asked the Prime Minister in view of the continuing adverse trade balances, what further measures of co-ordination and strengthening of policies of increased exports, imports substitution, and productive investment he now proposes for the immediate future; and whether he will make a statement on these matters before the House rises for the Summer Recess.
All of these matters are kept under review, Sir. No doubt a fuller and totally satisfactory statement would have been made by my right hon. Friends if the Opposition had not at the last minute run away from the economic debate they had projected for this week, and which I know the hon. Gentleman himself, with his unique influence, was pressing for.
Very boring—would not the Prime Minister recognise that the balance of payments for six months to the end of May was in atrocious deficit and that for only one month, June, has there been any improvement, and can he not give the nation some encouragement before our eleven weeks of Recess?
With the hon. Gentleman I am myself one of the small minority who regrets that we do not hear the hon. Gentleman more. However, I feel that the hon. Gentleman, in his rare interventions, should get his facts right. There have in fact been no published figures for the balance of payments since the end of March. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] They are always published on a quarterly basis, rather earlier now than was the case. We have managed to speed them up compared with the figures published by right hon. Members opposite when they were in power; but it is still a little late, I agree. So the hon. Gentleman was wrong about that. He might have been referring to the balance of trade, but I am sure that he would like to stimulate his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition to claim credit for the improvement in our export position.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman, too, I am afraid, has got it wrong. There were no supernatural prophecies. I was quoting an impartial overseas observer who inThe Times newspaper referred the fact that the industrial restructuring had reached a point where this country was facing the prospect of an economic miracle because of what has happened in industry. Only hon. Gentlemen who take a delight in selling the country short will laugh at that. Even Northern Ireland is doing better under this Government. I certainly agree with what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has in mind, that we have some very great difficulties to overcome and that there is a period of hard slog for some time ahead. Do not let any hon. Member under-rate what has been achieved in the restructuring of industry.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Indeed, I thought I read him saying something very similar in a Press article a few days ago, which I very much welcome because of its quality and, indeed, its rarity. What I think my hon. Friend will particularly have noted was the great fanfare of trumpets before the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who was going to put the worst possible construction on the nation's economy but who, having done that, did not even have the guts to repeat these arguments in the House, where he would have been answered.
My right hon. Friend is the last colleague I would ever want to give advice to in the matter of searching for motives. All I think I would say is that there is more rejoicing in the kingdoms of the front bench over one lost sheep that returns than over 99 just men who have never caused any trouble anyway.