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Government Economic and Social Policy

Part of Orders of the Day — Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 7:40 pm on 9th June 1993.

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Photo of James Clappison James Clappison , Hertsmere 7:40 pm, 9th June 1993

I am glad to see that the hon. Gentleman agrees. That is the first time today that real commitment has been given to growth. The leader of the Opposition made a speech which, although it involved great ritual, did not set out Labour's alternative strategy for growth satisfactorily. We heard little about what the Labour party has set forward as its policies for growth.

Where are those policies? The minimum wage, the centrepiece of the Labour party's main policies, is one of the few policies not discarded since the election. The hon. Member for Oxford, East (Mr. Smith) looks less interested now. Does he think that that policy is more or less likely to promote growth? More important, what do business men, who are more reliable witnesses, think? Can the hon. Gentleman find many business men who support his contention that the minimum wage would improve job prospects and growth?

I can tell the hon. Member for Oxford, East that business men in my constituency are not exactly dancing with glee at the prospect of a minimum wage, nor are they dancing with glee at the prospect of being signed up for the social chapter. That does not lead business men to have any joy in my constituency—nor, I suspect, would it induce international investors to queue up for an aeroplane ticket to london rather than to Frankfurt or Paris.

We could also do with less talk about sweatshops. There should be less of that derisive talk. That expression was used again this afternoon by the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East. It does this country no good whatever to hear that sort of talk. What is important is for the competitive advantages of this country to be sold abroad as effectively as possible and not to be talked about in terms of sweatshops. Thousands of constituents of hon. Members on both sides of the House are benefiting from that internationally competitive position, attracting inward investment into this country.