§ Mr. Butler
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he will make a statement on the economic prospects for the north-west.
§ Mr. Atkins
I refer to the Autumn Statement given by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 3 November 1987Official Report, columns 783–86, when he forecast that for the United Kingdom as a whole there was likely to be a continuation of steady growth, low inflation and falling unemployment in 1988. I would expect the economy in the north-west to share in this increasing prosperity. Unemployment in the region is already falling steadily and there is much evidence of rising investment and output from an increasingly competitive industrial base. I am confident that, thanks to the sound fiscal policies and measures to promote enterprise adopted by the Government, the economy of the north-west now has better prospects for sustained growth than for many years. I am also sure that the enterprise initiative which my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster announced on 12 January, Official Report columns 145–47, will give an added impetus to economic growth in the north-west by allowing the talents arid energies of companies and people in the region to be harnessed even more effectively than in the past.