Leaving aside the Government's complacency, will the right hon. Gentleman agree that the Industrial Policy Group's statement about investment, which was highly discouraging, was both stupid and irresponsible at a time when we have a million unemployed? Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House his right hon. Friend's view of what the Government propose to do about overcoming the reluctance of British industrialists to invest at present?
The authors of the Industrial Policy Group report have, as the hon. Gentleman knows, expressed doubt whether this country suffers from a shortage of investment at present. The Government and the leaders of the C.B.I. do not accept that view. The level of manufacturing investment in 1971 is likely to be higher than earlier estimates suggested. The revised estimates for the third quarter show a rise of 5 per cent. over the second quarter level.
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made clear to the House the steps that he has taken to encourage investment. As for the rest, the hon. Gentleman will not expect me to anticipate my right hon. Friend's Budget.
It is a pleasant change to hear my right hon. Friend sug- gest that things are getting better in investment for industry. However, that is not the general impression of those engaged in business. Will my right hon. Friend look at Questions Nos. 14 and 15 together, since it is the uncertainty about the value-added tax which plays a big part in keeping back investment?
I do not accept that uncertainty about the value-added tax is the cause. If it were, that would be removed very shortly. It is true, however, that uncertainty over the inflationary situation has contributed to the reluctance to invest. If hon. Members want more investment and more prosperity for the nation, the House as a whole had better help the Government to keep down the rise in wages and prices.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Government's total mismanagement of the present fuel crisis will postpone the pick-up of the economy and that the immediate-term and short-term outlook for unemployment will be even more depressing? Will the right hon. Gentleman recognise that even more vigorous action will be required than would have been the case before the fuel crisis?
It is early to judge the effect of the miners' strike and how it will affect both confidence and investment. A great deal will depend upon the outcome of the Wilberforce Inquiry and when the miners return to work. If right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to increase investment and to improve prosperity, I hope that they will bear this in mind and do what they can to encourage the end of the strike.