HC Deb 11 May 1995 vol 259 c878
9. Mr. Spring

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from the editor of the Financial Times about Britain's economic performance and that of the rest of Europe. [22233]

Mr. Aitken

My right hon. and learned Friend and I are regular readers of the Financial Times.

Mr. Spring

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, according to the latest Financial Times survey of Europe's 500 largest companies, the United Kingdom accounts for no fewer than 16 of the top 25 by profitability, and no fewer than 11 of that 25 by market capitalisation? Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is yet another sign of the growing resilience and success of British business?

Mr. Aitken

Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend. He is right to draw attention to that upbeat Financial Times survey, which showed that British companies are riding high in the European league table of successful businesses. In addition to the figures to which he has drawn attention in terms of profitability and market capitalisation, six British companies are in the Financial Times top 10, 21 in the top 50 and no fewer than 179 in the top 500. That is three times more than the German score and twice that of the French. The figures show that British companies are exporting more and growing faster round the world than most of our European Union competitors.

Mr. Tony Banks

That is all very interesting, but why does Britain rank only ninth among the 15 European Union countries in terms of per capita gross domestic product? If there is such a great success story for Britain, why are Italy and France ranked above us in the per capita GDP league?

Mr. Aitken

In fact, Britain is out-performing most European countries. We have the fastest growing economy in Europe right now. Last year, it grew two and half times faster than Germany's, one and a half times faster than the French, and eight times faster than the Japanese. Unemployment is falling by 1,000 a day. There is plenty of good news by any international comparison standard. Opposition Members should recognise that.