Balance of Payments

– in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 27th June 1988.

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Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Vice-Chair, Labour Party 3:31 pm, 27th June 1988

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely, The worst ever balance of payment crisis, which has just been announced for the month of May. You will know, Mr. Speaker, that some of us have been cautioning for some time about the way in which the balance of payments has been worsening since the 1987 election boom. The deficit of £1·2 billion represents the worst figures in Britain's history. While the Prime Minister spends her time gallivanting around the world preaching prosperity and telling other countries that Britain is going through a boom, the truth is that the figures show, as have others during 1988, that the country is bleeding to death.

In this year's Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us that there would be a balance of payments deficit this year of £4 billion. In the five months to May, we have already had a deficit of £5·2 billion and we are heading for a deficit of between £10 billion and £12 billion. While the Prime Minister is constantly preaching prudence to others, she is presiding over a pawnshop economy. A balance of payments deficit of £12 billion is only the first instalment of having to pay for the so-called free-for-all, entrepreneurial, market force philosophy of the Prime Minister and her Cabinet. Some of our chief competitors, such as West Germany and Japan, have surpluses between them of $120 billion, while Britain's deficit gets even worse. It will get increasingly worse as North sea oil runs out.

The debate is important because interest rates will rise as a result of the deficit and that will bring about further inflation and the spiral of unemployment will continue once again. The figures show that the Government have been fiddling the invisible payments so much so that during 1987 they gave a figure of £600 million to £700 million, and that has now been scaled down to £400 million.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. The hon. Gentleman is coming to the end of his time. He must now bring his remarks to a close.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Vice-Chair, Labour Party

We want the debate so that the Prime Minister can come to the Dispatch Box and answer for the mess. That is why it is important.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely, The announcement of a deficit of £1·2 billion in last month's balance of payments. I have listened with care to what the hon. Gentleman has said. As he knows, the decision I have to make in relation to an application under Standing Order No. 20 is whether the matter should have precedence over the business set down for today or tomorrow. I regret that I do not consider the matter that he has raised is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 20 and I therefore cannot submit his application to the House.