HC Deb 11 July 1968 vol 768 cc711-2
6. Mr. Patrick Jenkin

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what progress has been made in the preparation of the new national planning document; and if he will make a statement.

11. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he will now publish a White Paper giving the Government's assessment of the medium-term prospects for the economy arising from the discussion he has held with the National Economic Development Council.

Mr. Shore

As I have already told the House, work is in hand in preparing a document which we aim to present later this year, assessing the economic and industrial prospects over the next four to five years. I do not intend to publish what could only be an incomplete and provisional paper in advance of the main document.

Mr. Jenkin

Can the right hon. Gentleman say at this stage whether this time the paper will be more precise about the nearer period and less precise about periods which are further away, in contradistinction to the somewhat topsy-turvy arrangement which affected the National Plan?

Mr. Shore

It is a little difficult to know precisely what the hon. Gentleman has in mind, but in terms of targeting— year by year progression, as it were—in the four to five years I have described, I cannot easily answer his question. However, on the general issue, it is extremely important to make certain in a five-year document that the forecasting of the first year or two is soundly based. If that is the point being made by the hon. Gentleman, I accept it.

Mr. Marten

Can the right hon. Gentleman be more precise as to when he hopes the document will be published? Will it in the end contain the criteria on which all these calculations are based and for which we have been pressing so long?

Mr. Shore

As I have said, I hope to present the document before the end of the year. I ask the hon. Gentleman not to press me too much as to the assumptions on which it is based because we are still in a fairly early stage.