HC Deb 09 February 1981 vol 998 c583
1. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the index of industrial production at present; and how this compares with the comparable figure for the same months in 1974.

The Minister for Industry and Information Technology (Mr. Kenneth Baker)

In the three months to November 1980 the index of industrial production was 100.6, some 3½ per cent, lower than in the same period in 1974.

Mr. Knox

Does my hon. Friend agree that those figures tell the story of six wasted years? What steps do the Government intend to take to increase demand for industry's products so that we can once again achieve the increased industrial production that we had in the 30 years after the war?

Mr. Baker

I share my hon. Friend's concern. As the House knows, the major reason for the drop in manufacturing and industrial production last year was the reduction of stocks, which was on a scale unprecedented in our recent economic history. There is an indication that that trend is coming to an end.

Mr. Anderson

Do these appalling figures suggest to the Minister that the Government are on target? If so, which target are they aiming at?

Mr. Baker

If the hon. Gentleman is calling for some change of direction or variation in target, I should remind him that the Government's overriding target is to contain the rate of inflation. If we are deflected from that target we shall never get out of the cycle of inflation and unemployment.

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