§ 13. Mr. Biffen
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a statement on current and expected levels of investment in the engineering industry.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Industry (Mr. Gregor Mackenzie)
Capital expenditure by the engineering, shipbuilding and metal goods group of industries was £798 million in 1974, representing an increase in volume of 12 per cent. on 1973. The investment intentions inquiry carried out in November-December 1974, results of which were published in Trade and Industry on 30th January, indicated a significant fall in 1975. A more up-to-date assessment will be available when the results of the 995 next investment intentions inquiry are published on 9th June.
§ Mr. Biffen
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that a number of investigations outside his Department indicate the likelihood of a continuing fall in levels of investment? In view of the importance of profitability in terms of investment, will he persuade his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to use his undoubted influence in the Cabinet to overcome the obduracy of the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection and to secure the early scrapping of the Price Code, and to use his undoubted influence to secure the rejection of the suggestion by Mr. Jack Jones of a prices freeze?
§ Mr. Mackenzie
I can confirm what the hon. Gentleman said in the first part of his question. I cannot confirm that many of the investigations which are now being carried out indicate such a fall. As regards the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I do not think that is solely a matter for me. It is very much a question for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection. The suggestions made by the hon. Gentleman strike me as being likely to lead on to further inflation rather than to curb it at present.