HL Deb 12 May 1983 vol 442 cc705-6WA
Lord Benson

asked Her Majesty's Government:

With reference to the oral answer by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Securtiy, on 28th April 1983 (H.L. Deb. column 1047) indicating an improvement of cost competitiveness of British Industry of 15 per cent. in the third quarter of 1982:

  1. (a) what is the definition of British Industry: in particular, does it include both the public and the private sector and to what extent in each case;
  2. (b) what country or countries were used for the purpose of comparison;
  3. (c) what formula is used for the purpose of measuring the change in competitiveness;
  4. (d) for the purpose of the oral answer, what figures or amounts were used in applying the formula referred to in (c) above;
  5. (e) what are the sources—
    1. (i) in Britain
    2. (ii) in the countries used for comparison for each of the figures or amounts referred to in (d) above.

Lord Trefgarne

The figures for cost competitiveness refer to munufacturing industry and include the public and private sector firms engaged in manufacturing. Comparison is made of the United Kingdom and weighted observations for the following countries: the U.S.A., Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada and Japan. The change in cost competitiveness is measured by the movement of the ratio of actual unit labour costs in manufacturing in the United Kingdom to a weighted average of unit labour costs in manufacturing in the 13 competitor countries—all expressed in a common currency. The figures for United Kingdom cost competitiveness (United Kingdom relative unit labour costs) are calculated by the IMF and together with data on unit labour costs for the United Kingdom and some competitor countries can be found on page 46 ofEconomic Trends. The underlying data originate from national statistical sources.