Be that as it may, I should like to speak about the Budget now.
I welcome the general thrust of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor's statement, and I fully support the Government's continuing central objective of defeating inflation and achieving a sustainable growth rate in the economy. This ingenious Budget is consistent with Government policies over many years. Not surprisingly, my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Mr. Browne) spoke strongly against our membership of the ERM, but I find such opposition to membership odd.
For a long time, Governments of various political complexions have been too ready to pump up or to depress the economy for domestic reasons instead of paying attention to the underlying strength of the economy and the importance of a sustainable and consistent interest rate policy. The ERM certainly provides an additional limitation within which Governments have to work, but it is a necessary discipline if we are ever to make our industrial base stronger—[Interruption.] I am glad to see some assent to that view among Opposition Members.
I welcome the way in which income tax has been cut; that will help the less well-off. More attention should be paid to them, not just because we are running up to an election but because they are the people who deserve special encouragement. They are the key to the future effectiveness of the British economy.
Interestingly, the Budget has been unequivocally welcomed by Sir John Banham of the CBI, who has been critical of other aspects of Government policy in the past. He sees this Budget as contributing to the competitiveness of British industry.