HC Deb 13 June 1967 vol 748 cc287-8
27. Mr. Biffen

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by what amount he estimates the total gross domestic product in 1967 will exceed the corresponding figure at constant prices for 1966.

Mr. Callaghan

By about 1½ per cent.

Mr. Biffen

Are we to understand from that Answer that the Chancellor is disagreeing quite categorically with the comment of the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu), who concurred with my hon. Friend the Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Patrick Jenkin) that the rise will not be very much more than ½ per cent.?

Mr. Callaghan

That is a little too complicated, and I do not know the context in which the statements were made.

Mrs. Thatcher

Will the Chancellor say whether that was his Budget estimate or a revised estimate since then, taking into account the inflationary measures announced and expected to be announced, according to Press hand-outs?

Mr. Callaghan

This was the Budget estimate. I hope the hon. Lady will soon grasp the point that it is possible to make an assessment of growth in February based on measures not then announced and not likely to be announced for some months later.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

Since the forecast that the Chancellor has made is well within the statistical limits of error of any gross national product series, what significance can the figure of 1½ per cent. possibly have?

Mr. Callaghan

A figure of 1½ per cent. of the gross national product would be between £400 million and £500 million, and that would be a significant figure. If the hon. Member is asking me what degree of accuracy can be attached to this forecast I would refer him to my previous comments on this subject.