HC Deb 01 December 1952 vol 508 c1103
58. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Minister of Supply what steps he has taken during 1952, and what steps he will take in 1953, in order substantially to reduce the costs of his Department; and if he will take steps to stop all trading activities.

The Minister of Supply (Mr. Duncan Sandys)

As the re-armament programme rises to its peak the work of the Ministry of Supply necessarily expands. This involves increases in staff and administrative expenditure. When I took office a year ago, I found that it was proposed to increase the non-industrial staff from 37,213 in October, 1951, up to 44,000 by October, 1952, and up to 46,000 by April, 1953. However, as a result of a variety of economies, I have so far managed to hold the number of non-industrial staff at below 39,000 and I hope that it may be possible to avoid increasing it much above that figure.

The Ministry of Supply are no longer engaged in any trading activities.

Sir W. Smithers

While thanking the Minister for the attempts he is making to cut down expenditure, may I ask if he is aware that this Question is directed to the absolute necessity for cutting down Government expenditure? The first social service in this country which is not and cannot become self-supporting must be food, so what is the good of employing men at the Ministry of Supply if they have nothing to eat?

Mr. Albu

Does the Minister think it a sensible way of reducing his staff to reduce, or to put a limit to the number of foremen which can be recruited in the Royal Ordnance factories, while doing nothing to limit the recruitment of industrial staff?

Mr. Sandys

I shall be very glad to receive any suggestions from any quarter.

Mr. Langford-Holt

Will my right hon. Friend look at the example of the Minister of National Insurance, who is able to make additional payments coupled with a staff reduction of over 2,000?