As all Governments are demonstrably less efficient at controlling the dissipation of resources in the public sector than in inhibiting the creation of wealth in the private sector, can the Prime Minister say why the current annual rates of 9 per cent. and 16 per cent. in current and capital expenditure in the public sector should not be taken to indicate a grave deterioration in national solvency of a far graver kind than that in the balance of payments deficit which the Prime Minister laments with such monotonous regularity?
While not wanting to compete with the hon. Gentleman's polysyllabic preamble, still less to agree with it, I would only say to him that the rate of public investment this year is rising, despite the fact that the bulge in the electricity programme which was necessary about two or three years ago is now easing off because it has reached the capacity necessary to avoid the danger of excessive power cuts in the winter months. With regard to the other items of public investment, these have been showing a sharp upward trend.
Bearing in mind that under the Attlee Government after the war there was a succession, without any fuss, of industries being nationalised, and bearing in mind also that the steel industry has now been renationalised, will my right hon. Friend say what will be the next major industries to be the subject of the extension of public ownership?
In the 1945–50 Government the public ownership programme was carried out in accordance with the manifesto on which the Labour Party fought the 1945 election. That has been the position in this Session as well. If my hon. Friend wants to study what was in our election mandate, he should read again the election manifesto on which he was elected to the House.
Would not my right hon. Friend agree that hon. Members on this side of the House would welcome an extension of public enterprise, and would he not further agree that in the development areas the advance factory programme can be pressed more effectively by a rapid extension of public enterprise?
My hon. Friend is well aware of the discussions that we had on this programme before we came to office, and I have nothing to add to the outcome of those discussions. What my right hon. Friend was referring to in his speech was the fact that over a fairly wide feld, including science-based industries, including new projects resulting from technological research, including some of the things which are necessary for re-structuring industries, it may be necessary to ask the House for permissive powers—the aircraft industry has already been mentioned—to enable this to be done. This is what my right hon. Friend had in mind. It may be to the convenience of the House to have one Measure which will enable action of this kind to be taken, but this does not involve an extension of nationalisation in the sense in which it has previously been considered.
Would it not be wiser and more sensible to postpone the nationalisation of any further industries until those which have been nationalised have been proved to run efficiently and at a profit?