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Volume 526: debated on Tuesday 6 April 1954

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Now for expenditure. Consolidated Fund Services, at £674 million, were £1 million more than I estimated in the Budget. Expenditure on Supply Services was forecast at £3,586 million, and amounted, in fact, to £3,600 million. This was only £14 million wide of the estimate. But, considered separately, the elements of this total, defence expenditure and expenditure on civil supply, took different courses.

I estimated defence expenditure at £1,497 million, after allowing for £140 million of appropriations in aid from the sterling counterpart of economic aid from the United States. In fact, expenditure on defence amounted to £1,365 million, or £132 million less than the estimate, in spite of the fact that the appropriations in aid from sterling counterpart were £125 million, or £15 million less than the forecast. There are many reasons for this shortfall, but perhaps the most important is the slower rate of deliveries of certain items of defence equipment, slower than we had allowed, or, indeed, hoped for, in the past year.

Civil expenditure, on the other hand, at £2,235 million, was £146 million more than the Budget estimate. The Committee have already seen details of the supplementary provisions which cause this excess; it consisted mainly of the additional requirements of the Ministry of Food and of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries for the support of home agriculture, for the financing of sugar stocks, and for flood relief.

The total expenditure under all heads amounted, therefore, to £4,274 million, against my estimate of £4,259 million, an excess of £15 million.