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Volume 29: debated on Thursday 28 October 1982

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is satisfied with the effect of his economic policies upon the level of imports.

The level of imports depends upon the ability of United Kingdom industry to compete effectively in the domestic market. The 12 per cent. improvement in productivity since the end of 1980 shows that some progress has been made but the recent growth in imports shows that further progress is needed. At a time when other countries are managing to hold down the increases in their unit costs it is even more important that we make further progress in moderating the level of pay settlements to improve our competitive position.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what extent he takes account of the level of imports of manufactured and semi-manufactured goods in the development of his economic policies.

Improving our trading performance is, of course, of major importance in the development of our economic policies. I am concerned both about the rising level of imports into the United Kingdom and about increasing our exports. Reduced import penetration and improved export performance both hinge on keener price competition which, in turn, depends crucially on keeping our costs down relative to other countries. The most important element in our industry's costs is pay and it is essential that lower pay increases are achieved in this pay round compared with the last.