HC Deb 13 December 1976 vol 922 cc962-3
21. Mr. Forman

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is satisfied with the growth of industrial productivity over the last two years.

Mr. Alan Williams

No, Sir. We have had to deal with the consequences of the inflationary spiral begun by the previous Government and the impact of the world recession as well as the more deep-seated problems of recent decades. The improvement of productivity is one of the main aims of the industrial strategy.

Mr. Forman

Since the gross domestic product per head is now less than 1 per cent. up on February 1974, when the present Government took over responsibility for the nation's affairs, can the Minister give us any indication that his Government have any plans to take effective action in this sphere?

Mr. Williams

I should have thought that the success, for example, of the accelerated projects scheme, bringing forward £600 million worth of investment, was one indication of the Government's determination to achieve greater levels of investment and, therefore, better productivity in industry. It is worth remembering, amid the political carping, that about £200 million of that investment is due to take place in the next calendar year. These are positive attainments geared specifically to productivity, but Conservative Members choose to ignore them.

Mr. Buchan

Does my hon. Friend agree that there will be no sustained growth in future industrial productivity if we do not get the power in industry right and, above all, if we lose the heavy electrical industry? Is he aware that at Babcock and Wilcox in my constituency there is a prospect of an immediate 1,500 redundancies if the Drax B project does not come forward, along with at least one other power station?

Mr. Williams

Of course we accept the seriousness of these problems. I know how deeply important this is to my hon. Friend's constituency and to other constituencies. As he will be aware, the report is due to be published within the next few days. It will be possible then for consultation to take place, and the unions and management involved, and, no doubt, political colleagues, will be able to make their views known on the basis of the report.