HC Deb 08 July 1969 vol 786 cc1149-50
25. Mr. Dickens

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what further steps he proposes to reduce the outflow from the United Kingdom of private investment abroad.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

Exchange control measures and the voluntary programme are working well in minimising the burden imposed on the reserves by overseas investment, although a good deal of investment in the sterling area is designedly outside the scope of the voluntary programme. The Government have no proposals for modifying existing arrangements.

Mr. Dickens

Is my right hon. Friend aware that last year—a year allegedly of economic crisis—the gross export of capital from this country at £621 million was the highest in any single year since the war and that the trend has continued in the first quarter of 1969? Does he not appreciate that the seed corn of this country is an industrial investment at home and that it makes sheer nonsense to build up Australia at the expense of economic expansion in Britain?

Mr. Jenkins

I have told my hon. Friend so many times—and I apologise for wearying the House with it again—that it is not valid to look at one side of the account and not to look at the other side or to believe that we can alter one side of the account without altering the other. The fact remains that in the four quarters from 1st April, 1968, to 31st March, 1969, we were in exact capital balance on private account.

Sir G. Nabarro

Does the Chancellor realise that none of these persisting questions would be forthcoming if he attended to the obstinately continuing high level of our imports? Why, last week, did the right hon. Gentleman refuse the National Ecomonic Development Council's reasonable request for a successful import substitution committee?

Mr. Jenkins

I am sure that, whatever I did, supplementary questions totally irrelevant to the original Question would still be forthcoming from the hon. Gentleman.