HC Deb 06 November 1969 vol 790 cc1178-9
Q5. Mr. Sheldon

asked the Prime Minister if he will set up a planning office reporting directly to himself.

The Prime Minister

If my hon. Friend is referring to the recommendations in paragraphs 172–177 of the Fulton Report, responsibility for promoting departmental action in this field rests with the Civil Service Department, which reports to me.

Mr. Sheldon

Since the long-term economic planning must inevitably conflict with the day-to-day economic decisions of the Treasury, would not my right hon. Friend consider having all this reported directly to himself as one way of resolving that conflict?

The Prime Minister

This is a question for the Government as a whole, and adequate arrangements are made to ensure it. My hon. Friend will be aware of the transfer of the physical and industrial planning work to the Ministry of Technology. He will also know that N.E.D.O. now comes under the Cabinet Office and reports to me.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

If the Prime Minister accepts the suggestion, will not he merely be rearranging that match known as "planners versus players "for which the tickets have been so expensive and the consequences for the nation so disastrous?

The Prime Minister

The planners and the players, on this occasion being on the same side, have managed to achieve, as my right hon. Friend told the House, this year—and my memory does not go back far enough to say whether it has been achieved under right hon. Gentlemen opposite—an increase in the balance of payments and, at the same time, economic growth.

Mr. George Brown

Is my right hon. Friend aware that my view is that the best way to deal with this would be to bring back the D.E.A.?

The Prime Minister

I am aware of the views of my right hon. Friend on this question, which have been made public, and, of course, the whole House is aware of the very distinguished contribution which he made to D.E.A., not least to the creation of the I.R.C., which is now universally approved by British industry.

Mr. Maudling

Have the planners to whom the Prime Minister referred been able to carry out the National Plan?

The Prime Minister

We have debated that very often in this House. The right hon. Gentleman will know that "Neddy" is having two full-day meetings in December to go into the industrial implications of the document published by the Government. He will also be aware that, as I have said, we are now getting economic growth with a balance of payments surplus, in contradistinction to his £800 million deficit.

Forward to