The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1991Prime Minister (1990-1997)

PMQT Written Answers – 15 January 1991

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister’s Question Time from 15th January 1991.


Government Achievements

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 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.

Common Agricultural Policy

Mr. Allen : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Holland with Boston (Sir R. Body) Official Report, 18 December, column 165, what further investigation of the common agricultural policy he expects the EC to make ; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister : The common agricultural policy is likely to be subject to a period of further reform as a result of renewed production and expenditure pressure and the outcome of the current GATT negotiations. The Commission’s 1991-92 price proposals are likely to incorporate a first instalment of these reforms.


Mr. Allen : To ask the Prime Minister, further to his statement on 18 December, Official Report, column 157, whether the remit for the EC negotiations in the GATT talks has been altered by the recent Heads of Government meeting.

The Prime Minister : The meeting of European Heads of Government asked the Commission, which negotiates on behalf of the Community, to intensify its contacts with other participants in order to resolve outstanding problems.

Minimum Wage

Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer of 13 December, Official Report, column 1108, on what basis he calculates the figure of a loss of three quarters of a million jobs through the establishment of a national minimum wage.

The Prime Minister : Officials in the Department of Employment have estimated that a national minimum wage set at half male median earnings will result in the loss of about three quarters of a million jobs. This estimate uses earnings information from the new earnings survey and information on the relationship between real wages and employment set out in the published Treasury paper “The Relationship Between Employment and Wages : Empirical Evidence for the United Kingdom” (HM Treasury, January 1985).
A detailed explanation of the method was placed in the House of Commons Library on 2 February 1990–“Estimating the Effect of a National Minimum Wage”.

Publicity and Advertising

Mr. Michael : To ask the Prime Minister, further to his reply on 17 December, Official Report, c. 15, if he will list the Government conventions regarding the use of paid publicity and advertising within which expenditure on advertising in the press, television and other forms of publicity is a matter for departmental Ministers.

The Prime Minister : The conventions on Government publicity and advertising have already been published. I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy on 28 June 1990 to my hon. Friend the Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Arbuthnot) at column 311.