To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the present level of interest rates.
Bank base rates are 8 per cent.
As exports and the balance of payments continue to attract concern, why has the Chancellor been so reluctant to ease interest rates? There can be few hon. Members on either side who have not received appeals from local industry in recent months.
Interest rates are at a level which keeps monetary policy bearing down on inflation. That is our first priority. But it is clear from the buoyancy of business and business intentions that investment intentions are strong. As I mentioned earlier, investment is projected to grow by 9 per cent. in the coming year and manufacturing investment by 11·5 per cent.