Debate on the Address

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:35 pm on 16th November 1994.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr John Major Mr John Major , Huntingdon 3:35 pm, 16th November 1994

I shall give way later.

As for growth, output is currently increasing at more than 3.5 per cent., and we are forecast to have the fastest growth among the main economies in the European Union this year and next.

The problem for the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, the hon. Member for Dunfermline, East, is that his every forecast turns out to be wrong—not some of them, but all of them. The laws of statistics and probability are suspended for the hon. Gentleman. If any hon. Members wish to win the lottery that we have established, they should ask the hon. Gentleman for numbers that are certain to lose, and their fortune will be guaranteed.

I do not wish to be unfair to the hon. Member for Dunfermline, East. He is by no means the only misery merchant on the Opposition Front Bench who is seeking to spread despondency. The hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook), who is enjoying an agreeable chat with the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett), was a trainee misery. He spoke of "big concerns" about how long the recovery would last. He did at least have the honesty to admit that there was a recovery. He spoke of big concerns about how long the recovery could be sustained before it led to a balance of payments crisis. As it happens, the trade balance is narrowing as output grows, and the hon. Gentleman was wrong.

The hon. Gentleman has heavyweight company. The new deputy leader of the Labour party, the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott), was in the gloom stakes as well. [Interruption.] Yes, he was. He is smiling now, probably because he knows that I am going to remind him that he said I don't see much inward investment flooding in, but I see companies flooding out. I do not know what country the right hon. Gentleman was in when he said that, because it certainly does not apply to this country. The only things that are flooding out are exports, at record levels.

The right hon. Gentleman also seems to have missed the inward investment. Last year, this country attracted 40 per cent. of the total inward investment from the United States and Japan that was made in the European Union. Black and Decker, for example, moved a production line to Britain from Germany—not even from the United States or Japan. Why? Because, in the words of one of its workers, Industry is flexible and the social chapter isn't. Where is the Black and Decker factory? In a place called Spennymoor, bang in the middle of the constituency of the right hon. Member for Sedgefield.

The deputy leader of the Labour party should ask his right hon. Friend whether he has seen any inward investment flooding into this country—or he could ask the hon. Member for Livingston. NEC is investing hundreds of millions of pounds to create hundreds of jobs in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. I could have mentioned that Samsung is creating more than 3,000 jobs, that Fujitsu is creating 1,600 or that Asat is creating 1,000. Up and down the land, there has been a vote of confidence from external investors in this country's future, and in this Government's management of the economy.