HC Deb 13 November 1956 vol 560 cc739-40
31. Mr. Harold Davies

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will issue a White Paper dealing with the economic consequences of the Middle East crisis.

Mr. H. Macmillan

I would refer the hon. Member to yesterday's debate in this House. No useful purpose would be served by a White Paper.

Mr. Davies

Surely the right hon. Gentleman is not telling the British nation that the speech which he delivered yesterday is an analysis of the economic consequences? May I ask him to reconsider that Answer, in view of the fact that 5.2 per cent. of our export trade is to the Middle East, that our oil is in jeopardy, and that this morning the Financial Times has said that our only increase in trade has been 5 per cent. in volume—that is all—over the last three years? British business men, in the interests of Britain, should know from the information available to the Chancellor what the position is as regards oil, particularly as it affects the steel industry, and especially our pottery industry.

Mr. Macmillan

All those are very important points, but I do not think the laying of a White Paper would be of any assistance.

Mr. H. Wilson

But, quite seriously—[Laughter.]—this is no laughing matter—does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that there is very great concern in the country about the economic consequences of the past fortnight, and is he not aware that his very perfunctory speech last night was an acute disappointment to people all over the country who very much want to know what the position is? Since he answered only one of the very many questions which hon. Members put to him last night, questions which are being asked all over the country, will he not think again and either make a statement at the earliest opportunity or present a White Paper as my hon. Friend the Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) asks?

Mr. Macmillan

Of course, I, or my colleagues according to the different subjects, will make statements whenever it is possible to do so; but if there were to be a real review of all the economic consequences, then I think we should take account of what would have been the consequences had universal war broken out.

Mr. Dugdale

If the right hon. Gentleman has not himself got the necessary information, will he consider publishing as a White Paper the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson), which explained the whole situation admirably?

Mr. Macmillan

I understand that in accordance with the beneficent rule under which we live, that is available in a document called HANSARD.