HC Deb 23 March 1970 vol 798 cc969-70
37. Mr. Kenneth Baker

asked the Minister of Technology how much the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation has invested in British industry since 1st January, 1970.

Mr. Benn

No investments have been made so far this year.

Mr. Baker

May I express the hope that this excellent record will continue throughout 1970 because is it not a fact that of the 18 major investments made by the I.R.C. no fewer than 14 of the companies concerned are now earning a lower return on capital employed than before the corporation made its investment?

Mr. Benn

I can only say that the hon. Member's scornful references to the I.R.C. are not shared by those in industry who have worked with it.

Mr. Barnett

Will my right hon. Friend ignore the sort of comments we hear from hon. Members opposite, because one can look at figures the other way round, such as profit forecasts for A.E.I. before the I.R.C. and G.E.C. came on the scene, and then look at the return on capital before and since? But will my right hon. Friend promise that the corporation will not help the private airlines with money in order to keep them out of the hands of B.O.A.C.?

Mr. Benn

The airlines fall within the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.