Government Policy

Part of Orders of the Day — King's Speech – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th October 1947.

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Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot 12:00 am, 29th October 1947

There is a great irony, too, in the multilateralism—now we are getting into technicalities and jargon—of the Minister for Economic Affairs. He believes, as I do, in the expansion of trade and multilateral and multifarious trade, but he is obliged to say in the same breath that we must only buy from abroad—this was a point brought out by the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. S. Shephard)—the absolutely essential imports, that we must have an iron curtain of our own, that no Englishman must travel abroad except on a pittance, and also that we have to increase our exports by £31 million a month above the volume to which they have now attained. I suppose that in modern jargon the right hon. and learned Gentleman's multilateralism might be described as multilateralism on a unilateral basis.

But of course the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not really announcing a plan or a policy. He is merely stating with candour—that candour does him every credit—that His Majesty's Government now propose to do the only thing left to them, which is to bow to the facts. These measures are not part of a voluntary policy which has been thought out. They are involuntary actions which have been imposed by necessity, and these grim necessities are to a great extent of their own making. When the family solicitor goes to the household and says, "You have to sell the furniture and quit the house and take something smaller because you cannot pay the rates," that is not a housing policy, but—