Orders of the Day — Prices and Incomes Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th July 1966.

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Photo of Mr Iain Macleod Mr Iain Macleod , Enfield West 12:00 am, 14th July 1966

It is not in order, but it is discourteous. A day or two ago, on the City page of The Times, it was stated: There is now a growing feeling in the City and beyond that the Chancellor may have to take further steps—and soon—to throttle back home demand ". Later, it stated: The entire Budget was based on the premise that the various deflationary measures would take time to work through and that the economy would be all right until the autumn ". We know that that is not so, and from this side of the House during the Budget, in the Budget debates, on Second Reading of the Finance Bill and time and again, we have said that it was an extremely dangerous policy to do nothing until the autumn and then to take out a vast interest-free loan, which is the sole feature of the Budget.

The Chancellor took a different view and thought that he could ride on the reserves until S.E.T. came to his rescue in the autumn. In July last year the Chancellor gambled by not taking action. He gambled and he lost. We were bailed out by the central banks all over the world. This time, once more, he has gambled. He has lost. But this time nobody can bail us out except ourselves, and this is the importance of the package which the Prime Minister is going to announce.

I ask the First Secretary to please say to the Prime Minister,"Make this statement soon. Announce this package soon"for this is a crisis of confidence, as all crises are, and we have been basically in this crisis of confidence ever since November, 1964. [HoN. MEMBERS:"No."] Yes, we have. It was very sad indeed to hear this afternoon the beginnings of the old soft shoe shuffle from the Prime Minister as he announced measures that have already been discounted by the market and, therefore, will have no effect—and the right hon. Gentleman said that he did not know and was not ready to say what further measures are required.

I therefore urge the First Secretary to plead with the Prime Minister to do it soon—and this time please can we have no double-talk to accompany it? Do it and say it, and mean it if there is no other way; and indeed I do not believe that there is any other hope.

In this context, one sentence in the resignation letter of the right hon. Member for Nuneaton of 5th July—