HC Deb 01 June 1961 vol 641 cc403-4
15. Mr. Ridsdale

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer for how much physical investment on account of capital development the nationalised industries were responsible in 1959 and 1960, respectively; and what proportion on average this bears to the total capital formation in industry in those years.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Anthony Barber)

Gross fixed capital formation by the nationalised industries amounted to £794 million in 1959 and £800 million in 1960. These figures were respectively 31.5 per cent. and 29.0 per cent of the gross fixed capital formation in those years in industry in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Ridsdale

Is my hon. Friend satisfied with the returns we are getting from the large amount of capital employed in nationalised industries? Can he say how it compares with that employed in private industry? Is not one of the causes of the lack of growth or poor growth in the economy the lack of productivity of the capital employed in nationalised industries?

Mr. Barber

Of course, my hon. Friend will know the proposals in the recently published White Paper on the economic and financial obligations of the nationalised industries, which are de- signed to reduce the risk that those industries might absorb too much of our investment resources. On the other hand, in view of the latter part of his Question, it is a fact that growth in these basic industries, which minister to other sectors of the economy, must be adequate for that purpose. What we are trying to ensure is that the proportion is right.

Mr. Jay

Do not the figures given by the Minister suggest that one cause of the lack of growth in British industry is that investment in private industry has not come up to the record of that in public industry in recent years?

Mr. Barber

I would not accept that. I should have thought that in productive investment British industry had a good record last year and the prospects for this year are also very good.

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