Opposition Day — [15th Allotted Day] — Trade, Exports, Innovation and Productivity

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:01 pm on 13th January 2016.

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Photo of Stewart Hosie Stewart Hosie SNP Deputy Leader, Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Economy), Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party 1:01 pm, 13th January 2016

I will not give way at the moment, because I have been quite generous. I will make a little progress, and then I will be happy to do so.

I was talking about exports. Let us remember what the Chancellor said in his Budget speech in 2012. He acknowledged the UK’s falling share of world exports, but still said that

“we want to double our nation’s exports to £1 trillion this decade.”—[Hansard, 21 March 2012; Vol. 542, c. 797.]

Total export sales in 2013 were £521 billion, which was a reasonable start, but that fell to £513 billion in 2014. The numbers are moving in the wrong direction; yet the Chancellor and this Government still expect us to believe that exports could in effect double over this Parliament. The OBR’s most recent forecast suggests that they will miss that target by about £350 billion, so the target set is simply unachievable.

That is not an abstract political or obscure economic point. The jobs of real people depend on a thriving and growing manufacturing export market. The hopes and aspirations of people in Scotland and throughout the UK for a real rebalanced economy depend on the rhetoric and pipedreams of an out-of-touch Chancellor. However, that was not the start and end of the Chancellor and the Government’s rhetoric on exports. They described how they wanted to

“make the UK the best place in Europe to start…and grow a business; encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy”.

The Chancellor said:

“So this is our plan for growth. We want the words ‘Made in Britain’, ‘Created in Britain’, ‘Designed in Britain’ and ‘Invented in Britain’ to drive our nation forward—a Britain carried aloft by the march of the makers.”—[Hansard, 23 March 2011; Vol. 525, c. 966.]

They were powerful words, but, given the reality, no more than rather empty rhetoric.