Before I call the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it may be for the convenience of hon. Members if I remind them that at the end of the Chancellor's speech, as in past years, copies of the Budget resolutions will not be handed around in the Chamber but will be available to hon. Members in the Vote Office.
The setting for this year's Budget is more favourable than it has been for very many years. We are now entering our seventh successive year of steady growth, and the fifth in which this has been combined with low inflation. The public finances are sound and strong, and unemployment is falling. These are the fruits of the Government's determination, in bad times as well as good, to hold firmly to our policies of sound money and free markets. Once again, I reaffirm those policies.
I shall begin, as usual, by reviewing the economic background to the Budget. I shall then turn to monetary policy and to the fiscal outlook this year and next. Finally, I shall propose some changes in taxation designed to improve still further the prospects that lie before us. A number of press releases, filling out the details of my proposals, will be available from the Vote Office as soon as I have sat down.