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Mr. Newton: I shall readily remind the hon. Gentleman of what occurred. The exchange was as follows:

" Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover): He is a retread.

Mr. Dunn: I heard a pip squeak."--[ Official Report , 16 November 1994; Vol. 250, c. 8.]

That is one of those exchanges which I believe deserves to be taken out of Hansard and framed.

In due course, some of the remarks of the hon. Member for Dunfermline, East (Mr. Brown) in relation to education reforms and what the hon. Member for Dewsbury said about the citizens charter might be taken out of Hansard and framed. To be told by the hon. Gentleman that our education reforms have failed, when the Labour Front-Bench spokesman has just announced the Opposition's conversion to a major part of them, and to be told by the hon. Lady that the citizens charter has failed, when education league tables were a key feature of it, practically beggars belief.

Mrs. Ann Taylor: Will the Leader of the House explain why the Secretary of State for Education has dropped league tables for seven, 11 and 14-year-olds and has now said that crude examination league tables at the age of 16 are not useful?

Mr. Newton: That is plain smokescreen stuff. As with almost every previous education reform, the Labour party has spent two or three years denouncing the present reform and has then announced its conversion to it. That has happened this week and the hon. Lady will not divert attention from it.

I wish to pay tribute to a number of speeches in today's debate by Front and Back-Bench Members on both sides of the House. The right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr. Molyneaux) made a speech of impressive dignity and thoughtfulness and paid a generous tribute to the Prime Minister. He drew attention to possibly the most encouraging and important single change since the previous Queen's Speech, which is the new hope of a better future in Northern Ireland, including the hope of a better economic future there.

The speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath) was characteristically wide ranging and went well beyond our narrow domestic concerns. He rightly gave my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer the credit that he deserves for the substantial improvement in our economy since the equivalent debate a year ago.

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Unlike his leader, the hon. Member for Dunfermline, East appears unwilling to acknowledge that an improvement has taken place. The Leader of the Opposition said:

"There is recovery and growth, and inflation is low. We welcome that."-- [ Official Report , 16 November 1994; Vol. 250, c. 20.] That is another extract from Hansard which could be taken out and framed because it is the first time that the Opposition have acknowledged those very facts. Whether the hon. Member for Dunfermline, East is willing to recognise them, let alone welcome them, they are manifestly the reality.

As my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer reminded us, unemployment is down by nearly 500,000, growth is making us the fastest growing economy in Europe, both this year and next, and underlying inflation is at its lowest for a quarter of a century. As the recovery proceeds, one by one the sound bites of the hon. Member for Dunfermline, East turn round and bite him back. We were told that unemployment would rise and it has not; we were told that we would see a widening trade gap and we have not; we were told that we could not break "stop-go", yet it is steadily becoming clearer and clearer that the economy is now better placed to do just that than at any time in the political lifetime of most of us in the Chamber today.

If Opposition Members do not wish to look at the statistics, they have only to look at the action of overseas manufacturing investors as they vote with their feet to come and do business in Britain. Samsung is only the latest and largest example of a trend which, last year, brought 40 per cent. of all US and Japanese investment in Europe to the United Kingdom. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in his speech at the outset, it has even brought Black and Decker to the constituency of the Leader of the Opposition. I shall say this to the House and, not least, to the Opposition, because it picks up the key themes of the Speech on which we are concluding our debate and links back to what I said earlier: those firms would not have come to the Britain of the late 1970s, with its chaotic industrial relations, loss-making nationalised industries, and exchange and import controls extolled in Labour speeches in debates 15 years ago.

At the end of the 1970s under the last Labour Government, those firms-- Toyota, Nissan, Fujitsu, Samsung and many others--would not have touched Britain with a bargepole. Moreover, they would not continue to come to Britain under the policies that Labour is extolling today: a minimum wage; a social chapter; and a persistent and insistent intervention in industry. Those companies are here, and those companies will stay, because of the policies which we have pursued and which the Gracious Speech carries forward in a wide-ranging programme of further improvements to the competitiveness of our economy and modernisations to our welfare state.

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That programme meets the country's needs, will obtain the support of the House today and will build further on the economic record that is clear for all to see.

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The House divided: Ayes 266, Noes 312.

Division No. 2] [22.00 pm


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Abbott, Ms Diane

Adams, Mrs Irene

Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)

Allen, Graham

Alton, David

Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)

Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)

Armstrong, Hilary

Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy

Ashton, Joe

Austin-Walker, John

Banks, Tony (Newham NW)

Barnes, Harry

Barron, Kevin

Battle, John

Bayley, Hugh

Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret

Beith, Rt Hon A J

Bell, Stuart

Benn, Rt Hon Tony

Bennett, Andrew F

Bermingham, Gerald

Berry, Roger

Betts, Clive

Blair, Rt Hon Tony

Blunkett, David

Boateng, Paul

Bradley, Keith

Bray, Dr Jeremy

Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)

Brown, N (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)

Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)

Burden, Richard

Byers, Stephen

Caborn, Richard

Callaghan, Jim

Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)

Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)

Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)

Campbell-Savours, D. N.

Canavan, Dennis

Cann, Jamie

Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)

Chidgey, David

Chisholm, Malcolm

Church, Judith

Clapham, Michael

Clark, Dr David (South Shields)

Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)

Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)

Clelland, David

Clwyd, Mrs Ann

Coffey, Ann

Cohen, Harry

Connarty, Michael

Cook, Frank (Stockton N)

Cook, Robin (Livingston)

Corbett, Robin

Corbyn, Jeremy

Corston, Jean

Cousins, Jim

Cox, Tom

Cunliffe, Lawrence

Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)

Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John

Dafis, Cynog

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Darling, Alistair

Davidson, Ian

Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)

Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)

Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)

Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)

Denham, John

Dewar, Donald

Dixon, Don

Dobson, Frank

Dowd, Jim

Dunnachie, Jimmy

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eastham, Ken

Enright, Derek

Etherington, Bill

Evans, John (St Helens N)

Ewing, Mrs Margaret

Field, Frank (Birkenhead)

Fisher, Mark

Foster, Don (Bath)

Foulkes, George

Fraser, John

Fyfe, Maria

Galbraith, Sam

Gapes, Mike

Garrett, John

George, Bruce

Gerrard, Neil

Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John

Godman, Dr Norman A

Godsiff, Roger

Golding, Mrs Llin

Gordon, Mildred

Graham, Thomas

Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)

Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)

Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)

Grocott, Bruce

Gunnell, John

Hain, Peter

Hall, Mike

Hanson, David

Harvey, Nick

Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy

Henderson, Doug

Heppell, John

Hinchliffe, David

Hodge, Margaret

Hoey, Kate

Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)

Home Robertson, John

Hoon, Geoffrey

Howarth, George (Knowsley N)

Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)

Hoyle, Doug

Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)

Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)

Hughes, Roy (Newport E)

Hughes, Simon (Southwark)

Hutton, John

Illsley, Eric

Ingram, Adam

Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)

Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)

Jamieson, David

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