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Mr. Bercow: Will the hon. Gentleman give way, on that point?

Mr. MacShane: On that point, yes.

Mr. Bercow: The hon. Gentleman, who has been present throughout the debate, will know that I have twice asked a simple question, to which I have not received an answer. He has a well-deserved reputation for clarity and consistency, and also for being strongly in favour of a single currency. If, as Dr. Tietmeyer believes, the single currency involves the cession of sovereignty over direct taxation policies, is that objectionable or acceptable to the hon. Gentleman?

Mr. MacShane: If the hon. Gentleman sends me the quotation from the good Professor Tietmeyer--

Mr. Bercow: Doctor.

Mr. MacShane: All professors are doctors in Germany. It is not possible to get such a job without a doctorate.

If the hon. Gentleman sends me the quotation from the good Professor Herr Doktor Tietmeyer in the original, I will check it and send him a reply in English, if that would be helpful.

What, then, needs to be done to secure the stability that was the primary demand of the employers in manufacturing and other sectors to whom I spoke in Rotherham? I believe that the Chancellor was right to set up the Monetary Policy Committee, and I said so before the election. I think it remarkable that our country did not adopt such a course years ago, because--for social democratic Netherlands, or capitalist United States--independence for the central bank is a given. The fact that, when in power, the Opposition baulked at that decision shows their lackadaisical approach to policy making.

I would, however, like the Monetary Policy Committee to be more representative of the nation as a whole, and in particular of industry. I do not doubt the intellectual ability of its members, or their desire to serve the national interest as they vote each month on the setting of interest rates; but I see no face and hear no voice from industry, and observe little representation from the country in general outside the golden triangle of Oxford, Cambridge and Islington.

The MPC might like to hold some of its meetings in other parts of the country. It might like to come and meet the employers to whom I talked last week. Having done so, it might of course hold to its decisions--that is its affair--but those who make the decisions in the Bundesbank and the American Federal Reserve are

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located in the regions and far-flung corners of those two countries, at least, and report back faithfully. I do not think that the needs of manufacturing have been reflected in the MPC's decision.

It may well be necessary to look again at the MPC's mandates. The United States Federal Reserve is charged, under the appropriate Act of Congress, with developing a monetary policy


That is a heck of a package to discharge, but it certainly involves a bit more than the bearing down on inflation which--judging by its minutes--is the MPC's main obsession.

One reason why the American economy has been so strong in the last 10 or 12 years is the stability of interest rates, money supply and much of the value of the dollar--although it has been zig-zagging as a result, for instance, of the Asian crisis. American manufacturers have been able to borrow and sell, knowing what they will get back in a year or two--knowing the price of the money that they borrow in order to invest.

By contrast, under the Conservatives--and, frankly, Governments of the 1970s: I am sick and tired of this absurd game of ping-pong--we had a yo-yo economy. Interest rates, the value of the pound, capital formation and prices went up and down, up and down. We have been living in an Alton Towers rollercoaster economy, in which it was impossible for manufacturers to invest.

We have a real problem with pay. You were not in the Chamber at the time, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but earlier I had some fun at the expense of the shadow President of the Board of Trade and his new job with Murray Financial. He was honest, and revealed to the House that he is earning £12,000 a year in that job.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I think that Madam Speaker made a ruling on that. We must keep to the subject of the debate.

Mr. MacShane: I was actually praising the right hon. Gentleman--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. There is no need to praise; just keep to the subject.

Mr. MacShane: It is the first time, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I expect it to be the last--but, if I cannot even praise where praise is due, I will pass on.

Large pay increases awarded to themselves by those with the power to do so are having a very negative impact on pay pressure within the economy. It is impossible to open a newspaper, the Daily Mirror, The Times or The Guardian, without reading about someone somewhere--I will not go through the list--awarding themselves large pay increases detached from productivity, unit labour costs and unit prices. Until that problem is tackled, instability will continue.

I was delighted by my right hon. Friend's announcement of a £1.1 billion investment in science. I hope that lifelong learning, the university of industry and the tax incentives for research and development, which are under review, will come to fruition.

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It is crucial, if we are to make a success of the manufacturing economy, never to be in the position of a Labour Chancellor some 50 years ago. When the Government of national unity collapsed in 1931, different decisions were made. Philip Snowden said, "No one ever told us we could do that." I urge Ministers to bear that in mind. We must be flexible. The last Government were not flexible, and the official Opposition have offered nothing today. I am still waiting for one speech from them that contributes anything positive to the debate.

Mr. Redwood: There were six points.

Mr. MacShane: None of those points was relevant to my constituency, or to the needs of the manufacturing economy.

I wish Ministers well. This is a huge subject. We will have to come back to it, but, if our country does not reverse the Tory years of anti-manufacturing economic policy, heaven help us all.

5.19 pm

Sir David Madel (South-West Bedfordshire): That was a very interesting speech. In fact, I prefer the speeches of the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. MacShane) to his interventions. I particularly noted his comment that, if the Monetary Policy Committee had different people on it, it might come to different decisions. Conservative Members would be less agitated if it did come to different decisions. My short speech will contain something about what the committee should do, but I could not resist starting my remarks in that way.

The motion is in two parts, and I wish to say a little about both, but, first, I wish to thank the President of the Board of Trade, her Ministers and the civil servants for the way in which they listened and acted in response to the joint appeal, from management, unions and all of us who are concerned for industry in Bedfordshire, about the future of the Vauxhall car plant in Luton. We have come through another period of great anxiety about south Bedfordshire's industrial future. If the right economic policies are pursued, because of its history of vehicle building and component manufacturing, our area can still become the Detroit of the United Kingdom, with all the economic advantages that that will bring--but it will need the right economic policies.

Mrs. Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Sir David Madel: I have only just started, but I shall give way.

Mrs. Ellman: Will the hon. Gentleman contrast the action of the President of the Board of Trade to which he has just referred, with the action that was taken by the Opposition when they were in government? In 1993, Leyland DAF collapsed, putting at risk thousands of jobs in truck manufacture. In Lancashire, when appeals were made to the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, he stated that nothing could be done. However, Labour-controlled Lancashire county council's economic development agency worked with the private sector and together they invested in the successful Leyland Trucks.

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Lancashire Enterprises continued to develop the 200-acre site, where there are now over 2,000 jobs in 45 manufacturing companies, none of which would have been there if anyone had paid any attention to the statements by the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. Will the hon. Gentleman contrast what the Conservatives did then with what--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Sir David Madel.

Sir David Madel: I could take much time in the House debating truck manufacturing, truck production and what has happened in Dunstable, where we have lost all truck production, but I will say this to the hon. Lady: I have always believed that, in 1986, if the General Motors- Leyland Trucks-Rover deal had gone ahead, which some of us wanted, there would have been a future for Dunstable in vehicle building. Alas, there is no vehicle building there now. We are trying to put that right.

One of the reasons why that deal did not go through was that some hon. Members started shrieking idiotically about the possibility of the stars and stripes appearing on the Land Rover and Range Rover bonnet. Who owns Rover now? I do not think that I shall take the argument any further. However, if the hon. Lady is talking about what should have been done about truck manufacturing and whether different policies should have been pursued, we are in agreement, especially as Dunstable was badly affected.


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