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Volume 404: debated on Thursday 8 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment his Department has made of whether in the (a) short, (b) medium and (c) long term the recent falls in equity performance will lead to consumers buying cash investments instead of equity investments. [111443]

I have been asked to reply.Recent declines in equity prices have seen a fall in retail purchases of equity investments. The declines in equity prices should be viewed in the context of the historically higher return on equities over the longer term compared to other mainstream investments. Over time, stock market performance is likely to reflect the underlying performance of the economy. The fundamental drivers of a successful economy—high employment, low inflation and low interest rates—are in place.