I hope that the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Ledger) will acquit me of any discourtesy if I do not follow him exactly in his arguments, although I will be dealing with some of the points he raised.
Let there be no doubt in anybody's mind about what is happening and has happened. There is no crisis of confidence in the United Kingdom or in our people. There is only a crisis of confidence in the Prime Minister and the Labour Government. The Prime Minister is untrusted and irresponsible and his pre-election speeches were the prime reason for our difficulties today.
The state of our finances was well known and my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) had no difficulty in handling the situation, despite the election fears. The present Prime Minister persisted in crying wolf throughout the weeks of the General Election and was most surprised when foreign bankers and others overseas believed him. He also made wild promises for improved social benefits without increased taxes. Not only did he fool the electorate but he fooled those of his colleagues who were subsequently to become some of his Ministers.
I will quote one or two examples. The present Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, in his election address, described himself as Labour's expert on
taxation, finance and pensions. Very modest people they are in the party opposite. He said in his election address:
Labour will not be a spendthrift Government. It will not need to increase the general level of taxation to pay for its programme.
The right hon. Lady who is now the Minister of Overseas Development stated in her election address:
Widows and others are worried silly at the rising cost of living and by Income Tax.
The right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary of State for Education and Science commented in his election address:
Those of us who earn money are all heavily taxed.
It was going to be one of the early tasks of a Labour Government to improve the taxation system to give some help to these overtaxed people.
The November Budget was designed to provide funds for improved social benefits and it put the onus for the higher taxation on the alleged inheritance from the Conservative Government. It was a palpably bad Budget. It had the worst possible effects overseas. Today's Budget is not the Chancellor's. That right hon. Gentleman is only the monkey. The organ grinder is in Number 10. Its content is directly the result of the Prime Minister's irresponsibility.
We are having to cut back for no other reason than to satisfy overseas bankers as a result of their complete lack of confidence in the Prime Minister and his friends. For the second time in 20 years a Labour Government have put us in hock up to our ears, and, for the third time in five Labour Governments, have brought us to the verge of bankruptcy. This is no coincidence but demonstrates the complete incapacity of the Labour Party to govern——