HC Deb 29 July 1965 vol 717 cc672-3
29. Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will consider the use of investment reserve certificates, similar to tax reserve certificates, in order to stimulate a level growth of industrial investment; and what official discussions he has had with industrial leaders on the subject.

Mr. Jay

As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer indicated in his Budget statement, it is the Government's intention to review the present tax incentives to industrial investment. The hon. Member's suggestion will be borne in mind in this review. My right hon. Friend and I would welcome the views of industrial leaders on this whole subject.

Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

Does the President of the Board of Trade realise that there is a good deal of anxiety that the whole modernisation of Britain, which featured so largely at the last General Election, will come to a shuddering halt, and there is, therefore, particular merit in schemes of this sort, notably in relation to the machine tool industry which has a cyclical tendency? Would it not be a great advantage if some incentives of this kind were introduced?

Mr. Jay

I see no evidence whatever of a shuddering halt. Industry and employment are now running at an all-time record level. But I agree with the hon. Gentleman that this is very important, and we are examining it carefully.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Has the right hon. Gentleman studied the cyclical pattern of industrial investment? Will he not agree that we seem at the moment to be at the top of a very slippery slope from which we may come down very quickly, and, if this be so, would not the remedy be to introduce these industrial investment certificates in the autumn? How far have his conversations with the Chancellor of the Exchequer got on this subject?

Mr. Jay

If we are at the top, then, obviously, we are not in the dire condition suggested by the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Sir Ian Orr-Ewing). But we are examining this, and I imagine that even the hon Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) does not want us to introduce another Finance Bill next week.