HC Deb 01 March 1955 vol 537 cc1876-7
41. Mr. Jay

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the worsening balance of payments situation, he now proposes to introduce his Budget at an early date.

Mr. R. A. Butter

I have already announced measures designed to rectify the balance of payments situation. I cannot yet make any statement about the date of my Budget.

Mr. Jay

But as the Chancellor announced last Thursday the complete reversal of his economic policy, is there not a case for bringing the Budget policy into line, and letting the country know where it stands?

Mr. Butler

As the first part of the supplementary question is inaccurate, that is to say, as we are simply using an instrument which we ourselves reintroduced, namely, credit policy, and we are using another instrument in order to restrict consumer demand, I do not see how we are reversing our policy. As regards the Budget, I think hon. Members had better await both the announcement of the date and the contents of the Budget.

Mr. Gaitskell

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the Budget is an extremely important instrument of economic control, and, if he still takes that view, will he at least tell the House whether the Budget is to be before or after Easter?

Mr. Butler

That will be announced in the ordinary course of business when we are ready to make the announcement.

Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

Is it not a fact that the situation is infinitely better today than when we took over from the Socialist Government? Is it not a further fact that, in 1951, after six years of Socialist misrule, this country stood on the verge of national bankruptcy and were we not going backward financially at the rate of about £34 a second?

Mr. Butler

I should like to endorse all that my hon and gallant Friend has said.