HC Deb 19 April 1955 vol 540 cc50-1

Now I will try to sum up Exchequer prospects on the existing basis of taxation. During the past year we have maintained a vigilant watch on both the totality of Government expenditure and its detailed distribution. Had we not done so I should not now be able to lay before the Committee the prospect of so favourable an Exchequer out-turn for 1955–56 on the existing basis of taxation. Expenditure of £4,562 million; revenue of £4,844 million; a surplus of £282 million.

This last is a very considerable sum. Before I can say how much of it—if any—should be given back to the hard-pressed taxpayer, I must look ahead and analyse briefly the likely demands to be made upon us abroad and at home in the coming months. Then I can give the Committee my judgment. Economists rejoice in this exercise—the analysis of demand. No one, I am sure, is more capable at it than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell). But, for once, the language of the economists is intelligible, because it means exactly what it says—what, in fact, are the probable calls upon our resources, and what are our chances of meeting these calls, while combining a vigorous expansion of production at home with the maintenance of a healthy balance in our overseas account? I have given the Committee the picture of both.