§ 24. Mr. Hooley
asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the total value of capital investment in plant and machinery in manufacturing industry during the first nine months of this year: and what percentage increase or decrease this represents on 1965.
§ Mr. Hooley
Would my right hon. Friend agree that, from the point of view of productivity, capital investment is of far greater importance than the redeployment of labour?
§ Mr. Barber
Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the estimates made by the Board of Trade indicate that next year industrial investment will fall by between 7 per cent. and 8 per cent.? Is not this a grave reflection on the Government's policies and does it not go far to stultify the modernisation of industry?
§ Mr. Barber
Would the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the figures which I gave for manufacturing industry, with which the Question is concerned, are correct?
§ Mr. Jay
I am not sure exactly what the right hon. Gentleman said [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] It is perfectly clear 387 that the current forecast is for some slight reduction, but this will be offset, on present figures, by the increase in public investment. However, I fully agree that we must watch the figures carefully and that it is essential to maintain the level of private as well as public investment.
§ Mr. Barnett
In view of the serious evidence of turn-down of capital investment in the future, which could have disastrous consequences, would my right hon. Friend consider having discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer with a view to bringing forward the date of payment of the cash grants, making them payable now instead of people having to wait such a long time?
§ Sir E. Boyle
Is it not a fact that the projections in the National Plan took as one of their principal assumptions the figure of an increase of 7 per cent. for each year in private manufacturing investment? In view of that, is it not clear that the Government should look at their whole policy for private investment—that is, unless the National Plan is to be more of a dead letter than it is already?