§ 3.30 p.m.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)
Among the many strange events which have characterised the financial year which has just closed, we must record the occurrence of two Budgets, a feature which I do not say is unprecedented, but for which I have not been able to find a comparable parallel in peace-time during the last 100 years. I need not now recall the events which necessitated the second or emergency Budget, but the Committee will recollect that last September my Noble Friend the Lord Privy Seal found himself face to face with a prospective deficit of no less than £74,000,000. To make good that deficiency and to balance the national account demanded the highest courage and determination on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, at the same time, a supreme confidence in the readiness of the people to undertake whatever burdens and sacrifices might be laid upon them in order to support the national credit. My Noble Friend was fully equal to the occasion. Although, to use his own words, his task was one of the most disagreeable that had ever fallen to his lot, he produced a scheme which was universally acclaimed, both at home and abroad, as a model of severe but sound and salutary finance. By a combination of economies and new taxation, he was able to provide for a reduction of Debt of £32,500,000, and for a surplus of £1,500,000. To-day, we have the satisfaction of recording that not only have my Noble Friend's anticipations been fulfilled, but that the small surplus of £364,000 which we actually show must be taken in addition to the fact that, instead of the £23,000,000 which it was proposed to take last April from the Dollar Exchange Fund, it was only necessary to take £12,750,000. If, therefore, we add to the £364,000 the £10,250,000 which is the difference between those two figures, we see that 1412 we are really to-day £9,000,000 better off than my Noble Friend anticipated last year.