Orders of the Day — Budget Proposals and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th April 1959.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet 12:00 am, 8th April 1959

We wanted then to reduce the total level of investment and we are now extending it in line with demand, but to try to expand it beyond the level of demand is to try to waste the resources of the nation.

The final sentence about how the party opposite will achieve expansion without inflation is the best of all. They say that the alternative to the Tory way is to encourage expansion while using controls to keep check on it. This is the Socialist way. I can well believe it. To use a metaphor much beloved by the right hon. Member for Huyton, it is rather like having one foot jammed on the accelerator, one foot on the brake and no care for the steering. which always results in a nasty smell of burning rubber and a loud crash in the middle distance. The policy of controls set out by the Labour Party, both in documents and in speeches, cannot possibly prevent inflation and cannot possibly prevent a balance of payments crisis if a Government is determined to pursue inflationary policies.

I would seriously remind the right hon. Member for Huyton that in his speeches last year he said that the strength of sterling should be given priority over everything else, whatever Government was in power. We agree with that, and we believe that he means it, but the policies which he and his party advocate are totally inconsistent with any such regard for the strength of sterling. That may be recognised by people in this country and discounted, but it may he recognised and not discounted by people outside. If the right hon. Gentleman intends to support in every way the strength of sterling, he can best do that by abandoning bogus prospectuses for expansion without inflation, which everyone can clearly see cannot possibly be brought into effect.

I think that I have covered in rather shorter time than did the right hon. Member for Huyton as many references to the Budget proposals as he made. We can conclude from his main speech on behalf of the Opposition that the Opposition has no criticism of the scale of Budget reliefs, no really effective criticisms of the distribution of reliefs, and no alternative policy of any significance whatsoever to offer.