Expenditure Arising Out of the War.

Part of Supplementary Vote of Credit, 1941. – in the House of Commons on 16th December 1941.

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Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

I do not think they will be forthcoming before the end of the year. On the other matters raised, my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) as usual told us that we were too orthodox, but on the whole we have not done too badly out of our orthodoxy in our war finance so far. We have raised these vast sums, we have collected large sums in taxation, and I am afraid the fact remains that, from the very glib way in which we are now used to talk of millions, tens of millions and hundreds of millions—and in these Votes, thousands of millions—very few people in this country realise how big these sums are. I am always trying to find some way in which I can put it to people. One very vivid form is this: If we cast our minds back over the Great War, the Napoleonic wars, Marlborough's wars, the Elizabethan wars, the Wars of the Roses, the Crusades, if in fact we take a review of military history back to the Conquest and beyond to Julius Ceasar, the Punic wars and the Persian wars, we have covered the whole field of recorded European warfare, and even then we have to skip back to the reputed date of King Solomon, somewhere about 700 B.C., before reaching a stage in human history from which we can count 1,000,000 days up to the present. If you like to imagine that King Solomon were still alive, and that every day of his life he had spent £1 providing sweets for some of his ladies, he still would not have spent £1,000,000, even though he had spent a pound a day from the time of his birth. That is the meaning of £1,000,000. Here we are talking about £1,000,000,000, and it is the fourth time this year that we have asked for that sum. So we really are dealing with a financial problem of the greatest magnitude. With the present demeanour of the people, the way in which they are paying their taxes and the enthusiasm they have shown in refraining from spending their higher incomes and are investing them in one form or another of Government security, we have every hope that in the future we shall surmount our difficulties as we have been able to up to now, and do the best we can on the financial front towards winning the war.