Economic Affairs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th July 1971.

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Photo of Mr John Pardoe Mr John Pardoe , North Cornwall 12:00 am, 20th July 1971

That is not what I said. I said that I was sceptical about the effect of investment incentives on the total level of investment. I accepted immediately and have always proclaimed that investment incentives can have a substantial effect, if they are sufficient and if they are grants, on where the investment takes place. That is so in a world situation—for instance, whether aluminium smelters are built here or elsewhere—and it will affect the question of whether the factories are built in Cornwall or in Birmingham.

My second major reservation is about the commitment of the C.B.I. What happens if this 5 per cent. ceiling clashes in any individual firm with the need for profitability, the need to return a satisfactory rate of profit on capital? Of course the C.B.I. cannot enforce this. A voluntary prices policy is a mirage. How will the Government toughen the sinews of such a policy when it fails, as fail it undoubtedly will? Moreover, even if it were to work moderately, as Mr. Brittan has pointed out in the Financial Times this morning, it will not stop inflation : it will merely bring it down, perhaps, if one is fairly optimistic to about 7½ per cent. Well, whoopee. That is no great achievement. Unless we can do better than that, we shall be back in a balance of payments crisis very rapidly.