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Manufacturing Industry

Volume 990: debated on Monday 4 August 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry what was the index of production in manufacturing industry in the most recent month for which figures are available; and what was the figure in the same month in 1974.

The index for manufacturing stood at 97·2 in May 1980. In May 1974 it was 109·2.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the figures that he has quoted show a most unsatisfactory trend? What steps are the Government taking to ensure that demand for the products of manufacturing industry rise, so that output will rise as well?

My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to this problem. It is one that the Government recognise, but it cannot be divorced from the world recession. As regards Government activity, there are a number of aspects on which the Government have made it plain that they can help at the present time; for example, on the question of enlightened public purchasing, their attitude to research and development, and over a whole range of issues, where constructive policies are in hand.

As my hon. Friend has mentioned Government public purchasing, will he confirm that there is a better than even chance that ICL will be awarded the contract for the Inland Revenue computer?

That is an interesting question, but it goes wider than the original question.

In the light of the Minister's reply, will he take time to consult his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State about his extraordinary ideas on the relationship between moonlighting and entrepreneurial endeavour?

I do not know what the hon. Gentleman has up his sleeve. On his basic argument, he must recognise that these matters should be examined in a wider international context.