HC Deb 13 November 1958 vol 595 cc560-1
3. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the total amount of capital investment it is proposed to authorise for the roads programme, the nationalised electric power industry and the British Transport Commission, respectively, during the year 1959–60.

60. Mr. Jay

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what extent, in each case, restrictions imposed on the investment programmes of nationalised industries in 1957 have now been relaxed.

Mr. Erroll

It was intended in 1957 that the power and transport industries would invest more in 1959–60 than they did in 1957–58. During the summer these increases have been augmented, and further short-term additions are now being made. In total, as my right hon. Friend said last week, there will be a substantial increase over last year. But since the programmes are under continuous consideration, I cannot at this stage give precise figures for them, either individually or in aggregate.

Mr. Davies

When does the Economic Secretary consider he will be able to give the precise figures for these different industries, particularly transport and roads? How is it that when a ceiling has been placed upon expenditure, atter a cut-back the Chancellor of the Exchequer has no difficulty whatever in telling us the amount which the different industries can spend, but that when there is an increase the Government carefully hold back and withhold information from the House?

Mr. Erroll

I should like to be more helpful to the hon. Member, but at this stage, as I said in my Answer, it is not possible for me to be so.

Mr. D. Jones

Can we be told whether the increase this year is more than it was last year before the cut was made, or whether it is merely restoring the cut?

Mr. Erroll

I would require notice of that question.