HC Deb 14 November 1968 vol 773 cc589-91
6. Mr. Lane

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs whether he will make a statement on the recommendations in the first report of the East Anglia Regional Economic Planning Council.

21 and 22. Mr. Derek Page

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs did Britain. If we take the average over the last five years for manufacturing industry we find that the proportion of G.N.P. devoted to investment was 3.7 per cent. and in two of those years under hon. Members opposite it was below the average.

Mr. Dickens

Does not my hon. Friend recall that in the decade up to 1965 the rate of growth of capital formation in this country was less than in any other advanced industrial country while the party opposite were in power? Does he agree that the need now is for a national investment board to organise and coordinate strategy in the private sector of the economy?

Mr. Williams

I recognise the truth of what my hon. Friend said in the first part of his supplementary question. At this stage I have nothing to comment on the last part.

Following is the Answer:

(1), what steps he is taking to implement the recommendations made in the Report of the East Anglia Regional Planning Council;

(2) what further aspects of East Anglia he will refer for study by the East Anglia Planning Council, following its first report.

Mr. Urwin

The Council is to be congratulated on producing the first comprehensive economic planning study for East Anglia. It deals with many important topics which require careful examination before the Government's views can be given to the Council. Meanwhile, the Council is considering its programme of future work.

Mr. Lane

Has the hon. Gentleman noted the Council's view that East Anglia is at present getting much too low a proportion of the national road building programme? Will he draw that vigorously to the attention of his colleagues in the Ministry of Transport?

Mr. Urwin

I take note of the hon. Member's question and will give it due consideration.

Mr. Page

Does not my hon. Friend recognise that the information given in the Report proves up to the hilt that the problems, particularly of the northern part of East Anglia, are problems of low earnings which give East Anglia every bit as much of a claim to Government help as areas of high unemployment and that it is time we rethought the whole system of priorities in our regional policy?

Mr. Urwin

Regional policy priorities are constantly under review. I advise my hon. Friend that on two occasions I participated in discussions in East Anglia, very fruitful discussions, when the subjects raised included the very important one, to which he has referred, of the imbalance in regional wages structure. They are receiving strong attention from the Government.