HC Deb 26 January 1956 vol 548 cc351-3
31. Mr. Osborne

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give an assurance that sterling will continue to be maintained at $2.80.

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:

49. Mr. H. WILSON

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has any statement to make about his intentions regarding the maintenance of the exchange value of sterling.

Sir E. Boyle

Yes, Sir. The statement made by my right hon. Friend's predecessor at Istanbul in September, 1955, represents Government policy and stands. With permission, I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Osborne

Can we take it that this promise made by a Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer that there will be no devaluation has much more merit and has meant more than similar assurances given by a Socialist Chancellor of the Exchequer?

Mr. Jay

If, as the President of the Board of Trade said just now. the Government do not know what their policy is, how can the hon. Gentleman be sure that this policy will maintain the value of the £?

Sir E. Boyle

My right hon. Friend said nothing of the kind. I can give a most unqualified assurance to the House and to the country that the Lord Privy Seal's statement at Istanbul still stands as Government policy.

Mr. H. Wilson

On a point of order. I gave notice earlier this afternoon that I was not putting Question No. 49, and the hon. Gentleman was so informed. We would like to have a clear answer from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I say that without intending any discourtesy to the hon. Gentleman.

Sir E. Boyle

I am sorry. I meant no discourtesy to the right hon. Gentleman.

Following is the statement:

Extract from Statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Istanbul, September, 1955

There has been some discussion recently in various quarters about the nature of the United Kingdom views on rate policy. Let me repeat what I said in the House of Commons on 25th July, 1955:

"There is no doubt about the policy of the Government in relation to the exchange value of the £ sterling, and I can give this policy in one sentence. It has been, and will continue to be, the maintenance of exchange parity of 2.80 dollars to the £, either in existing circumstances or when sterling is convertible. In the long run this must depend upon our efforts. Nothing else can replace these."

I have made it clear that we do not contemplate any early move on any (I repeat any) aspects of the exchange front. We must first go through the arduous process of strengthening our internal and competitive position. My Government has taken no decision upon the timing of the convertibility of sterling, nor upon the nature of the exchange arrangements after that date.

It will thus be seen that all discussions and rumours about impending changes of the parity of, or margins for, sterling are both unrealistic and irrelevant. I hope henceforth that the efforts we have made and shall make in the United Kingdom to strengthen sterling and prepare the way for the future will not be hampered by false impressions or by inaccurate reports.