HC Deb 26 April 1990 vol 171 cc475-6
14. Mr. Yeo

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he last met the Finance Ministers of the Group of Seven countries; and what subjects were discussed.

Mr. Ryder

My right hon. Friend met his counterparts in the other Group of Seven countries at a G7 meeting in Paris on 7 April. Along with the central bank governors of the G7 countries, they reviewed economic policies and prospects in their countries, reaffirmed the need for close co-operation of macro-economic and structural policies, and discussed recent developments in financial and exchange markets and the impact of events in eastern Europe.

Mr. Yeo

Given the regular, strenuous efforts by the Opposition to rubbish the achievements of management and workers in British manufacturing industry, can my hon. Friend tell us which country out of Britain, France and Germany achieved the highest rate of growth in manufacturing output and manufacturing productivity throughout the 1980s?

Mr. Ryder

Not only did manufacturing output and manufacturing productivity grow faster in the 1980s in Britain than in the other two countries, but growth of British investment between 1980 and 1988 was also faster.

Mr. Robert Sheldon

The Chancellor would surely have discussed the balance of payments with the other Finance Ministers. If so, he would have explained why our invisibles surplus has disappeared and understood that the high interest rates required to bring in that hot money from abroad are the price that we have to pay in terms of manufacturing industry suffering and high mortgage interest rates. The sooner the Chancellor brings that policy to an end, the sooner we can find other means of satisfying the demands of British industry.

Mr. Ryder

The right hon. Gentleman is correct to say that balance of payments issues were discussed at the G7 meeting in Paris on 7 April, and a paragraph reference is made to them in the communiqué. The right hon. Gentleman overlooks the fact that, as my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary said earlier, the last set of British invisibles figures were erratic in so far as they took into account higher than usual contributions to Europe and the higher than usual contributions that we had to make as a result of the hurricanes in the West Indies and the United States.

Mr. Budgen

Did my hon. Friend tell the Finance Ministers of the G7 countries that since Britain attempted to shadow the Deutschmark in 1988 this country has learnt a terrible lesson about the dangers of attempting to rig exchange rates?

Mr. Ryder

As far as I know, that particular matter was not discussed at the G7 meeting in Paris on 7 April. Had it been discussed, however, my right hon. Friend would have pointed out that not only the pound but several other currencies have fallen against the Deutschmark.