Speaking on a debate on the level of employment in the United Kingdom, Lord Bilimoria expressed his continued support for manufacturing concerns outside London and the valuable role that aviation, automobiles and engineering all have to play in re-balancing the British economy. He also commented on the tremendous benefits of immigration to the country and the role that migration has played in numerous businesses at the regional, national and international level.
My Lords, I join in wishing the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, a very happy 90th birthday. He has asked an excellent question in that it relates to forward guidance. For a long time I have been saying that when setting interest rates the Governor of the Bank of England and the Monetary Policy Committee should look not just at inflation targeting but at the wider economy. This is excellent news. However, is it wise that the governor should tie himself down to a specific level of 7% unemployment, after which interest rates are to be raised, unless inflation is going out of control? When does the Minister think that the 7% will be achieved? Secondly, would it not have been wiser to have had a wider remit taking into account other aspects of the economy, not just inflation targeting?
My Lords, today the former Governor of the Bank of England has taken his seat, and we welcome him. His successor is a Canadian. How many other countries would have a foreign national as the governor of their national central bank? We do. Do not the Minister and the Government think that we should be proud that we are one of the most open economies in the world, and that that is a great strength to this country? Regardless of that, and on the other hand, how much longer are the Government going to dither and procrastinate about increasing our airport capacity in London?