HC Deb 19 April 1920 vol 128 cc99-100

These changes which I have mentioned will produce in a full year £198,230,000 or, excluding £9,500,000 drawn from the Post Office, £189,000,000 derived as to £125,000,000 from direct taxation and £64,000,000 from indirect taxation. In the current year they will give me an additional revenue of £76,650,000, making a total revenue in the current year of £1,418,300,000. At the close of the year we shall have outstanding assets to the following amount: Loans to Dominions, £119,500,000; loans to Allies and for relief, £1,767,000,000; or, taking them as in former years at one-half that figure, £883,500,000; the remaining liability of India for 5 per cent. War Loan, £21,000,000. To these must be added Vote of Credit Assets (£300,000,000), of which a portion may still be required to meet Extraordinary Charges, and Excess Profits Duty payable after the close of the current financial year of £400,000,000, making total assets of £1,724,000,000, in addition to reparation payments by our late enemies, the amounts and times of which cannot well be fixed. Whatever they are and whenever they are obtained, these will form an additional reserve for the reduction of debt.

6.0 P.M.

In the current year, therefore, the expenditure, exclusive of Sinking Fund, amounts to £1,184,102,000, and we are providing for a revenue of £1,418,300,000.This gives me approximately £234,000,000 for the redemption of debt this year, or a Sinking Fund equal to 3 per cent. of the total debt. Of this £234,000,000 available for the reduction of debt, over £70,000,000 will be available for the reduction of the Floating Debt, after meeting all maturing liabilities, without reborrowing, except by the continued sale of Saving Certificates. Nor is that all. As the result of these changes, there is every prospect next year that there will be available for the reduction of debt a sum of £300,000,000, of which one-half at any rate should be free for the Floating Debt, and with the advent of a "Normal Year," when temporary and extraordinary receipts and charges have both terminated, and on the assumption that the Excess Profits Duty has also been brought to an end, there should be available for the Sinking Fund a balance of not less than £180,000,000. We were told on Saturday that two such Budgets might destroy the Empire. I will not stop to retort that twenty such Budgets would redeem the whole of our debt. I am content to say that after such a war as that in which we have been engaged, and after such gigantic financial sacrifices, this is a position of unexampled and unequalled strength. It is true that to attain it we are obliged to impose fresh taxes and to call for further sacrifices. That may not bring popularity to the Government or to the Minister. I am proud to say that we have not sought it. Our object has been to rise to the level of our great responsibilities, so that when we surrender the Seals of Office we may leave to our successors an ample revenue and to our country a national credit second to none.