HC Deb 08 May 1969 vol 783 cc641-2
17. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what revisions he intends to make to his economic planning document in the light of the Budget.

Mr. Shore

None, Sir.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

That is the most extraordinary Answer. Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that the Chancellor appears already to have shed his target as announced in "The Task Ahead" of a basic balance of £500 million a year? Is not the Chancellor intending to rely instead on his ability to blackmail the Government's overseas creditors into postponing repayment of our debt? Why is the right hon. Gentleman being more royalist than royal?

Mr. Shore

My right hon. Friend made clear that he was working for a substantial and continuing surplus on the balance of payments. I quoted his words deliberately because they occur in the Economic Assessment for 1972, and were restated by my right hon. Friend in his Budget speech.

Mr. Higgins

The right hon. Gentleman may say that he is doing that, but could he tell us any measures in the Budget which actually lead to an improvement in the balance of payments?

Mr. Shore

The basic strategy that we have pursued since devaluation has been to transfer the production resources from home consumption into the balance of payments. This policy—

Sir Knox Cunningham

Was disastrous.

Mr. Shore

—was reinforced by the Budget of 1968, together with the November, 1968, measures, and my right hon. Friend's proposals were wholly consistent with the continuation of that strategy.

Mr. Peyton

If the right hon. Gentleman really maintains that this document does not need any alteration now, is it not true that the only reason for that is that it is just as useless and meaningless and flaccid as himself and his colleagues?

Mr. Shore

The hon. Gentleman is rather stronger on insults than he is on intelligence. The only conclusion I can draw from his remarks is that he has read neither the Economic Assessment nor my right hon. Friend's Budget speech.