Clause 3. — (Charge of Temporary Customs Duty.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st December 1964.

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Photo of Mr Michael Foot Mr Michael Foot , Ebbw Vale 12:00 am, 1st December 1964

On these matters the right hon. Gentleman disagrees with his right hon. Friend. That is one answer. The other is that if we had done that in respect of the E.F.T.A. countries, the countries associated with the G.A.T.T. and the other countries concerned, what would they have said, especially if we had already made all the statements that the right hon. Gentlemen suggest we should have made about the strength of our economy? They would have said, "Of course we will not agree." In the meantime the run on sterling would probably have started a good deal earlier.

In this debate I cannot go into other reasons why the run on sterling began. It was because of the nature of the Budget. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite have stated on many occasions that that was what caused it. But it was not the measures in the Budget that they disliked that persuaded the financiers to put the screw on this country; it was precisely those items which hon. Members on this side of the Committee found best about the Budget, namely, the measures for improving social benefits. Previously, whenever there has been a financial crisis of this character we have not put on surcharges of the type that we are debating today. They are abnormal. They have never been taken in connection with a balance of payments crisis before. The right hon. Gentleman says that we could have dealt with these matters in the same way as in the past. But this was an abnormal measure—an emergency measure—to deal with an emergency which the right hon. Member for Barnet acknowledges even if the right hon. Member for Bexley will not.