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Departmental Estimates (Expenditure And Staff)

Volume 640: debated on Monday 8 May 1961

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asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance why the provision for his Department of publications, office machines, printing, paper, office supplies, etc., by Her Majesty's Stationery Office has risen from £894,500 in 1959–60 to £1,207,250 in the current year.

As the published Estimates show, almost all this increase is referable to greater expenditure on office machinery. This is primarily due to the equipment required for recording contributions under the Graduated Pensions Scheme.

Since the right hon. Gentleman appears to admit that this staggering increase is due to complications of the straightforward twist involved in the new pensions scheme, will he admit that muddle, confusion and chaos have resulted in his Department following changes in Government decisions?

No; it is just the opposite. It derives from the decision to use the most up-to-date machinery. Part of this additional expenditure relates to part of the cost of the new computer, which is to record contributions and is being installed at Newcastle.

Did I understand the Minister aright to say that this applied mainly to office machinery? Will he not break this matter up and tell us how it applies to other items—paper, for example—which, I believe, have considerably increased?

The substantial increase is in office machinery. The increase in printing, paper and supplies is about £12,000, and in publications £1,000. The substance, about £300,000, is office machinery.


asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance why the 1961–62 Estimates for his Department show an increase of 1,404 persons employed in administration.

The figures quoted by the hon. Member relate to the increase in staff forecast for the financial year ended 31st March, 1961. The actual increase at 1,143 was somewhat smaller. Apart from some increase due to the increased number of beneficiaries, the main reason for the increase was work connected with the introduction of the provisions of the National Insurance Act, 1959.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell what this will be in increased salaries? Can he further say how many of them will be temporary, how many will be dismissed, in other words, when the scheme gets under way? Does he not regard this as a very costly swindle?

So far as salaries are concerned, perhaps the hon. Member will study the Estimates of my Department. So far as the question of temporary provision is concerned, perhaps he will put it on the Paper. So far as the third part of his supplementary question is concerned, it is an extremely economical and efficient method of making any real progress.