Manufacturing Industry

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th March 1999.

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Photo of Stephen Byers Stephen Byers Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry 12:00 am, 25th March 1999

I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that we will not lose 1 million manufacturing jobs, as happened under his party's Government in the early 1990s.

If the right hon. Gentleman wants to talk about the value of sterling, he should reflect on the fact that, in the last 12 months of the Conservative Government—between May 1996 and May 1997—the value of sterling rose by nearly 20 per cent. That is the difficulty that the present Government face.

The right hon. Gentleman has form, of course: he was a Minister in the Department of Trade and Industry with responsibility for companies. In 1989, when he took office, there were 21,000 insolvencies; but then the Redwood magic began to work. In the following year, there were 33,000 insolvencies. In 1991 there were 55,000, and in 1992, when the right hon. Gentleman departed from the DTI—thankfully—there were 69,000. That is the right hon. Gentleman's record, and it is one that we do not intend to repeat.