First Day

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 4:03 pm on 6th May 1992.

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Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown Leader of the Liberal Democrats 4:03 pm, 6th May 1992

I will come to that in a moment.

The recent decline in inflation, culminating in yesterday's desperately needed interest rate reduction, is welcome, even if the process of gettitng there has cost the country so much in jobs, in business failures and in personal misery. If all that pain is not to be wasted, we need policies for sustained low inflation and stable low interest rates. That requires three actions: first, and most immediately, a move to the narrow band of the European monetary system; secondly, a commitment to establish the operational independence of the Bank of England; and, thirdly, ditching the unnecessary and damaging opt-out clause on our entry into the European monetary union. I see no commitment to any of those actions in the Government's programme. Unless the Prime Minister and the Government make those changes, Britain will be condemned in the years ahead, even if there is a recovery now, to plunge once again around the back-breaking cycle of boom and bust which we have experienced twice under this Government—once under the Prime Minister's premiership and chancellorship.

I also see no commitment to the steps that are needed massively to increase competition in our economy, further to stimulate enterprise, to create greater flexibility in the labour market or to give employees a greater stake in the firms for which they work.