HC Deb 21 March 1963 vol 674 cc559-61
29. Mr. Ginsburg

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the evidence of the Economic Adviser to Her Majesty's Government, Professor Cairncross, to the National Incomes Commission to the effect that there was no reason to expect the rate of growth in output per head to reach 3 per cent. per annum in 1966, represented Government policy.

Mr. du Cann

I think that the Economic Adviser has been misreported. What he said was that there was as yet no evidence to show conclusively that the increase in output per head would be as high as 3 per cent. or 3.2 per cent. in 1966. But, as the hon. Member will see from the verbatim report of the proceedings which is available in the Library, he went on to make it clear that the Government considered a higher rate of growth as feasible.

Mr. Ginsburg

Is it not quite clear from this transcript that the Treasury estimates are far more pessimistic than those of the National Economic Development Council? If gloomy views of that sort are to be expressed before the National Incomes Commission, would it not be much better if the Chancellor of the Exchequer went to the National Incomes Commission and said so himself, on his own responsibility?

Mr. du Cann

I cannot accept either that there is gloom or that the target for growth is not accepted. That is not so.

30. Mr. George Craddock

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in view of the first report of the National Economic Development Council, he will state the specific Government proposals necessary to enable the target for a 4 per cent. increase in output per year to be reached.

Mr. du Cann

The achievement of the 4 per cent. objective accepted by the National Economic Development Council will call for a parallel effort by Government, management and trade unions in which the Government intend to play their full part. The Council, which is still discussing the Director-General's Report, has not yet set out its conclusions.

Mr. Craddock

Will the Economic Secretary realise that speed is really the element that is required, and will he do his best to get the matter speeded up so that there can be a proper plan and we can know what it is?

Mr. du Cann

We certainly would agree that speed is important, but so, also, is careful consideration.

Mr. Jay

Have the Government accepted this first Report—including the 4 per cent. target—as Government policy?

Mr. du Cann

We have accepted the Report in general but not necessarily in every particular.

Mr. Popplewell

Will the hon. Gentleman indicate when he expects the final Report of the National Economic Development Council? Is he aware that the whole House and the country agree that, although speed is essential, a very full investigation is necessary? Will he therefore say when he hopes the National Economic Development Council to submit a real, fundamental Report, because that is so important to the welfare of the nation?

Mr. du Cann

I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he has said about the need for careful consideration. That is absolutely true. It is too early yet to give him a precise forecast of the kind for which he asks, as I am sure he will understand.

Mr. Callaghan

When the Economic Secretary says that the Government accept the Report in general but not in every particular, what does he mean? We have had a target of 4 per cent. or thereabouts for years, but have never attained it. Do the Government mean that we intend to grow at a rate of 4 per cent. per annum? Is that their fixed intention?

Mr. du Cann

The answer to the second part of the hon. Member's question is a clear "Yes". As to the first part, obviously the National Economic Development Council considered a large number of matters and made a large number of forecasts. I cannot say that each and every one of these is entirely accepted by the Government.