Orders of the Day — Budget Proposals

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th April 1954.

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Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames 12:00 am, 7th April 1954

The effect of the considerable efforts which the right hon. Gentleman must have directed towards mounting an attack on the Budget produced, as the right hon. Gentleman himself came near to admitting in his concluding words, an attack on last year's Budget proposals. As I understood it, his speech came in two parts. There was the usual analysis of the world economic situation as the right hon. Gentleman sees it. Although the right hon. Gentleman's analysis seems by happy coincidence so often to come down in the same direction as his political tendencies, nevertheless I am sure that all of us enjoyed it. Where some of us find it more difficult to follow him is that it seems to be of the essence of his analysis that all the measures for which my right hon. Friend is responsible must inevitably have disastrous consequences, whereas the converse in the right hon. Gentleman's view is that the measures that he himself adopted were far better conceived.

The difficulty which faces the right hon. Gentleman in that argument is that it did not work out like that. It was the right hon. Gentleman's Budget policy which, as he perfectly well knows, left the economy of this country in the height of a balance of payments crisis, and it is my right hon. Friend's efforts that have gone a long way to restore the position. The right hon. Gentleman may be theoretically right. My right hon. Friend was practically right, and in the conduct of the affairs of this nation I think that the great mass of opinion prefers policies which restore the economy of this nation to policies which, however well conceived in theory, in fact have the opposite effect when applied.

The right hon. Gentleman's comment on my right hon. Friend's Budget proposals was that they were unexciting During the administration of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, the great part of the people of this country would have been only too thankful if their proposals had been unexciting. The excitement was of a singularly disagreeable nature. The Committee will recall perfectly well how, year after year, we filled this Chamber, or the Chamber in what is now again the other place, in apprehension of what new burdens the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessors were going to put on the taxpayer. This year the change is so great that the only surprise that enters people's minds is whether further reliefs can be given or not. That is the indication of the change which has been effected, and which I think it would have been a little more generous of the right hon. Gentleman to have acknowledged.

I think the right hon. Gentleman really answered himself in a considerable part of his speech. In his earlier observations he twitted my right hon. Friends and the Committee in general with the fact that no rewards were being given this year, but, in the concluding stages of his speech, he gave a very considerable answer to that when he pointed out that we were still enjoying and were affected by what he described as the huge concessions—those were his words—made last year.

It is true that the full cost to the Exchequer and the full benefit to the taxpayer of the changes in taxation which my right hon. Friend made last year come into their full effect in the current year. There fore, it is not really quite fair for the right hon. Member to say that the people of this country have received no rewards. He ignores the fact that the concessions made last year come into their full effect in this current financial year. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) asks why I referred to last year's Budget. I am trying to answer the right hon. Member, who spent a great part of his speech doing exactly that.