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Government Economic and Social Policy

Part of Orders of the Day — Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 4:33 pm on 9th June 1993.

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Photo of Mr John Major Mr John Major , Huntingdon 4:33 pm, 9th June 1993

I beg to move, to leave out from 'House' to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof 'welcomes the widespread indications of economic recovery in the United Kingdom at a time when many other major economies are in deepening recession; recognises that the interests of industry are at the heart of the Government's policy and acknowledges the comprehensive programme of training and employment opportunities for unemployed people that the Government has put in place; welcomes the Government's commitment to its Manifesto pledges including its commitment to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public services through the Citizen's Charter; deplores the scare-mongering stories about public spending peddled by the Opposition; and applauds the Government for its determination to maintain low inflation, sound public finances and firm control over total public expenditure upon which a sustainable economic recovery depends.'. As the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) sits down, I have little doubt what is in his mind: "That'll keep John Edmonds quiet for a week or so."

Before I turn to the substance of the debate, I wish to say a word or two to my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Thames (Mr. Lamont) regarding his remarks at the commencement of today's debate. In his speech, my right hon. Friend spoke of a number of matters of very great importance, including the case that we have discussed on many occasions over the past two years for an independent central bank.

I share my right hon. Friend's loathing of inflation. That is an issue that we discussed frequently. We both saw the case for an independent central bank, able to take decisions on the implementation of monetary policy. There is a genuine case for that. I do not dissent from my right hon. Friend's remarks about it.

The very real concern that I have always faced is one that I believe is spread widely across the House: the need for accountability to Parliament for decisions on monetary policy matters. Were a way to be found to get the benefits of an independent central bank without the loss of parliamentary accountability, my views would be very close to those of my right hon. Friend, but I have to say to my right hon. Friend—I believe, from our many discussions, that it is a view he shares—that what is more important than the institutional arrangements is the underlying policy that is actually being followed. On that, I do not believe that an independent central bank would have brought down inflation any more rapidly than we have been able to achieve. [Interruption.] That is something for which I am happy to pay tribute to my right hon. Friend.

Also, I entirely share my right hon. Friend's vision of the economic goals of this Government— [Interruption.] —and of the difficult path that we have had to follow to achieve and maintain low inflation and restore sustainable growth—[Interruption.]—and employment. My right hon. Friend and I—[Interruption.]