HC Deb 19 April 1971 vol 815 cc811-2
40. Mr. Carter

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many letters he has received since 1st January on investment in industry.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Nicholas Ridley)

Approximately 75.

Mr. Carter

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply. In the light of today's announcement and the deplorable level of unemployment, would he not now think that the time is ripe to urge his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to stimulate the economy, thus providing the only true base from which investment can spring, and at the same time create fresh employment opportunities?

Mr. Ridley

It is true that the Government inherited a very tight liquidity position in industry which led to a flattening out of investment, but I believe that the October measures, coupled with the very encouraging Budget which my right hon. Friend produced, will lead to a buoyancy in investment.

Mr. Deakins

Will the hon. Gentleman assure the House that if the Budgetary measures to stimulate investment prove inadequate, he will during the next financial year take such extra measures as may be necessary without waiting for the 1972 Budget?

Mr. Ridley

I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will watch the situation, but it must be realised that the Government are not the only party who can contribute towards industrial buoyancy. A moderation of wage pressure together with further initiatives by business could all play their part in helping.

Mr. Kaufman

Would not the greatest contribution that the Government could make be to withdraw the Bill abolishing investment grants which was so misguidedly introduced before Parliament and which will reduce investment in those areas where it is most needed?

Mr. Ridley

It is not investment of itself which is good. It is investment which leads to profitable and successful enterprise, which is the reason for the Government's Bill.

Mr. Bob Brown

Bearing in mind the distressingly high unemployment in the North-East, and in development areas in general, would the hon. Gentleman consider allowing firms already in development areas desirous of expanding to have the same benefits as are given to new firms coming into the development areas?

Mr. Ridley

The hon. Gentleman knows that existing firms in development areas are allowed free depreciation, which is a very great advantage. Once industry moves into a profitable phase, this is something that they will be pleased to have and it will help greatly.