HC Deb 08 February 1967 vol 740 cc1643-4
39 and 40. Mr. Patrick Jenkin

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether he will give his latest estimate of the level of investment in the chemical industry in 1967 compared with 1966;

(2) whether he will give his latest estimate of the level of investment in the textile industry in 1967 compared with 1966.

46. Mr. Stratton Mills

asked the President of the Board of Trade, if he will make a statement on his Department's recent survey on investment in manufacturing industry showing a drop of 10 per cent. during 1967; and if he will give the reasons for revising his earlier forecast which showed a drop of 7 to 8 per cent.

53. Mr. Alison

asked the President of the Board of Trade what new factors have led to a downward revision of his Department's forecast of the level of manufacturing investment in 1967.

Mr. Jay

The report of the latest survey, published in the Board of Trade Journal of 27th January, indicates the changes expected between 1966 and 1967 for different industry groups and explains why the total fall is sharper than that estimated in the previous survey. Manufacturers' investment in 1966 will probably be higher than estimated in the August-September survey, so that, despite the bigger fall forecast in the November-December survey, the level of investment in 1967 is likely to be substantially the same as estimated in the August-September survey.

Mr. Jenkin

How can the right hon. Gentleman reconcile the figures published in the statement in the Board of Trade Journal with his futile and over-optimistic statement in Glasgow on 3rd January that private investment would be no lower in 1967 than in 1966?

Mr. Jay

I made no such statement, or anything like it. All I said was that when the next investment grants had been taken into account it was possible that private investment would flatten out in 1967. It is possible, and I repeat it now.

Mr. Mills

Does not the right hon. Gentleman always get his figures wrong, and is it not a further example of the mess the Government get themselves into by wishful thinking with statistics? Would he not agree that the prime reason he has gone wrong on this calculation is that he greatly over-estimated the value of his investment grant scheme?

Mr. Jay

It is the hon. Member who has the figures wrong. What he does not understand is that the 10 per cent. reduction is a reduction from a figure we now know to be higher than when it was forecast as 7 or 8 per cent. Therefore, the actual level of investment in 1967, so far as the forecasts are accurate, will be as previously foreseen.

Mr. Alison

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the figures represent a substantially lower figure of investment for the service and distribution industries compared with the 1962 cycle? How can he pretend that this can be isolated from manufacturing industry in the long run? Does he realise that he has deliberately engineered this?

Mr. Jay

No, Sir. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman would be well advised to make the picture look worse than it is, because that is merely a further deterrent to investment, which is most undesirable.

Mr. Barnett

Is it not ridiculous to encourage investment in the textile industry while at the same time allowing low-cost imports, from Portugal in particular? Will my right hon. Friend therefore give serious consideration to restricting imports from Portugal?

Mr. Jay

I have already answered that Question, but clearly some sections of the textile industry are expanding, notably those in man-made fibres, and investment is highly desirable.