International Monetary Fund

Oral Answers to Questions — Oral Answers to Questions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th December 1977.

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Photo of Mr Harold Lever Mr Harold Lever , Manchester Central

I have not met Dr. Witteveen since he took up his appointment as managing director.

Photo of Mr Ian Gow Mr Ian Gow , Eastbourne

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that Thursday of next week marks the first anniversary of the famous letter that the other Chancellor sent to Dr. Witteveen? Will he confirm that it is still an essential element of the Government's economic strategy that there should be a continuing and substantial reduction in the share of resources required for the public sector?

Photo of Mr Harold Lever Mr Harold Lever , Manchester Central

The hon. Gentleman draws attention to a very comforting and happy anniversary, and I am sure that he intends his question as a means of reminding the House of the remarkable achievements of the country and the Government in the 12 months that have elapsed since the last letter.

The answer to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is "No, Sir". I cannot give him the assurance in the form for which he asks.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Brent South

Will my right hon. Friend, when meeting the Managing Director of the IMF, make clear the difference between wages and the social wage, and the way in which this country is affected by public expenditure concerning the disabled, the elderly, the education of children and the health of our people? Will he ensure that, in the Fund's consideration of public expenditure and borrowing, it is aware that not only the pay packet but also the social wage is an essential element in any negotiation for finance in this country?

Photo of Mr Harold Lever Mr Harold Lever , Manchester Central

I think that the managing director of the Fund is aware of the cogent points that my hon. Friend is seeking to make, as, indeed, are people of intelligence and good will of diverse political opinions.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

Is the Minister aware that in earlier answers this afternoon the question of the Barber printing period as affecting inflation—which has to do with the IMF—was mentioned? Does he recall an answer given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at columns 215–16 of Hansard on 24th March 1976, when I asked what were the five most important causes of inflation between the General Election of February 1974 and March 1976, and the answer was that labour costs were 50 per cent., import costs 20 per cent.—

Hon. Members:

Quoting.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Order. Hon. Members are quite right. It is wrong to quote at Question Time. Hon. Members are supposed to be seeking information, not giving it.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer never gave the Barber printing press as a reason for inflation? Has he any comments to make about that?

Photo of Mr Harold Lever Mr Harold Lever , Manchester Central

These interesting questions, as Mr. Speaker has hinted, are seeking to give education rather than to receive information. They are better addressed, in great detail, to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself.