HC Deb 01 December 1966 vol 737 cc598-9
10. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what is his estimate of the growth of the British economy that is likely to take place in 1967.

Mr. M. Stewart

It is not customary to publish precise official short term forecasts of this kind. However, I can say that it will be possible to permit only a modest rate of growth in 1967 until the balance of payments situation is corrected.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Is not that dismal reply tantamount to an admission of the total failure of the right hon. Gentleman's Department? How does he reconcile it with the pledge in his party's election manifesto to make economic growth their central aim?

Mr. Stewart

I think that the hon. Gentleman knows very well that there is an inevitable connection between economic growth and the state of the balance of payments. It is the Government's intention to get the balance of payments right and to promote growth as soon as may be.

Mr. Frank Allaun

At what point would the deflationary measures be halted? For instance, if unemployment reached 700,000, would we do it then?

Mr. Stewart

One cannot answer this question in terms of picking particular factors like that. My hon. Friend will find that the Government are watching this situation and will time their measures correctly.