§ 1. Mr. Alison
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will ensure that announcements by nationalised industries of fundamental changes in investment policies and proposals, involving large sums of public money are preceded or rapidly followed by statements to Parliament by the appropriate Minister.
§ 2. Mr. Peyton
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give instructions that all announcements of major changes in investment plans of nationalised industries should be made in the first instance to Parliament.
§ 6. Mr. Patrick Jenkin
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will in future arrange that statements announcing major revisions in the investment plans of the nationalised industries should be made to Parliament.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. James Callaghan)
Programmes for one year ahead are published in the annual White Paper on Loans from the Consolidated Fund, and major developments in 272 policy are announced by the responsible Ministers. Since it is not the practice to announce long-term investment programmes, the question of announcing revisions does not arise.
§ Mr. Alison
Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that, on 16th February, he gave some firm figures about capital expenditure by the electricity industry? How is it that a few weeks later the electricity authority can announce a cut of £50 million in the electricity investment programme without anything being said to this House, except allegations by the Chancellor in his Budget speech that economic services are going to he expanded?
§ Mr. Callaghan
The answer is that I gave the programme for one year ahead and this is a long-term revision which has taken place. It extends into the early years of the 1970s.
§ Mr. Jenkin
Why were these three Questions transferred by the Prime Minister to the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Why does not the Prime Minister answer them himself, as it is clearly a matter affecting every Department responsible for nationalised industries?
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am not sure whether that is a question for me, but perhaps he thought that I would be better at answering it—in which case the hon. Gentleman and his supporters should have no complaints. The Treasury takes responsibility for the nationalised industries' programmes. Although the hon. Gentleman may want to be shot down regularly by the Prime Minister, there is no reason why we should assist him in his attempts at suicide.