HC Deb 18 December 1947 vol 445 cc1861-2
45. Mr. Charles Smith

asked the Prime Minister whether he will define the respective functions and responsibilities of the Economic Section of the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Department of the Economic Secretary of the Treasury and the Planning Board under Sir Edward Plowden; and to which Minister the last-named body is now responsible.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave on 15th December to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton).

46. Mr. I. J. Pitman

asked the Prime Minister which of the functions of the Economic Secretary to the Treasury are new and which transferred from another Ministry.

The Prime Minister

Generally speaking, the Economic Secretary assists my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on that part of his duties which previously fell to him as Minister for Economic Affairs, and, therefore, on duties which have been transferred from that office.

Mr. Pitman

Am I right in assuming that there are no new functions and no transferred functions, and that since there was not an opportunity, on the Bill which appointed this new Minister, for the House to discuss anything other than his salary, the Prime Minister will give the House a chance of discussing the functions of this new important Minister?

The Prime Minister

That matter can be discussed on a Supply Day on the Estimates, or on any other appropriate occasion.

Mr. Scollan

Is there any mode of approach to this new Minister other than through the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and can any question be put down to him?

The Prime Minister

The normal course would be to put down a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, no doubt, if it was appropriate, the Economic Secretary would answer it.

Sir Waldron Smithers

Can the Prime Minister give an assurance that the appointment of this new Economic Secretary will in no way relax the old established rule that Departments must have Treasury permission before they can spend money?

The Prime Minister

Certainly. It has nothing to do with that at all.

Major Legge-Bourke

Can the Prime Minister give an assurance that there will be no interference with the Foreign Secretary's Economic Department by this office?

The Prime Minister

I do not see how that arises at all.