HC Deb 01 December 1966 vol 737 cc601-3
17. Mr. Ridsdale

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs by how much industrial production has increased or decreased in the last six months; what he estimates the increase or decrease will be in the next six months; and what level he plans as a norm after the wage and price standstill is over.

18 and 19. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (1) to what main causes he attributes the drop in the index of industrial production for September; when there was last a drop of this magnitude; and whether he is satisfied that this trend is not continuing;

(2) what action he is taking to counteract the drop in the output of manufacturing industries, especially engineering, recorded for September.

20. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what has been the Index of Industrial Production for each of the past three months; and how these figures compare with those for those for the same months last years ago.

Mr. M. Stewart

With permission, I will circulate the detailed figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT. There was little change in the trend of industrial production in the first three quarters of this year. Output in the third quarter was 1 point higher than a year earlier and 4 points higher than in the third quarter of 1964.

Month to month changes in the index are normally of little significance, but the fall in September may mark the beginning of a small downward adjustment due to the restrictions on consumer demand and credit imposed to correct the balance of payments. We do not believe that it will be continued for many months.

How soon and how fast output will start rising again will depend on the rate of growth of exports and home sales in competition with imports. Credit is available for exporters and to facilitate productive investment, as was made clear by the Bank of England last month.

In asking about the future level of the norm, I assume that the hon. Member for Harwich (Mr. Ridsdale) is referring to the incomes norm to be applied after June 1967. This is one of the matters about which, as stated in the recent White Paper, the Government will be consulting both sides of industry during the coming months.

Mr. Ridsdale

Is not this all rather gloomy? Is it not apparent that over the next five years all we can expect is an annual productivity rate of about 2½ per cent.?

Mr. Stewart

No one denies the seriousness of the present situation, but it would be quite wrong to make predictions of the kind the hon. Member has just made, and it would be unhelpful as well. There was a comparable fall in January, 1963. I do not think the hon. Member then made predictions of that kind.

Mr. Lubbock

Has the Minister noticed the serious fall in production of houses in the figures announced? Could he consult with the Minister of Housing and Local Government to see that this sphere is insulated from the Government's economic measures, as was previously promised by the Prime Minister?

Mr. Stewart

That is a question for my right hon. Friend.

Following are the figures:

1964 1965 1966*
July 128 132 134
August 129 132 135
September 129 132 131
Average for third quarter 129 132 133
* Provisional
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