Sir, I must without delay remind the Committee of the statement which I made in opening the Budget last year. This is the statement:
I have in my calculations assumed throughout a peaceful issue from the industrial difficulties in which we are all involved. All my Estimates are based on a peace footing. That is the only basis on which any Estimate can be framed. If, contrary to the national wish and hope, a prolonged paralysis of industry should overwhelm us, I shall be forced to propose supplementary taxation in order to meet the loss which will fall upon the revenue, and I think it right to state that such supplementary taxation will comprise substantial increases both in direct and indirect taxation—REPORT, 26th April, 1926; cols. 1719–20, Vol. 194.]
That was in April last, and I subsequently decided not to introduce a second Finance Bill in the autumn, as I at one time contemplated. I did so chiefly for the reason that at that time it was quite impossible to measure the injury which had been done to our trade and our finance. We now know with accuracy the injury which has been done, at any rate, to our finance. We meet this afternoon under the shadow of the disasters of last year. It is not the time to bewail the past; it is the time to pay the bill. It is not for me to apportion the blame; my task is only to apportion the burden. I cannot present myself before the Committee in the guise of an impartial judge; I am only the public executioner.