Orders of the Day — Finance Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd July 1964.

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Photo of Mr Maurice Macmillan Mr Maurice Macmillan , Halifax 12:00 am, 3rd July 1964

While thanking the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) for his courtesy, may I say that I wish I could emulate his ingenuity. I admire enormously his effort to describe as an electioneering Budget one which increases taxation by £100 million, putting up the prices of drink and cigarettes. I thought it was a noble but not altogether successful effort. I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will be very much concerned with the consequences of this Budget and its effect on the country's economy next year and thereafter.

Despite the noble efforts of the hon. and learned Gentleman and of his right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) to dream up a crisis before the General Election, I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) was quite right when he said that the validity of the Budget in the context of this year's economic conditions has been shown by what has happened since it was introduced. My right hon. Friend will, I hope, forgive me if I compare his Budget to an advertisement for shaving cream—"Not too little, not too much." Last year he was criticised for doing too little, and the same criticism has been made again this year. In both cases the events have proved him right.

The right hon. Member for Battersea, North said that there is nothing in the Bill. Really, £100 million extra taxation cannot be regarded as nothing. I think that the right hon. Gentleman in his electioneering efforts exaggerates greatly the effect of a one point rise in the cost of living on our wage bill and on our competitive position overseas.