To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the latest figures for the level of industrial and commercial profitability.
The net rate of return of non-North Sea industrial and commercial companies was 8·9 per cent. in 1986—higher than in any year since 1973. 1987 is likely to see a further rise.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the continued confidence of industry and commerce about future prospects contrasts with the forecasts of gloom and doom due in the autumn that we heard from Opposition spokesmen last May and June? Is not the major achievement of the Government the very changed attitude that now exists to company profitability?
My hon. Friend is right, and what he says is borne out by the CBI survey, which shows strong growth in manufacturing investment and manufacturing production. Opposition Members say those words because they know of no others, even if they have no correspondence with reality whatsoever.