Orders of the Day — Customs (Import Deposits) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th November 1969.

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Photo of Mr Robert Cant Mr Robert Cant , Stoke-on-Trent Central 12:00 am, 17th November 1969

No, I am not doing that. What I am saying is that there is a particular situation here in relation to the import deposits scheme which, if we unwind, would create a significant increase, perhaps, in the liquidity position in the country, in domestic credit expansion, money supply, call it what one will. On the whole, I think that the Government's operations might well be deflationary, and I think, too, that there might be a certain deflationary effect through the operation of the capital account internationally. We gather that we are almost in balance, but we could so easily move out of balance, and that would have a deflationary impact.

I am not sure that the great optimism about interest rates coming down will be fulfilled. The behaviour of the Eurodollar rate at the moment is fascinating. A fall from 11½ to 8½ per cent. made even pessimistic local government treasurers believe that we were at the beginning of a new millennium in this context. But the strange thing is that the Eurodollar rate has already swung back to 10 per cent. because of certain action which the Federal Reserve Bank in the United States is taking. The evasive action of what we can call the commercial banks always presents the Federal Reserve Bank with a difficult situation, but, if it so happens that, in order to circumvent the pressure which is being put on liquidity in the United States, the commercial banks increase their borrowing in the Eurodollar market, we may once again see funds going across the Atlantic out of our reserves; and that might have its deflationary impact.

But that is chicken-feed compared with what I regard as the potential inflationary pressure. Reading from that great journal of economic truth, the Economist, the hon. Member for Worthing, quite rightly, I think, tried to scare us about the inflationary impact of wage increases. I am glad that he left me the last sentence, and I thought that he would quote it all. The economists say that, on their calculations, this will add, at current rates, £3,000 million to the wage and salary bill of this country, and as it is at the moment only £25,000 million, that £3,000 million increase would make many of the other factors which we discuss look like peanuts.