§ 3.32 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Denis Healey)
Less than eight months ago I presented my first Budget on 26th March. It was just three weeks after a General Election, and I was Chancellor of the Exchequer in a minority Government whose life was bound to be counted in months, not years. On this occasion I have enjoyed the luxury of four weeks since the General Election and I am Chancellor of the Exchequer in a majority Government; a majority, if we are to judge by the votes last week, somewhat larger than might appear on the surface. So I can and must see this Budget as helping to lay the foundation of a comprehensive strategy for dealing with Britain's economic problems over the next four years.
When I addressed the House last March the economic outlook both at home and abroad was totally uncertain. One of these uncertainties at least is much reduced. We now know that Britain has recovered from two months of three-day working with far less damage than seemed likely at the time. I took account of this fact in the measures I presented to the 242 House in July. But the international uncertainties are in some respects even greater today than they were eight months ago.