HC Deb 23 October 1945 vol 414 cc1902-3

I fear I have addressed the Committee at great length, and I must apologise for taking so large an amount of time. But I would like to make one or two general observations in conclusion. I have gone slow, deliberately and of set purpose. I have gone slow in tax remissions for the moment, quite deliberately, because there is an inflationary risk in any reduction of taxation, either now or in the near future. Every reduction of taxation sets free purchasing power to run about the world and chase scarce goods. It is a danger. That is why, except for these concessions of Purchase Tax, I have postponed the operation of all my principal tax remissions until the beginning of next year. Next April we shall all see the picture much more clearly than any of us can see it now, including the best crystal gazers of to-day. We shall be able to see it with the naked eye next April. We shall then be able to see the progress that has been made with reconversion and shall be able to judge the prospects of trade and production, revenue and expenditure. I may then be able, next April, to make some further proposals to the Committee regarding changes, of one sort or another, in taxation.

Meanwhile, I have selected for announcement now such tax remissions, to operate next year, as will, in my judgment, give the greatest incentive to the greatest number. That has been my purpose. If I have judged rightly in this, the inflationary risk involved in these tax remissions is at its lowest, and it is worth taking for the sake of giving increased stimulus to economic activity generally. Intensified production and a greater abundance of goods is our best counter to inflation. It is also essential, as I have already urged, that all expenditure which has no national or social justification should be stubbornly forced down; and also that saving out of income by all sections of our people should flow on in full tide of unabated endeavour. This is an interim Budget, framed within three months of this Government's taking office. It is the first of a series which, I hope, will clearly exhibit an ever-developing and expanding plan, for a fuller national life, as we move forward together, Session by Session, through what I hope and believe will be an historic Parliament.

The Chairman

The Committee will recollect that on previous occasions it has been the practice for the Chairman to read the Budget Resolutions in full. That has been rather a lengthy process. On this occasion, however, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been good enough to agree to my request that copies of these Resolutions might be available in the Vote Office, and hon. Members can now obtain them there. This will enable me, with the permission of the Committee, to take the Resolutions quite shortly. I hope this course will meet with the approval of the Committee and be of general convenience.