HC Deb 11 May 1993 vol 224 c647
Q3. Mr. Michael Brown

To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the state of the economy.

The Prime Minister

It is getting better every day—exports up, manufacturing output up, retail sales up, business confidence up, new housing starts up and gross domestic product up.

Mr. Brown

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that reply is confirmed in Brigg and Cleethorpes, where industrial recovery has resulted in unemployment falling to below the national average where once it was twice the national average? Will he acknowledge the Government support that has resulted in tremendous United States investment through companies such as Kimberly-Clark Ltd. and Paramount Packaging, where many jobs have been created in the last few months? May I advise my right hon. Friend that in Cleethorpes last week Allied Colloids announced that 90 more new jobs would be created?

The Prime Minister

I am delighted to welcome investments such as those which represent good news for Humberside. They represent the confidence of inward investors and of British companies in the region. I know how hard my hon. Friend works for his constituents and how much he will welcome those developments.

Ms Estelle Morris

What would the Prime Minister say to the millions of pensioners living just above income support level who thought that his pledge to start listening would mean that the proposal to charge VAT on fuel would be removed'?

The Prime Minister

Everyone, including the Opposition Front Bench, as I understand it, agrees that the budget deficit is too high and that we need to bring it down. We have had the courage to produce our proposals, of which VAT is a part, to bring it down. I am surprised that the hon. Lady should raise that after the nonsense talked by the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) about VAT last week, when it was clear from one of his economic spokesmen that the Opposition, too, would have increased VAT on a range of items.

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