But will not 1996 be the 11th consecutive year in which the balance of payments current account has been in deficit? The Treasury forecasts an even wider deficit in the next two years, giving Britain the longest run of balance of payments deficits for 130 years. Are the Government proud of that record?
The current account balance was strong in 1985–87, was weak in 1989–90, and is strong again now. As I have said before, there have been only six years since 1946 in which there was a surplus in visible trade: 1956, 1958, 1971, 1980, 1981 and 1982. All those were years in which there was a Conservative Government.
Does my hon. Friend agree that a factor of great importance to British exporters is the value of the British pound? If the pound becomes too strong, it will be much more difficult for British exporters to win in foreign markets. Is there not a case, perhaps, for cutting interest rates to reduce the value of the pound?