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Manufacturing Investment

Volume 940: debated on Monday 28 November 1977

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9.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what are the latest figures for manufacturing investment compared with last year.

Investment by manufacturing industry in the first three quarters of this year is provisionally estimated at £1,305 million, at 1970 prices, seasonally adjusted, a rise of 6 per cent. over the same period last year.

Would my right hon. Friend care to estimate how many jobs will be lost in manufacturing industry as a result of that investment on the assumption that we have a continuing stagnating level of overall output in manufacturing industry?

Does the light hon. Gentleman accept that a job is a job and that a new job created in the service industry is as important for the person who gets it as a job created in manufacturing industry?

Of course it is, but the whole problem of our economy has been that the manufacturing base has slipped in terms of our gross national product. The aim of the industrial strategy is to try to rebuild the manufacturing base. That does not mean that we want to damage the service sector.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many firms have failed to accept social responsibility for the investment that they have undertaken? Has my right hon. Friend's Department a policy of social responsibility in industry for firms undertaking new investment?

When the Government undertake financial support for new investment we, as a prime objective, look for continuing viability, and, therefore, continuing employment within the firm, and higher productivity. On occasions this may mean, as my hon. Friend has suggested, that some jobs will be lost as a result of investment. However, it is the rôle of the wider policies of governmental support—mainly those within the Department of Employment—to give help to those who are made redundant.