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Government Departments (Staffs)

Volume 436: debated on Tuesday 15 April 1947

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asked the Prime Minister what direct instructions he has given to Departments regarding the need for economy in the numbers of civil servants employed.

Instructions in this sense have been issued in the form of Treasury circulars from time to time as required, the latest being that referred to by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his reply of 4th March, to my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Mr. Allighan).

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether he is satisfied at the recent rise by 8,000 of civil servants? Can he indicate whether there will be a move towards the reduction of that number, as indicated in the White Paper "Economic Survey for 1947"?

Yes, Sir. I have made a personal examination of this matter. Some increases are inevitable, and decreases will follow in the course of the winding-up of various war operations. It is not possible to make an exact statement at the moment.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at present we have more people in the public service than in coal mining, agriculture, and the fishing industry, together, and is he aware that the growth of this parasitic body will upset the economy of the country?

I very much resent the adjective "parasitic." These people have taken over very important work, including large businesses, such as the Post Office, and to suggest that they are people sitting doing nothing is utterly wrong.

Is it not the case that the number of civil servants in Britain bears a direct relation to the amount of legislation passed by this House? Is not the need for economy in this direction the need for economy in legislation?

I think the House realises the need for legislation, and where legislation is passed by this House it is the duty of the Government to see that it is carried out with the necessary Civil Service staffs.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the total numbers of civil servants in each of the Ministries created since the beginning of World War II; and the expenditure of each Ministry in the last financial year.

As the answer contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

Department.Staff in post at 1st Jan., 1947 locally recruited staff overseas excluded).Approximate total expenditure in Financial Year 1946–1947 (Exchequer Issues from the respective Votes).
Ministry of Food43,813283,178
Ministry of National Insurance13,17877,160
Ministry of Fuel and Power6,82712,855
Ministry of Civil Aviation3,57722,200
War Damage Commission2,5981,430
Control Office for Germany and Austria1,873*105571
Central Office of Information1,5972,283
Ministry of Town and Country Planning947520
Ministry of Defence46974

*Excludes Control Commission staff in Germany and Austria