§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Terence Higgins)
Information about the investment intentions of industrial companies is available only in respect of their gross domestic fixed capital formation. On this basis the most recent investment intentions survey by the Department of Trade and Industry, taken in August/September, predicted a rise in the volume of manufacturing investment of 6 per cent. in 1973 and some 15 per cent. in 1974. No prediction is available for 1975, but the prospect of sustained growth should ensure that the rise in industrial investment will continue.
§ Mr. Dykes
Since these figures were and are most encouraging, will my hon. Friend say to what extent he feels they may have been dented by the oil crisis and the miners' overtime ban? If they have been so dented, does he, in conjunction with the Department of Trade and Industry, intend to have discussions with industry and the CBI about maintaining confidence and investment intentions?
§ Mr. Higgins
No, Sir. The latest figures which are available—and there have been recent events and particular factors of the kind mentioned by my hon. Friend—give no ground to suppose, taking the overall picture, that the level of investment will not increase. That is of vital importance if we are to raise the level of productive potential in this country.
§ Mr. Sheldon
But it was only last week that the Prime Minister said that the high interest rates would not discourage industrial investment. Will the Minister say what categories of investment high interest rates are likely to discourage?
§ Mr. Higgins
I understand that there is a later Question on the Order Paper 563 on that point. The hon. Gentleman will know from his experience, as I do from mine, that a crucial factor affecting the level of industrial investment is the prospect of expanding markets. That prospect has been in the forefront of the Government's policy, and the measures we have taken have led to that objective. I see no reason to suppose that the kind of measures the hon. Gentleman mentioned in regard to monetary policy will have a significant effect on the level of investment.