Clause 33. — (Increase of Investmeni Allowances.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st May 1963.

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Photo of Mr Edward Du Cann Mr Edward Du Cann , Taunton 12:00 am, 21st May 1963

It does not stop the building of houses, if I may say so with some asperity to the hon. Gentleman, because house building has been continuing at a very high rate for a number of years, and that is a very satisfactory thing, too.

The point in general is not invalidated. Someone would have to make arbitrary decisions. It is suggested by the hon. Member for Ashfield that it would be the Treasury. I am flattered that he should suggest that, and so I am sure is my right hon. Friend. Without doubt, an extraordinarily heavy and invidious burden would be placed on the Treasury. It means that the Government have to take the whole responsibility as arbiters of deciding what is right and what is wrong for our economy. That would not be either successful or satisfactory. I believe it would be quite the reverse.

My right hon. Friend is now proposing increases in investment allowances generally for all assets of the kind for which investment allowances can be given in all industries. The point at issue now is whether he should abandon that general approach, as the hon. Gentleman suggested, or concentrate on specific cases said to be of particular national importance.

What is plain, as the hon. and learned Member has emphasised, is that it is obviously out of the question for my right hon. Friend now to cut down a relief which he announced as long ago as 5th November last, for obviously, a degree of expenditure has now been undertaken. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that it was rather naughty to do that. Perhaps that is a matter that we shall be going into later; but let us be clear about this. What has been done has at least had some success, and it is right to be pleased about that, for what matters to everybody on both sides of the Committee is that the economy in general should be moving forward—and that is what is happening.

What was surprising about the hon. Gentleman's speech was that he took no account of some of the points made in the debate last year. For instance, he did not deal with the question of whether or not his proposals would run counter to our international obligations. That has to be thought out very clearly. Nor did he deal with another point raised last year, on the subject of saving imports. Does he intend that agriculture is to be fully brought in? Does he mean that the most generous treatment will be accorded to agriculture? That requires an answer.