A team from the International Monetary Fund came to London in August. This was one of the regular consultations which under the arrangements already announced, precede each purchase on our current phased stand-by. The August consultation was related to the purchase we made in September. The talks were confidential, as is usual.
Does the Minister recall that in the report of the International Monetary Fund which came out after that visit on 23rd September Mr. Schweitzer said that Britain had to repay a large amount of debt in a short time, whereas the present Paymaster-General, speaking to the European Monetary Conference, said exactly the opposite, that we should have to fund a lot of our short-term debt into long-term debt. Which policy are the Government following?
Did the Government discuss with the I.M.F. the virtues of a floating exchange rate for sterling, or did they follow the precept that the inevitable is undiscussable until it has actually happened?
Is it a fact that money supply is being restricted at a rather greater rate than was originally forecast to the I.M.F.? If so, by how much is it intended to improve the situation and in what way? Now that the balance of payment figures are so much better, is it not time to get away from the neurosis about them and to publish trade figures quarterly instead of monthly?
The last is an interesting but separate question. On the former question, the course of domestic credit expansion, to which I imagine my hon. Friend is referring, is satisfactory and compatible with our economic objectives and policies.
Can my right hon. Friend confirm that the precise amount of domestic credit expansion accepted in the Letter of Intent remains the policy of Her Majesty's Government? Is it not time to accept that precise figures cannot be quantified in the way in which was then thought possible, and that further figures suggest that there is little relationship of the kind mentioned between domestic credit expansion and the growth of the gross national product?
The formula there used is an aid to understanding one aspect of economic development. No one suggests that it is the whole story. It is a valuable assistance to understanding economic development in one aspect.
Can the Chief Secretary say whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer regards the specific undertaking given in paragraph 13 of his predecessor's Letter of Intent to the I.M.F. as binding upon him? If he does, does not that mean that the liberalisation of capital transactions is a prior responsibility on any accumulated funds which may now come into the balance of payments?