HC Deb 14 November 1974 vol 881 cc571-2
7. Mr. Carter

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is satisfied with the present level of investment as a percentage of the gross national product.

Mr. Dell

No, Sir. In 1973 the proportion of the national product devoted to investment in total was 22.3 per cent., of which manufacturing industry accounted for just 4 per cent. and housing 4.3 per cent. These figures remain inadequate. We need more investment, and we need to ensure that funds are invested where they will be most effectively used in the national interest.

Mr. Carter

Is not the prime responsibility for this pathetic level of investment that of private industry? If we fail by either public or private means to increase the level of investment, can my right hon. Friend say precisely how he sees our future?

Mr. Dell

We must increase the level of investment. I think that the responsibility is divided between private industry and successive Governments which followed stop-go policies. I think that the level of investment in manufacturing industry is likely to increase if we manage to have a steady course of development, even if it is slower than some of the exaggerated demands of right hon. Gentlemen opposite.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that if the level of investment rises the final reward to the investor must reach him? How long will the Government postpone that?

Mr. Dell

During an inflationary situation, as the previous Government found, it is necessary to exercise various controls, but they have to be exercised fairly. We do not believe that anything we are doing in that respect should discourage further investment in industry.