§ With this in mind we can continue our analysis of our economic prospects in the year ahead. Looking at the claims on our resources of the balance of payments, and bringing in the claims of the home market I have already mentioned, my estimate—and the best I can give the Committee—is that we are unlikely to do much more than make good the decline in output of last year. We must not be content with this. We can, and we must, do much better. The physical resources are there—the manpower, and sufficient supplies of most raw materials. In particular, steel, about which we were anxious a year ago, is now more plentiful, and the prospects are that, except for a few types such as steel plate, there will be enough to meet all requirements, for home and export, in 1953.
§ We also have the productive capacity. Latterly our productive capacity has been increasing steadily; and with continuing investment it will go on increasing and is capable of giving us a much greater increase in output, in 1953, provided we take the right course now. We must look beyond the immediate export difficulties and, whatever happens, plan ahead to improve our competitive position. The time and opportunities we now have must be used to re-equip and modernise our factories, to expand capacity in lines which command a ready market abroad, and to develop new lines and new techniques.
§ This means more investment in productive industry and agriculture. We are making the licensing procedure easier and quicker for the building of new factories or extensions of factories. No manufacturer should now find difficulty or delay in getting a licence for productive work. The need is, however, so great and so urgent that I have come to the conclusion that further help must be given in this Budget.