HC Deb 14 March 1983 vol 39 cc7-8
9. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is his most recent estimate of the level of investment in manufacturing industry in 1982.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

It is £7.14 billion at today's prices, including leased assets.

Mr. Hooley

Is the Secretary of State aware that a sustained high level of investment is essential for competitiveness? Is not the Government's record disastrous in the four years in which they have held office?

Mr. Jenkin

The fall in investment is reflected by the severe effects of the recession in the United Kingdom. I am convinced that by far the best way to encourage investment is for industry to feel a recovery in its profit levels, for without profits it cannot hope to invest.

Mr. Proctor

Will my right hon. Friend reiterate the firm commitment that he gave to manufacturing industry on Thursday when he met representatives of the paper and board industry?

Mr. Jenkin

In response to my hon. Friend's request—[Interruption.] I do not know why hon. Members should laugh. This is a very important issue. I calculated recently—imagining a purely hypothetical situation—that if we did not have any manufacturing industry whatever we would have to earn about £70 billion a year from services, which is a ludicrous figure. Manufacturing industry is absolutely essential, and pert of the Government' policy is to encourage and promote the health of manufacturing industry.

Mr. Orme

Does the Secretary of State agree that manufacturing industry has suffered a mortal blow under this Government? Does he further agree that the Government's policy has led to manufacturing industry being made leaner, but not fitter? Does he accept that investment in manufacturing industry has fallen by 33 per cent.? What does he propose to do about it?

Mr. Jenkin

Industrialists wanted more than anything a fall in inflation, in interest rates, and in the increase in unit labour costs. All those things are happening under this Government. They are the essential preconditions for our industry becoming more competitive.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman has read the survey in the Financial Times today of the reports from industry, which show that a great deal of industry is now beginning to win back orders in Britain and overseas. That is what it is all about.