HC Deb 31 January 1939 vol 343 cc26-7
48. Sir G. Mitcheson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he now has any statement to make as to proposals for limiting the growth of local and national expenditure?

Sir J. Simon

The growth of the national expenditure in recent years is due in overwhelming proportion to the policies which Parliament has approved in relation to defence, assistance to industry and the social services. The Government will continue, as in the past, to balance carefully the needs of all our services against the interests of the national finances, and I trust that I may have the co-operation of the House in dealing with any demands for yet further expansion of our expenditure wherever this can be avoided. In the very restricted sphere of purely administrative costs, I can assure my hon. Friend that the Government are endeavouring to secure the utmost economy, and the Estimates of all Departments are at present being scrutinised with this end in view. So far as local expenditure is concerned, proposals which require sanction by a Government Department are carefully examined, but economy in current administration is to a large extent the responsibility of the elected representatives of the ratepayers.

Sir Joseph Nall

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that in calling for a five-year programme of capital works from local authorities, expenditure has been unnecessarily encouraged?