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Final Result Of Tax Changes

Volume 436: debated on Tuesday 15 April 1947

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I come now to sum up the results of the various tax changes which I am proposing. The tax reductions will cost me £84 million this year, and £96 million in a full year, of which the Income Tax reliefs will cost £76 million this year and £87 million in a full year. On the other hand, tax increases will bring in £106 million this year and £149 million in a full year. Therefore, on balance, I gain £22 million this year and £53 million in a full year, and my prospective surplus for this year will rise from £248 million to 270 million.

The final picture which I would wish to leave with the Committee is one of sharp contrast. Our internal financial position is much better, and our external trading deficit is a good deal worse than it would have been reasonable to anticipate two years ago. In this Budget, I have proposed measures which, I hope, will strengthen both the internal and the external position. If these measures prove not sufficient, stronger and more drastic measures will have to follow, and His Majesty's Government will take the responsibility for proposing these in due course.

These are serious times. But I recall some words, which were written about halfway through the last century, I think, by one who, though not a native of our country, knew us and wished us well. He said that the saw Britain

"not dispirited, not weak, but well remembering that she has seen dark days before; indeed, with a kind of instinct, that she sees a little better on a cloudy day, and that, in storm of battle and calamity she has a secret vigour and a pulse like cannon. I see her, in old age, not decrepit, but young, and still daring to believe in her powers of endurance and expansion, with strength still equal to the time."

Let us, then, be of good courage; let us go forward, with obstinate will and clear purpose, to conquer the hard tasks which lie ahead.

6.32 p.m.

In accordance with the usual procedure, it is now my duty to propose the Budget Resolutions to the Committee. I have arranged for copies of the Resolutions to be passed round to hon. Members in their places, and I will pause for a moment to enable that to be done. I assume that it will meet with the Committee's general approval if I put them in summary form.