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Social Services

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 10 April 1951

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I come now to the social services, which with the food subsidies amount in this year's estimates to £1,615 million as compared with £1,589 million in the 1950–51 estimates—an increase of £26 million. This is divided broadly speaking, as follows: £250 million for Education, £400 million on Food Subsidies, £400 million on National Insurance and Assistance and War Pensions, £400 million on Health and £150 million on Housing, Local Grants and the Ministry of Labour.

Expenditure on education is rising. The estimate for 1951–52 is £251 million, including universities, compared with £243 million last year. But there are now nearly a million more children in schools than five years ago. More children means more buildings, more teachers, more books and more school meals—more, in fact, of everything. The rise in teachers' salaries has to be added. We considered, my right hon. Friend and I, what economies could be made. We decided to increase the cost of school meals by 1d. as has already been announced—in view of the growing cost of the service. We made some other small economies. But I must tell the Committee that the only measures through which we could have achieved substantial savings would be either to raise the school entry age or reduce the school-leaving age. We did, in fact, discuss these but, I think-rightly, turned them down.