HC Deb 08 March 1984 vol 55 cc975-6
6. Mr. Stokes

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the present rate of inflation.

Mr. Lawson

In the 12 months to January 1984, the retail price index increased by 5.1 per cent.

Mr. Stokes

I thank my right hon. Friend for that news, which will delight everybody. Does he agree that, in addition to all the other advantages, reducing inflation will help unemployment more in the long run than almost any other measure that the Government could take?

Mr. Lawson

My hon. Friend is right, and the 364 economists were wrong in 1981 because they failed to realise that bringing down inflation, as we have succeeded in doing, would itself be a major contributory factor to the recovery that is now taking place.

Mr. James Lamond

In view of the rosy picture which the Chancellor and his colleagues on the Government Front Bench are trying to paint of the economy and inflation, may I ask him to explain the collapse of the Tory vote at the Chesterfield by-election?

Mr. Lawson

I am disappointed—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—that Labour Members should seek every opportunity to decry a state of affairs in which inflation is low and coming down, output is at its highest level ever and still rising, living standards are at their highest level ever and rising and interest rates are low and trending down.

Dr. McDonald

The right hon. Gentleman will have to do better than that next week.

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