Trade Balances

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th July 1968.

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Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South 12:00 am, 25th July 1968

asked the Prime Minister in view of the continuing adverse trade balances, what further measures of co-ordination and strengthening of policies of increased exports, imports substitution, and productive investment he now proposes for the immediate future; and whether he will make a statement on these matters before the House rises for the Summer Recess.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

All of these matters are kept under review, Sir. No doubt a fuller and totally satisfactory statement would have been made by my right hon. Friends if the Opposition had not at the last minute run away from the economic debate they had projected for this week, and which I know the hon. Gentleman himself, with his unique influence, was pressing for.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

Having regard to the disabilities habitually placed on me by the Chair and other sources—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—as a private Member of this House, and the boundless opportunities available to the Prime Minister by comparison—[Interruption.]

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

Very boring—would not the Prime Minister recognise that the balance of payments for six months to the end of May was in atrocious deficit and that for only one month, June, has there been any improvement, and can he not give the nation some encouragement before our eleven weeks of Recess?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

With the hon. Gentleman I am myself one of the small minority who regrets that we do not hear the hon. Gentleman more. However, I feel that the hon. Gentleman, in his rare interventions, should get his facts right. There have in fact been no published figures for the balance of payments since the end of March. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] They are always published on a quarterly basis, rather earlier now than was the case. We have managed to speed them up compared with the figures published by right hon. Members opposite when they were in power; but it is still a little late, I agree. So the hon. Gentleman was wrong about that. He might have been referring to the balance of trade, but I am sure that he would like to stimulate his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition to claim credit for the improvement in our export position.

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

Bearing in mind the hard slogging which lies ahead, would the Prime Minister allow the Chancellor of the Exchequer to have a quiet word with him before making any more supernatural prophecies about the economy?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

The right hon. and learned Gentleman, too, I am afraid, has got it wrong. There were no supernatural prophecies. I was quoting an impartial overseas observer who inThe Times newspaper referred the fact that the industrial restructuring had reached a point where this country was facing the prospect of an economic miracle because of what has happened in industry. Only hon. Gentlemen who take a delight in selling the country short will laugh at that. Even Northern Ireland is doing better under this Government. I certainly agree with what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has in mind, that we have some very great difficulties to overcome and that there is a period of hard slog for some time ahead. Do not let any hon. Member under-rate what has been achieved in the restructuring of industry.

Photo of Mr Woodrow Wyatt Mr Woodrow Wyatt , Bosworth

Is the Prime Minister aware that many in the country are just beginning to realise that the Government's brave economic policies are beginning to pay off, and as the prospects for Britain improve the consequence rage of the Tories will increase?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Indeed, I thought I read him saying something very similar in a Press article a few days ago, which I very much welcome because of its quality and, indeed, its rarity. What I think my hon. Friend will particularly have noted was the great fanfare of trumpets before the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who was going to put the worst possible construction on the nation's economy but who, having done that, did not even have the guts to repeat these arguments in the House, where he would have been answered.

Photo of Mr Ian Lloyd Mr Ian Lloyd , Portsmouth Langstone

Would the—[Interruption.]

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. I have called an hon. Gentleman. Mr. Ian Lloyd.

Photo of Mr Ian Lloyd Mr Ian Lloyd , Portsmouth Langstone

Would the Prime Minister be prepared to hazard a definition in advance of the boundary line in the balance of payments which would mark the recovery from a complete disaster and the beginning of a real national recovery?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said on this in his Budget speech and again in the debate on the Third Reading of the Finance Bill, which I think was on 4th July.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Does my right hon. Friend realise that the observations of my hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth (Mr. Wyatt) have something to do with the dismissal of Mr. Cecil King?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

My right hon. Friend is the last colleague I would ever want to give advice to in the matter of searching for motives. All I think I would say is that there is more rejoicing in the kingdoms of the front bench over one lost sheep that returns than over 99 just men who have never caused any trouble anyway.