§ Mr. Sayeed
To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the achievements of Her Majesty's Government since 1987.
§ The Prime Minister
Since 1987 the Government have continued to build upon the changes begun in 1979, to strengthen the economy, foster a spirit of enterprise and improve living standards.
Sterling has been brought into the exchange rate mechanism of the European monetary system, reinforcing the Government's strict anti-inflationary policy. Output is 8 per cent. higher. Investment has grown faster than at any time since the second world war. Taxes have been reformed. Privatisation of 29 more major businesses has taken place and 24 per cent. of the adult population now own shares. The Government have exercised strict control of public expenditure—general Government expenditure 488W has been brought below 40 per cent. of GDP for the first time since 1966–67. Almost £30 billion of public debt will have been repaid by the end of the current financial year. Over 2 million more people are in work than in 1987.
In the public services we have improved efficiency, safeguarded quality and enhanced safety. Key themes, reflected in the reform of the health service, in housing policy and in education have been to increase choice and to encourage people to take personal responsibility for their well-being and that of their families.
The Government have striven to improve the quality of life of all the British people. A number of special initiatives have focused on those living in inner cities. The Government have played a leading role in developing environmental protection, nationally and internationally.
The Government have maintained a firm commitment to national defence and the NATO alliance. We have supported and contributed to NATO's efforts to establish closer relations with the Soviet Union and with the countries of eastern Europe. The United Kingdom has played an important role in securing firm reaction of the United Nations in dealing with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. We have played a positive role in the building of the single market in the European Community.