The hon. Member for Wrexham (Dr. Marek) exemplifies the old-fashioned failed politics of envy. Let us get back to the real issues of a strong Budget which will create jobs, cut unemployment and prioritise the expenditure of taxpayers' money on the national health service, the education system and law and order.
I was delighted with the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget, delivered this afternoon, and its stress on increasing resources for what the electors want: a strengthened health service, better resources for law and order and improved education facilities. I was particularly pleased that my right hon. and learned Friend drew attention to the underlying strength of the economy, which has allowed him to increase spending on those three priorities.
The figures show that British exports have grown by 8 per cent. and investment has grown by 5 per cent., while consumer demand has grown by only 2 or 3 per cent. It is particularly important to note that underlying inflation has fallen to its lowest level for a generation and that that strength has ensured a continuing fall in the level of unemployment— a decrease of 450,000 since December 1992. I have no doubt that our continuing economic strength over the next few years will mean that people will no longer need to look over their shoulders in fear of losing their jobs and that the feel-good factor will be restored to the economy.
As my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor said, we are the only country in western Europe in which unemployment has fallen in the past year. At the same time, according to the national employment survey, the number of people in employment has increased by 226,000.
My right hon. and learned Friend is correct to ensure that the Budget strategy continues to concentrate on keeping down the rate of inflation. We all remember the terrible economic disasters perpetrated by the last Labour Government. It is no use Labour Members trying to rewrite history and blame the oil crisis of the mid-1970s for their manifold sins and wickednesses. Trade union militancy destroyed the British manufacturing industry and it was Mrs. Thatcher's trade union reforms of the 1980s which secured our present record levels of manufacturing output. We shall maintain those reforms, and we have won the battle of ideas to such an extent that the Labour party now says that it will not try to reverse them. The measures are crucial to the Chancellor's continuing sensible economic management system.