Manufacturing and Competition

Part of Prayers – in the House of Commons at 10:07 am on 10th July 1987.

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Photo of Alan Williams Alan Williams , Swansea West 10:07 am, 10th July 1987

No. The hon. Gentleman had 32 minutes to make his point, so he must let me make mine.

The Minister might at least bear in mind the fact that in October 1958 the Macmillan Government removed all controls on hire purchase and we then had the first credit boom of the post-war period. Coincidentally, that happened only 12 months before a general election. Of course, that was a coincidence and it was equally a coincidence that during those 12 months the sale of cars increased by 30 per cent. and the sale of domestic electrical appliances increased by 20 per cent. We went into the "Never had it so good" election of 1959 that resulted in a majority of 100 for Macmillan. All that was based on the credit boom that had been generated a year earlier by the removal of hire purchase controls.

The sad corollary of that is that by some other strange and, I am sure, utterly non-political coincidence, when the balance of payments crisis hit just after the election, six months later in March 1960, Lord Macmillan had to reinstitute all the credit controls. The boomlet and the economic miracle were over.