In a speech to the Institute of Directors' annual meeting in London, he said it was unacceptable that on productivity Britain was 25 per cent behind its main European competitors.
Citing a recent survey which could only identify 2 per cent of British companies as world class and 42 per cent as world class contenders, he said this left more than 50 per cent with a lot to do. 'We can argue about the precise figures. I don't think it is possible to argue about the message.'
Mr Heseltine said Britain's share of world trade in manufactured goods had 'declined remorselessly' - stabilising at just 6 per cent, compared with 33 per cent in 1914.Reuse content