§ Mr. Callaghan
To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement about the economy in the north-west region.
§ Mr. Neil Hamilton
In spite of intense international competition, the north-west has shown considerable resilience in recent years. Important modernisation and rationalisation have taken place and companies continue to win important contracts both at home and abroad ranging from hi-tech electronic goods to lozenge manufacturers. The region has increased its GDP by over 50 per cent. in five years, recording a figure of £50.3 billion 933W in 1991, second only to the south-east within the United Kingdom. The north-west's stock of VAT-registered businesses increased by over 14 per cent. in the five years to 1991 while unemployment trends have been reversed with the seasonally-adjusted total being reduced by 9,700 in six months to June 1993.
There have been a number of favourable comments on the economic situation in recent months. The North West Chambers of Commerce in their 2nd quarter 1993 survey report have commented on a further strengthening of domestic sales and orders, especially for smaller companies, while claiming that the higher level of confidence achieved in the first quarter has been broadly maintained. The Invest in Britain Bureau's annual report indicates that 23 inward investment schemes are under way in the north-west involving over 3,300 associated jobs. These projects are from a number of countries including the USA, Japan and Germany.