Balance of Payments Surplus

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th July 1967.

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Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , South Angus 12:00 am, 18th July 1967

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate of the overall balance of payments surplus in 1967 after allowing for the year-end payments in respect of the post-war United States of America and Canadian loans.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Treasurer, Labour Party

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Bishop) on 4th July.—[Vol. 749, c. 217–8.]

Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , South Angus

Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether he still expects a massive surplus in 1968? Can he also confirm that his target of 3 per cent. growth rate year in year out has been postponed in the current year?

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Treasurer, Labour Party

I have never used the word "massive" and so I see no reason to take responsibility for it. I still see the prospect of a substantial balance of payments surplus in 1968. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."] That is the question that I was asked. The hon. Gentleman asked me whether I could foresee a massive surplus in 1968. I am replying that I have never used the term "massive", but I can still see a substantial surplus in 1968. As to the question of growth rate, as far as I can see the growth rate will continue broadly on course as we expect.

Photo of Mr Stratton Mills Mr Stratton Mills , Belfast North

Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with the point as to whether he expects, as he has already forecast, a surplus on balance of payments for 1967? Is he aware that he has got the forecast wrong for three different years and that overseas opinion has very little confidence in his forecasting accuracy?

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Treasurer, Labour Party

I do not know that anybody has any confidence in forecasting the balance of payments. That is why, as is the case throughout the world, I do not publish forecasts. As to this year, we had a healthy surplus in the first quarter. The present position is made more complex by the Middle East situation, and I am not able to forecast how this is likely to develop in the coming months.

Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , South Angus

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.