HC Deb 11 December 1956 vol 562 cc210-1
29. Mr. H. Wilson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what change took place in the total figure of sterling balances in November, 1956.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The figures are not yet available; but apart from that, it has been the practice of this and previous Governments to publish these figures only half-yearly in the White Papers on the balance of payments.

Mr. Wilson

But whatever the practice may have been, does the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that a somewhat misleading picture may be derived from the publication of movements in the gold and dollar reserves in times such as the present? Might it not even be helpful to the Government and to the position of sterling to see what, if any, changes there have been in sterling balances at the same time as these devastating changes in the gold and dollar reserves?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The right hon. Gentleman is, of course, correct. There are considerations on both sides. After all, he, or his right hon. Friends, followed this practice when the Labour Government were in power. Sir Stafford Cripps expressly said, when asked about it in 1950, that he would not change the practice.