10 DECEMBER 1948, Page 2

France's Choice of Revolutions

The possibility of revolution in France today has come to be associated with the names of the Communist Party and of General de Gaulle. But since neither of these has discovered anything approaching a sane and realistic economic policy the choice between them is clearly over-simplified, if not altogether irrelevant. The revolution which France needs today is one which will produce a balanced Budget, a reformed taxation system, and an efficient civil service. The new dawn for France will come when the farmers pay their taxes and the Government spends the proceeds wisely. These questions will be discussed by the Assembly from now until the end of the year, and the right answers will no doubt be found. The trouble is that they will probably not be applied. M. Reynaud has already produced ,a system of fiscal reform, when he was Finance Minister in the Marie Government in the summer, and has drawn the dangerous but probably unavoidable conclusion that, if neces- sary, the reforms must be enforced by decree. The changes which are necessary and possible in the civil service are widely recognised in France. And the rates and incidence of taxation required to balance the Budget are, like the necessity for them, perfectly well known to any Finance Minister. But as usual the fear of antagonis- ing groups of voters seems likely to prevent the firm application of these measures. The fact that financial reform should be withheld to save the life of a single French Government • shows a complete absence of a sense of proportion. The present Cabinet of M. Queuille is by no means the worst since the Fourth Republic began, but if it could first establish the necessary and obvious reforms and then die the price would not be a high one. France needs these changes far more than any group of politicians. They may be called a fiscal revolution, but if inflation is allowed to go much further it may be

necessary to choose between that and a more unpleasant type of revolution. And if American aid is withdrawn, as it might be if its use for consumption rather than production goes on, the choice would very soon be presented.