HC Deb 27 June 1996 vol 280 cc458-9
10. Mr. David Evans

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which prices of which goods are monitored for the retail prices index. [33415]

Mrs. Angela Knight

The prices of over 600 representative goods and services are monitored each month to compile the retail prices index. For example, a variety of vegetables, such as peppers, are in the index. Details of the items are published each year in "Retail Prices Index Business Monitor".

Mr. Evans

I thank my hon. Friend for her reply. Will she thank and congratulate whoever included the red pepper in the retail prices index? It reminds us of Labour every single day, because it is bitter and twisted.

Does my hon. Friend agree that, if the red pepper ever returned to power via that lot opposite, with inflation at 26.9 per cent., it would not be long before members of the Transport and General Workers Union refused to collect rubbish in Leicester square? We would have rats as big as cats running around there. Moreover, members of the TGWU would not be prepared to dig graves, and we would not be able to bury our loved ones. Is that not what Labour is all about, always has been and always will be?

Mrs. Knight

My hon. Friend has put the case extremely well. Let me mention a couple of other things that would happen if the red pepper party, alias the Labour party, ever came to power. What would happen is exactly what has happened in the past: savings and pensions would be wiped out, unemployment would rise, companies would leave the country and the United Kingdom's competitiveness would fall.

Mr. Connarty

Is it not true that the current inflation rate has been reached through the crushing of the consumer expectations and hopes of the British people by adding £2,000 per annum to the average tax bill of a British family? Is it not also true that, in re-estimating the level of inflation, the Chancellor should re-estimate the level of the public sector borrowing requirement, which is expected to be £5 billion higher than his original estimate, and was £10 billion more last year than he had estimated? Is it not true that the national debt now amounts to £380 billion, having increased to that level over the past five years? We are storing up massive inflation for the British people.

Mrs. Knight

I always find it extraordinary when the hon. Gentleman is so cavalier about some of the successes of our economy. I remind him—as I shall no doubt do on many occasions—that, in the past 17 years, people have become considerably better off. They have more goods at home than they had in the past, and they will be £450 better off in the coming year. We have brought down the borrowing requirement. When we look at the list, which country do we find has the lowest mortgage rate for 30 years, which has the lowest basic rate of tax for over 50 years, which has lower unemployment than any other major European country and which has had the longest period of low inflation for 50 years? Which country is number one in Europe for foreign investment? The answer is this country, under a Conservative Government.

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