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Private Sector Investment

Volume 940: debated on Monday 28 November 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry what steps he intends to take to increase investment in industry in the private sector.

The Government intend to continue present policies to improve the economic climate and will continue to provide generous direct incentives to private investment.

In view of the question asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph), does the Minister really want entrepreneurs to flourish? What are the Government doing to advise entrepreneurs that the recent statement by the National Executive of the Labour Party is not Government policy?

The fact that we want to see entrepreneurs flourish is demonstrated by the success of our investment schemes, under which £1,100 million new investment has been generated. The Opposition constantly vote against any increase in funds under Section 8.

In view of the reluctance of private enterprise to take advantage of the incentives provided by the Labour Government, will my right hon. Friend consider taking over advance factories?

Advance factories still need projects to get them going. The Government will consider viable projects from any source.

In view of the reply that he gave to the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Madden), does the Minister agree that it is no good offering direct assistance to industry when the climate is not right for investment because, as he explained, he has failed to persuade the clothing industry to take up the Industry Act money on offer? Will he explain to his hon. Friends that the level of investment will improve only when he can ensure that the likely rate of return matches the risks involved?

A total of £1 billion of investment has been generated as a result of our policies. In the period prior to the recession, the Conservative Administration did not manage in real terms to get manufacturing investment back to the level that it was when the Conservatives took office.