asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the percentage increase in industrial productivity has been over the past year.
Between the first quarter of 1960 and the first quarter of 1961 the index of industrial production
which I propose to circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Is not the Chancellor aware that we raised this question of invisible balances, which at last has been taken seriously, as a matter of great urgency in the debates on 7th February and 18th April and were given no reply at all from the Government Front Bench? Is he aware that he needs to take firm action about Government expenditure in Germany and to give us the true facts about the oil earnings, on which he has withheld all information from the House? Will he look again at the very serious loss of overseas invisible revenue due to British companies keeping their profits overseas under the O.T.C. provisions of the 1957 Finance Act?
These matters and a number of others which are also relevant are being considered by me.
Following is the table:
increased by just under 1 per cent. During the same period the numbers employed in the industries covered by the index increased by nearly 2 per cent., so that production per head fell by about 1 per cent.
Does not the Chancellor agree that these are rather disturbing figures when put alongside the figures for increases in salaries and wages which he gave the House last week? Does it not go to the nub of our economic problem? Can he not suggest means of keeping the two slightly more together?
It is an exceedingly serious problem. It is lamentable that production has not gone up more. I must add one qualification; last year, productivity per man-hour went up a little, but owing to a reduction in the hours worked the net result was a decrease in production.
Will the Chancellor analyse the causes of what he describes as a lamentable performance? Is it not the case that Government policy is by far the most important issue in all this? We know that capital development has gone ahead and that, although there is a shortage of skilled men, nevertheless there are orders for a great many overseas markets. Why does not the Chancellor ally this situation with his own financial policy?
There are many very broad issues here, such as shortage of skilled labour, restrictive practices generally, whether management is up to date and the whole health of our economy. I spoke frankly about that in my Budget Speech.