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Manufacturing (Financial Assistance)

Volume 927: debated on Monday 7 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is his estimate of the total amount of public funds contributed to manufacturing industry for the latest convenient period.

Records of expenditure are not, by and large, maintained so as to distinguish manufacturing industry from other industrial activity, but assistance to manufacturing industry during the period 1974–75 to 1976–77 has been about £6,350 million at 1976 survey prices. This figure does not include support for nationalised industries, industrial training, Redundancy Fund payments or labour market services, which together account for a further £2,582 million at 1976 survey prices.

If my hon. Friend has any particular aspect in mind, I shall be pleased to hear from him.

The aspect that I have in mind will be well known to my hon. Friend. Does not this massive figure of public money contributed to private industry make all the more urgent the need for planning agreements within industry? This is a tragedy which my hon. Friend has constantly failed to answer.

On the contrary, I have tried to answer my hon. Friend on the matter of planning agreements when his Question has been reached, which has not always happened. I hope he will have taken careful note that there is a Question on this subject later on the Order Paper.

Does the Minister agree that it is not only a question of the amount of funds that have been put into industry but rather a question of the use that is made of them? What is his Department doing to make certain that output and productivity in our industry are increased?

That is the whole purpose of our industrial strategy and the National Economic Development Office and the sector working parties. When my hon. Friend considers applications for assistance under the various selective schemes, that is obviously the kind of matter that he always has uppermost in his mind.