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National Finance

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 12 April 1949

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Government Departments (Payments)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is now able to make a statement on the practice of Government Departments when moneys are collected owing to a mistake of law.

This question is still under consideration.

Can the Chancellor give an assurance that a public answer will be given on this question, and would he tell me if I can usefully put a Question down again?

I am afraid I could not answer the last part of the question, but no doubt during the last part of the summer.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give a public answer to the Question?

Will my right hon. and learned Friend also take into consideration a statement on Government practice where money has failed to be collected owing to a mistake in the law?

Why should there be any need to consider what action has been taken when a Government Department has money which palpably does not belong to it?

Gold Output, West Africa


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to make an improvement in the gold production of the Gold Coast to help in bridging the gap in our dollar deficit; and what consultations he has had with the Colonial Secretary on this question.

His Majesty's Government are anxious that everything possible should be done consistent with our international obligations to stimulate the output of gold in West Africa, and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies gave the House some account of the measures that are being taken in his speech on 31st March. I do not, however, consider that in present circumstances a scheme along the lines of the Canadian subsidy would be appropriate.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that he is not asked anything about the Canadian subsidy in this Question? What he is asked is whether he has been in consultation with the Colonial Secretary, as the Colonial Secretary stated at the end of the Debate that most of the suggestions made had nothing to do with him but were entirely connected with the Chancellor?

But I was asked whether I would apply the Canadian subsidy scheme, with necessary adjustments, to the gold mining industry of West Africa.

On a point of Order, if the Chancellor will look at Question No. 34, there is no such suggestion there.

I apologise. There was in the original form of the Question. I presume it has been taken out.

Lecturer, Usa (Dollar Allowance)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what dollar allowance has been made to Mr. Cecil Palmer now lecturing in the United States under the auspices of the National Economic Council of America.

I regret that I cannot disclose particulars relating to the affairs of an individual.

While that may well be so, is not the Chancellor aware that this individual preaches anti-Semitism, criticises the Leader of the Opposition and attacks the Marshall Plan? As all these activities are calculated to increase the dollar difficulties of this country, is there not something he can do about it?

I am afraid I can do nothing about stopping Mr. Palmer doing any of those things.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that he can, if he desires it, get a much less coloured report of the activities of Mr. Cecil Palmer than that which the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeffington-Lodge) has just presented?

Food Prices


asked the Chancellor of the Echequer what will be the additional weekly cost per head of the increases in food prices proposed in his Budget.

The present weekly rations will cost just over 4d. per head more as a result of the increases in food prices proposed in my recent financial statement.

Would my right hon. and learned Friend appeal to the beer drinkers to give all the pennies they save on their pints to the housewives so that they can meet this additional cost?

May I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in the event of a break in food prices, which has already taken place in so many commodities, he would see that it is passed on to the consumer?

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would put that question on the Paper if he wishes it answered.

Post-War Credits


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the estimated cost in the coming financial year of reducing by five years the ages at which post-war credits become payable.

May I ask the Chancellor whether, in view of the cases of proved hardship and the fact that to include the lower age limits would cost a triflng sum, he will consider whether he can do anything about that?

War Damage Claims


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is now in a position to announce the number of war damage claims that have been rejected on the grounds alone that they were received too late.

The position is still as stated in the answer given on 15th February to my hon. Friend the Member for West Leicester (Mr. Janner).

But is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that since a recent Debate on a Private Member's Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Southampton (Mr. Morley), I have received another additional 100 cases from the City of Plymouth alone; and would not he agree that in order that the House may consider this matter adequately, the War Damage Commission should make the information for which this Question asks available to the House?

They cannot make it available because they have not got it, I am afraid.

Social Services


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what date E.C.A. approved our policy of cutting back the housing, health and education programmes in pursuance of the programme of giving priority to all uses of resources tending to create exports and go into capital formation at the cost of social services.

Is the Chancellor aware that when he appeared before the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate, Mr. Finletter said that it was with E.C.A. approval that we had cut severely our housing, health and education expenditure, that they had still been somewhat troubled by our housing expenditure, but that they had come to the conclusion, after all, that the existing reduced expenditure was justified? Does not that amount to approval, and what would have happened to us if we had not had that?