HC Deb 25 March 1955 vol 538 cc2429-30
The Minister of Food (Mr. Heathcoat Amory)

Mr. Speaker, I wish with your permission to correct certain figures about personal savings which I gave to the House during the debate on the cost of living on Wednesday. The figures I quoted were provisional figures. I have since learned that revised figures are now available. The revised figures are: in 1951, £273 million; in 1952, £690 million; in 1953, £910 million; in 1954, £909 million. I regret that I used figures which were not in the latest revised form.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

The House, of course, will be grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for correcting the figures which he gave the other day. They were very startling, particularly as the Financial Secretary, in a speech at a National Savings meeting recently indicated that the savings in 1951 were only £100 million, and that in 1953. which then was the last year for which we had figures, the figure was £750 million. This is the third set of figures we appear to have had, and one begins to wonder which set we are to accept. Can we take it from the right hon. Gentleman that the figures he now gives us are the correct figures? I would point out to him that the figures cannot bear the gloss which he put on them when he spoke the other day.

Mr. Amory

I should like to repeat my apology for not having used the latest figures available. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the figures for the aggregate of personal savings are figures about which it is particularly difficult to be precise. They are figures that are subject to revision from time to time. All I can say about these figures is that they are the latest revised figures. Whether or not, in the course of time, these figures will again be subject to any further revision I cannot say. This is the latest revision available and the best estimate that can at present be made. I am extremely sorry if I misled the House in any way, but I think that if hon. Members will substitute these figures for the figures I used the other day they will find that they do not invalidate the argument I was then putting forward to the House.

Mr. Hale

On a point of order. The right hon. Gentleman, in his statement in the debate the other day, said that personal savings had gone up by £142 million between 1953 and 1954, and he finished that passage of his speech by saying: I cannot think of a better reflection of national prosperity and well-being than that."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd March, 1955; Vol. 538, c. 2112.] Now the right hon. Gentleman tells the House he used wrong figures, and gives us new figures, but he has not said where the new figures came from, and the savings in 1954 now seem to have dropped by more than £100 million below the previous estimate. The House was furnished in an important debate with figures which misled it and with reasoning which misled it. Surely we are entitled to ask the Government for another day for another debate on this matter, a debate that can be based on accurate figures from which we can draw accurate reasoning.

Mr. Speaker

The right hon. Gentleman's statement was a personal statement, and is not debatable.