§ 1. Mr. Marten
asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs whether the question of publication of the draft planning document has yet been decided.
§ 7. Mr. Michael Shaw
asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he will make a statement about his further discussions with the National Economic Development Council on a draft planning document.
§ 14. Mr. Biffen
asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what plans he has for further discussions with the National Economic Development Council, regarding the formation and publication of the new National Plan.
§ 21 and 22. Mr. Sheldon
asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (1) what estimate he has made of the level of economic growth for 1969 and 1970;
§ (2) if he will make a further statement on the publishing of the recent planning document.
§ 26. Mr. David Howell
asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs on what date a preliminary draft of the new national plan document will be laid before the House of Commons.
§ 32. Mr. Higgins
asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what 737 assumption his Department makes about the supply of labour and the level of aggregate demand when forecasting future increases in production capacity.
§ 36 and 37. Mr. Stratton Mills
asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (1) what estimate he has made of the level of economic growth for 1969 and 1970; and if he will make a statement;
§ (2) if he will make a statement about his recent discussions with the National Economic Development Council on a draft planning document.
§ 41. Mr. Kenneth Lewis
asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs whether he will undertake to postpone the publication of the new National Plan until after the Budget statement.
§ The Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Mr. Peter Shore)
The document which has been discussed in the National Economic Development Council will be published as a Green Paper on 26th February, when I hope to make a fuller statement.
The document discusses the prospects and problems for the economy up to 1972. Starting with the necessity for achieving and maintaining a substantial surplus on the balance of payments, it considers the prospects for growth, employment, regional development and the use of resources. It also outlines the contribution that industry will need to make both in improving the balance of payments and in increasing investment.
As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said on 6th February, it takes into account the views of industry as expressed in the N.E.D.C., but the assessment which it makes is the responsibility of the Government. It will provide the basis not only for general discussion but for more detailed consultations which are now to begin with key industries on ways in which the trade balance can be improved.
§ Mr. Marten
Would the right hon. Gentleman like to leak to the House, before it leaks to the Press, what is the estimated growth rate which will be shown in the document? Will Members of Parliament be able to see some of the papers which were put in on which 738 there was disagreement. I imagine that the document will have only agreed points.
§ Mr. Shore
The document to be put before the House will be substantially based on the successive discussions and documents that went to the N.E.D.C. This will provide the House with the information it wants and requires to continue its examination of planning and the prospects ahead. I am afraid that I cannot help the hon. Gentleman about the Press.
§ Mr. Biffen
Have the private sector figures been based on an expected growth rate indicated by the Government, or have the Government calculated the growth rate from the figures they have received from the private sector?
§ Mr. Howell
Can we be reassured by the Minister that when publication comes next week it will still not be too late for ideas and views from the House to influence the basic policy assumptions in the document? Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that if the last National Plan had been presented a bit earlier to the House and the public it might have been possible for hon. Members to point out that the planners had omitted to plan for the balance of payments, and that there were other such omissions?
§ Mr. Higgins
Why cannot the right hon. Gentleman answer the point of my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen)? The answer must be one or the other, or both. Can he tell us whether the plans have been based on previous input-output tables, or those which the House has not yet had an opportunity to see?
§ Mr. Sheldon
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that an important aspect of the presentation of the Green Paper is that we be given a chance to look at it at the same time as the discussions are taking place on it? What has offended a number of hon. Members is that certain privileged positions are granted to those outside the House.
§ Mr. Shore
I appreciate my hon. Friend's concern about this. The real difficulty, as I think he knows, is that if we have a body like the N.E.D.C. set up precisely for this kind of consultative purpose, it is almost inevitable that at some stage there will be discussion first with it before the discussion is taken further forward into the forum of the House of Commons and elsewhere. Therefore, I cannot help my hon. Friend on that matter, but, as I have already said, it is a Green Paper and we expect a great deal of discussion on it.
§ Mr. Peyton
The right hon. Gentleman referred just now to past experience. Is it too late for him, even now, to be warned by it and throw the filthy thing away?
§ Mr. Bagier
My right hon. Friend referred in his original Answer to growth and development policy. Does he agree that in order to get the sort of growth the Government envisage it is important that they carry on with the development policy they are now pursuing?
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
My right hon. Friend made a statement in which he gave the official date when the publication will be made. This appeared in the Press a week ago and can only have been obtained from an official source. Will my right hon. Friend suggest that a Select Committee should be set up to investigate how that report came about?