Budget Proposals and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th April 1949.

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Photo of Mr Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre Mr Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre , New Forest and Christchurch 12:00 am, 11th April 1949

The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) has managed to cover practically every field of the Budget and of the Economic Survey. I wish to take him up on only three points out of the many which he made. He began by saying that private enterprise always tried to slide out of any blame when things went wrong. He quoted 1947. Things went wrong in that year purely because of the Government. No one else was to blame. For instance, it would be quite impossible for any blame for the fuel crisis to be placed on anyone but Members of the Front Bench opposite. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite may laugh. I suppose that hon. Members are going back to their old cry about "The hardest winter since 1900," and "Fewer thermometers available to the Ministry of Supply than since 1920," but for any Government—particularly on the assumption of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne that this is a planning Government—with planning as their main theme, not to have foreseen and taken into account simple things such as the weather, is condemnation enough.

The hon. Member said that we accused the Government of paralysing the springs of productivity. That is so. What incentive is there left to anybody at the moment in whatever level of income, for increased output, increased endeavour? What is there to which to look forward in view of the present level of taxation?

The hon. Member went on to make what I thought to be rather a roundabout attack on British foreign policy. I do not know about hon. Members opposite, but if there is one single item of Government expenditure which we on this side do not criticise, it is the amount spent on the Berlin air lift. For the hon Member to criticise that and somehow to wish the Foreign Secretary to be a Tito of the West is to show himself and those who think like him as the Kerenskys of the West. With that, I am perfectly prepared to leave the hon. Member.