HC Deb 25 July 1985 vol 83 cc1292-3
4. Mr. Wainwright

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he next expects to attend a meeting of the interim committee of the International Monetary Fund.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Ian Stewart)

In the first half of 1986.

Mr. Wainwright

Are not Treasury Ministers ashamed that they and the Chancellor of the Exchequer are not attending the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank? Why will they dally in the bunker of the Conservative party conference when the world is crying out for a lead to bring it out of financial anarchy?

Mr. Stewart

The United Kingdom will be fully represented at those meetings. Surely, the hon. Gentleman would expect the leaders of his own party to be present at his party conference. I would agree with that sentiment. Despite the rather aggressive nature of the hon. Gentleman's question, and as this may be the last time that he will appear as the economic spokesman for the Liberal party, may I say that we wish him well in his job in employment. I hope that he will take an early opportunity to say how glad he is to see the rapid rise in new jobs that has occurred during the past two years.

Mr. Merchant

When my hon. Friend—or my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer — next meets his friends—or enemies—in the IMF, will he remind them that employment in Britain rose by 650,000 in the past two years—more than in the rest of the EEC put together? Will he proffer advice to other countries on how to manage their economy?

Mr. Stewart

I am sure that my right hon. Friend has noted my hon. Friend's suggestion. It is indeed true that this country's successful economic policies have generated a much more rapid rise in employment than has taken place in most other industrial countries. The proportion of people of working age at work is higher in this country than in any other industrial countries, except Japan and America.