HC Deb 09 July 1987 vol 119 c499
2. Mr. Ian Taylor

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate of the level of industrial production.

Mr. Lilley

In the three months to April industrial production was 2½ per cent. higher than a year earlier, and within that manufacturing output was up 4½ per cent.

Mr. Taylor

I welcome those figures, which must be very good news for many regions of the country. Does my hon. Friend consider that the growth of output can continue so that, by the end of next year, we will have the highest rate of sustained economic growth in this country since the war?

Mr. Lilley

My hon. Friend is correct. On official forecasts, we will have had seven years of sustained growth at one of the highest rates that we have seen since the war. Of course, on unofficial forecasts, the projected rate of growth is constantly being forecast to increase. We see no reason domestically for growth not to continue in this country.

Mr. Buchan

Will the Minister tell us whether the Government have succeeded in reaching the same figure for industrial production as existed in 1979?

Mr. Lilley

Yes. We are well above it.

Mr. Tim Smith

Will my hon. Friend confirm that since 1980 the growth of gross domestic product of United Kingdom Limited has been more rapid than that of any other European country? Is that not a welcome and refreshing change compared with the 1060s and 1970s? In those circumstances, was it not predictable that the shareholders would vote in the same board of directors?

Mr. Lilley

My hon. Friend is correct. It is interesting that since the election the board of directors has received praise from some surprising quarters. The growth of the economy is not only good for the continuing prosperity of the country, but it has restored the pride of the British people.

Mr. Blair

I welcome the Economic Secretary to his position and congratulate him on having achieved it. Is it not the case that any increase in industrial production has come about largely as a result of the exchange rate depreciation and the fact that those competitive gains are now being eroded? The hon. Gentleman boasts about the Government's economic record, but will he tell us when they will get back, under this Chancellor, to the position on the balance of payments in manufactured trade that they inherited in 1979?

Mr. Lilley

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks and, in turn, congratulate him on the success that he achieved in the elections. Clearly, the Labour party has considerable sense in some matters.

The growth of industrial production is not just the result of changes in the exchange rates. We have had six or seven years of continuous growth that cannot possibly be attributed to the recent change in the exchange rates.