HC Deb 23 February 1953 vol 511 cc1698-9
2. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Materials the annual cost of his Department; how many officials it employs including ancillary staff; and to what extent this number will be reduced during the period to 30th June, 1953, in view of his proclaimed intention to end State trading in materials and commodities as rapidly as possible.

Sir A. Salter

The administrative cost of the Ministry of Materials during the current financial year will be approximately £1,100,000. A provision of £1,220,250 was taken in the Estimates for the current financial year based on a total staff of 1,854 at the beginning of the year and an estimated total staff of about 1,420 at 31st March next. The actual reduction in staff has been greater than estimated with consequent savings on the Vote. The total staff on 30th June next will be about 1,050 and the further reductions will be reflected in the Estimates for the forthcoming year.

Mr. Nabarro

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that there will be no repetition of the very sad loss, at the taxpayer's expense, which occurred in last year's Estimates amounting to no less than £44 million, and will he show a little more enthusiasm to get rid of these 1,050 officials?

Sir A. Salter

As I explained at the time of the Supplementary Estimates, the losses to which my hon. Friend refers— his figure is not quite correct—were due to the fact that after the profits had been made when prices had been going up, there had been a season of falling prices.

Mr. Beswick

Is the Minister aware that he could have saved the cost of his Department had he more energetically attempted the development of the material which is mentioned in Question No. 3? Will the right hon. Gentleman apply himself to his real task, which is the acquirement of new and substitute materials?

Sir A. Salter

I shall be answering a Question about that new material in a moment.

Sir H. Williams

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that at least one of the 1,050 will on the next occasion produce a document which is more intelligent than the one we discussed recently?