It is Export Week, and I can announce that UK Export Finance has provided more than £15 billion of support to exporters since 2010 and UK Trade & Investment has more than doubled the number of businesses that it helps to more than 54,000.
UK industrial production and manufacturing output suffered sharp falls in February, and they remain well below 2008 levels. Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics reported that house prices in London have reached an average of £524,000, which is 49% higher than their pre-recession peak and out of the reach of all but those who are on six-figure salaries or who have benefited from a trust fund inheritance. When will my constituents see the Britain held aloft by the march of the makers, and the economy rebalanced towards the north of England, as the Chancellor promised?
I encourage the hon. Lady to seek an Adjournment debate to elaborate further on her question. I am sure that she and her constituents will welcome the fact that employment in the north-west is at the highest level on record; that more than 89,000 businesses in the north-west will not pay business rates; and that 360,000 people in the north-west will now benefit from the living wage.
British exports to China have more than doubled since 2010, led by Havant-based manufacturers such as Colt and Lewmar. Will the Minister join me in congratulating those businesses, and will she encourage others to follow their lead by supporting and maintaining the Government’s pro-export policies?
It is wonderful to hear during Export Week about Colt and Lewmar, and their fantastic work exporting overseas. It is a key priority of the Government to continue to encourage more firms to export. In fact, we have ambitious aims to have another 100,000 businesses exporting over the life of this Parliament.
The current account deficit is at a post-war high of more than 5% of GDP, and 44% of our exports go to the European Union. It took Canada seven years to negotiate a free trade agreement with the European Union. Does the Minister agree that the last thing that exporters need, and the last thing that the one in 10 jobs that depend on our exports to the EU need, is the uncertainty that the referendum is bringing—and, indeed, that Brexit would bring—to them and to those jobs?
The last time I looked, I thought it was also Labour policy to have such a referendum, but I agree with the hon. Lady that it is very important that she and others get out the message about the value of exports and the importance for manufacturing of the UK’s membership of the single market. That is why I shall vote in the same way as her on