HC Deb 21 February 1985 vol 73 cc1184-5
5. Mr. Kenneth Carlisle

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the latest figures available for the levels of capital investment in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Lawson

Total fixed investment in the economy is reckoned to have reached about £55 billion in 1984, an all-time record in real terms. It is forecast to rise higher still this year.

Mr. Carlisle

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that one of the best indicators of the direction of the economy, of confidence in the future and of hope for jobs is the level of capital expenditure in manufacturing industry? What are the trends here?

Mr. Lawson

That certainly is one of a number of important indicators. My hon. Friend is right to refer to it. Provisional figures published today show that manufacturing investment increased by about 13 per cent. in real terms in 1984.

Mr. Willie W. Hamilton

Is not investment in manufacturing industries 30 per cent. less than it was when the last Labour Government left office?

Mr. Lawson

Investment in manufacturing is, indeed, less—although not by that amount—in real terms since 1979. Total business investment is at an all-time high. That is what the hon. Gentleman should take on board.

Mr. John Mark Taylor

Will my right hon. Friend remind the House that one of the great modern delusions is that all public capital expenditure is labour intensive? Is that not far from the truth?

Mr. Lawson

My hon. Friend, who speaks with great experience from a distinguished career in municipal government, is absolutely right.

Forward to