Investment

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th January 1989.

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Photo of Mr James Cran Mr James Cran , Beverley 12:00 am, 26th January 1989

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total level of investment in the United Kingdom in 1988 and 1987; and what was the change in the level of consumption over the same period.

Photo of Mr John Major Mr John Major , Huntingdon

Between 1987 and 1988 investment is expected to have grown by at least 12 per cent., twice as fast as consumption.

Photo of Mr James Cran Mr James Cran , Beverley

Does my right hon. Friend agree that business investment in the years 1986–88 rose by the almost unprecedented figure of 20 per cent. in real terms, and exceeded that of the United States, Germany and France? Does he agree that that massive investment programme confirms the economic well-being of the United Kingdom, even in terms that the economic illiterates of the Opposition can understand?

Photo of Mr John Major Mr John Major , Huntingdon

I am not sure about my hon. Friend's last point, but I can certainly confirm his first point. Since 1981, business investment in the United Kingdom has grown faster than in any other major industrialised country and any country in the European Community.

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

Will the Chief Secretary come down to earth? Is he aware that the National Savings bank has introduced regulations so that the minimum investment is now £5? That is causing great concern among pensioners and Age Concern Scotland as many pensioners invest £1, £2 or £3 regularly and will be unable to do so when the regulation comes into force. Will the Chief Secretary intervene and see whether some action can be taken to reverse that regrettable decision?

Photo of Mr John Major Mr John Major , Huntingdon

I hear and understand what the hon. Gentleman says. I have no direct response to his point except that he needs to bear in mind that throughout the economy as a whole investment is growing and that in our judgment, and in the judgment of the independent surveys, it will continue to grow. That is thoroughly disirable.

Photo of Mr William Clark Mr William Clark , Croydon South

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Opposition's criticism of the economic handling of our country is rather hypocritical when one bears in mind that under their regime we were at the bottom of every economic league not only in Europe but in the world and now we are at the top?

Photo of Mr John Major Mr John Major , Huntingdon

As usual, my hon. Friend is entirely right. These are painful waters for the Opposition and I hesitate to dwell on them any longer.