HC Deb 29 November 1966 vol 737 cc203-4
29. Mr. Barnett

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give an estimate of the prospects for manufacturing investment; and if he will make a statement.

30. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress he has made to date with his review of the implications of the forthcoming investment slump in manufacturing industry.

Mr. Callaghan

The forecasts of manufacturing investment are that it will be lower in 1967 than in 1966. I am keeping the situation under close review.

Mr. Barnett

If my right hon. Friend cannot bring forward the date for paying the investment cash grants, will he consider the possibility of issuing investment grant vouchers which could be discounted with banks, so utilising the money which the banks now have to the ends he desires?

Mr. Callaghan

This is one of the matters to which I have given consideration, in conjunction with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. I do not think it would be possible to give this additional work to the new offices which are now being established. However, I hope to have more to say on the subject of investment, if I catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, when we debate this topic later in the week.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Would the right hon. Gentleman say when the prolonged review on which he has been engaged will be finished? Would he not agree that it is not much encouragement to manufacturers to invest when their prices, dividends and markets are frozen by the Government? Will he do something about this?

Mr. Callaghan

Not in the short term. I believe that very many people, especially in private manufacturing, recognise with the Government—and, I hope, with the Opposition and the hon. Gentleman—that unless we are to avoid a constant collision when we have economic growth with capacity, it is vital that they should encourage any productive investment now, irrespective of the immediate return.