There has been a great deal of criticism of our spending plans, including some wild and wholly inaccurate accusations, from unlikely sources. For instance, on the day before the Budget, The Times, in its leader said,
…the Government is now committed to a faster rate of growth of public expenditure spending over the next five years than any Government for over a decade.
Not to be outdone by his old friend the editor of The Times, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said,
Under this Government expenditure has risen more rapidly than at any time in our history."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th March, 1973; Vol. 852, c. 284.]
I can tell the House that both those statements are palpable nonsense. Our five-year plans published last December provided for an average annual rate of growth between 1972–73 and 1976–77 in cost terms at constant prices of 2·5 per cent. I know that the National Plan, of blessed memory, was short lived, but I am a little surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have wholly expunged it from his memory. It represented the then Government's public spending commitment not to 2·5 per cent., not even to 3·5 per cent. but to nearly 4·5 per cent. average actual growth between 1964–65 and 1969–70. I am glad to have the assent of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins).