Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd May 1966.

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Photo of Mr William Wilkins Mr William Wilkins , Bristol South 12:00 am, 3rd May 1966

It was the best kept Budget secret for a very long time. It has captured the imagination not only of hon. Members but of the public that for the first time we have a Chancellor who is seeking to bring in a system which will be, I hope, only the beginning of tax reform. I confess that when the Chancellor was dangling us along at one time I thought that he would suddenly tell us that he was to substitute some form of sales tax for Purchase Tax, but it was not to be. I am not one of those who would strongly resist the imposition of sales tax, provided that it was used to eliminate other indirect forms of taxation.

The nation is anxious to become self-sufficient and to balance the adverse trade figures and it must be made to understand that there is only one way in which that can be achieved. I have told my trade union friends—and I hope to be doing it again shortly at their conference—that this is so and that the prices and incomes policy is the only policy which can bring economic salvation to Britain. We must not cease from trying to impose this point of view upon those on whom we are dependent for increased productivity and for balancing our trade figures.

If the hon. Member for Louth is fair in his exposition of the Budget, I hope that he will tell those to whom he speaks that we have had to do these things very largely because of neglect by his own party's Chancellors of the Exchequer for 13 years. If I had thought when I came into the Chamber that I was going to speak, I would have brought an abundance of evidence relating to at least the last four Chancellors of the Exchequer in Conservative Governments which would show that they had no courage whatever in tackling a similar situation. I congratulate the Chancellor. I wish him well and I believe that the people will appreciate the courage of the decisions which he has made and also the intention so obviously behind this Budget, to place the burdens on the shoulders of those who are best able to bear them.