Alan Duncan: Latest indicators show the UK is heading in the right direction

Alan Duncan
Alan Duncan
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The GDP figures released last week are cause for cautious optimism, representing as they do the best quarterly performance since 2010.

The overall figure of a 0.8 per cent rise is bolstered by the fact that output across all the three main sectors that are measured (services, manufacturing and construction) are on the rise.

Construction was up by 2.5 per cent, manufacturing by 0.9 per cent and services by 0.7 per cent.

Unemployment levels tell a similar story. The current rate in Rutland and Melton of 1.8 per cent is the lowest for years and the claimant count has now dipped below 1,000.

That compares extremely favourably with both the rest of the East Midlands, which has a rate of 3.9 per cent and the national level of 4.2 per cent.

We have always found ourselves among the best performing constituencies in the country on this marker, though that, of course, does not mean we should be complacent about those who are seeking work and finding it tough.

Of course, these figures can all seem rather abstract and detached from day-to-day life, but they are nevertheless indicators that things continue to move in the right direction.

This is particularly clear when you remember that the figures show that there was in fact no double-dip recession, let alone a triple-dip as was predicted by some fear mongerers.

We are undertaking a slow and steady recovery project, the whole point of which is not to trumpet false dawns or encourage transient and fickle bubbles.

But while being clear with people about the scale of the task that remains, there are indeed signs that we should be cautiously optimistic about the progress that has been made and the prospects for the future.

As we returned to Westminster for the autumn session of Parliament we saw a reshuffling of the main parties’ political decks.

I was pleased to be asked to remain in place as Minister for International Development.

It is a fascinating role that I still relish. It is extremely rewarding to see the effects of the work that is being done in the UK’s name across the world by hundreds of dedicated Department for International Development staff.

It has been said that reshuffles are the political equivalent of the football transfer deadline day - except that the new signings aren’t quite as well known!

In any case, a few fresh faces on the team and the promotion of some talented people is always good thing.

A couple of weeks ago, one of the green spaces around Parliament was overrun by a combination of yapping dogs, snapping photographers and competitive MPs, which could only have signalled one thing: the coveted Westminster Dog of the Year event.

And, for the first time, I had a dog of my own in the fight.

Noodle, my cockapoo cross puppy not only took part, but won over the judges and claimed the crown over a dozen or so fellow canines from across the political spectrum.