The United Kingdom and Ireland are estimated to be the only EC economies where industrial production rose last year. Both the Organisaton for Economic Co-operation and Development and the European Commission are forecasting that the United Kingdom will be the fastest growing major EC economy in 1994 and 1995.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that these excellent forecasts demonstrate that many British companies are thriving in the economic framework that the Government have put in place, particularly low interest rates, low inflation, low corporation tax and the important supply side performance of the past 15 years? Is not this the best way to promote industrial growth—for the Government to put in place the right framework and let industry get on with it?
My hon. Friend makes an important point. We believe that the present framework is one of the most exciting to have been available to British industry in recent decades. We give a wide range of additional support to our companies in many different sectors and will continue to ensure to the best of our ability that the services that we provide are of the highest standard.
Does the right hon. Gentleman expect more sales of the airbus to the United States? When will the general agreement on tariffs and trade on outstanding aerospace matters begin? Will he pledge that the Government will fight the corner for that great industry?
The hon. Gentleman will understand that we will do all that we can properly do to support that industry. The negotiations that were left outstanding at the initial conclusion of the GATT round are scheduled to be completed as early as practicable. We shall continue to watch carefully to see what happens. I do not wish to make a forecast about the precise sales, which must be a matter for the companies involved.