HC Deb 17 April 1934 vol 288 cc926-7

It is now possible for a final balance to be struck.

The estimated revenue for the year is £706,500,000
and the estimated expenditure £705,700,000
leaving me a prospective margin of £800,000.

I have but very few more words to address to the Committee. It would be quite unreasonable on my part to expect universal agreement with the financial policy I have pursued since I have held my office. Differences of temperament, differences of political tradition and differences of judgment in weighing up opposing considerings naturally lead to different conclusions, and it is very possible that others if they had been in my place would have adopted other methods. We can only speculate now-upon what the results of such other methods might have been, but, if we want to estimate the wisdom of the course we have actually pursued, we might perhaps usefully cast a glance at what is happening elsewhere. I am quite certain that any comparison we may make will show that we have nothing to regret.

Where else outside the British Empire, where else in the world can you find a country which has been able to show a substantial surplus upon its Budget in two successive years? While in other countries cuts in pay and reductions in social services are still having to be faced, while elsewhere the taxpayer is still searching in vain for any relief from his burdens, while he is on the contrary forced to contemplate still further sacrifices and still further contributions to the State, here at any rate we can feel that we have passed the worst and can venture to remove a substantial portion of the load we have been carrying without fearing that presently we shall have to put it back.

The British people no doubt have their faults. They are slow to realise the danger and slower still to change their habits or their methods even when the necessity for a change stares them in the face. But they have one supreme virtue which you will find in every class of the community. Let them once be convinced that the country is in danger, and there is no sacrifice whether of comfort, money, health, or even life itself which they will not make. When the need arose in 1931, the sacrifices which were demanded then from our people were accepted by them cheerfully, and they have since been borne with unexampled courage and patience. Their truest reward is that they saved their country. I rejoice to think that at last it has been possible to afford them some relief from their burdens, and, believing as I do that this relief will itself hasten the process of recovery, I look forward with confidence to further progress in the same direction in the new financial year.

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