HC Deb 06 April 1948 vol 449 cc77-9

No one would deny that we as a people are passing through a time of the greatest economic difficulty; but I am convinced that we as a nation are tackling our problems with a sense of realism and with a determination which hold out the promise of a victorious solution of our problems. We have called upon every section of the community to help in this all-out struggle. I have tried, in the light of the review of our present economic situation, to frame Budget proposals which will back up that effort of the nation by Government action.

Some, particularly those with considerable invested capital, are being asked to bear greater burdens for the special effort of this year; others, particularly those to whom we look for our production and who rely upon moderate incomes, will benefit by very substantial reliefs in their taxation. This is both fair, and in accordance with our economic needs, and will be matched by the large economics effected in Government expenditure.

As determined democrats we must counter those elements in our country that are attempting to mislead our people and so bring about a breakdown of our economy to serve their own ends. We shall, however, only succeed in that if we are prepared to put forward live and progressive democratic policies, taking full account of the long awaited reforms which our people demand and deserve.

The financial programme of the Budget will serve to reduce the pressure and ill effects of inflation, and will strengthen our productive effort. By this action we shall make plain, both to our own people and to that large part of the world which is watching anxiously to see how we meet the challenge of our difficulties, that we are building—it may be somewhat slowly and painfully—strong and stable foundations for our reconstruction, by the ordered use of our resources, by guarding the value of our currency, and by the way we are determined to tackle our job—the way of free men, working together in a free democracy for the good of our nation and of all the free peoples of the world.

The proposals that I have put forward today are, I believe, one more proof that we can, by democratic methods, cope with the most difficult economic situations. The political, economic, and spiritual freedom of our people is of a value beyond all price. We shall only preserve that freedom so long as we are prepared, in critical times like the present, to subordinate our personal interests to the greater good of our country as a whole. It is in that spirit that I hope that these Budget proposals will be considered by this Committee.

The Chairman

It is now my duty to propose the necessary Resolutions to the Committee. I have arranged for copies to be passed round to hon. Members in their places, and I will pause for a moment to enable that to be done. I assume the Committee will then be willing to take the Resolutions summarily, in accordance with recent custom.