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Expenditure Arising Out Of The War

Volume 411: debated on Friday 8 June 1945

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Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That a Supplementary Sum, not exceeding £1,750,000,000, be granted to His Majesty, towards defraying the expenses which may be incurred during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1946, for general Navy, Army and Air services and supplies in so far as specific provision is not made there for by Parliament; for securing the public safety, the defence of the realm, the maintenance of public order and the efficient prosecution of the war; for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community; for relief and rehabilitation in areas brought under the control of any of the United Nations; and generally for all expenses, beyond those provided for in the ordinary grants of Parliament, arising out of the existence of a state of war."

11.6 a.m.

I have to ask the Committee for a further Vote of Credit for war expenditure. As hon. Members will have noticed, I am on this occasion asking for a larger amount than usual. This is not because the rate of expenditure has gone up or because it is expected to go up in the next few months, but simply because, for reasons which will readily occur to hon. Members, the new Vote will have to last for a longer period than usual. On the present occasion it is necessary to ask the Committee to Vote a sum sufficient to make quite sure that it will not be exhausted before a convenient opportunity can be found for the new House of Commons to give its attention to the business of Supply. I have taken the view that it would not be right to adopt a course now which would, as a matter of absolute necessity, involve a further vote at a time when the House might not have begun to deal with normal business. It is for that reason only that I am asking for a sum of £1,750,000,000, which, on the best estimate which can be made of the probable rate of war expenditure in the meantime, should see us safely through.

During the short period that has elapsed since the beginning of the present financial year, the figures of Vote of Credit expenditure have shown even wider fluctuations than usual, and this is, perhaps, not surprising, in view of the remarkable events which have occurred during this time. The average daily rate in the past few weeks has, however, been about £12,250,000, of which about £11,000,000 was on the Fighting and Supply Services. At that rate the existing Vote will cover us until towards the end of the current month. Incidentally, those figures that I have given represent a drop of £2,000,000 a day on total expenditure and £1,500,000 a day on Fighting Services expenditure as compared with the rates which I gave the Committee in January when I was asking for the Vote of Credit which we are now using.

In present circumstances, of course, figures of current expenditure cannot be taken as a reliable guide to the future level of expenditure: we may perhaps hope to know a little more about that, or some of us may hope to know a little more about that, when the Committee is asked for the Vote in October.