HC Deb 25 April 1939 vol 346 cc978-9

Now I can pass to the expenditure side of the account, where there are one or two comments which must be made. First as to the Fixed Debt Charge. For five years prior to 1938 the Fixed Debt Charge was £224,000,000, but in the last of those years this figure was not sufficient to cover both interest and statutory sinking funds, and I therefore thought it prudent 12 months ago to raise the figure to £230,000,000. That figure of £230,000,000 has enabled us to meet all interest and management charges, including the accumulated interest on the National Savings Certificates which were cashed during the year, all the statutory sinking funds amounting to £10,900,000, and in addition to provide £2,300,000 for the further reduction of debt.

Payments to Northern Ireland out of the Consolidated Fund were £9,400,000, against £8,900,000 provided in last year's Budget. Other Consolidated Fund services exceeded the estimate by £1,600,000. This increase was due to the transfer to the Consolidated Fund, after the financial settlement with Eire which was made in April of last year, of charges in connection with land purchase in Eire, which previously, since 1932, had been borne on Votes.

We can now pass to the Civil Supply services. They were estimated in last year's Budget at £449,000,000, including the margin of £10,000,000 which I provided for Supplementary Estimates. That margin was intended primarily for the initial expenditure on food storage and for additional expenditure on Air-Raid Precautions. Actually the need for Supplementary Votes was greater than was anticipated, because in addition to providing £8,500,000 for food storage and an extra £800,000 for Air-raid Precautions, Supplementaries amounting to nearly £6,000,000 were required on other Civil Votes. I will mention one or two of them. An additional £3,000,000 was necessitated by the disturbed conditions in Palestine, and £300,000 was called for in connection with Imperial grants towards the defence of India. Hon. Members will see that, though these matters are largely of a military character, the funds required are borne on the Votes of the Civil Departments. At the same time there were appreciable savings on other Civil Supply services. Unemployment Assistance required £5,700,000 less than the estimate, and beet sugar and other agricultural subsidies required £900,000 less. In the result the expenditure on the Civil Supply services amounted to £441,300,000, or £7,750,000 below the Budget estimate.