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 Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough 12:00 am, 21st May 1963

As I said, the hon. Member cited two examples of which I have a little knowledge. He must know that Lord Marks, of Marks and Spencers, is one of our shrewdest and ablest businessmen. I know that that great organisation—shrewd and able as it is, and producing the finest goods at the cheapest prices in this country and probably in the world. and which is able to put its finger on the pulse of world trade week by week —has not made out a plan for the next 10 years and said, "This is what will happen", because, as the hon. Member knows, all sorts of factors affect trade. It is impossible to plan for 10 years ahead, five years ahead, or even two years ahead, knowing that industrial plans must be altered week by week according to the way in which the market moves at home and abroad. The hon. Gentleman is wrong in saying that long-term planning is practical.

5.30 p.m.

The other point the hon. Gentleman made was that the Italians had planned what they were going to sell, for years ahead. I made a statement in order to refute this and to show the impossibility of long-term planning. This morning Mr. Charles Clore issued a statement that his boot and shoe industry, probably the biggest in the country, had suffered a loss this year because the fashion experts who plan for him, in the same way as the hon. Member wants the Government to plan for the whole of industry, had failed to anticipate what the public would buy.

The only other example I wish to give to the Committee is that of the appointment by the then Socialist Government of the Ridley Commission in 1951. This Commission had to forecast—as the hon. Gentleman wants to forecast—what it thought would be the national requirements for some years ahead of coal, gas and electricity. That is the kind of forecasting and planning upon which hon. Members opposite pin all their hopes. It is supposed to be a panacea, a cure, for all things. Every forecast of the Ridley Commission in 1954 about our future fuel requirements was falsified. To say that planning will cure all economic troubles is just nonsense.