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Economic Organisation
04 June 1940
Volume 361

46.

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asked the Prime Minister whether he is now able to make a statement concerning the proposed changes in the economic organisation of the Government's activities?

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As the reply is rather long and detailed I propose, with Mr. Speaker's permission, to make a statement at the end of Questions.

Later:

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The work of Ministers, under the direction of the War Cabinet, falls into three divisions:

  • (a) Defence:
  • (b) Foreign Policy:
  • (c) Economic and Home Affairs.
  • As regards (a), the Prime Minister, in his capacity of Minister of Defence, is assisted by a Defence Committee which comprises—
    • The First Lord of the Admiralty,
    • The Secretary of State for War,
    • The Secretary of State for Air
    with the Chiefs of Staff as Advisers.

    As regards (b), questions of Foreign Policy will continue, as heretofore, to be submitted by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs direct to the War Cabinet at its daily meetings.

    As regards (c), Economic and Home Affairs cover a wide range of interrelated subjects. These will be dealt with by the following five Ministerial bodies:
  • (1) The Production Council (Chairman, the Minister without Portfolio) will give general direction as to the organisation and the priority of production for war purposes;
  • (2) The Economic Policy Committee (Chairman, the Minister without Portfolio) will concert and direct general economic policy;
  • (3) The Food Policy Committee (Chairman, the Lord Privy Seal) will deal with problems of food including food production;
  • (4) The Home Policy Committee (Chairman, the Lord Privy Seal) will deal with questions relating to the Home Front and social services; it will also be responsible for the framing of regulations and draft legislation;
  • (5) The Civil Defence Committee (Chairman, the Home Secretary) will deal with civil defence including home security questions.
  • The work of these Committees will be concerted and directed by a Committee under the Chairmanship of the Lord President, of which the Lord Privy Seal, the Minister without Portfolio and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be members. It will be the function of this body to ensure that the work of the five Ministerial Committees is properly co-ordinated, and that no part of the field is left uncovered.

    Lord Stamp will continue to preside over the Survey of Economic and Financial Plans. The Survey, with its associated economic staff, will be at the disposal of the Ministerial Committees dealing with economic and related subjects. The staff will also provide digests of statistics bearing on the development of our war effort, and reports on the progress achieved by Departments in giving effect to decisions on economic questions reached by the Ministerial committees referred to above.

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    Can the Lord Privy Seal say whether Lord Stamp will devote the whole of his time to this work, and if not, what proportion of it? Will he be a half-timer?

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    His position is unchanged in that respect.

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    Is the economic committee with which Lord Stamp was associated, and over which the Chancellor of the Exchequer formerly presided, now abandoned in that form?

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    Yes, Sir. As I have explained to the House, there is now a committee under the Minister Without Portfolio, dealing with general economic matters. Lord Stamp's organisation will report to that committee.

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    Are we to understand from that answer that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer will not preside over that committee?

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    As I have said, the Minister Without Portfolio will preside.

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    Will the right hon. Gentleman consider co-opting on the Economic Advisory Committee men like Professor Harrod and Mr. Maynard Keynes?

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    May I ask a question, Mr. Speaker, which is whether any Minister is specifically charged with the vitally important task of the co-ordination of foreign intelligence in regard to counter espionage?

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    That subject is dealt with by the Cabinet, and the special organisation dealing with the subject.

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    Is any Minister specifically charged with that responsibility?

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    The Lord President of the Council is specifically charged with it.

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    May I ask that Lord Stamp should not be put on this Organisation?