Mr Jack Diamond: I have nothing to add to the Answer I gave on 10th February to a similar Question by the hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Hordern).—[Vol. 795, c. 303.]
Mr Jack Diamond: I do not know that I can answer in precisely those terms. I remind the hon. Member that my right hon. Friend takes the view that priority must be given to repayment of our external debts.
Mr Jack Diamond: With permission, I will circulate the figures for the last five years in the OFFICIAL REPORT. It is not possible to make any accurate forecast five years ahead on the basis of alternative rates of duty.
Mr Jack Diamond: I must ask my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) to keep this matter in proportion.
Mr Jack Diamond: My right hon. Friend will bear in mind the proposals that have been made when he is considering his Budget statement.
Mr Jack Diamond: My hon. Friend, who is to be congratulated on his consistency, will remember and recognise the various arguments which apply if one is thinking of changing the tax on petrol as opposed to what is before us now. This is too long a subject to go into in Question and Answer.
Mr Jack Diamond: If S.E.T. were abolished and a V.A.T. at 10 per cent. were applied to sales of new houses the cost of new houses might be about 6 per cent. or 7 per cent. higher than now.
Mr Jack Diamond: I can only say to my hon. Friend that what the Tories propose to do when they win the General Election is a matter of remote academic interest.
Mr Jack Diamond: The only clear message I got was that the Tories would exclude everything from taxation and increase revenue.
Mr Jack Diamond: I have nothing to add to my right hon. Friend's answer to a similar Question which the hon. Gentleman asked on 20th January last.—[Vol. 794, c. 230–1.]
Mr Jack Diamond: What the hon. Gentleman is referring to has nothing to do with "hot" money.
Mr Jack Diamond: My right hon. Friend has listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman's request.
Mr Jack Diamond: I would ask the hon. Gentleman to await the detailed economic forecasts to be published with my right hon. Friend's Budget statement.
Mr Jack Diamond: I do not know what the rules of order are about doing sums on the Dispatch Box but I think that the suggestion I have made is the best one. Let us wait until we have the figures. Then we can base solid argument on them.
Mr Jack Diamond: No, Sir.
Mr Jack Diamond: The answer is not to ask President Nixon but to ask the Chief Secretary.
Mr Jack Diamond: The answer is simply that the American banking system is subject to many more statutory controls than ours. They already have to make returns of a vast number of details, and the additional information required in their case is small. In our case it would be enormous and it would not be worth while; and, in the meantime, in the light of that, the figures would be inaccurate.
Mr Jack Diamond: It is not customary to give quantitative forecasts of the general movement of prices.
Mr Jack Diamond: The hon. Gentleman did not in the Question raise any of those points. If he wants to challenge points made by any speaker he should put down a Question, whereupon he will receive an Answer.
Mr Jack Diamond: My experience is that I cannot spend a whole day in this House without at least one hon. Gentleman opposite suggesting something which would inevitably involve increases in public expenditure.