§ 16. Mr. Woodall
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the decline in international competitiveness since May 1979.
§ Mr. Lawson
Competitiveness depends not just on prices and costs but on quality, design and reliability, which cannot easily be measured. Industry has already 402 made progress in improving efficiency and containing costs. For a lasting improvement in output and employment it is important that that continues.
§ Mr. Gould
Why should workers be told that they must price themselves back into jobs by taking cuts in real wages when the Government's monetarist ratchet of tight money, high interest rates and an over-valued pound has priced them out of jobs by destroying the competitiveness of what is left of British industry to the tune of 29 per cent. on the Treasury's own index?
§ Mr. Lawson
I have known the hon. Gentleman for many years, and he has been a consistent advocate of devaluation. It is his opinion, not mine, that salvation will always be secured by ever deeper devaluation. The plain fact is that from the three elements that go into price competitiveness—efficiency, the value of the currency and real costs—efficiency is easily the best method of improving competitiveness, and devaluation is easily the worst.