HC Deb 03 February 1931 vol 247 cc1622-3

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the evidence of the Controller of the finance and supply services at the Treasury tendered at the Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance on the 29th January was submitted to him for approval?

56. Mr. WISE

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the memorandum submitted by the Treasury to the Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance is to be regarded as the policy of the Government; and, in particular, in view of the statements made as to the possibility of a Budget deficit and as to the fixed nature of debt charges which represent 41 per cent. of the year's Budget, whether, despite the stress laid on the urgency of reducing the cost to the Exchequer of unemployment benefit, he can assure the House that it is not the policy of the Government either that the contributions of employed persons should be increased or their benefit diminished or, alternatively, that the cost of unemployment should to a far greater extent be met by increased local rates?

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEUER (Mr. Philip Snowden)

The Treasury memorandum, which was submitted to me, was directed to matters of fact relevant to the Royal Commission's inquiry, and the official witness intimated to the Commission that it was his function to confine himself to the facts and to their technical implications. As the hon. Member for East Leicester (Mr. Wise) knows, public servants do not make pronouncements on Government policy, in regard to which I would refer him to the answer given by the Prime Minister yesterday to a question by the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. A. M. Samuel).


I do not quite gather whether this memorandum was submitted to the right hon. Gentleman for approval or not.


I said so.


Are we to assume that, when this distinguished Treasury official said that the debt charges were to be regarded as fixed, and that it was very essential to reduce the charges on the Treasury in respect of unemployment insurance, he was not expressing the policy of the Government?


He was, as I stated in reply to the question, confining himself to the facts and their technical implications.


Are we to understand that, as a statement of the facts of the position, the memorandum was submitted to the right hon. Gentleman and had his approval?


That is so.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, in the course of the statement which was made, this Treasury official said that the debt must be repaid; and does that represent the Treasury view?


That has always been the Treasury view.


Will the right hon. Gentleman now reply to the last part of my question?


I answered that when I stated that, when a declaration of Government policy requires to be made, it will be made by a responsible Minister.

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