§ 16. Mr. Martyn Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the latest estimate of the balance of trade in information technology.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg
According to the latest estimates, the United Kingdom had a deficit of £685 million in the manufactured products of the electronics and information technology sector in the first quarter of 1990. Those figures are for hardware only. There are no separate figures for trade in software.
§ Mr. Hogg
The hon. Gentleman has not reflected on those matters. All major OECD countries, with the exception of Japan, have a deficit in information technology. The United Kingdom has a substantial surplus of £900 million in its trade with the rest of the 985 Community, including France, Germany and Italy. I am sure that the hon Gentleman will be pleased to know that output in electronic and information technology industries in the United Kingdom has increased by 37 per cent. since 1985. Perhaps he should do a little more homework before he asks a question.
§ Sir Ian Lloyd
What view does my hon. and learned Friend take about the fact that we are now almost completely dependent on Japan for the chemicals used in the manufacture of semiconductors?
§ Mr. Mullin
What will be the effect on our trade in information technology of our entry into the ERM at the ludicrously inflated rate of DM2.95? How long will it be before we have to devalue?
§ Mr. Hogg
I am sorry for the hon. Gentleman because he is normally a bright fellow who does his homework, but he has not done so today. At present our surplus with West Germany is £470 million, our surplus with France is £557 million and our surplus with Italy is £212 million. I expect that happy trend to continue.