Orders of the Day — Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:47 pm on 27th November 1996.

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Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West 5:47 pm, 27th November 1996

—as my hon. Friend says, there always are—as to why we should be careful not to over-interpret those figures. But my right hon. and learned Friend will take the necessary action, in time, to hit his inflation target. That is the proper guarantee to give in relation to monetary policy.

On trade, the right hon. Member for Dunfermline, East knows that, as a result of British industry's hugely improved performance in the 1980s and 1990s, the sustained growth that we are getting is not running us into a balance of payments crisis, as so often before.

During the past three years, export volumes have risen by 30 per cent., and income from overseas investment is running at record levels. The results are seen not only in industries where we have always been strong, such as service industries, chemicals and aircraft, but in areas that are new for Britain, or new in modern times for Britain. We are now Europe's biggest exporter of computers, televisions and microchips, and car exports have risen by nearly a third in the last year alone. Our overall trading performance is the best for nearly a decade, with the current account improving to the point of being nearly in balance after five years of steady growth.

We have had further good news today. Figures released this morning provide further confirmation of the good trade performance. They show a trade deficit on a narrowing trend with continuing strong growth in exports in quarter three of 3 per cent. over quarter two, and 7.5 per cent. up over a year before.