HC Deb 29 October 1987 vol 121 cc444-5
12. Mr. Cash

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the outcome of the recent International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington.

Mr. Lawson

Considerable progress was made on a wide range of issues. The Louvre agreement was reaffirmed, and I set out ways in which a more orderly system of managed floating of exchange rates could be developed. There was continued emphasis on the special needs of the poorest and most heavily indebted countries, including further discussion of both my initiative to ease the burden of their bilateral official debts and the parallel proposal by the IMF to enlarge the concessional structural adjustment facility. There was also full support for an early and substantial increase in the capital of the World Bank.

Mr. Cash

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Will he also confirm that it displays a significant contrast between the craven position that existed under the Labour Government in 1978, when they had to go cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund, and the position now, when the fund seeks and takes advice from the Government — from the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

Mr. Lawson

In answer to the remarks that my hon. Friend makes, I am glad to say that one of the benefits of the strong economy that we now have and the wide respect in which we now stand throughout the world is that we are able to play a major part in the international financial discussions that go on, both as between the industrialised countries and in helping the poorest and most heavily indebted countries. That is indeed a striking contrast to the Labour Government, when it was they who had to go for assistance.

Mr. Beith

Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer aware that if he presses ahead with his proposals for debt relief for the poorest African countries, including interest relief for those that are not large debtors, he will have our support?

Mr. Lawson

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's support and that of his party. I am glad to say that I have also secured much more substantial support from other quarters as well.