asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received about the Budget.
The proposals in my Budget have been widely welcomed.
Is the Chancellor aware that there has been little evidence of any improvement, or potential improvement, of the economy of the northern region as a result of the Budget proposals, that there is little evidence of the standard of living being improved there, and that, in fact, wage levels there are decreasing and the north-south divide is becoming even more evident since the Budget proposals? What is he prepared to do about it?
I am glad to be able to inform the hon. Gentleman that he is misinformed. The most recent report from the Association of British Chambers of Commerce made a particular point of saying how big an improvement there has been in the prosperity of business and industry in the north of England. The whole point of the policies that we are pursuing is that they benefit the whole country.
May I say to my right hon. Friend that the Budget has been welcomed by the people of Harlow because, thanks to the success of the Government's economic policies, Harlow is now a boom town with one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the south of England. Does he not find it ironic that the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) had the nerve to come to my constituency and unveil a plan — after lunch — for a thousand new jobs to be created, the majority of which would have been created by the local authority, which is Labour-controlled and is crippling my local industry?
I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate my hon. Frend on the manful efforts that he has made throughout the time that he has represented his constituency — which will ensure his continued representation of that constituency — against the activities of the local council, which have been consistently anti-business and anti-industry, as, indeed, have so many Labour councils up and down the country.