§ Mr. Julian Ridsdale (Harwich)
On a point of order. May I seek your guidance, Dr. King? It has been announced outside the House that the Secretary of State for Defence will make an important intervention in the Budget debate on the TSR2. Could it be suggested, for the convenience of the Committee, that a separate statement could be made now or after Question Time tomorrow? It would be impossible for hon. Members on both sides of the House to cross-examine the Secretary of State for Defence on his speech.
The point which the hon. Gentleman has submitted to me is not a point of order.
Before I call the Chancellor of the Exchequer I have a short announcement to make.
The Committee will recall that it is the practice on this occasion—and for very good reasons—that copies of the Budget Resolutions are not made available until near the end of the Chancellor's speech. They are then circulated whilst the Chancellor is still speaking. This causes noise and disturbance during the end of the speech.
I therefore propose to arrange that today the process of handing round copies of the Resolutions shall not begin until the Chancellor has concluded his speech. There will then be a short pause while the copies are being handed round. As soon as I judge that this process has been completed, I shall call upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer to move the first Resolution, and from then onwards we shall follow the usual practice, according to Standing Order No. 90.
I hope that this will commend itself to the Committee. I understand it has the approval of the usual channels.
§ 3.34 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. James Callaghan)
Our country has suffered from a weak balance of payments for many years. In the past decade we have preserved solvency only by periodic bouts of deflation which immediately reduced imports, but also sapped the confidence of management and labour at home and weakened our industrial power. Nineteen sixty-four was a year of reckoning for a decade of mistaken policies and false pride. The deficit amounted to £745 million, and would have been over £800 million if we had not been relieved from payment of interest and capital on our North American loan.