Budget Proposals

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th March 1952.

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Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot 12:00 am, 17th March 1952

The right hon. Gentleman should allow me to get on.

It is also matched by some of his other arguments that the Budget is inflationary and at the same time that the rise in the Bank rate is too deflationary. One argument destroys the other.

Now, I come again to the catchword or slogan which is evidently to form part of the Socialist Party's "Hints to Speakers." They are going to say, and will go on saying, I dare say, that the Budget takes away from the poor to give to the rich. Before I embark upon this subject, let me say that comparisons which are drawn between basic wages and the effects of decreased food subsidies, increased old-age pensions, tax exemptions and increased family allowances, will not give the true picture. Comparisons can only fairly be made between earnings and the effects of the pluses and the minuses.

Very often quite wrong conclusions are drawn in other connections when it is said, and especially abroad, that at a time of national crisis we are working on a 42 or 44 hour week, and the laity think that workpeople work 42 or 44 hours. Of course, they do nothing of the kind. They work at basic wage rates for those hours, and extra hours that they put in are subject to overtime—time and a half, double time, and so forth. It sounds a simple point, but I am always having to explain this difference to foreigners who are not in touch with industry, and otherwise quite unnecessary criticisms are levelled at our workpeople.

For example, in the industry which I have just left, the basic week is 44 hours but the average time worked is 46½ hours. Therefore, the sneer, "Why do you work 44 hours when the country is up against it?" is entirely unjustified.