HC Deb 20 January 1970 vol 794 cc236-8
15. Mr. Sheldon

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures he now proposes to stimulate investment in plant and machinery.

40. Mr. Ridsdale

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is now taking to promote investment in manufacturing and the construction industries.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

Investment in manufacturing industry has risen steadily since devaluation, and is expected to increase by about 10 per cent. between 1969–1970. I am keeping a careful watch on the indicators for the future in all sectors. On the whole the recent evidence has been encouraging.

Mr. Sheldon

As my right hon. Friend is, quite rightly, turning his attention towards the improvement of manufacturing investment, will he say what consideration he has given to further shortening the period of repayment of the investment grants?

Mr. Jenkins

I have considered this with all other matters, though, as my hon. Friend will be aware, there has been no element in public expenditure which has increased more rapidly recently and which has gone more above estimate than investment grants, for which a Supplementary Estimates has already been laid, and for which another spring one will have to be laid.

Mr. Ridsdale

Is it not a fact that, although our investment has increased by 10 per cent. recently, it is still only one-fifth above what it was 10 years ago and compares very badly with other similar industrialised countries?

Mr. Jenkins

I have always made it clear that I would like to see a higher rate of fixed investment in manufacturing industry. I do not believe that we could have achieved this in one go in 1969. I hope that we can achieve a steady rate of progress. As to comparison with the early 1960s, there was one good year which stood out, but it was one good year amongst a number of bad years.

Mr. Iain Macleod

The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that the White Paper Cmnd. 4234, which we are to discuss tomorrow, says that the Government are making a cost-benefit analysis of the value of investment grants. Will the result of that study be published in due course?

Mr. Jenkins

That is primarily but not exclusively a matter for my right bon. Friend the Minister of Technology. The study is proceeding. I will certainly consider with my right hon. Friend whether it would be suitable for publication when complete.