HC Deb 15 April 1969 vol 781 c959
5. Mr. Kenneth Baker

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is satisfied with the methods of economic and financial forecasting currently used by his Department and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Harold Lever

A continuous effort is made to improve the techniques of forecasting in use at the Treasury and I am satisfied that the best available are in use at the present time.

Mr. Howell

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the Treasury forecasts over the past four years have been as reliable as horoscopes? Could I tempt him to make one more forecast this afternoon and tell the House the date later this year when the Government will introduce their next Budget?

Mr. Lever

All methods of predicting the future have been liable to a margin of error, from the Delphic Oracle onwards. I do not accept that the Treasury forecasts have been unreasonably wide in their margin of error.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

Have the Government paid close attention to the very sceptical analysis of forecasting given in the Stamp Memorial Lecture by no less a person than the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury?

Mr. Lever

The Government always pay close attention to anything the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury says. I have no doubt that these comments, suitably interpreted, will have been observed and noted.

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