Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th July 1949.

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Photo of Mr Maurice Edelman Mr Maurice Edelman , Coventry West 12:00 am, 18th July 1949

I am quite sure that on reading his speech tomorrow the hon. Member will recognise why his reference to the late President Roosevelt was in the most execrable taste. I listened very carefully at this time of grave national crisis for some glimmer in the hon. Member's speech of a constructive suggestion for dealing with it; but all we heard was a prolonged dribble of political recrimination.

I cannot help feeling that what is required is not the sort of carping speech which the hon. Member made, but some suggestion as to what should be done at this grave hour to get the nation out of its difficulties. I observe that many Tory commentators are continually seeking to find some Jonah to throw out of the boat, and the Jonah the Tory Party point to is what was called yesterday by one of the lesser Tory columnists the "pampered proletariat." However much Members opposite may say they do not want to see cuts in the social services or in consumption, the fact is that the economists who speak the underlying thoughts of the Conservative Party are precisely in favour of these two things.

The crisis which we are experiencing is not something that has arisen suddenly, but is a chronic crisis which has been going on since 1945 as a result of Britain's impoverishment by the war. It is the crisis of our adverse balance of payments, and what we are facing is an acute manifestation of that crisis. If we are to survive we have to apply a twofold solution, the first a short-term one, and the second, a long-term one, which will ultimately make us independent of foreign aid.

As far as the short-term solution is concerned, it is quite clear that there can be only one answer to our present difficulties, and that is the continuation of American aid. If the Americans want to make a reality of the Atlantic Pact, and if they want us to sustain our part in it, they must continue to give us the aid they have been giving us since 1945.