Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
It has not been at all difficult to sit through this enthralling debate. I enjoyed the debate in my new capacity as a Treasury Minister, although, clearly, I must put on a less pleasant and interested face in order to reduce that impression of optimism or blandness.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells) was right to say that the debate had ranged over the whole world's international trade and debt problems. Indeed, it is a compliment to the House that such a debate can take place in this Chamber, and it illustrates the Chamber's importance to the nation.
I was fairly frequently taunted with the accusation that I was over-optimistic or bland. However, the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Callaghan) was nice enough to say to me, on my first appearance as a Treasury Minister at the Dispatch Box, that such impressions had been given for 10 years, and I assume that that encompasses the period during which he led the country.
I should like to remind Opposition Members of precisely what I said. I have looked at my notes again because the issue is important. I was talking about difficulties and I said that the debt problem nevertheless was slowly responding to treatment. I shall in future take much sterner advice from Treasury officials and use even more negative language, because I do not for a moment underestimate the seriousness or importance of the issues involved.
I am in some difficulty in answering many of the legitimate and specific questions that were raised relating, for example, to clause 2. The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) kindly said that I would always try to respond to the points made. As always, if I cannot cover some of the detailed points, I shall write to those hon. Members who raised them. However, I shall try to address my remarks to the major points made.