HC Deb 06 April 1948 vol 449 cc51-2

I now turn to the Expenditure of 1947–48. Excluding £22 million for Sinking Funds, which, for technical reasons, appears in the Budget expenditure of last year, the total expenditure shows an excess of only £6 million over last April's estimate of £3,181 million, or less than one-fifth of 1 per cent. This is remarkable, since the rise in costs might well have caused an increase comparable to that in revenue, but it has not been so because of the constant effort to keep down expenditure. As a result of last autumn's decision to accelerate the run down in the Forces, there was a saving of £45 million on Defence expenditure at £854 million. On the side of Civil expenditure, however, there was an increase of £73 million over the estimate of £1,726 million, making £1,799 million in total. Supplementary Estimates of £240 million for the Civil and Revenue Departments were in large part offset by savings on other Votes.

These Supplementary Estimates covered a large number of items, and were almost entirely due to special causes. The largest item was £142 million for the Ministry of Food, including the advance payment of £100 million to the Argentine. This will, of course, reduce substantially the expenditure which will have to be met this year.

Consolidated Fund services, at £556 million, were as estimated. The provision of £525 million for the service of the National Debt proved more than sufficient to cover the charge for interest and management, and a sum of £22 million was available to meet the Statutory Sinking Funds costing £17 million, and to leave £5 million for redemption of Floating Debt. Other Consolidated Fund services, at £31 million—mainly Northern Ireland's share of revenue—were as estimated.

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