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THE OUTLOOK FOR NATIONAL FINANCE BY SIR JOSIAH STAMP, K.B.E., D.SC.

Assistant Secretary Board of Inland Revenue, 1916−19. Member of Royal Commission on Income Tax, 1919.

Sir Josiah Stamp said:−−In discussing the problem of National Finance we have to decide which problem we

mean, viz., the "short period" or the "long period," for there are distinctly two issues. I can, perhaps, illustrate

it best by the analogy of the household in which the chief earner or the head of the family has been stricken

down by illness. It may be that a heavy doctor's bill or surgeon's fee has to be met, and that this represents a

serious burden and involves the strictest economy for a year or two; that all members of the household forgo

some luxuries, and that there is a cessation of saving and perhaps a "cut" into some past accumulations. But

once these heroic measures have been taken and the burden lifted, and the chief earner resumes his

occupation, things proceed on the same scale and plan as before. It may be, however, that the illness or

operation permanently impairs his earning power, and that the changes which have to be made must be more

drastic and permanent. Then perhaps would come an alteration of the whole ground plan of the life of that

family, the removal to a smaller house with lower standing charges and a changed standard of living. What I

call the "short period" problem involves a view only of the current year and the immediate future for the

purpose of ascertaining whether we can make ends meet by temporary self−denial. What I term the "long

distance" problem involves an examination of the whole scale upon which our future outlay is conditioned for us.

The limit of further economies on the lines of the "Geddes' cut" that can become effective in 1923, would

seem to be some 50 or 60 millions, because every 10 per cent. in economy represents a much more drastic and

difficult task than the preceding, and it cuts more deeply into your essential national services. On the other

side of the account one sees the probable revenue diminish to an almost similar extent, having regard to the

effect of reductions in the rate of tax and the depression in trade, with a lower scale of profits, brought about

by a lower price level, entering into the income−tax average. It looks as though 1923 may just pay its way, but

if so, then, like the current year, it will make no contribution towards the reduction of the debt. So much for

the "short period." Our worst difficulties are really going to be deep−seated ones.