§ 10. Mr. Marten
asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what revision he has made, following the discussions with the International Monetary Fund, of the estimates for our balance of trade and balance of payments made in his planning document "The Task Ahead"; and if he will make a statement.
§ 17. Mr. Ridsdale
asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs whether he will now revise his planning document. "The Task Ahead," in the light of the estimated balance of payments for the forthcoming year.
§ Mr. Marten
But as the planning of the document "The Task Ahead" was based on a desired payments surplus of £500 million, and as the Chancellor said yesterday that he thought a surplus of only £300 million to be obtainable, has not one of the assumptions on which the document was based altered and do not other things follow from that?
§ Mr. Shore
The hon. Gentleman and I had a similar exchange shortly after the Budget statement. The point I made then was that both the Chancellor, in his short-term forecast and in his Budget speech, and I in my medium term assessment, made the same point—that we need a substantial and continuing surplus of about £500 million a year. What we did not say in the medium-term assessment was the precise year in which we expected this target to be achieved.
§ Mr. Ridsdale
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of us believe that he is hundreds of millions of pounds wrong in his assessment? Would it not be better to leave planning to the I.M.F. 1685 or the Treasury and liquidate his Department?
§ Mr. George Brown
Speaking from bitter experience, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he does not agree that leaving it to the Treasury is bound to make it even worse?
§ Mr. Higgins
While the right hon. Gentleman did not specify a year in which he thought the objective was likely to be achieved, does not he agree, after the agreement debated yesterday, that it is likely to be at least a year later than it would otherwise have been?