Orders of the Day — Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:16 pm on 30th November 1995.

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Photo of Mr James Cran Mr James Cran , Beverley 8:16 pm, 30th November 1995

I am corrected, and I am happy to be so. What did that do for the competitiveness of British industry and individual companies? It completely destroyed the former, and it destroyed the prospects of many good companies. Therefore, the Chancellor is absolutely correct to bear down on inflation.

The Chancellor was equally correct not to impose a windfall tax. In that regard, I do not understand why the Opposition do not understand why a windfall tax would not be beneficial to the British economy. It would be beneficial to the extent that a Labour Government would use the proceeds in some way for one year, but what signal does that send out to inward investing companies? I venture to suggest that they would be less interested in coming to the United Kingdom than has heretofore been the case, when I believe—I am open to being corrected—that more than half the inward investment of the European Union has come to the United Kingdom. I am also delighted to notice what my Government have done on uniform business rates.

I have referred to the tepid—it is tepid—judgment of the CBI. I can therefore throw that away. However, I read in the Financial Times that the chief executive of Asda Group, Mr. Archie Norman, said: We are delighted. It is a bullseye. That was not mentioned by the right hon. Member for Derby, South, was it? Sir David Simpson, chairman of British Petroleum, said: It is good to see that the Government intends to continue reducing its spend as a proportion of GDP and that it has reaffirmed its aim to balance the Budget"— and so on. He is obviously delighted.

Sir John Banham, a former director-general of the CBI, and chairman of Tarmac, says: The Chancellor is on the right track and the measures he has put in place provide the best prospects for the UK building industry. The right hon. Lady should have balanced her remarks by telling us about that.

What does the City say? He's taken the prudent path says the head of bond research from Yamaichi international bank. I could go on, but I know that other hon. Members wish to speak. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I shall therefore bring my remarks to a close—reluctantly, because I should like to say an awful lot more on that subject. However, I hope that my colleagues will allow me to ask one question. After 16 years of Conservative Governments, one would suppose that the United Kingdom was in tatters. Why, therefore, is it the case that the City of London—I just happened to pick up a document at random the other day—appears to go from strength to strength? It should not he so, if the Opposition's comments are justified.

What do I read? London is the world's largest international insurance market"— not the second or third, but the largest— with net premium income of £9.9 billion … There are over 540 foreign banks in London". Would they come if the UK was as the Opposition portray it to be? Of course they would not. Moreover, The London foreign exchange market is the largest in the world, with a daily turnover of $464 billion—more than the turnover of New York and Tokyo combined. I know that other hon. Members wish to speak, but they will, I know, allow me to say that London is the world's second largest fund management centre, after Tokyo, with more than $750 billion of institutional equity holdings.

I might go on and on, but I cannot. By public demand—I should say by popular demand of my colleagues—I shall sit down. I simply finish by saying, it is a rattling and a damned good Budget. It has the whole-hearted support of Conservative Members and I fear that the Opposition will live to regret what they said before the Budget. If I remember rightly, they said that it would be a giveaway and would be recognised by the British people as such. It was no such thing; and just wait for the next one.