HC Deb 08 June 1989 vol 154 cc363-4
16. Mr. Oppenheim

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the rate of economic growth in the latest year for which figures are available.

Mr. Major

Gross domestic product is estimated to have grown by 41/2 per cent. in 1988.

Mr. Oppenheim

Is it true that, whereas a great deal of investment in manufacturing in the 1970s was directed by politicians into uneconomic enterprises or into uncommercial capacity, it is now being directed by private industry into proper jobs and proper industry? Perhaps that is why, whereas under the last Labour Government manufacturing output fell, it has risen sharply under this Government.

Mr. Major

That is right, and it is why we are now well into the eighth successful year of sustained growth of more than 3 per cent. During the past seven years there has been a combination of strong and steady growth that has not been matched since the war.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Would there not be a substantial increase in growth if the Government adopted a positive policy of import substitution? Will the Minister reflect on my modest contribution to last night's debate, when I set out a scheme for private sectoral support for industry that would lead to a substantial number of jobs, cost the state very little and, to some extent, reduce the trade deficit? Will the Minister read what I said last night and, perhaps, drop me a line about it?

Mr. Major

I always read carefully what the hon. Gentleman has said, although some of the ideas that he advanced yesterday were tried not wholly successfully in earlier years. I welcome the efforts many industries are now making to provide goods to be sold at home at competitive rates as an alternative to imports. I hope that they will continue to do that.