HC Deb 16 May 1996 vol 277 cc1067-8
10. Mr. Flynn

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received from the Engineering Employers Federation on investment in the manufacturing industry. [28499]

Mrs. Angela Knight

None, Madam Speaker.

Mr. Flynn

When the hon. Lady next meets the federation, will she explain why the Government's policies are definitely hurting, but certainly not working? Is the reason for that the 24, record tax increases by this Government, or is it because investment in manufacturing industry is less now than it was in 1979 and there has been a loss of 600,000 jobs in that industry in the past five years?

Mrs. Knight

The hon. Gentleman should look at the facts, which show that we have a growing economy and businesses that are competitive and making jobs for people. In fact, he might like to know that we have more people in work than any other major country in Europe. Our manufacturing investment is up and the increase is about 7.5 per cent. over last year. It is about time that the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends on the Opposition Benches stopped running down the country and running down companies in this country.

Mr. John Marshall

Does my hon. Friend accept that even more important than the level of investment is the quality of investment? What does she think would happen to the level of inward investment, which has transformed sectors of the British economy and even brought jobs to Newport, if we were to introduce a national minimum wage and a social chapter, as advocated by the Labour party?

Mrs. Knight

My hon. Friend is right. The Government's policies have attracted inward investment into this country; the Labour party's policies would frighten it away. The social chapter and the minimum wage would be the biggest job destruction taxes that could be placed on British people.

Mr. Darling

Perhaps this Minister can tell us—why is manufacturing investment less than it was in 1979?

Mrs. Knight

The hon. Gentleman still refuses to acknowledge the fact that manufacturing investment has increased, that our companies are investing, and that all the surveys show that they are looking at life very positively. The Conservative Government have ensured that companies can flourish. I understand that, under the last Labour Government, companies died.

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