The Economy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:51 pm on 12th March 1993.

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Photo of Nick Brown Nick Brown Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons 1:51 pm, 12th March 1993

The hon. Gentleman is trying to apply to me a test that the Minister and other Conservative Members who took part in the debate would not accept for themselves. When they were asked about the periods that they accepted for the statistics that they used in the debate, they would say that a fair starting point was 1985 or 1981. If one examines closely the record of the last Labour Government and makes allowances for the disastrous overhang that they inherited from the Anthony Barber boom regime which preceded them and for the oil crisis, it is fair to conclude that unemployment was being reduced as they left office to just below 1 million.

We all know that there was a disastrous upturn when the nature of the Government changed in 1979. The Labour party and the last Labour Government can take some pride in their record on employment, but the Conservative party can take no pride on that issue. Indeed, it seems to be the Conservative view that it should not be an issue for government at all, except as an aspect of policy on inflation. It is noticeable that when the Conservative Government claim to have inflation under control we have massive unemployment and, when they begin to think that they should do something about unemployment, inflation starts to go up again. That has been a persistent problem for the Conservative party in government and I have yet to hear a convincing response from Conservative Members on that issue.