Unemployment and Economic Policy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th February 1963.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet 12:00 am, 4th February 1963

I have very little time. I cannot give way.

I do not think that it is yet realised how very generous are the new depreciation allowances which I announced on 5th November. They are now the best in the whole of Western Europe, and I think that this should be known. The whole initial cost of any new machinery can now be written off in seven years as a maximum, and there will be 30 per cent. investment allowance additional to come after that.

The amounts allowed in other countries after seven years are as follows: France, 86 per cent.; Germany, 80 per cent.; Holland, 93 per cent.; Belgium, 70 per cent. Italy does it in six years, but we have the investment allowance on top which Italy does not have. All these countries will give 100 per cent. write-off in 10 years, but by that time we shall be giving 112 per cent. The fact is— I think that it should be more widely recognised in British industry—that this new system of depreciation allowances gives to our industrialists a more rapid rate of write-off and a more generous treatment of capital allowances than is received by any of their competitors in Western Europe and, I think, probably, almost anywhere in the Western world.

Those are the measures which the Government have introduced. I was not quite sure from what he said whether the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East agreed with them or not. He was a little scornful. He said that it had been done before. The fact that a thing has been done before does not mean that it is wrong. Is it wrong? Should not I have done what I have? Should not I have introduced the new allowances? Should not I have released Post-War Credits? Perhaps I have done too much. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is worried, wondering when the next balance of payments crisis is to come. Does he think that I have released too much purchasing power? Does he think that what I am doing is leading to inflation? Does he think that I want to restore the credit squeeze? He should say so. He cannot argue in that way. Either he agrees with what I have done or he does not.