The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

Chief Secretary (1987-1989)

Mr Major’s Parliamentary Answer on Economic Advisers – 6 July 1989

Below is the text of Mr Major’s response on Economic Advisers on 6th July 1989 in the House of Commons.

Mr. Wall To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list his economic advisers at the Treasury.

Mr. Gareth Wardell To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list his economic advisers at the Treasury.

Mr. Major I shall arrange for a list of the numbers in each grade to he published in the Official Report.

Mr. Wall Have the Chancellor’s economic advisers concluded whether Sir Alan Walters, the Prime Minister’s economic adviser, is correct in saying that the current high and rising rate of inflation is due to the Chancellor’s decision to peg the pound to the deutschmark?

Mr. Major I understand why the hon. Gentleman is seeking to cause trouble, but I have no intention of accommodating him.

Mr. Wardell Have the Chancellor’s advisers yet reached the conclusion that his over-reliance on the rate of interest as an instrument of economic policy is the key to understanding his current mismanagement of the British economy?

Mr. Major The Chancellor’s advice from his advisers is for him. The decisions that are taken are for the Chancellor. I have no intention of referring to the advice that is received.

Mr. Robert Banks Will the Minister accept advice from me, that the current interest rates are biting quite well enough and that the Government’s policy must be given time before we take any other action that may or may not be necessary? It is essential that the economy is given proper time in which to respond to current levels.

Mr. Major As I said earlier, my right hon. Friend will certainly use monetary policy to bear down on inflation. I give my hon. Friend that categorical assurance.

Mr. Batiste Does my right hon. Friend agree that a sensible person should take advice from as many sources as possible, and that he will be judged not by the noises that come from his advisers but by the quality of the judgments that he makes based upon that advice?

Mr. Major My hon Friend makes an extremely good point. It is not that long ago that we had some advice from 364 distinguished economists who were entirely wrong. I can certainly offer my hon. Friend the assurance that none of them work for the Treasury.

Mr. John Smith Is it not clear that the Chancellor is in need of some good advice, in particular not to make foolish interventions in rail disputes and not to threaten even further cuts in investment in our railway system, which is already inadequate because of years of under-investment by the Government?

Mr. Major Even by the standards of the Opposition Front Bench, that is a remarkably misguided statement. The growth in investment in British Rail has been 75 per cent., and we now have the largest investment programme in British Rail since the advent of steam. That is a reality that the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his hon. Friends might do well to understand.

The following is the information:

1 Chief Economic Adviser at Grade 1A
1 Deputy Chief Economic Adviser at Grade 2
4 Grade 3 (Under Secretary) Economists
12 Grade 5 (Senior Economic Advisers)
31 Grade 7 (Economic Advisers)
27 Economic/Senior Economic Assistants