21 JANUARY 1938, Page 3

Public Works and Slump Sir Richard Holt, Chairman of Martins

Bank, together with most other authorities, rightly deprecates undue pes- simism over the possibilities of an impending slump. He does, however, discern today a " hesitancy " in trade. Econo- mists, on the whole, are less optimistic concerning trade prospects than are the financiers and business men themselves. Mr. Roy Harrod, speaking to the Liberal Party Organisation on Tuesday, saw many " ominous " signs in the present' economic outlook, and believed that a slump, if it were not actually upon us already, would certainly be so within a year or two. A slump is an insidious disease, for none can really tell the moment of its incidence. But, once established, not only do its ravages quickly and cumulatively increase, but the moment for preventive or mitigating action, unless pre- prepared, is past. The last Governmental pronouncement of its policy towards public works—that put forward at last year's International Labour Conference—was far from reassuring, and in view of the undoubted possibility of a trade regression in the not too distant future, it is to be hoped that the Government has made some advance since then and at any rate begun to think about the possibility of planning a public works programme. It is not much to ask.