Debate on the Address

Part of Prayers – in the House of Commons at 3:10 pm on 31st October 1991.

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Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 3:10 pm, 31st October 1991

If the hon. Gentleman listens, I shall tell him.

In 12 years, all the Government have ever done, and all they are doing now, is hope that the increase in consumer demand will eventually refloat the economy. But that cannot and will not achieve sustained recovery—experience here and everywhere else proves that.

In order to bring about sustained growth, the Government will have to reverse the cuts that they have made in the training budget and develop a long-term programme to increase the quantity and quality of skills throughout British industry. They refuse to do that. In order to achieve sustained growth, the Government would have actively to encourage industrial investment with a tax regime promoting the purchase of new plants and machinery. They will not do that.

They would have to put private money into public transport projects. They will not do that. They would have to allow—[Interruption.] So much of this is obvious. Faced with congestion and crisis in many areas of British Rail, why do not the Government do what the French Government do, and allow the national rail company to float a bond on the British market to raise funds to finance the modernisation of railways properly?

If the Government wanted sustained recovery and growth, they would have to allow councils to start to use their assets to build and improve homes. That is the way to pull the construction industry out of its slump and to combat the growing housing crisis. Those basic actions must be taken to start building for long-term economic strength. Those actions must be taken to ensure that investment leads our country out of recession.