Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th October 1976.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Robert Cant Mr Robert Cant , Stoke-on-Trent Central 12:00 am, 11th October 1976

To many people the present crisis may appear to be the re-run of an old film. Certainly to me, as a Member who came into this House in 1966, it appears that we have experienced such crises at fairly regular intervals. On this occasion the event has been invested with all sorts of descriptions that point to the fact that in a sense it is more of a crisis than those that went before.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said at the Labour Party Conference that the cosy world was over. The right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) at the Conservative Party Conference—although I was not present on that occasion—spoke of the end of the road. It is important that we appreciate the fact that in some senses this crisis is rather different, although some people have said that it is just another hiccup with a secular, downward trend.

One of the ways in which the crisis is different was well illustrated in an article by Mr. Eltis in the current issue of Lloyds Bank Review. He saw this as a point of time in our history when we have to pronounce distinctly that Keynesianism is dead. Some people have been monetarists for years. I vividly remember the occasion in November 1967 when the present Prime Minister, as the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, received a letter of intent from the IMF. That brought our nation for the first time face to face with the fact that there were certain evil spirits in the monetary world who were trying to resurrect the old quantity theory of money that seemed somewhat archaic. We have reached a point when we can no longer accept advice from the Bank of England or the Treasury to the effect that Budget deficits, inflation and other factors do not matter.