HC Deb 19 February 1942 vol 377 cc1894-6
46. Mr. A. Edwards

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that obsolete forms of Treasury control are an obstacle to war production; and whether he will move to appoint a committee to carry out an immediate investigation and to report to this House with a view to bringing the Treasury relationship to production Departments in line with present requirements?

Mr. Attlee

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister does not accept the statement made in the first part of the Question and sees no need for an inquiry. The organisation of the Treasury has, of course, been modified to meet the demands of war-time conditions. Special arrangements have been made with the War Departments whereby, within limits agreed with the Treasury, they have wide delegated powers to incur expenditure without reference to the Treasury. Moreover, where matters have to be referred to the Treasury, arrangements have been made for the substitution of informal discussion for official correspondence in order that decision may be reached with the maximum possible speed. There is every reason to believe that these arrangements are working satisfactorily.

Mr. Edwards

Is the Minister aware that that statement is very misleading, and that there is a great volume of evidence that there are serious delays in production arising from the method known as "awaiting Treasury approval"; and is he also aware that in the case of certain dockyards this is affecting work to the value of more than £20,000,000?

Mr. Attlee

If the hon. Member has any cases, I hope that he will bring them to my notice.

Mr. Edwards

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he will not be a little more serious about this question? It is not easy for me to do what he asks, because there is such a large volume of information. Will he consult with the Chairman of the Committee on National Expenditure and ask him to look into the point?

Mr. Attlee

I will ask my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider that point.

59. Sir P. Hannon

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will state at the nearest convenient date the proportion of the national revenue for a 12 months period expended upon war effort; and whether he hay any information as to the approximate estimated figures for the United States of America?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir Kingsley Wood)

During the 12 months ended 31st December, 1941, over 50 per cent. of the estimated national income of this country was expended upon the war effort. As the United States became a belligerent Power only a very short time ago; it is not possible to make any useful comparison, comparable figures not being available.

Sir P. Hannon

Will my right hon. Friend ask the Minister of Information to take steps to make this result far more widely known to our Allies throughout the world?