HC Deb 12 November 1970 vol 806 cc597-8
Q6. Mr. Barnett

asked the Prime Minister if he will appoint a Minister to be responsible for all matters affecting the balance of payments.

Mr. Maudling

I have been asked to reply.

No, Sir.

Mr. Barnett

As the Chancellor of the Exchequer shows no sign of breaking out of the vicious circle of balance of payments and low growth, has the right hon. Gentleman considered suggesting to him the method which he had to leave off in October, 1964?

Mr. Maudling

That is a somewhat delphic supplementary. The Question was about the total oversight of the balance of payments, and clearly this goes too far for one single Minister.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

In view of the Home Secretary's experience of balance-of-payments matters and the almost universal feeling in the Press about the present lack of direction on the part of the Government in this sphere, would he consider taking a closer interest in these matters?

Mr. Maudling

I am already quite busy enough. I must admit, however, that the task of clearing up the mess which the right hon. Gentleman left is quite a problem.

Mr. Cant

If the right hon. Gentleman will not respond favourably to my right hon. Friend's last request, will he at least take the minor step of asking the Governor of the Bank of England to introduce some sort of control over money supply? If he will not do that, will the right hon. Gentleman promote him to the new Public Expenditure Unit at the Treasury because I gather that he is at least an expert on that?

Mr. Maudling

I have enough recollection of the Treasury to realise that general arguments about money supply are too complex for Question Time.

Mr. Gilbert

May we have an indication of the Government's attitude to whether they are contemplating narrowing exchange rate variations and whether they think that such a step would be appropriate for this country? May we have an assurance that no such arrangement will be contemplated for Britain without there being a debate in the House?

Mr. Maudling

I certainly could not make a statement at this juncture about exchange rate policy.