asked the Minister of Works why it is proposed to increase the expenditure on the provision of official cars.
The estimated increase for 1952–53 of £9,000 in the provision for the Official Car Services in sub-section D3 of the Class IX, Vote I, is due to the rise in prices of vehicle spares and repairs.
Does the right hon. Gentleman not remember the line shot in this House by the Prime Minister about the economies in this service, and if those were seriously intended, how is it they have not more that contracted the increase in costs, and why has it been necessary to appoint a new subsection leader, which suggests that more drivers are being employed?
If the hon. Member will wait a few months he will see that economies are going to be made.
Would the Minister say what that means? Does it mean there is going to be a substantial reduction in expenditure because there is to be a substantial reduction in the use of official cars, and will he give us some indication of what the Government's intentions are in this matter?
Yes, Sir, it does mean that. Including the number of drivers now under notice, 68 have been declared redundant.
We want a little more elucidation on this. Will the Minister say whether this means that fewer cars will be at the disposal of Ministers, and who are the Ministers who are going to do without cars and will have to walk?
Since last October, 97 cars have been given up, and Ministers are using cars much less than they did under the previous Government.
In view of the substantial reduction, for which naturally we give the Government credit, how does the right hon. Gentleman account for an increase of £9,000 in the expenditure?
The only reply to that is that the cost of running, petrol and spares is up, but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to wait and he will then see how the Estimates work out.
In view of the discrepancies in the Minister's reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise the matter at the earliest possible moment.