HC Deb 04 March 1947 vol 434 cc237-9
46. Mr. Osborne

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the estimated repayments of Pay As You Earn to date, due to the industrial stoppage through the coal and electricity crisis.

Mr. Osborne

Has the Chancellor no powers of estimating, or, if he has not,

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Dalton)

It is too early to say. has he no civil servants who can do it for him?

Mr. Dalton

It is too early to say because in most cases the employers are themselves handling this matter, and I thank them for their co-operation. I am not going to burden them with a lot of inquiries as to what will happen. It is too early now, but later on a statement can be made.

47. Mr. Osborne

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the estimated net loss of national income due to the coal crisis and electricity cuts to industry.

Mr. Dalton

This figure will be reflected in the Statement of National Income and Expenditure which will be published next year.

Mr. Osborne

By 1948 lots of things may have happened. Does the Chancellor realise that in the White Paper he recently published he said that £7 thousand million of income was chasing £6 thousand million of goods, and cannot we know how much is being lost?

Mr. Dalton

Clearly it is quite impossible to give those figures at the present. We must see how recent events affect the course of trade and employment in the months that are to come. It is quite impossible at the moment. I have every desire to give more information as soon as I reasonably can, but, as in the case of the previous Question, the hon. Member is really in advance of events. We cannot say yet.

Mr. Oliver Stanley

But 1948 is a very long time away. Surely the right hon. Gentleman will be in a position before then to make an estimate of the effect of this on the national income for the next year? How can we discuss the Budget without that?

Mr. Dalton

We will have a try, but I say that we will certainly be in a position not merely to give an estimate but to make a definite statement as to the effect at the time that I indicated to the hon. Member. Before that we may be in a position to give an estimate, but not yet.

Mr. Nicholson

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider publishing a document to be known as "20 months of Labour misrule"?

Major Bruce

Will the right hon. Gentleman resist the temptation to increase the number of civil servants which would be required in order to provide the information asked for by hon. Members opposite?

Mr. Churchill

Are we right in assuming that in the near future—either at the time of the Budget or before it—the right hon. Gentleman will endeavour to give us some idea of the definite changes which have been wrought in our situation by the recent stoppage?

Mr. Dalton

Yes, Sir. I have no desire to conceal anything from the House. I am only anxious to distinguish between an estimate and a firm statement of the effects of events which have taken place. It is a matter on which, as I indicated to the hon. Member in reply to his first Question, I shall be at the disposal of the House from time to time in the Budget Debate and at other times to give the best estimates as events develop.

Mr. Osborne

May I ask, as it was my Question, if the right hon. Gentleman is aware that if the country really knew how much had been lost, the right hon. Gentleman could then make an appeal to the employers and the workers to make it up?