The massive growth at Manchester airport since the Government have come to power—a 1,100 per cent. increase in fixed assets—has given a tremendous boost to the economy and pride of the north-west. Indeed, the north-south divide has now ceased to exist as an issue. When my right hon. Friend next has a free Saturday, will he fly up to Manchester, look at what has been achieved by the airport, and then pop over to Old Trafford to watch a first-class football side in action? It will win the first division championship, just as my right hon. Friend will certainly win the next general election.
My hon. Friend will forgive me if I do not respond to one part of his question. Manchester airport, however, is a success story. It has benefited especially from the growth in the liberalisation of air services and, as a result, three times as many passengers now use the airport as when the Government came to office. That is a direct result of liberalisation introduced by the Government. The concept of a north-south divide was always too simplistic and sweeping. Many areas of prosperity and some of difficulty exist in each and every part of this country—[Interruption.]
Is the Prime Minister aware that, in my constituency of Leyton, unemployment has risen by 84 per cent. in the past 18 months? As last night the Governor of the Bank of England backtracked over the duration of the slump, will the Prime Minister now institute an urgent programme of recovery? Failing that, will he explain to my unemployed constituents why the Government consider them a "price worth paying"?
Will my right hon. Friend confirm that a review is to be undertaken of the use by the security and intelligence agencies of informants and other sources? When he receives that final report, will he bear in mind the fact that the security intelligence agencies rely on the use of informants, and the intelligence that they receive will never be any good unless a measure of protection can be granted to those sources?
Is the Prime Minister proud of the fact that since the Government came into office in 1979 nearly 2·5 million full-time jobs in manufacturing have been lost, 34 jobs for every hour this wretched Government have been in office? In view of the devastation, the unemployment and the misery caused to our people, is it any wonder that the Prime Minister is so reluctant to hold the general election?
The hon. Gentleman is joining the Opposition trend of seeking to talk down what manufacturing and other industries are doing. He should remember that export volumes of manufactured goods grew faster than in the United States throughout the 1980s, that manufacturing grew faster than in France or Italy during the 1980s, and that Britain exports a larger proportion of its national product than Japan, a point recognised by even the Scottish National party.
Will my right hon. Friend join me in sending congratulations to a Yorkshire manufacturing company, Spring Ram plc, which at the end of the month will open two new factories in my constituency, creating 400 new jobs, which is at present building two new factories in Barnsley which will create 400 new jobs, and which has a plan to create 1,100 new jobs in Bradford over the next four years?
I am delighted to send my congratulations to my hon. Friend's constituents. There are, of course, many other companies up and down the country which are similarly investing and growing, and laying the foundation for prosperity in the 1990s.
Can the Prime Minister tell the House how he squares his vision of a classless Britain with the experience of a constituent of mine from Fulwood, who was told last May that she needed a hip replacement but that she would have to wait 14 months for the operation under the national health service, and who was told that she could have had the operation immediately had she been able to cough up £4,300?
There were no hip replacements available just a few years ago. It is now a relatively routine operation available in the national health service. Hip replacements are becoming more widely available month after month. That is the direction in which we must go to provide the best health service, the best opportunities and the best element of the classless society that I have talked about.
Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the last thing that business needs is for business rates to be brought back under the control of uncapped, loony Labour authorities who will send rates sky rocketing, as they did during the early 1980s? Will he give the House a pledge that such a crazy proposal will never be included in a manifesto issued by the Conservative party?
I can give my hon. Friend that undertaking. It is well known to every hon. Member that under the old system, councils could put up rates by more than the rate of inflation. They did and, among other evils, they forced many jobs out of inner city areas by doing so. Those who doubt that might remember the rate rise of Labour-controlled Ealing council of 57 per cent. in 1987. They might also recollect the wriggling of the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould) on television the other day on precisely that problem. It would be a problem, he said. It would be a problem not just for the Labour party but for business men up and down the country.
Since the Government have supported independence in Russia, Lithuania and other parts of the world, when the people of Scotland democratically and peacefully vote for independence, what will the Government say to them?
This Union has served both Scotland and England well, and I would not wish to see it undermined. The proposals of the Labour party, the Liberal Democratic party and the Scottish National party would undermine that relationship that has served us so well in the Union. Devolution is not just a matter for Scotland; it is a matter for the whole United Kingdom. If an Assembly were given tax-raising powers, how would that fit in with the other fiscal arrangements? What would the increased taxation do to prosperity in Scotland? The hon. Gentleman should put a fair proposal before the Scottish people, not the half-baked one that he has made.
Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the Government will continue as the party of denationalisation, and confirm to the electorate of York that the Conservative party will not take away the shares of those who have invested in Northern Electric, British Telecom and other such denationalised companies?
I can give that assurance to my hon. Friend. The denationalisation programme has been good not only for the consumer, but for share owning and the improvement of both investment and wealth in this country. We believe in those propositions and we shall continue to support them.
I am sure that the Prime Minister will have enjoyed reading the Western Mail last Saturday, where he will have seen the results of a telephone survey showing that the people of Wales now support the setting up of a Welsh Parliament by a margin of four to one. When will the Prime Minister acknowledge that the aspirations of the Welsh and Scottish people cannot be sidelined for ever, and when will Parliament act?
I seem to recall that there was a referendum once before on devolution in Wales when there appeared to be a majority in favour. But the reality was that the referendum showed that there was no majority, and the people of Wales recognised that it would be in the best interests of their country and the United Kingdom to sustain the present arrangements.