§ No man can speak of the future with certainty. Least of all can I give any binding assurance. But at least I can say this. So far as I can see, the steps which I have proposed for balancing this year's Budget will be sufficient to ensure, in the absence of unforeseeable calamities or of heavy increases of expenditure, that no further increases of taxation will need to be imposed next year.
Though, as I have said, I am imposing no new direct burdens on industry, I am fully aware of the psychological effect on trade and commerce of increased taxation even when no material burden is imposed. Recognising this, I am convinced that whatever my views as to the equity of the present distribution of the national wealth, in existing circumstances an essential factor in ameliorating unemployment is a restoration of a spirit of confidence and enterprise among those now responsible for conducting industry and commerce. And to encourage that spirit of confidence and enterprise it is right that, so far as is humanly possible they should know the probable full extent of their tax burden in immediately ensuing years. For the last eight years we have been passing through difficult times. We are still in the aftermath of the War. I have never despaired in the darkest hour of the future of our country. It is perhaps a happy omen that to-day for the first time since the autumn the unemployment figures show a slight reduction. Although I am optimistic of the future, 2682 I do not expect a sudden and immediate change to our former prosperity. But hope, nay I am confident, that when I stand at this Box next year I shall be able to submit to the House of Commons a much more cheerful and encouraging statement.