HC Deb 01 December 1948 vol 458 cc2127-8

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 84 (Money Committees).—(King's Recommendation signified.)

[Mr. BOWLES in the Chair]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to substitute eighteen months for twelve months as the term of whole-time service under the National Service Act, 1948, and five and a half years for seven years as the aggregate of the terms of whole-time and part-time service thereunder, and to make other amendments in that Act, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of any increase attributable to the passing of the said Act of the present Session in the expenses directed to be defrayed out of moneys so provided by Section fifty-five of the said Act of 1948."—[Mr. Glenvil Hall.]

10.14 p.m.

Mr. Solley (Thurrock)

Before we pass this Motion I should like to ask what will be the additional burden on the taxpayer as a result of the National Service (Amendment) Bill becoming law? I do so because it seems to me that even a small increase in taxation at present, having regard to the very serious economic crisis which the country is facing, and will increasingly have to face, may have a disastrous effect on the living standards of our people. I would also like my right hon. Friend to tell us not merely what will be the direct cost of this Measure, but what the indirect cost will be——

The Deputy-Chairman

Any question of indirect cost does not arise on this Motion.

Mr. Solley

I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Bowles, for putting me right and I note that we cannot in this particular Resolution consider the indirect cost of this Measure. As to the direct cost, I should like to have my question answered, and I should like my right hon. Friend to say whether this direct cost is proposed to be passed on by way of increased taxation or whether it is proposed?

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Gentleman can read the Resolution and he can discuss nothing that is outside it. What he is saying is outside it.

Mr. Solley

So far as I can see we are asked to say that it is expedient to authorise the payment of further sums of money.

The Deputy-Chairman

That does not entitle the hon. Member to discuss how the money is to be raised.

Mr. Solley

Does my right hon. Friend think that at this moment of international and national economic crisis it is, in fact, expedient to pay out moneys for this purpose. Personally I do not think it is.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Glenvil Hall)

My hon. Friend can be answered in two sentences. The answer to the last question is that obviously the Government think it is expedient otherwise they would not have brought in this Bill. In answer to the other point, I am sorry I cannot say how much it will cost. As the Committee knows, we shall later on get Estimates for the Services and we shall then know what the cost is likely to be. At the moment it is quite impossible for me to state what the cost will be during this present financial year.

Resolution to be reported Tomorrow.