HC Deb 06 November 1995 vol 265 cc591-2
30. Mr. Merchant

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what responses the Government have received to their second White Paper on competitiveness. [39714]

The Deputy Prime Minister

The White Paper "Competitiveness: Forging Ahead" has been widely welcomed by industry. Major representative bodies such as the CBI, the Engineering Employers Federation and the Chemical Industries Association, as well as many major companies, have all expressed their support.

Mr. Merchant

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that an essential condition of enhancing competitiveness is greater investment? What are he and the Government doing to encourage that greater investment, especially in the vital manufacturing industry sector?

The Deputy Prime Minister

My hon. Friend gives me the opportunity to reassure him that the Government support very much the point that he has made and are extremely pleased to see that investment intentions in manufacturing for the year ahead are extremely strong. This is in no small measure. due to the fact that we have one of the most exciting economic prospects that I can remember and that the economy is growing faster than most other European economies.

Mr. Prescott

Is the Deputy Prime Minister aware that five of the six countries that have leapfrogged Britain in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development world prosperity and competitiveness league since 1979 observe a minimum wage, and that two of them have signed the social chapter? Is this yet another example of Government propaganda being out of line with the facts?

The Deputy Prime Minister

No, the House will recognise that one of the most attractive features of the present economic circumstance is the flow of inward investment coming into this country, not just from Asia or north America but from Europe. One of the reasons it is coming is that the Government are committed to not accepting the increased costs of the social chapter. The House will recognise that the Labour party, if it were ever to become a Government, would immediately undermine Britain's extremely attractive competitive position.

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