§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
In making my Budget Statement last year I framed 258 my Estimates upon the anticipation of a prosperous year, and the event has more than justified the forecast. The Estimates were based on a hopeful view of trade and the receipts of the Exchequer have exceeded even the optimistic Estimates which I then made. Without exception last year was the most prosperous year that British trade has probably ever seen. Judged by any test—volume of trade, profits, employment, wages—business was thoroughly sound and healthy. The chairman of the Baltic Conference a fortnight ago, in his Presidential address, stated that last year formed a red-letter year in the history of British shipping. Our overseas trade was at its highest and the home trade had never reached such dimensions. Factories, workshops, counting houses, banks, railways, docks, and, in fact, every domiciliary industry in this country was humming with business, and the tide of affluent trade rose so high that it overwhelmed three serious obstacles in its path. There was a great strike that was going on at the time I made my statement, probably the greatest strike we have ever had in this country, which dislocated almost every industry; there was a bad harvest in this country, from which agriculture has suffered severely, especially in some parts of the Kingdom; and there was a war in the East, and the still more grave complications which that war menaced to Europe.