Orders of the Day — Social Insurance and Allied Services

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 18th February 1943.

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Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

The hon. Member should not contradict me. I am making a serious statement on the facts. Challenge my conclusion, but do not challenge the facts unless they are wrongly stated. It is true that the outstanding unemployment was in industries producing capital goods, and everybody before the war held a view that excessive taxation caused a higher level of unemployment We are proposing in this scheme to place upon the people of this country a level of taxation which will, inevitably, cause unemployment quite apart from the question of the export trade. We must not forget that unemployment is largely related to the export trade and that it may be at such a level that we shall have a catastrophe even worse than that experienced in the distressing period of 1921. Two-thirds of the Members who sit on that side of the House owe their election to the crisis of 1931. [Interruption.] It was their leader who resigned, not mine. He was never my leader. I voted against him too often. There was that financial and economic crisis. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that if Parliament at this moment were to adopt this scheme, there would be a financial crisis even worse than that. Hon. Members must not run away with the idea that this scheme is particularly popular. I have had no hesitation in bluntly criticising it in my own constituency. I did not find any hostile reaction to blunt criticism of the scheme. This is a Debate in a vacuum. People are thinking that money does not matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield said pounds, shillings and pence did not matter. That is just lunatic talk. I do not know of any place where money does not matter. I have not found anywhere where I could get commodities without putting down pounds, shillings and pence.