HC Deb 08 July 1969 vol 786 cc1148-9
24. Mr. Dickens

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate of the rate of economic expansion in the United Kingdom in 1969–70.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

I would refer my hon. Friend to the "Financial Statement and Budget Report 1969–70" and to my speech in the debate on the Letter of Intent on 25th June.

Mr. Dickens

May I ask my right hon. Friend to make it clear to the House and to the country that this in fact means that Britain will enjoy a lower level of economic expansion in 1969 than in 1968, and can he now say what the effect of this will be on the level of unemployment this coming winter?

Mr. Jenkins

It could also be said that it means that Britain will enjoy a higher level of growth in 1968 and 1969 combined than in any two successive years for some considerable time past.

Concerning the level of unemployment, it is never the practice to give precise forecasts. But I remember that my hon. Friend and other hon. Members on this side and some hon. Gentlemen opposite were pessimistic at this time last year, and their pessimism proved ill-founded.

Mr. Higgins

In view of the Chancellor's extraordinary statement in answer to a previous question, that the article in Economic Trends on monetary policy suggested that it did no more than provide an early indication of the way that the economy is going, may I ask him to appreciate that a rapid change round in the quantity of money of the kind he is envisaging is likely to have a serious effect on economic growth and that this is consistent with the view of Professor Milton Friedman?

Mr. Jenkins

The hon. Gentleman has obviously been cogitating that answer for some time because it was given in reply to my first question. But he may have been cogitating it upon a false basis, because I did not say that this was the only effect of the squeeze on domestic credit expansion. I was discussing how far it was an indication of what was happening in the economy. A particular level also affects what is happening in the economy as well as telling us what is happening.