§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer in view of the fact that the International Monetary Fund has stated that Great Britain's export prices are at their least competitive since the 1967 devaluation, what is the reason for this; and what action the Government have taken or intend taking to change this situation.
§ Mr. Robert Sheldon
Estimates published for the fourth quarter of 1977 show that our export prices, while they were rising relative to those of our competitors, were more competitive than they had been for example in the first half of 1972. It is too early to estimate what our export price competitiveness may be in the first quarter of 1978.
The Government attach great importance to maintaining cost and price competitiveness. This is best done by reducing the rate of inflation in the United Kingdom, and by increasing productivity; as my hon. Friend knows the Government have taken a variety of measures in these two areas.