asked the Lord President of the Council whether, having regard to the financial crisis with which this country is at present faced, and with a view to curtailing expenses, he will consider decreasing the expenditure of the Central Office of Information forthwith, by retaining only such part of the organisation as relates to reference libraries and other records of public value.
The suggestion of the hon. Member would not be a sound economy. The system by which the Central Office undertakes common production services for the Ministerial Department is itself an economy. But we are always examining the expenditure on Government information services and the recommendations of the Select Committee on Estimates, contained in its Fifth Report, are being considered now.
Will the right hon. Gentleman try to separate the false from the true and the real from the unreal? Does he not realise the enormous amount of Government expenditure on the Central Office of Information? Why does he not use the same money to help home food production, and do something really worth while?
These supplementaries are very irrelevant. If the work of the Central Office of Information were done otherwise, it would cost more. As a matter of fact, the estimate for the home information service is down by £1 million and that for the overseas service by £220,000. The C.O.I, nett estimate shows a reduction of £709,000, or 20 per cent. The hon. Gentleman is most ungrateful.
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will have a talk with me afterwards.