HC Deb 19 April 1932 vol 264 cc1438-9

With this receipt I can strike my final balance.

The Estimated Expenditure for the year is 766,004,000
The Estimated Revenue, adding in the £33,000,000 from the various Import Duties and taking account of the different changes I have outlined, will be 766,800,000
The Budget is, therefore, balanced with a small surplus of 796,000

I have now finished my exposition. I think it has been generally recognised that I have had to open my first Budget in circumstances of unusual difficulty. The whole country is crying out for relief from taxation, and many people believe that that relief will carry us a long way on the road to prosperity. To the people who have been cherishing expectations of anything of the kind the announcement that no relief shall be given to them is bound to cause disappointment, and at first perhaps even resentment. In such circumstances there would be a natural temptation to seek a little popularity by gambling on the future, to take a more optimistic view of the revenue, to propose some spectacular remission of taxation in the hope that the luck would turn and that justification would be found in the general revival of trade.

But if such a temptation has occurred to me I felt it my duty to resist it, because I believe that nothing could be more harmful to the ultimate material recovery of this country or to its present moral fibre, than that we should indulge ourselves with hopes, possibly ill-founded, certainly premature, which might tempt us to relax the efforts which have already produced a wonderful revival of public confidence. To be obliged presently to retrace steps too hastily taken now, might well shake that recovered confidence past repair. On the other hand the exercise of continued restraint a little longer will surely bring us in the end a greater and more certain reward.

Everyone who has ever scaled a mountain knows how the peak which seems so close as he approaches the base, vanishes from his sight the moment he begins his ascent. Again and again, as he continues to mount, he thinks he sees the summit, only to find that there is another ridge behind. There comes a moment when he turns a corner, when he beholds at last the goal of his ambition before him, and with only a few steps more, he stands upon the final crest. So too we of this nation, though as yet prosperity is hidden from us, can feel assured that, so long as our faces are turned upwards and our hearts are strong, we are moving in the right direction. One day, perhaps almost before we know it, we shall find ourselves upon our mountain top. Hard work, strict economy, firm courage, unfailing patience—these are the qualifications that are required of us, and with them we shall not fail.