Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th July 1960.

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Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich 12:00 am, 11th July 1960

One finds it difficult to follow this particular argument as pursued by hon. Gentlemen opposite. What I am stating is the simple point that, in respect of value, other countries in Europe are exporting to a higher value than is this country, and that world markets are getting more difficult rather than less difficult for this country. For example, our exports to the United States of America are largely dependent on car exports, but the recent emergence of the American compact car will make it more difficult than in the past. Though this can easily be over-estimated, the contribution of the Soviet Union in this field is likely to be much more dangerous in the future than hitherto. No one can say whether or not the Russians are at this stage able to compete with the Western countries, though they probably are, but there are very few people who would argue that they will not be able to compete within the next ten years at a very high level indeed. While there is no sign at the present that they would like to transfer from a political to an economic cold war, it is true that if they did wish to do it they have the capacity to do it, and they would cause us a great deal of embarrassment.

The position is a clear one. We are going into a changing and more and more difficult world, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his colleagues have blundered around for the last few years and have produced a situation in which the most we can say is that we are not in an economic crisis at the present time. Unless we can have a sensible direction of our economy, which can be achieved only by some extent and some degree of economic planning, then on the 'present basis some sort of economic crisis with a serious balance of payments problem will be the inevitable result.