Part of Economic Situation – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th December 1973.

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Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East 12:00 am, 17th December 1973

As I was saying, inflation was running at more than 10 per cent. during the first year of the humorously entitled counter-inflation policy adopted by the Government, and last week's figures also show that growth had fallen in the last three months to under the rate of 3 per cent. per year, and is still falling. I am glad that the Chancellor at last gave us a more realistic assessment of the implications of the oil crisis, although it gives a different impression from his earlier statement and, above all, from that given by his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

The background to the proposals which the Chancellor has put before us is an oil crisis which, as the right hon. Gentleman fairly said, will lead the whole of the developed world into a trade recession and a recession of production over the next 10 months which Britain is in a weaker position to meet than any of her competitors.

The Opposition welcome what the Chancellor said, if I understood him rightly, about agreement on international action to neutralise the effect on trade and the payment of unexpended Arab surpluses arising out of the increase in oil prices. But it is quite clear from what the Chancellor said that this is a national crisis that will require the best efforts of us all to resolve.