§ Mr. Litherland
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will take action to reverse the decline in the numbers employed in manufacturing industry in Manchester.
§ Mr. Alison
Productive jobs can be created only by firms which make profits, and firms can make profits only if they are able to satisfy consumers at home and abroad. What Governments can do is to help create favourable conditions in which firms can operate.
The Government's policies are therefore aimed at developing a soundly based economy. We have already made progress towards this end. Inflation has been reduced to 9.2 per cent. with a continuing fall in prospect, and interest rates have been moderated. Industrial productivity has risen sharply, partly because fewer days were lost last year through strikes than in any year except one since 1967. Our international competitiveness has increased accordingly.
All this has formed a firm foundation for improved employment prospects. From now on, the more British firms there are which can offer goods and services at home and abroad which people want to buy, at prices they are prepared to pay, the more new jobs we shall see both in Manchester and throughout the country. Meanwhile, as we progress towards our objectives, Manchester will continue to benefit from the Government's programme of special employment measures.