HC Deb 29 January 1981 vol 997 cc1065-6
7. Mr. Ioan Evans

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place a copy in the Library of the address by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury entitled "Thatcherism in Practice: a Progress Report" delivered to the Zurich Society of Economists on Wednesday 14 January.

Mr. Lawson

Needless to say, I have already done so.

Mr. Evans

Will the right hon. Gentleman admit that Thatcherism in practice is disastrous for British industry and the economy? With 2½ million unemployed, 6,000 companies going bankrupt last year and the Government increasing the overall burden of taxation, what has the sacrifice been for?

Mr. Lawson

As I told the audience at Zurich, the rate of inflation was rising very fast when we took office. It is now falling rapidly. Indeed, it is falling more rapidly than in almost any other country in the world. That is one result of the sacrifices.

Mr. Michael Morris

Is my right hon. Friend aware that those in industry who have read his remarkably frank speech have commented with some surprise that he made no mention of the pricing policy of nationalised industries, which is the main inhibiting factor to economic recovery? Will he encourage his right hon. and learned Friend to tackle that problem in his Budget Statement?

Mr. Lawson

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his encouragement to me to make yet another speech. Our policy is to move towards economic pricing for nationalised industries. The alternative is a further charge on the borrowing requirement and further upward pressure on interest rates, which I am sure he would not wish to see.

Mr. Robert Sheldon

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that in his speech he said that the economy had more or less reached bottom and that better times were clearly in sight? Flow will those better times benefit the unemployed in the next few months?

Mr. Lawson

I should have thought that even the right hon. Gentleman would know that better times will benefit the unemployed. I am not making predictions about the next few months. However, if he doubts whether there has been a turning point, I remind him, as my right hon. and learned Friend has already reminded the House, that the latest CBI survey of industrial trends also indicates that the economy has reached a turning point.

Mr. Beaumont-Dark

Will my right hon. Friend accept that most of us consider that his speech in Zurich was on the right lines because it brought a sense of reality to the situation? Bearing in mind the importance of pay, may we have figures to destroy the myth that public sector pay has fallen behind private sector pay over the past five or 10 years? With the negotiations that many of my right hon. Friends have, should we not get rid of the idea that those who work in the public sector are deprived, when most of us know that the truth is the opposite?

Mr. Lawson

My hon. Friend is on to a good point. If he tables a written question I shall be happy to see that he gets the figures.

Mr. Ashton

Will the Minister give a one-line definition of Thatcherism? Is it not cutting jobs at the town hall to save money to pay out at the employment exchange?

Mr. Lawson

No, Sir.