§ The Chairman
Before I call the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I should explain that, to avoid what occurred last year, on this occasion I have taken steps to ensure that copies of the Budget Resolutions will be handed round when the Chancellor sits down and not before.
This will, I hope, produce the minimum of inconvenience and dislocation. There will then be a short pause before I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to move the first Budget Resolution.
§ 3.33 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. James Callaghan)
This year, Sir Eric, I intend to arrange the Budget Statement in the following way. First, I shall consider the outlook for the balance of payments and after that the prospects for growth in the economy, and for employment. On this occasion, I shall not focus exclusively on the immediate year, but look further ahead at our medium-term prospects. Then, in the second part of my speech, I shall deal with the Budget accounts and their financial and monetary implications. Finally, I shall set out my proposals for this year.
I fear that the speech will be rather a marathon and I express my apologies to the Committee in advance and assure hon. Members that I have done my best to keep it within tolerable [HON. MEMBERS: "How long?"] If hon. Members want to know when to return to the Chamber, I would think at about five o'clock. But a description in depth of the country's short-term and medium-term prospects hardly lends itself to a 15-minute canter.
Before I start, I must refer to the receipt of yet another excellent report from the Select Committee on Procedure dealing with the Finance Bill. I offer my respectful congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) and to Members 974 from all three parties for the extremely constructive way in which they grappled with this difficult problem. No doubt the House will want to discuss the latest recommendations in due course.
Meantime, I shall propose to the Committee in the Finance Bill that we adopt the recommendation contained in the Select Committee's earlier 1965–66 Report, namely, to abolish the Committee of Ways and Means. The Finance Bill will contain the necessary Clauses. If they are approved, today will be an historic occasion. For this will be the last time a Chancellor of the Exchequer will open his Budget in this Committee of Ways and Means, which has considered tax proposals for at least 300 years. I shall propose that debates on Budget Resolutions shall be taken in future by the House in full session, and if the House agrees the new procedure will become effective next year.