Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th April 1970.

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Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley 12:00 am, 20th April 1970

I do not know why the Chancellor should be so upset, because I was backing him up, and still back him up. He started off by saying that 2½ years ago his main task was to turn a large balance of payments deficit into a substantial surplus, refer- ring to the time of his predecessor. He added that there was not only the transformation he has described from the large deficit of a couple of years ago. I back him up on that, and the figure I gave was the deficit on the visible trading account for 1968, which was a widely quoted figure and one without challenge, because it was the Government figure in the Budget of last year. Now, as the trading deficit has been corrected by the Government's increase in exports on various percentages which they say were under-recorded, the trading deficit is £643 million. In 1968, as my right hon. Friend has just said, there was the largest visible trading deficit we have ever had. If the Chancellor likes to challenge that, it is certainly the largest since 1951—but I am backing him up.