1 NOVEMBER 1963, Page 4

Public Limit, Private Sky

Wa may be reasonably confident that Mr. Maudling did not agree to serve under Sir Alec Douglas-Home in order to give Mr. Heath, the new Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development, and President of the Board of Trade, some of his economic powers. As if he intended to remind Mr. Heath that economic trespassers in Whitehall will be prosecuted, Mr. Maudling delivered a solemn warning at a weekend Conservative meeting about too rapid an economic expansion. The increase in public investment, he said, is on a vast scale. 'We have reached the limits of what can be done. To try and do more would result only in overstrain, delay and rapidly rising prices.' This was a sharp warning to Mr. Heath—and a slap in the eye to Lord Robbins, who wants to build one and a half universities a year for the next eighteen years. But how is this warning to be reconciled with the fact that half the members of the FBI who replied to their recent questionnaire reported that they were working at under-capacity? The explana- tion is that the Government's vast investment scheme falls almost wholly on the building and construction industries. Obviously the Govern- ment cannot add to its investment programme. That is what Mr. Maudling was saying; but greater expansiorr can be called for in the capital goods industries in the private sector. Mr. Maudling is obviously afraid that the government investment prograMme will cause such a rise in wages that the price level will be upset. That is why he pleaded once again for all incomes policy to be accepted by the trade unions. It is now up to the NEDC to tr■, and make better progress towards securing the con- sent of the trade unions to an incomes policy'.