We aim to publish a substantial planning document in the autumn describing the economic and industrial prospects over the next four to five years. This could serve as a basis for further planning work next year. It will take account of all the relevant factors including those referred to by the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. David Howell).
Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the stationery bill has gone up by £6·5 million this year? Is not publication of these plans, which never seem to work, a further waste of money? Would it not be better to abolish the whole idea?
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's view is shared by those engaged in planning and certainly not by the N.E.D.C., or by the large number of firms anxious that the Government should carry on their planning work.
Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that this time the new national plan is put together more intelligently than the last one? Will not he concede that the last National Plan had certain weaknesses, particularly its failure to take account of that most obvious contingency, the balance of payments crisis?
This document will make the best possible use of the available information, but I need hardly remind the House that one of the problems with the 1965 Plan was the great shortage of statistical material available to the planners and forecasters.
My hon. Friend will know that we have already given our response to the very excellent report on preliminary strategy produced by the Yorkshire and Humberside Economic Planning Council.
If the Ministry will not publish this report, could the hon. Gentleman tell us the estimated growth of the gross national product over the six years 1964–70? Is it the 15½ per cent. we have been led to believe, or the full 25 per cent. proposed in the National Plan?
As the hon. Gentleman has just heard, my right hon. Friend expects to publish a substantial planning document in the autumn. I hope that it will go some way to meeting the hon. Gentleman's requirements. Meanwhile, a very informative Financial Statement has been published by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Obviously the plan will have elements of a forecast and a target in it. After all, the Government, in publishing this planning document, are responding to a great deal of pressure placed on them by industry as well as to their own need for a basis for their own public expenditure proposals.
The hon. Gentleman is clearly completely out of touch with the needs expressed by industry of this country for Government planning, and also equally out of touch with the Government's own requirement to make a basis for public expenditure which his party continually insists we should keep under control.