HC Deb 16 November 1971 vol 826 cc206-7
Q1. Mr. Ashley

asked the Prime Minister if he will take the chair at the next meeting of the National Economic Development Council.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Edward Heath)

I have no plans to do so, Sir.

Mr. Ashley

Will the Prime Minister ask the N.E.D.C. for advice on the remarkable situation of some low-paid workers who are not only robbed by the 10 per cent. inflation but are deprived of any wage increase that they may earn by the commensurate withdrawal of means-tested benefits? How can these people stand on their own feet until this policy is changed?

The Prime Minister

I understand that the question of the lower-paid workers was discussed in the N.E.D.C. in August. Various steps are under way, but this subject is not on the agenda for the immediate future.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

Would the right hon. Gentleman not think it worth while to discuss with the N.E.D.C. the investment prospect, which remains, on all the surveys, very depressing? Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he has any plans to bring forward investment in the nationalised industries both for its own sake and as an example to private industry?

The Prime Minister

Yes. Of course, in reply to the last part of the question, this has already been done in certain instances which have been notified to the House. These matters are under consideration with the nationalised industries in the light of the criteria which the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned.

As to the first part of the question, I understand that this matter was one of those remitted at the last meeting of the N.E.D.C. for future discussion. At the next meeting discussion will be on regional policy, and investment intentions will follow that.