§ 22. Mr. Costain
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the confusion which exists in regard to determining the date on which expenditure is incurred for the purpose of claiming investment grant and that his Department's interpretation in paragraph 124 of its booklet is inconsistent with Section 13(4) of the Industrial Development Act, 1966; and whether he will clarify the situation.
§ Mr. Jay
The formula in paragraph 124 of the booklet, which was devised in consultation with the accountancy profession, explains the basis on which, in normal circumstances, claims that expenditure has been incurred will be accepted for grant purposes. Since the booklet was issued a temporary higher rate of grant has been introduced for expenditure incurred during 1967 and 1968. Expenditure will be eligible for grant at this higher rate only if the sums in question become payable during these two years regardless of when they are actually paid.
§ Mr. Costain
Is there not confusion over this matter, and does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, since this Question was put down, some clarification has been made? Will he do his best to publicise the facts?
§ 23. Mr. Costain
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the lack of specific guidance as to which types of machinery and plant qualify for investment grants is inhibiting industrial investment; whether he is aware that the booklet recently published by his Department has done little to clarify the position; and what steps he proposes to take to make the grants system provide an incentive to invest.
§ Mr. Costain
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the fact that this investment grant is not essentially mandatory puts a restriction on new investment? Will he make the position clearer so that people know that they are entitled to it not just as a prerogative?
§ Mr. Barnett
Will my right hon. Friend consider a fresh inquiry into the value of any incentive grant? Does he agree that, generally, the economic mood of the country plays by far the greatest part in the making of investment decisions, and will he, therefore, do all he can to encourage his Cabinet colleagues to give higher priority to growth in the economy?
§ Sir G. Nabarro
Has the right hon. Gentleman observed that the last few words of the Question ask him to provide an incentive to invest? Does not he realise that the greatest incentive of all is not the rate of cash grant but the quick payment of it, and the delay under the present system of 18 to 21 months for payment is far too long?
§ Mr. Patrick Jenkin
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is the anomalies in the system which create so much trouble? Does he realise that, although the Act provided for grant for computers, his Department has indicated that it will refuse a grant for the peripheral equipment to a firm which wants 1636 to install it in order to use a centralised computer? Is not this utterly ludicrous, and will he look at the matter again?