HC Deb 01 March 1955 vol 537 cc1870-1
28. Mr. Albu

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what he estimates will be the value of total home investment in each of the next five years planned to be undertaken by Government Departments, public corporations, the National Health Service, the iron and steel industry, the petroleum industry, and wholly privately-owned industry, respectively.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Estimates are not available in the form requested by the hon. Member. Information for varying periods ahead about investment in the gas, electricity, railway, and iron and steel industries has been given in recent publications by the authorities concerned and in the White Paper on Atomic Energy. Information about investment to be financed by the Government in 1955–56 is to be found in the Estimates. Indications further ahead for some major Government programmes have been given in recent Ministerial statements about education, hospitals and roads.

Mr. Albu

How far has account been taken in all these estimates of the necessity to continue our investment in export-earning and import-saving industries? If these have not been taken into account, are not the rest of the plans complete window-dressing for the purposes of the week-end speeches by the Chancellor's hon. Friends who sit behind him?

Mr. Butler

The plans have been conceived, strange to relate, in the national interest. It is surely in the national interest to develop our hospitals, roads and educational services, and I should have thought that hon. Members opposite would have welcomed the investment that we have undertaken.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is it not very likely that the rise in the Bank Rate will, in fact, reduce investment, and is that not one of the unfortunate features of this method of dealing with the situation?

Mr. Butler

I realise that that is a proposition at which we should look; and we have looked at it. It is more likely in the initial stages to affect investment in stocks, which in itself would not be disastrous, but I should be very sorry if any steps that we have taken affected the long-term investment, which is now showing signs of improvement.

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