Orders of the Day — Industry and Commerce

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th November 1977.

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Photo of Mr Edmund Dell Mr Edmund Dell , Birkenhead 12:00 am, 8th November 1977

The hon. Gentleman should read exactly what the Prime Minister said.

We should now be able to increase the standard of living of the people of this country, first, because of the economic growth that we expect to achieve—and I can give a number of reasons why that should be possible. The first is North Sea oil and the assistance that it will give to our balance of payments and the additional resources that it will provide. However, those additional resources are not adequate in themselves to provide anything but a relatively small increase in our standard of living. The major increase must come from industrial production and productivity.

We must not waste these resources. I was surprised to hear the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East accuse us of wasting North Sea gas and the resources that accrued to this country from that gas. They were wasted under the last Conservative Government. By the time they came into power, 88 per cent. of households were supplied with North Sea gas. Yet we still had a crippling balance of payments deficit before the oil crisis. The Conservative Government wasted the North Sea gas resources.

The second reason why we can now expect an increase in our standard of living is the expansion of our overseas earnings from the export of goods and services. The volume of our exports is and has been increasing rapidly. The hon. Member for St. Ives said that we have many excellent industries in this country. Indeed, these excellent industries are contributing to a substantial expansion in the volume of our exports—about 9½ per cent. in the volume of exports in the first nine months of this year compared with the same period in 1976.