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asked the President of the Board of Trade what investigations his Department made before introducing the investment grants scheme of the number of man hours likely to be spent by industry on applications for grants; and what subsequent investigations he has made on this point since the introduction of the scheme.
asked the President of the Board of Trade what investigations his Department made, before introducing the investment grants scheme, of the number of man hours likely to be spent by industry on applications for grants; and what subsequent investigations he has made on this point since the introduction of the scheme.
It was recognised that the nature of the scheme would cause some additional work. Precise information is not available but experience suggests that for most applicants the cost of claiming is not likely to be more than 1 per cent. of the value of grant received.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that my information is—and it seems to be fairly widespread—that there is a considerable amount of work involved in preparing these claims and that the old system of investment allowances involved no extra work whatsoever?
Yes, but I think that the extra work has resulted, not so much from the switch from investment allowances to investment grants, but from the discriminatory nature of investment grants. It is likely that if investment allowances had continued they, too, would have become discriminatory and, in that case, there would have been additional work.
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is already an enormous load on business people in making returns for Government purposes? Is he aware that this is just one more ill-prepared scheme which makes life for business people so much more difficult than is necessary?
I do not agree. I should have thought that any properly conducted concern could ascertain this information from the normal running of its business. It is only a matter of extracting it and putting it on the simple form which we provide. But there is another factor. Many firms are finding, and are writing to tell us so, that receipt of the cash grant earlier than they received investment allowances is producing substantial savings on financing charges which more than offset the cost of preparing the returns.
As we have had to deal with both investment grants and investment allowances, would my right hon. Friend take it from me that the present system is more complicated? Nevertheless, has he not had representations from industry that it would prefer to continue with the present system rather than have any further changes made at this stage?