Orders of the Day — European Payments Union (Financial Provisions) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th November 1950.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough 12:00 am, 16th November 1950

I am much obliged to the hon. Member. He has made the point clearly for me. He is saying that we are able neither to earn our own living nor to pay for our own defence. That is exactly the point that I want the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make from this highly technical Debate, because I suppose that if the Press take any notice of the Debate, they would take notice of two facts which were given in the opening speech.

The first was that in the four months since the fund has been operating, we have improved our position to such an extent that whereas previously we had a debit, we now have a substantial credit. The second is that for the month of October our position had improved by, I think, £78 million sterling. That is the figure which is likely to impress such people as will see anything of this in the newspapers tomorrow, but it will give a false impression.

The one problem facing the country—and I am sure that the Chancellor is well aware of this—is the question of productivity and lower costs. Our problem is to make the workers, and especially industrial workers, realise that we must have substantially increased production at considerably lower costs. My experience in talking to workers, however, is that if I say that output has to be increased and costs reduced, I am faced with figures of the kind which have been given to us. I am told, "But the Chancellor or his deputy said only yesterday that our balance had improved this month. We are doing fine. We are in no difficulty at all. The wonderful Socialist Government have so organised things that we are in an economic paradise." People do not say that we are facing a dire economic crisis, which I believe to be the position—a view to which the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North, subscribed when he said that we could pay neither for our own living nor for our own defence.