Mr David Howell: Has the right hon. Gentleman noted the report from the Estimates Committee on serious overloading in the Inland Revenue Department due to the Government's tax reforms? Will he arrange for an early debate on this very important subject?
Mr David Howell: asked the Minister of Technology what steps he is taking to return industrial research functions at present carried out in Government research establishments to private industry.
Mr David Howell: Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that when I last pressed him on the possibility of transferring functions at present in the research establishments back to private industry, he said that the tax reductions which I said were necessary to encourage firms to take on these functions lay outside his responsibility? Now that the right hon. Gentleman has acquired a bigger economic empire, can...
Mr David Howell: asked the Minister of Technology when he will publish the results of the study of effectiveness of investment grants announced on 4th February of this year.
Mr David Howell: Does the hon. Gentleman recall that it is now almost a year since the Select Committee on Estimates called for a new study of this unruly and uncontrollable element in public spending? Is it not worrying that even now we still do not seem anywhere near getting on with this study?
Mr David Howell: asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what further steps he is taking to relieve understaffing and overloading in the Department of Inland Revenue.
Mr David Howell: Would the Chancellor of the Exchequer accept that this report greatly reinforces the case for moving to a simpler self-assessment method of taxation, particularly in the non-P.A.Y.E. sector? Is he aware of the very unfavourable comparison between our own Inland Revenue and the American Inland Revenue service, where about the same number of revenue staff handle more than three times as many...
Mr David Howell: asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will now discontinue the practice of translating monthly trade figures into projected annual rates in his presentations of economic policy.
Mr David Howell: Would the Chancellor of the Exchequer in any case accept that if each month a three-month rolling total of the trade returns was published, as suggested by Samuel Brittan in the Financial Times, this would go a long way towards clearing up the situation, and will he make the position clear in people's minds?
Mr David Howell: One way and another I think enough has already been said in this debate to make clear that this transfer proposal is not seen as the most brilliant and popular move which this Government have made in their rather chequered career. I should like to add my four reasons why I support my hon. and right hon. Friends and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) in their...
Mr David Howell: asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what commitments he has entered into with the European Free Trade Association countries regarding protection of their interests in the event of negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Economic Community.
Mr David Howell: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have seen that communiqué? It still leaves unanswered a very difficult question. If the British Government sign the Rome Treaty and we adopt common external tariffs, what happens to the other E.F.T.A. countries which do not get in? Would we be obliged to raise tariffs against them?
Mr David Howell: To get the whole picture clear, one must also remember that an organisation called the Europe Forum, which exists to promote interest among the Conservative Party and Conservative politicians, also uses that address, so that it is concerned with both parties and not just one. It is important to get that into perspective.
Mr David Howell: asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is now his estimate of the rate of growth of gross national product for the current financial year.
Mr David Howell: Are we not now moving into the new year with a rate of growth of output which looks as though it may be less than 2 per cent.? Is not this a pitifully low figure by international standards? How can it be reconciled with the constant claim of Ministers, and particularly of the Prime Minister, that we would be combining rapid growth with a balance of payments surplus?
Mr David Howell: asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is now his estimate of the surplus of all revenues accruing to the public sector over total public spending for the current financial year.
Mr David Howell: I have seen that table. Is not part of the surplus arising from the practice of certain public bodies of borrowing abroad and not calling on the National Loans Fund? Is this a policy which the Treasury and the Minister condone and continue to approve?
Mr David Howell: The hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) has said much with which we on this side agree. Not only has he raised many questions which need to be raised but which have been raised rather late in the life of this Government, but he has also raised precisely the kind of questions which cry out for analysis and which would be fed into public information and debate by the development of functional...
Mr David Howell: If I have conveyed that impression to the hon. Gentleman, I have failed. I am trying to point out that what is needed is the very opposite of the D.E.A., a capacity of a different kind aiming in entirely different directions. 'This is not, and should not be, a matter of complaint against the Treasury. The Treasury is entirely right in its traditional view that it is not in business to make...
Mr David Howell: I go rather further than my hon. Friend. I believe that in the future pattern of Departments it will be necessary for Ministers to delegate authority; unless they delegate authority, they will find themselves carried forward on a chaotic and ever-expanding pattern of activities which will benefit no one and will certainly not provide the opportunity, which we on this side will be interested...