HC Deb 17 May 1994 vol 243 cc672-4
Q7. Mr. Luff

To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the prospects for economic growth and inflation in the United Kingdom.

The Prime Minister

The prospects for the economy are extremely good—[Interruption.]—and not only that, this year the United Kingdom is set to be the fastest-growing major European economy for the second year running. Underlying inflation is under control, at its lowest for 25 years and well within its target range. I shall spare Opposition Members all the rest that it says here.

Mr. Luff

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Does he agree that one of the hardest lessons we have to relearn as a country is that British manufacturing industry can prosper only if it is competitive? Against that background, will he join me in welcoming yesterday's news that factory gate inflation is at a low level not seen in Britain for a generation?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is quite right about competitiveness. The more competitive we are, the more we will sell and the more jobs we will be able to create in this country. The figures on factory gate prices are extremely good—better than we have seen for many years. One of the reasons why we are competitive and will remain so is that we have no intention of saddling our companies with the social on-costs that so many in Europe have now undertaken and which so many in the House would be prepared to undertake.

Mr. Purchase

Will the Prime Minister contrast the sweeping victories of many Labour groups in the local elections recently—

Madam Speaker

Order. I am listening carefully because the hon. Gentleman's question has to be tied to the question on the Order Paper on prospects for economic growth and inflation.

Mr. Purchase

Indeed, Madam Speaker. Will the Prime Minister compare that record with the awful record of the Black Country development corporation on economic development in the black country? In the light of that comparison, would he care to give back to Labour authorities the money taken from them for that economic development?

The Prime Minister

I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman about the record of the Black Country development corporation. It is clear that right across the black country and the country as a whole the prospects for manufacturing industry and other industries are rapidly improving. That is self-evident in the growth seen in the past 12 months, the growth that we are seeing now and the growth that we can safely anticipate in the future.

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