Orders of the Day — Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th April 1969.

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Photo of Mr Iain Macleod Mr Iain Macleod , Enfield West 12:00 am, 16th April 1969

I shall refer to the hon. Gentleman in a minute and will then give way to him if he wants.

My noble Friend, Lord Butler, used the money available, first, to reduce taxation, and second, to help through the social services where there was special need. It is a similar plan that we intend this time, although on a vastly greater scale.

I said a moment ago that I would refer to the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Dickens), and I do. I believe, and I have said so before in the House, that the proposals put forward in successive Budgets by the present Government are irrelevant to the basic handling of our economy. I believe that we shall find a solution only by one of two ways—either by the Socialist solution, of which I take the hon. Gentleman to be a leading exponent, or by what I believe are the right Conservative answers. Although I have a considerable personal respect for the hon. Gentleman, as I think he knows, and for some of his friends who think as he does, my opposition to his concept of wealth is complete. I believe profoundly in the creation of more wealth and in the creation of more ownership. I believe above all that there must be an opportunity to save out of taxed income in this country.

I believe, and I say this from all sorts of platforms—it is true I wrote it in The Banker, but I wrote it in the News of the World as well; they were different articles, but I called for more wealth in both cases—that although the people of this country are warmly responsive to the special needs which I indicated a moment ago in connection with housing, they have had enough of the general subsidy soup-kitchen world of Socialism.

Every year—and this is the last point that I want to make—we have a Regulator debate. As the Chancellor said, in most years this is the best debate of the Finance Bill, and these are the only quotations that I allow myself, although I could quote many more from my speeches. In Standing Committee I said: The targets of the Chancellor for a surplus in the second half of this year and £500 million next year are ones that still exist. I wish I could see them being fulfilled, but I am bound to tell the Committee I simply cannot". and long after that, yesterday, the Chancellor admitted that that was true.

I had gone over the previous years and in the next column I said: Three times—the Chancellor must have nightmares about this, and I do, too—this has happened, and now for the fourth time the Government are saying it will be all right come the autumn or come the fourth quarter and come the surge in exports and come all the other things in America and everything else. I devoutly pray that they are right. I really do! I am desperately anxious for this country to get on the right economic road again. But I say frankly and openly to the Committee that I think that for the fourth consecutive time the Government are being far too optimistic, as I think events will prove."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A; 13th May, 1968, c. 716–7.] Events yesterday proved just precisely that.

The last quotation is just one sentence from the beginning of my speech on that day: … we have been in a crisis of confidence since November, 1964, and we can never get rid of it while the present Prime Minister holds his office."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 13th May, 1968; c. 710.] That message has been taken up by a number of newspapers, and by very many Members of the party opposite.

The Budget introduced yesterday is the end of a series. It is the defeatist Budget of a defeated Government. We know perfectly well that the country is sick of this Government and of the party opposite, and that it longs for the moment of release. The last service, which would be the first service, that the Prime Minister can do for the British electorate is to get out now.