HC Deb 09 February 1984 vol 53 cc1014-5
14. Mr. Adley

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received from the Confederation of British Industry; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lawson

The CBI has sent me a copy of its Budget representations and I had a useful meeting with the CBI on 12 January.

Mr. Adley

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the increase of 210,000 jobs in the service sector in the first nine months of 1983 is a significant achievement and fully justifies the CBI's interest in promoting this sector of the economy, in which, as my right hon. Friend knows, I have an interest? Will he, therefore, in his forthcoming Budget, ensure that fiscal incentives are harmonised for the service and manufacturing sectors?

Mr. Lawson

I am well aware of the campaign that my hon. Friend has waged for many years in favour of the service industries, and hotels in particular, and of the signal success that he secured some years ago. I shall, of course, bear in mind what he says when framing my Budget.

Mr. Bob Brown

Did the CBI, in its representations, draw to the right hon. Gentleman's attention the absolute scandal that between 1979 and 1983 the real value of child support for invalidity pensioners was reduced by £2.15 or 13 per cent.? Will he take steps in the next Budget to put this right?

Mr. Lawson

This Government's record in assistance to the disabled has been second to none.

Mr. Eggar

In view of the rapidly improving performance of the corporate sector, should not my right hon. Friend give preference in his next Budget to assisting—PRIME MINISTER individuals on low incomes rather than to the corporate sector?

Mr. Lawson

There are many sectors with claims for relief, if tax relief can be given. Before tax reliefs can be given we must find the savings in public expenditure so as to be able to afford them.

Mr. Terry Davis

Given that the CBI says, after it has made all the adjustments that it can make in favour of the Government, that the level of Government capital expenditure is one fifth less than it was in 1979 in real terms, and given that the CBI, like the TUC, the Opposition and even some Conservative Back Benchers, has urged the Government to increase capital expenditure, why does the Chancellor refuse to listen? Is he deaf or simply stiff-necked?

Mr. Lawson

That is not a very impressive way to approach a serious issue—[Interruption.]—particularly as everything that the hon. Gentleman said was totally wrong. To give just one example, capital expenditure in the public sector is now running at roughly the same level in real terms as it was in 1978–79. When the public expenditure White Paper is published in a few days' time, the hon. Gentleman will be able to see that for himself.