HC Deb 21 February 1985 vol 73 cc1189-90
9. Mr. Hunter

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the latest statistics for United Kingdom manufacturing output; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lawson

Manufacturing output is estimated to have risen by some 3½ per cent. in 1984. This is the largest percentage increase in any year since 1973.

Mr. Hunter

I duly acknowledge and warmly welcome my right hon. Friend's answer, but, bearing in mind that opponents of the Government sometimes try to argue that such an increase from a relatively low baseline is fairly easily achieved, will he comment on any underlying trends or indications which suggest that that growth is sustainable?

Mr. Lawson

The growth is certainly sustainable; indeed, I am confident that it will be sustained, provided that the Government stick firmly, as they will, to the medium-term financial strategy.

Mr. Canavan

Why is our trade in manufactured goods now in deficit for the first time since the Industrial Revolution?

Mr. Lawson

I should have thought that the hon. Member, coming from a constituency in Scotland, would at least have heard of North sea oil and would realise that if there is to be a large surplus—as there is—on our oil account in the balance of payments, there is bound to be a corresponding deficit in regard to trade in manufactured goods.