HC Deb 28 November 1972 vol 847 c221
6. Mr. Dykes

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate for the overall trade figures out-turn in the balance of payments for 1972–73 and 1973–74.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

It is not customary to give forecasts of the balance of payments between Financial Statements. Though the dock strike has distorted recent visible trade figures there seems to have been underlying growth in both exports and imports. The invisible surplus remains high and last month there was a small surplus on current account.

Mr. Dykes

I appreciate my hon. Friend's standing inhibition about giving figures which can be misconstrued but, as with the adjustment with sterling it looks as though we shall have a trade balance-of-payments surplus of several hundred million pounds for the current year and for next year, will he confirm that the rate of growth of the economy continues to take priority?

Mr. Jenkin

The rate of growth of the economy continues in accordance with the forecast of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time of his Budget Statement. But I cannot add to what I said earlier about the balance-of-payments figures.

Mr. Healey

Will the Chief Secretary at least comment on the estimate of the OECD that we shall have a deficit on the balance of payments next year of over £300 million? Has he been informed by the OECD of what assumption has been made in reaching this figure of the value of the £ sterling during 1973?

Mr. Jenkin

I have seen reports in the Press but, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, it is not customary to comment on other people's forecasts. I shall certainly not be drawn into making a forecast of my own.

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