HC Deb 15 February 1979 vol 962 cc1291-3
4. Mr. Rost

asked Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is yet able to announce when he expects to present his next Budget.

Mr. Healey

An announcement will be made in due course.

Mr. Rost

Should not the Chancellor tell us now when he next expects to punish the British people for his irresponsible overspending? Will it be before or after the election?

Mr. Healey

I suspect that I shall do that when the hon. Gentleman stops beating his wife.

Mr. Cryer

Will my right hon. Friend say whether the studies about switching television licensing to the Treasury will be completed in time for any Budget announcement? I am sure he will recognise that many of the anomalies which at present cause severe difficulties would be very welcome if it could be indicated that during the current year something will be done about the matter. Will he assure the House that in any case the Budget will not be a hair shirt Budget?

Mr. Healey

The time when the report will be submitted is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. Of course, I shall take account of all relevant considerations in framing my Budget. Whether the vestment is made of hair, silk or some other fabric, remains to be seen.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

In preparing for his Budget, what allowances is the Chancellor making for the effect of recent events in Iran on the British economy? In that Budget, what specific plans is he making to compensate for higher oil and gas prices, for the loss of major export contracts, for the wiping out, perhaps, of much of the ECGD's reserves, and for the default in payments to major British companies?

Mr. Healey

The hon. Gentleman's delight in gloomy prognostication is typical of his party. Of course, what has happened in Iran continues to happen, and that will have an important impact, not only on the economy of this country but on the economies of all countries in the developed world. It is far too early to form a final view of this, but I shall have to form a provisional view by the time that I present my Budget.

Mr. Lawson

Is the Chancellor aware that before presenting his Budget he is committed to presenting the cash limits for the coming year—1979–80? Is he further aware that in the economic debate three weeks ago he said that these would be published within a few weeks? What is the reason for this further delay? Is it that the Government cannot agree on what should be the payroll increase for the coming year, or are there more fundamental Cabinet difficulties? Can the Chancellor now say when the cash limits will be published?

Mr. Healey

I am aware of all relevant considerations, including those which the hon. Gentleman has just drawn to my attention. When I spoke in the debate a fortnight ago I made it clear that the cash limits would be published within a few weeks. Two weeks have since passed, and they will be published very shortly.