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Official Car Service (Transfer Of Responsibility)

Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 1 April 1952

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46.

asked the Prime Minister whether he can make a further statement on the official car service.

The heavy responsibilities of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply have been increased by the re-armament programme and I have decided to relieve him of a complicated duty and to transfer responsibility for the car service to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works. This will place it among the group of general services such as building, accommodation and supplies which the Ministry of Works already administer. The Ministry of Works have facilities for operating the car service, including a commodious garage in Church House, Westminster, which is more central than the garages which have hitherto been used.

With effect from today, therefore, the Minister of Works will be responsible for operating the official car service as part of the general services which he provides for Government Departments. He is forming a central pool of the cars used in London by all Departments, with the exception of the Post Office.

The Post Office is not included in these arrangements since it has an extensive transport organisation of its own, of which a few passenger cars form a minor part. Also, the remoteness of its Headquarters from the Whitehall area makes it impracticable to absorb these cars in the central pool.

Will my right hon. Friend draw the attention of the Minister of Works to certain reports which have recently appeared in the Press making it clear that the extent to which the cutting down in the car service was promised has not been fully carried out? Does my right hon. Friend realise that there is considerable disquiet about this? If the appointment of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works helps to solve this problem quickly, we on this side will strongly support it.

Following the the hon. Member's question, can the Prime Minister state the relative cost of the car service now as compared with what it was? Naturally, it will be less, but the House might be interested to know how much less it is costing.

I am much complimented that the right hon. Gentleman should imagine that I carry all these figures in my head.

Is the Prime Minister aware that as I passed Downing Street today, on foot, I saw there, as a result of a Cabinet meeting, a great collection of cars cluttered about the place? Does that indicate that there is any shortage of cars available for Cabinet Ministers?

We are trying to live up to the new standards as quickly as possible.