Orders of the Day — Budget Proposals and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st April 1955.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet 12:00 am, 21st April 1955

I think I have explained the position. That is all I have to say.

To sum up, what is the economic position that we face? Between 1951 and 1952, we dealt with an inflationary situation at home and a balance of payments crisis abroad. Since then, we have been allowing and encouraging the economy to expand and have assisted the expansion of production, employment and consumption to record levels; but we have been determined not to allow that rate of expansion to grow to a point where it would once again threaten our balance of payments position. That is why my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer took his action of 24th February, the sort of action which was not taken by his predecessor, the right hon. Member for Leeds, South.

Whatever Government are in power, we have obviously, for many years to come, to try constantly to obtain a balance, both in the demands of expansion at home, in more production and more consumption, and in the demands, on the other hand, of the balance of payments. That is a balance that all Chancellors of the Exchequer must try to hold for many years to come.

If the Chancellors of the Exchequer, over those years, come from different parties, they will adopt very different tactics. My right hon. Friend will concentrate on a policy of expansion, freedom and incentives, which has throughout been his policy and has throughout been a successful policy. The right hon. Member for Leeds, South, on the basis of his own speech, would entirely overthrow that policy and would return to controls, restrictions and higher taxation. That is the choice of economic policies that lies before us, and I am confident which choice the country will make.