It is my pleasant duty to congratulate the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Cant) on a most agreeable maiden speech. He has just said that he hoped that he would establish for himself the same good will that his predecessor earned on both sides of the House for many years. If he continues in the moderate and reasonable way in which he presented his views tonight I am sure that he will earn that, and that the House will look forward to hearing him again. Having been here for 21 years, I begin to wish that I had the same ease and felicity of speech as so many of the new and distinguished Members have shown in the last few days. The hon. Gentleman said that we were mesmerised by statistics. That is one of the occupational hazards of a budgetary debate.
I am grateful for the presence of the Chief Secretary of the Treasury, because there are one or two things that I wish to say to him. First, the Budget is not nearly as harsh as we expected—and for that we are grateful. Secondly, we all recognise that the Chancellor faces a very difficult problem, and that to the extent that both sides of the Committee can agree we should all give him our sympathetic help and consideration in dealing with this difficult problem.
But I must tell the right hon. Friend that the Budget does not face the fundamental problem of our country, which is that we are living beyond our means.