HC Deb 06 December 1955 vol 547 cc176-7
10. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, having regard to the formation of gross fixed capital of £1,059,000,000 in electricity, compared with £60 million on the construction of roads in the years 1948 to 1954, he is satisfied that a proper balance of priorities between these two important industries is being kept; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I am, of course, aware that we have had to press on with electricity and to go much more slowly with roads. I cannot accept that a proper balance of priorities is not being kept. Expenditure on roads will rise substantially under the programme already announced.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Looking at the picture broadly, does it not appear that we have been going rather too fast in electricity over the last six years?

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Not fast enough.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Would my right hon. Friend agree that spending about £200 million a year in electricity, which is already a heavily-loaded section of the engineering industry, tends to add to inflationary pressure?

Mr. Butler

Of course, we are watching the plans of all the nationalised industries in respect of the possible effect upon inflation. But we have needed this electrical development to match our industrial expansion, which has been so marked under the present Administration.

Mr. Woodburn

Will the right hon. Gentleman keep in mind that unless the worker gets more power behind his elbow in the form of electricity and energy, the country will not be able to survive and keep its population, however good its roads may be?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir.