§ 27. Mr. Biffen asked the President of the Board of Trade by what amount he expects investment in manufacturing industry during 1967 to differ from that undertaken during 1966; if he is satisfied with the prospective figures; and 477 what proposals he has to encourage the profitable use of capital assets.
§ 61. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne asked the President of the Board of Trade if, in view of the 6 per cent. decline at constant prices in industrial investment in the private sector between the third quarter of 1964 and the fourth quarter of 1966 and the further 10 per cent. decline at current prices forecast by his Department in 1967, he is satisfied with the working of the Industrial Development Act; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Biffen
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that that Answer is every bit as unsatisfactory as the Answer he gave to my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne)? Will he confirm that the Board of Trade on the latest reckoning expects investment in manufacturing industry to fall by 10 per cent. during the current year compared with last year? Will he confirm that last year it was below the level of 1965? Will he recognise that it is the prospect of profits much more than anything else which will encourage British industry to start investing?
§ Mr. Jay
No, Sir. The hon. Member is wrong. The figure for last year was almost exactly the same as it was in 1965. The forecasts for the present year do show a fall, but there are expansionary forces working in the economy, particularly the rise in exports and also public expenditure, which will increase demand. It remains to he seen whether this fall will continue.
§ Mr. Patrick Jenkin
Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that the final outcome of investment for 1966–67 was somewhat below his recent optimistic assessment of what it would be? Has he yet made a revised assessment in the light of that for 1967? Is not the figure of 10 per cent. in the last survey going to prove too low? Will it not fall more than that?