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National Economic Development Council

Volume 885: debated on Tuesday 28 January 1975

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asked the Prime Minister when he next proposes to take the chair at the National Economic Development Council.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(Mr. Edward Short)

In my right hon. Friend's absence in Ottawa and Washington this week, I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend took the chair at the last meeting of NEDC on 8th January, and he hopes to do so again about once a quarter.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that while the country is facing a serious economic crisis the Government must take decisive measures to solve it? Will he confirm that the fact that there is a serious economic crisis is an overwhelming reason for measures to be taken to help low-paid workers and disabled people, and that they should be advanced rather than postponed?

Certainly. One of the essential features of the social contract is that people who are at the greatest risk in society should be safeguarded.

On the Government's own calculations, inflation appears to have risen from 8·4 per cent. in October to about 25 per cent. now.

When will the Government, together with those who attend the NEDC meetings, finally be prepared to take positive action to endeavour to cure inflation?

The Government are taking positive action all the time. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will support the Government. The social contract is the key to the Government's efforts to control inflation.

When will Professor Frank Jones' little NEDC report on the burden of taxation on industry be published? A summary was given in yesterday's Daily Express. Do the Government accept the conclusions of the report about the burden of taxation on British industry compared with the burden in other countries? If so, when will they act about it?

I am afraid that I cannot answer the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's question. I shall find out and let him know when it will be published. On the second part of his question, the Chancellor lightened the burden on companies a great deal last November.