to manufacturing Britain?

Mr. Biffen

The Government are always happy to listen to representations from the industrial community. I do not believe that a contrived exchange rate below the level that the market will produce is any way a salvation for British industry.

Mr. Richard Wainwright

Does the Minister accept that the high exchange rate generated by his monetary supply policies has had remarkably little effect in restraining imports of textiles and clothing?

Mr. Biffen

No. The high exchange rate has had a beneficial impact on the price of raw materials.