HC Deb 27 June 1996 vol 280 cc456-7
8. Mr. Amess

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on his estimate of the rate of inflation for the remainder of 1996–97. [33412]

Mrs. Angela Knight

In the previous Budget, my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor forecast that underlying inflation would fall from 2¾ per cent. in the second quarter of 1996 to 2¼ per cent. by the second quarter of 1997. I remain confident that we are on course to meet our inflation target of 2½ per cent. or less.

Mr. Amess

In the light of that reply, does my hon. Friend agree that the rate of inflation still matters very much? Does she further agree that, if the Government were unwise enough to adopt the policies proposed by the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats, this country's trading position and its economic prospects generally would be fatally damaged?

Mrs. Knight

My hon. Friend is quite correct. Indeed, his analysis points out the terrible policies that the Labour party has on the economy, as indeed it has on so many other aspects of British life. He might be interested to know that the average rate of inflation when Labour was in control was just over 15 per cent., which meant that the average supermarket bill for an ordinary family rose by nearly £1,300 in two years. Those are the disgraceful consequences of the Labour party's absence of policy on inflation, as it is on every other aspect of the economy.

Mr. Pike

Does the Minister recognise that that inflation figure was achieved by taxing the average British family by an extra £2,000 a year? Do not most British families think that that taxation policy is hurting, that it is unfair and that it is not working?

Mrs. Knight

The hon. Gentleman always fails to recognise how much better off people are in this country now when we have run the economy so well. He also likes to deny that the average family will be some £450 better off this year. Our economy is growing when the economies of many other countries have stalled. Our economy is creating jobs; unemployment is rising elsewhere. The hon. Gentleman should congratulate the Government rather than always trying to run the country down.

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