Failure of National Plan

Letter from George Brown, Department of Economic Affairs, to Prime Minister Harold Wilson, 5 July 1966 (PREM 13/827)





I have to make an oral statement on the progress of the National Plan at the meeting of the N.E.D.C. on Wednesday, 6th July. I shall also be taking a Press Conference after the meeting.

The question of the 25 per cent growth target is bound to be raised. I am proposing to deal with it in my statement by saying that developments during the past year, especially in the external field, have imposed additional difficulties on us by prolonging the period of slow growth in the early years of the Plan, and that therefore the achievement of all our targets within the period we set ourselves now seems less likely than it did last year. Any specific revision of the growth target would, however, raise problems of confidence in industry which go beyond the technical adjustment of dates or growth rates. Moreover, if we are to roll forward the Plan to cover the period 1967-72, we shall be consulting with industry in the autumn to work out our underlying growth assumptions, and for this reason also there would be little purpose now in making any specific alteration to our existing target. I shall, in addition, be laying some emphasis on the fact that the Plan is a plan for action and this would in no way be invalidated by our not achieving the overall growth rate by the precise target date.

I am hoping that the main lines of discussion in the Council will be on action to improve our economic performance.

I am sending a copy of this minute to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

(George Brown)

4th July, 1966

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