§ 6. Sir G. Nabarro
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has now been made in the reduction of bank overdrafts as a result of the various measures he has taken since devaluation.
§ Mr. Roy Jenkins
Restricted lending by the banks as a whole is now virtually at the ceiling levels which they have been 215 asked to attain. As I said in my Budget statement, I attach the highest importance to the continued maintenance of credit restraint, and I expect those banks whose lending was still above the ceiling in April to bring it within the ceiling as soon as possible.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
But surely the right hon. Gentleman's continued reference to a Budget Statement five weeks ago is now something of an anachronism. Has it not been overtaken by events? Is not the position today immeasurably worse than it was five weeks ago? Does his statement today mean that he does not intend to ask the banks to take any further credit restriction measures?
§ Mr. Jenkins
No. The hon. Gentleman seems to be even more inaccurate than usual. With regard to the Question—and I take it that the hon. Gentleman's supplementary was intended to be related to the Question—the position has improved since Budget day. The April figures published after Budget day showed a substantial movement towards the ceiling. I expect and intend that movement to continue.
§ Mr. Cant
Despite the protestations of my hon. Friends below the Gangway, are the steps which my right hon. Friend is taking in relation to the commercial banks, also the secondary banks and parallel money markets, and in relation to his new policy in the gilt-edged market, likely to produce an increase in money supply, taking into account a balance of payments deficit of less than 2 per cent. this year?
§ Mr. Jenkins
That is an interesting but wide-ranging question, and before giving an affirmative, or indeed a negative, answer, I should like to see on paper the factors which my hon. Friend quite rightly listed. I must therefore be a little reserved in my reply. I can assure him, however, that I am not looking at this matter solely from the point of view of the clearing banks. I am also looking at it from the point of view of the Scottish banks, accepting houses and discount houses.
§ Mr. Higgins
In view of the tremendous emphasis which the right hon. Gentleman is placing on the money supply, could he say why he has attempted to make no forecast of this in his financial 216 statement? Will he undertake to publish such a forecast in the OFFICIAL REPORT?
§ Mr. Jenkins
I do not think that I should undertake for the moment to publish more forecasts. As I have often told the hon. Gentleman, who has an insatiable but understandable appetite for forecasts, I have gone much further in this direction than any of my predecessors.