HC Deb 24 April 1928 vol 216 cc841-3

The receipts from the Motor Vehicles Duties I estimate at £26,500,000. For the moment I am giving gross figures in order that hon. Members may enter them on the Blue Paper which is in the old form. The total receipts from taxes will, therefore, be £677,535,000. The gross receipts from the Post Office I estimate at £65,500,000. The revenue from Crown Lands may be put at the usual figure, £1,100,000. In Sundry Loans and Miscellaneous Revenue we have to note the increased receipts resulting from the settlement of Allied Debts, and from the payment of reparations under the Dawes scheme. It is very interesting that these important factors now aggregate in the present year to nearly £32,000,000, which is not far short of the £33,164,000 to be paid by us in the coming year to the United States of America. My mind goes back to the first speech I made in this present Parliament, and I put it to other hon. Members in whose recollection that episode may lie, whether if we had been told that we should have achieved almost complete equipoise between what we receive and what we have to pay during the present year they would not have been frankly incredulous at such a thing. I am sure the right hon. Member for Colne Valley would have gladly rejoiced at that time if he had thought there was any prospect of such a result. [Interruption]. Much credit is due to those who took a part in the agreement which rendered the Dawes plan possible. Why should we not be ready to give a little credit to each other instead of simply handing out bricks?

Whereas when we took office Miscellaneous Revenue consisted largely of dying elements like the sale of war stores and war properties, the loss of these assets is now to a large extent made good by annual resources which we have every reason to expect, and every reason to insist, shall not be less enduring than our American obligations. I put Sundry Loans at £27,650,000 and Miscellaneous Ordinary Receipts at £13,550,000. That is a large drop because the Road Fund surpluses do not appear this year. Special Receipts I put at £27,162,000. On the old form of accounts we should thus have £812,497,000 gross revenue and £806,195,000 gross expenditure. Adopting the new style of accounting which omits the Post Office and Road Fund from the account, in so far as they are self-balancing, I have to meet an expenditure, including the Sinking Fund, of £727,381,000, and I have available revenue of £733,683,000. There is, therefore, a prospective surplus of £6,302,000 without taking into account at all the extraordinary item of £13,200,000 from the Currency Note Reserve, which will be used for the further cancellation of Debt. From this prospective surplus I deduct the addition of £800,000 I have made to the new Sinking Fund in order to raise it to the total figure of £65,000,000, and the provisional prospective surplus thus becomes £5,502,000.

Considering that we have lost this year no less than £34,000,000 of windfall revenue which we enjoyed last year, and that we are able with the help of the Currency Note Reserve to provide a new Sinking Fund of £65,000,000, that no additional taxation of any kind is needed to pay our debts or to pay our way, and considering that after this year we shall fairly turn the corner of recovery from the stoppage period; considering all these things, and they are fairly large things, I think the Committee will probably be inclined, not indeed to express any enthusiasm or satisfaction—that I should not look for—but at any rate to feel in their hearts, however much they may repress the expression of such sentiments, that anyhow things might easily have been worse.