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Confederation Of British Industry

Volume 20: debated on Tuesday 16 March 1982

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5.

asked the Prime Minister when she next intends to meet the Confederation of British Industry.

When the Prime Minister meets the CBI, will she confirm that built into the Budget strategy is an increase in unemployment, especially youth unemployment, in the coming year?

That is not part of the Budget strategy. If the hon. Gentleman studies the forecast for the whole of Europe and for the OECD countries, he will find that there are forecasts of increasing unemployment across Europe and the OECD countries. Some of the forecasts were made before the recent fall in the price of oil, which one hopes will help to give a boost to international trade. I remind the hon. Gentleman that the CBI was warm in its praise of my right hon. and learned Friend's Budget.

As rates are a major problem for British industry these days, will my right hon. Friend encourage the CBI to co-operate with local authorities in expanding privatisation, which in Southend has resulted in the borough reducing its rate last year and having no increase this year?

Yes, I shall certainly do so. I know that Southend enjoys most effective facilities, which are operated privately, at a considerably lower cost than was the case when they were operated by the local authority. Similar steps are now being taken in Eastbourne, which also expects to save a great deal of money, and in Wandsworth. They are all delighted with the results that they are seeing and I hope that more and more local authorities will do this for the benefit of their ratepayers and local industries.

Does the Prime Minister recognise that in areas in which community policing has been tried it has proved to be a far more effective way of bringing down the crime rate? [Interruption.] In those circumstances—

Order. This is not an open question. This question relates to the CBI. I shall call one more hon. Member.

When the Prime Minister next meets the CBI, will she discuss the possibility that companies that suffer economic difficulties because their products are harmful to health could show greater responsibility by following the example of Imperial Tobacco, which is diversifying by putting the majority of its capital into products other than cigarettes?

Yes. There was a time when diversification was all the fashion. A number of companies then found that they were not expert in the acquisitions that they made and so it ceased to be so much the fashion. I accept the underlying point that companies with a loyal work force should try to find work for that loyal work force by producing other goods for which there is a good market.