HC Deb 01 March 1955 vol 537 cc1861-2
12. Captain Pilkington

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much national reserves fell from June, 1951, to June, 1952; and by how much they rose in the next two years.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I presume my hon. and gallant Friend is referring to the gold and dollar reserves, which, as recorded in the latest Balance of Payments White Paper, fell by £779 million between 30th June, 1951, and 30th June, 1952; rose by £243 million between 30th June, 1952, and 30th June, 1953; and rose by £233 million between 30th June, 1953, and 30th June, 1954, that is in the two years to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers.

Captain Pilkington

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is very misleading for hon. Members opposite to try to make capital out of the fact that in October, 1951, the level of reserves was higher than it is today, whereas in fact they were cascading downwards?

Mr. Gaitskell

Would the Chancellor take the opportunity of correcting the wholly inaccurate statement which he made last Thursday, when he said that reserves fell between June and October, 1951, by £900 million—[Hon. Members: "Dollars."] No, £900 million; it is stated in Hansard—whereas in fact they fell by 600 million dollars, which is a four-fold difference. Would the right hon. Gentleman also confirm that the gold reserves today are below the level at which they were in October, 1951?

Mr. Butler

I was not aware that "pounds" occurred in Hansard, and I think certainly some effort should be made to correct that,* because the figure I had in mind was 900 million dollars.

Mr. Gaitskell

Six hundred million dollars.

Mr. Butler

In the period which I had in mind, for which the statistics were correct, it was 900 million dollars. I will see to it that an absolutely accurate figure, compared with absolutely accurate dates, is inserted, so that there is no doubt about the manner in which hon. and right hon. Members opposite allowed reserves to fall. In answer to the second part of the right hon. Gentleman's Question, it is true that we have never reached the height which reserves reached in 1951.

Mr. Jay

Would the right hon. Gentleman also say accurately by how much reserves today are lower than they were in June, 1954?

Mr. Butler

In June, 1954? I said that, leaving aside those repayments to the I.M.F. and E.P.U. creditors, which amounted respectively to £40 million and £39 million sterling, the fall has been about 40 million dollars.

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