Orders of the Day — Economic Affairs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th November 1976.

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Photo of Mr Geoffrey Howe Mr Geoffrey Howe , East Surrey 12:00 am, 30th November 1976

The Chancellor may well laugh at his hon. Friend's comment, but this House is entitled to know just how far, if at all, he will have the support of his colleagues in the Cabinet and of the Prime Minister. If indeed he is, as he should be, standing for the interests of this country, he is entitled to expect and will receive our sympathy and support, but only if he is prepared today to accept responsibility, as surely by now he should, for the extent to which over the past two and a half years he has led the people of this country gravely astray in his management of the economy.

We have too often heard from the right hon. Gentleman various suggestions that the fault lies in his stars rather than in himself. We look to the Chancellor for some sign of repentance. We may be looking in vain, but he should recognise that he will not begin to restore the credibility of his office unless, in some respects at least, he is prepared to acknowledge his mistakes.

I am glad, and I am sure the whole House will be, to see the right hon. Gentleman's announcement yesterday that he has decided to abandon plans for the introduction of a wealth tax. We congratulate him on that accession of wisdom. We now look for more. If he does not accept the need for making a fresh start, he will remain a lame duck Chancellor who carries very little conviction.