Orders of the Day — Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th November 1952.

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Photo of Mrs Jean Mann Mrs Jean Mann , Coatbridge and Airdrie 12:00 am, 11th November 1952

This has been a very interesting debate, and rather amazing in the buoyancy and optimism that have been displayed from the Government benches, beginning with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The right hon. Gentleman jibed and poked fun at the Opposition for their dissensions and differences of opinion, but I recall that on the 2nd of this month one of his own hon. Friends attacked him viciously—shall I say attacked his policy? He made statements that are printed in the newspaper which I have, and that would cause alarm. He finishes by saying: There is no escape from it, except to disaster. He also says: Mr. Butler has succeeded in restoring the balance of payments to our trade. … He has been helped by an unexpected turn in our favour of the terms of trade, i.e., we can now buy more goods abroad for less exports. He goes on to say: Everything is overshadowed by the double menace of falling production and falling exports. If this continues we shall be back in the worst economic crisis we have yet experienced. That does not seem to line up with the optimism of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) who has just sat down, or of the Chancellor in opening the debate. Hon. Members may wonder who the gentleman was who wrote so despondently. I almost said that it was the hon. Member for Bretton Woods. It was the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Boothby), who has just left the House. He is the Ebbw Vale of the Tory Party.

The hon. Member for Handsworth has been over-optimistic in regard to the cost of living. He continues the old fairy tale. Indeed, the Tory Party will repeat it so often that they will believe it. It goes something like this: "Whereas in one year you, our opponents, raised the cost of living by 12 points, in four months of the year following we raised it only by four points. Therefore, the implication is that we dropped the cost of living. In our hands, the cost of living went down."

Did hon. Gentlemen opposite win High Wycombe by that sort of fairy tale? Is the truth not that the Government have constantly added to the cost of living week by week and month by month since they got into power? Never, since Ananias courted Sapphira has there been such an example of misrepresentation.