HC Deb 02 May 1995 vol 259 cc168-70
Q3. Mrs. Ewing

To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 2 May. [20108]

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Lady to the answer I gave some moments ago.

Mrs. Ewing

Now that the Prime Minister has finally plucked up the courage to allow the voters of Perth and Kinross to take their democratic decision, is it his intention to endorse the views of the Secretary of State for Scotland that any reference to Scotland as a region is merely a matter of geographical error, or will he state clearly that Scotland is indeed a nation and not a region, and, therefore, we should have the right to self-determination? When he is in Scotland this weekend, will he launch an educational project to tell his Back Benchers the difference between a region and a nation?

The Prime Minister

There are four nations within the United Kingdom. Scotland is one of them. I look to see it remaining in the United Kingdom and I very much regret that the hon. Lady and her parliamentary colleagues seek to make it independent and outside the United Kingdom.

Sir Peter Fry

Will my right hon. Friend find time today to compare his current gas and electricity bills with the size of those bills only a few years ago? Will he reflect on the success of the Government's policy in producing real reductions in the charge for energy? Will he join me in wondering how local government candidates representing the new, clean Labour party can produce leaflets which say that the Government are bleeding us dry through privatised gas and electricity companies? Does he agree that the new, clean Labour party is using the same dirty tactics of the old, discredited Labour party?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend puts the matter exceedingly clearly and well and I entirely agree with him. There is no doubt that in general prices have fallen in the privatised industries, though that is not remotely what Opposition Members expected. The right hon. Gentleman, now the leader of the Labour party, once said of electricity privatisation: it is barely an issue that prices will rise because of privatisation."—[Official Report, 12 December 1988; Vol. 143, c. 684.] He was wrong then and he is wrong now.

Q4. Dr. Lynne Jones

To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 2 May. [20109]

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave some moments ago.

Dr. Jones

The Prime Minister will be aware from the latest economic figures that a large proportion of the 0.8 per cent. growth in the first quarter was attributed not to manufacturing but to sales of national lottery tickets. Is not the Prime Minister concerned that using the proceeds of the lottery to enrich one or perhaps two Tory Members will put the faltering recovery in further jeopardy? Will the right hon. Gentleman have a word with the hon. Member for davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) and ask him to pay the money back?

The Prime Minister

I am inclined to say to the hon. Lady, come off it. The growth in the economy was 4 per cent. last year, and is estimated at 3 per cent. this year and 3 per cent. next year. When did the Labour party in government ever produce such growth figures? The answer is that it never did. The hon. Lady knows that growth has primarily been built on exports. When was there an export record similar to that which British industry has enjoyed over the past 14 months? Nine or 10 months out of the last 13 or 14 months, there has been a new record in exports as our competitiveness and capacity to penetrate markets in Europe and the rest of the world increase. That is what is happening with economic growth at the moment, and it has never been matched by the Labour party.