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Prospects For 1947–48

Volume 436: debated on Tuesday 15 April 1947

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I turn from these retrospects to the prospects for 1947–48. I estimate expen- diture this year—that is, of course, the year which began on 1st April, a fortnight ago—at £3,181 million. That is a reduction of £729 million, or 19 per cent. on the actual expenditure of last year—not on the estimates, but on the actual expenditure. As the Committee knows, this expenditure falls into three parts. First, there is Defence; second, the Civil and Revenue Departments; and, third the Consolidated Fund Services, mainly the interest on the National Debt. Defence expenditure—including the military element of the Ministry of Supply, which has a civil element also—will be £899 million. Last year, it was £1,653 million and we have, therefore, made a reduction of no less than £754 million, or 46 per cent. on last year. If we exclude terminal charges—gratuities to soldiers, sailors and airmen on discharge, release leave and clothing, the termination of contracts, and so on—the reduction is, indeed, less, from £1,091 million, to £780 million, or a reduction of 28 per cent. As we all are, I am counting on a further substantial reduction next year.

Civil and Revenue Departments, including the civil element of the Ministry of Supply, will cost this year £1,726 million, or £47 million more than last year's actual expenditure. That is, of course, a final figure, after many pluses and minuses, and many changes, some up and some down, in the Estimates of Civil Departments. We are getting big savings in the wartime services, which are now fast fading out of the picture. We shall be providing £40 million less this year than last for the hire and operation of ships on behalf of the Ministry of Transport. We shall be saving million on the provision for Civil Defence and the emergency services of the Home Office, and—a very substantial economy—we shall need to find this year, as a final contribution, only million for U.N.R.R.A., which last year cost £90 million, a saving of £89 million. On the other hand, we shall be providing more in various other directions.