Mr David Howell: asked the Minister of Power what is his latest estimate of the trend of the overall costs of nuclear and coal-fired power stations, respectively, during the next 10 years.
Mr David Howell: Does the Minister accept that those figures suggest that the economic advantages of nuclear stations are bound to be stronger and to increase in the future? Would he reassure the House that those advantages will be taken fully into account in the future fuel policy in both the medium and the long term?
Mr David Howell: asked the President of the Board of Trade what instructions he has given to the British delegation to the United Nations Committee for Trade and Development conference in New Delhi regarding schemes to encourage private investment in developing countries.
Mr David Howell: Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that, while his speech at the New Delhi Conference was, on the whole, well received, it was unfortunate that there was in it no mention of private investment possibilities? Particularly in the light of the Strikker Report, are there not good possibilities for making public aim and private investment work better together in future?
Mr David Howell: Will the Leader of the House give particularly urgent attention to the point raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) about the amalgamation of the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Affairs Office? Is it not extraordinary that such a major change in the Administration should be made without a word of explanation in the House?
Mr David Howell: I hesitate to interrupt the seminar on elementary economics which we are hearing from the other side of the House, but is the implication of the hon. Gentleman's argument that there should be a steady shift of resources from private consumption to public consumption within a growing G.N.P., that under this regimé in the second half of the twentieth century there will be a steady and...
Mr David Howell: I listened with interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Howie) without agreeing with all of his points, but I certainly found myself agreeing with what I understood him to imply about the whole of the incomes policy, that in some ways it was a bit of a sideshow. I believe the same label applies not only to the incomes policy but to the Department of Economic Affairs and to...
Mr David Howell: No. I would not. I want to come on to a number of other areas, but I noticed earlier that the hon. Member for Ashfield seemed to think the choice was between defence and social spending. I did not interrupt then, but that is a quaint view of the structure of public spending, which involves many other areas as well, on which I will touch in a moment, if the hon. Member will allow me. It seems...
Mr David Howell: That is an observation, but I do not see that it has much to do with the desperately serious problem of a system of public expediture which is out of date and a public spending bill which is out of control, which has led to the present difficulties. I come to the second point, the question of modern accounting. The traditional system of accounting used by the Treasury is probably very good....
Mr David Howell: asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what fall in the real value of average earnings he estimates will occur in 1968–69, after taking into account recent official estimates of future increases in prices and output.
Mr David Howell: Would it not be far better if the fall which these assessments show was a fall in public consumption in the coming year, rather than private consumption? Would the Chancellor be prepared to bring forward to the House specific cost reductions in annual targets for the main spending Departments so that we may discuss them and get a real pressure for economy going in public consumption?
Mr David Howell: asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, what effect the recent Budget proposals will have on the National Plan.
Mr David Howell: 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?
Mr David Howell: asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs whether, in view of the increase in average weekly wage rates in the 18 months July, 1966 to January, 1968 of 8·1 per cent. as against 7·4 per cent. for the 18 months before that he now proposes to proceed with a policy to direct restraint on wage rates as the main weapon against inflation.
Mr David Howell: Is the Minister aware that these figures show, at best, that the Government's present statutory policy will be useless and, at worst, will bring legislation into disrepute? Is it worth all the cost and bother and agony to his hon. Friends to make this kind of policy the centre of his economic planning?
Mr David Howell: Far from getting together with de Gaulle, does not the Prime Minister agree that the time has come when waiting for de Gaulle is not an adequate policy either from the British or European point of view? Does he not agree that the stage has been reached when more specific proposals, perhaps more specific than the technology institute, are now needed to respond to the Benelux proposals, the...
Mr David Howell: Mr. David Howell (Guildford) rose—
Mr David Howell: asked the Prime Minister whether he will now take steps to merge the management side of the Treasury and the Cabinet Office to create a Prime Minister's Department to assist him in discharging his central coordinating responsibilities.
Mr David Howell: Can the Prime Minister say at what date the Fulton Committee's Report will be published? Would it not be a great improvement if the good work of the management services side of the Treasury was transferred to the Prime Minister's Department, so that the drive for efficiency in Government should have the full backing of the Prime Minister's authority, such as it is?
Mr David Howell: Is not the main difficulty the fact that there are now six or more Departments trying to horn in on the Government's interventionist policy with industry? Is it not time that the Prime Minister got a central grip on his warring colleagues in this area?