Autumn Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:22 pm on 24th November 1983.

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Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook 4:22 pm, 24th November 1983

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof, `believes that the Government's economic policy fails to plan or provide for reductions in the level of unemployment, accepts and accommodates a continuing decline in investment and stagnation in output and is based on the proven fallacy that a reduction in Government spending will, notwithstanding the hardship that such cuts cause, produce an automatic improvement in the economic prospects of this country.'. The Chancellor's speech was in turn complacent and self-satisfied. In short, it was exactly what we expected of him. In two particulars at least it astounded me. It was wholly extraordinary that, in what the Chancellor no doubt believed to be a tour d'horizon of the entire economic prospect, he could not bring himself to give us a word on the looming balance of payments crisis. I can only assume that that was because at 3.30 pm figures showing a further deterioration in our balance of payments were published. The Chancellor must have known about them for the past 24 hours. Presumably he hoped that he could escape those figures during the early part of the debate. I hope that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury will make up for that wilful omission.

The second astounding thing about the Chancellor's speech was that, bearing in mind his character and record, he was peculiarly defensive. II was not the speech of a man who is convinced of his own success, despite 'the braggadocio of the past few days. Nothing demonstrated that better than the pathetic sub-peroration that he made. I must point out that we are debating the Chancellor's economic statement, the Government's record and the prospects that the Government offer. I am sure that he will want to divert the House's attention from his record, performance and broken promises. When the Opposition debate Government policy we intend to ask questions about it.