HC Deb 29 November 1956 vol 561 cc548-50
3. Mr. Lewis

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his recent estimate of the cost of Her Majesty's Government's armed conflict with Egypt of £35 to £50 million included the loss of the military supplies, stores, and installations in the Suez Canal, the loss of oil and trading difficulties resultant upon the closing of this Canal, and the subsequent petrol and oil rationing; and whether he will give an amended figure taking into account all of these factors.

Mr. H. Brooke

No, Sir. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence said on 20th November, the figure of £35–50 million related solely to additional military expenditure falling on the Budget. As regards the other matters in the hon. Member's Question, I would refer to the replies given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War to the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) on 20th November, and by my hon. friend the Economic Secretary to the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) on 22nd November.

Mr. Lewis

Is the Financial Secretary aware that matters are now getting to such a state that we are spending £50 million here, £30 million there and £50 million somewhere else? Will he state in HANSARD, or in answer to a Question, the total cost up to date of all these various amounts that he is now giving in fifties and hundreds?

Mr. Brooke

I have given the essential figures here and have referred the hon. Gentleman to the others. I am sure that he can do the necessary addition and substraction.

12. Mr. Jay

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer at what figure he now estimates the total cost to the Exchequer, including loss of revenue from taxation, resulting from military operations in the Middle East and the blocking of the Suez Canal.

Mr. H. Brooke

On the expenditure side, my right hon. Friend has already said that the additional military expenditure during this financial year will be between £35 million and £50 million. I know of no likely significant increase of civil expenditure.

As to the revenue, apart from the loss estimated at £6 million a month due to petrol rationing, it is much too early to form any views. Indeed, I doubt the possibility of isolating the effect of events in the Middle East from the many other causes which from time to time affect the yield of taxation, direct or indirect.

Mr. Jay

Would the Financial Secretary agree that this £60 million or £70 million loss to the Budget is only one of the many blessings which have flowed from the Government's diplomatic triumph in the Middle East; and that, in addition, there is bound to be a considerable drop in revenue from Income Tax and Profits Tax, due to lower production and earnings?

Mr. Brooke

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor has already given to the House his forecast of the out-turn of the Budget above the line, and I have given a forecast of the out-turn below the line. As to the rest of the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I would say that fortunately this country is always one that, rather than count the £s carefully, does what it thinks right for the world.