Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £30,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment
during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1952, for the salaries and expenses of the Ministry of Materials.
§ 9.3 p.m.
§ The Secretary for Overseas Trade (Mr. Henry Hopkinson)
As regards Subhead A in this Estimate, an additional sum of £20,000 is required to provide for the pay increases which have been granted to the staff as from 1st January, increases which have just been referred to by my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. In the General and Miscellaneous Services under Sub-head B, an additional sum of £10,000 on the original Estimate of £108,000 is needed. This addition is required to meet the direct contribution —£4,100—made by Her Majesty's Government towards the general running costs of the International Materials Conference, the details of which were not known when the original Estimate was prepared.
A further sum of £2,700 is required to meet the increased costs of foreign service allowances of locally-engaged staff in Washington, in connection with the International Materials Conference. Then there is a further additional sum of £3,200 to cover the salaries of three interpreters whom we contribute to the International Materials Conference. Everyone who is familiar with the excellent work which Lord Knollys and his comparatively small staff in Washington have performed in connection with the International Materials Conference, and generally in our relations with the United States authorities, will agree that this additional sum is in every way justified.
§ Mr. H. Hynd
I do not propose to offer any objection to this sum; indeed, I welcome it. I think the Minister will agree that the expenditure under Subhead B in relation to the International Materials Conference is one of the most profitable investments that a Government has made in recent times.
While the International Materials Conference was brought about as a result of war conditions, to a large extent because of the scramble for raw materials in order to stockpile, it has given us a new instrument that I hope will be a permanent institution that will bring us a great deal of benefit in peace-time in the future. Here, for the first time in history, the 538 nations of the world are getting together to allocate as far as possible the scarce raw materials of the world.
The Committee ought to take pleasure in voting this expenditure, certainly much more pleasure than in voting sums of money on things normally allied to war purposes. I do not think of this as war expenditure but as a very profitable experiment in international co-operation and the allocation of raw materials. Much of the trouble that has led to war has been the scramble for just this kind of raw material now being allocated by this new machinery.
§ Mr. Hynd
The hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams), says "No." One expects him to say "No," but it does not alter the course of my argument. It is true to say that wars have been caused in the past because one nation has been trying to get raw materials from another. Here, we are getting together and allocating those raw materials, and the House should have no doubt about voting this trivial sum which will save us considerable outlay upon war expenditure in the future.
§ Sir H. Williams
I said "No" to what the hon. Gentleman said, because he did not give one solitary example in recent times of any war caused by nations scrambling for raw materials.
§ Sir H. Williams
The hon. Gentleman opposite has been permitted to make statements and I think I am justified in asking that he should justify his statement. If it was out of order, he should not have been permitted to make it.
§ Dr. Stross
I, too, have great pleasure in voting this modest sum, if only because we all have vivid memories of the confusion when we were all bidding for materials in short supply, such as wool, cotton and so on. We saw then the remarkable rise in prices to the detriment of all of us. Any organisation of this description which helps to bring about an equitable distribution of these goods must meet with our approval.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £30,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1952, for the salaries and expenses of the Ministry of Materials.