HC Deb 25 July 1985 vol 83 cc1298-9
12. Mr. Greenway

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the overall change in the level of the nation's wealth since 1979.

Mr. Lawson

By the time of the Budget, the nation's real output was 6 per cent. higher than in 1979, and growth this year is expected to be the fastest in the European Community and to exceed that of the United States as well.

Mr. Greenway

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on those substantial achievements. Is it not a fact that more schools, hospitals and nurses, and higher pay for everyone, are best achieved by increased wealth, rather than by much higher personal taxation and the punitive taxation of ordinary people's pension funds which have been earned through a lifetime of work, which is proposed by the Labour party?

Mr. Lawson

The Labour party's proposals on pension funds are as obscure as its proposals on a number of other policies, such as the compulsory repurchase of shares in privatisation issues and the unfettered right to buy council homes. No doubt they will be made clear in due course.

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that the only way in which we can have social services of the kind that we would all like to see in this country is by first generating the wealth that will pay for them.

Mr. Dubs

How much of the increase in our wealth since 1979 has been due to North sea oil?

Mr. Lawson

A very small part. Of the rate of growth of about 3 per cent. a year that we have seen since the trough of the recession, about ½ per cent. has been due to North sea oil. The other 2½ per cent. has been due to the onshore economy.

Mr. Neil Hamilton

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the growth rate in this country would have been greater if the tax burden had been lower, but that that could have been achieved only if the burden of public spending had been lower? Does he therefore agree that it would be a jolly good thing if our right hon. Friend the Chief Whip were to call the spending Ministers into his office in groups of six and give them a good talking to about loyalty to the Government's objectives?

Mr. Lawson

I note that that particular tactic by my right hon. Friend the Chief Whip did not have much effect on my hon. Friend.